‘The hippies never had the work ethic’

In a series of articles that started running this weekend, Steve Peoples points out that, in fact, Big Labor bosses don’t actually run Rhode Island; as is the case throughout the country, union density is dropping, shedding 1,000 or more members each year. (There are many reasons for this, and labor’s situation would certainly improve under a Dem president, and with passage of the Employee Free Choice Act.)

The article ends up amounting to an affirmation of those very principles that underly the labor movement: There’s strength in numbers, and by building solidarities and working in common cause we can achieve things that might otherwise be impossible.

But organized labor also has a strong voice in discussions about over health -care cuts for the poor, reduced benefits for foster children, environmental causes like recycling, and even gay marriage….

“The reality is that for a lot of our various advocacy organizations and service organizations, it takes organized labor sometimes to push them over the top in terms of helping them build the power they need to win on their issue,” says Karen Malcolm, executive director of Ocean State Action. “In turn, labor gains new alliances and partnerships. Labor gains support –– whenever you work an alliance there is a give and take.”

Also Pat Crowley hones right in on this great George Nee quote:

“The hippies never had the work ethic. You didn’t work for the farm workers if you were a hippie. We were very, very disciplined,” says Nee, a Boston native, reflecting on his early days in the labor movement.”

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