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The UAW Demonstrates Why Unions are Not Enough
A progressive has just been elected president of the UAW, but will he even be able to provide workers with what they really need?
After decades of corruption, the United Auto Workers Union (UAW) has elected Shawn Fain as president. He positions himself as a reformer, willing to actually fight his corporate overlords, unlike the last presidents. He also seeks to make the UAW a strong worker-led union. While this is a good step forward for unions, the UAW’s failures demonstrate a need to for workers to move beyond unions as their only voice in corporate change.
Unions, like all hierarchical bureaucracies, are subject to corruption. Union leaders had siphoned off millions of dollars from other members while also allowing corporations to walk all over them. This is a natural byproduct of the relationship between corporations and unions. As long as workers have an adversarial relationship with corporations and their decisions, they will struggle to get what they need. The solution to this is similar to the reforms Shawn Fain is seeking: stronger democratic control over corporate decisions. Workplace Democracy and employee ownership all employees get to have a say in the business. Such a system would be far better at preventing corruption, both corporately and in unions. Employees would have a symbiotic relationship with their corporation, as they would be the ones making decisions and ensuring they are not treated unjustly. It is not to say that Shawn Fain’s victory is not a victory for the working class, it very much is, but there is still more to be
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