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Conclusion Is There Hope in the Neoliberal World of Labor? E. Paul Durrenberger DOI: 10.5876/9781607326311.c013 This book draws our attention to several concrete and unmistakable findings that I wish to explore here. My original intent in convening this workshop came out of the insight that the labor movement in the United States has been defeated by legislative measures sponsored by the capitalist class. My idea was to compare the legal context of labor movements of several nations and from that comparison develop grounds for legislative agendas for each national labor movement. But as I read the work we present here about the labor movement in Greece, Turkey, Israel, China, Europe, and Latin America, I came to understand that the labor movement does not need a legislative agenda. That is playing with marked cards owned by the capitalist class, assuring it will always win because the apparatus of governments. It can even be worse to play the game: aside from untold wasted resources, the labor movement’s involvement in the legislative process could give credibility to legislation that acts to defeat victories workers have won in their workplaces with or without union involvement. Here I want to explore those conclusions in more detail. 338 E. Paul Durrenberger Nearly eighty years ago, when fascism had spread across most of Europe and Asia, journalist Anna Louise Strong observed that when the common people control the apparatus of government, they can use it to solve everyday problems of food, shelter, and clothing. But when the “lords of money” (Strong 1940:43) control it, it’s a fascist system. The name of the political party does not matter. In 2016 the American people rejected one form of moneyed control of their government to elect another in the form of hereditary real estate magnate Donald Trump and his coterie of rich friends. Those whose historic memory stretches to the 1930s wait to see whether the democratic spirit of the American people will reassert itself or continue its retreat. These are indeed uncertain times. If the success of the labor movement depended on the dedication, energy, intelligence, and persistence of the people who work in it, it would have long since succeeded. But it’s not that. As this book shows, it’s the bigger structures of law and policy of global neoliberalism that continually bludgeon the working class back into place. These structures change the rules of the game and shift the entire field under workers’ feet by redefining work and workplaces, work time, employer, employee, and work itself. Thus they destroy the tools thelabormovementbringstobearinitsstruggle,asSpyridakisshowsinGreece, Soul in Argentina, Löfving in Sweden, Nissim in Israel, and Birelma in Turkey. When that happens, it is time to quickly develop new, more effective tools. In the United States, multinational corporations have demolished unions and disassembled the comfortable Fordist arrangements in which workers and management negotiated within a framework supervised by the state. In Europe, Israel, and the rest of the Americas, they have managed to shatter the secure accommodations that management and labor had reached in their collaboration in corporatist states. The crisis of labor unions around the world is part of a larger crisis of democracy provoked by the same forces of neoliberal globalization. Neoliberalism has endeavored to substitute the market for governments and to destroy the comfortable alliances between government, industry, and workers that corporatist states had organized. Neoliberalism sees only markets and consumers, no citizens or rights. The traditional political parties have become unsure avenues of political representation, and new ones have arisen with dubious results. Parliamentary democracies have given way to corporate interests. 339 Conclusion: Is There Hope in the Neoliberal World of Labor? While the social contract was intact, labor unions operating under a service model were able to meet many of their promises and grow in strength. In today’s hypermobility of capital and labor and the consequent redefinitions of labor, this role has been undermined around the world and unions have been in retreat for several decades, unable to deliver on their promises and rapidly losing membership and relevance. Alternative forms of labor organization are emerging to fill the vacuum, and some unions have been sufficiently adaptable to respond to the challenge . After decades of portraying immigrant workers as enemies of labor in the United States, SEIU and UNITE!HERE awoke to the new realities and embraced them. Immigrants infused new blood in decaying unions and changed the organizational culture, shifting away from the bread and butter...


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