By Michael Letwin
November 29, 2006
In defense of another indisputably bad contract, the leadership and its supporters have interjected such irrelevancies as how hard the Bargaining Committee has worked (which nobody has questioned) or complaints that they have been subject to unfair “personal attacks” (which nobody has made).
These just evade the real issue: Has the Union done everything possible to squeeze the best possible offer from management?
It’s clear from our own Union’s history that what happens at the bargaining table only reflects a balance of power. That balance depends on organizing at least the credible *threat* of membership action. Only by exerting that pressure can we be sure of extracting the best possible offer. Otherwise, it’s like trying to negotiate a plea when the D.A. already knows that your client won’t go to trial.
The leadership also misleadingly asserts that the only choices are surrender (which it advocates) or a suicidal strike. In fact, there are many forms of membership pressure short of a full strike: informational pickets, rallies, press conferences, one-day job actions, to name just a few — none of which has been seriously discussed, let alone carried out. It was to illustrate the potential for such action that the 1992 contract strategy evaluation was attached to a previous message.
By all means, we must fight the scab (non-union RFP) contractors. But why ratify a *bad* contract (the written memorandum of agreement for which we have yet to see) — without having even tried to mobilize membership pressure necessary to win the *best* possible contract?