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May 19, 2005

Montana Labor Movement Politics

I'm recommending this piece by Matt Singer on splits within the Montana AFL-CIO.

It's worth reading just because it's the kind of analysis of the complexities of labor politics that's rarely done -- and given Montana's strong labor history and its more recent revival of Democratic fortunes, labor's role in that state could be even more interesting.

What's worth noting is that Montana reflects the national debate within labor over how and where to organize, but the players are very different. In Montana, the dominant union is the teachers union, which today enrolls about half of all union members in the state, a sign of the rise of government employees relative to the decline in mining and other industrial unions in the state. And many of the industrial unions are playing the role of critics of the teacher-dominated labor establishment, some leaders already bolting to form a new Progressive Labor Caucus and others threatening to bolt.

And I will say, for all the media likes to portray an image of undemocratic unions, these kinds of story make clear that politics in the union movement is actually far more rambunctious than most other areas of politics.

Posted by Nathan at May 19, 2005 11:18 AM