A different type of union organizing

Sometimes unions can benefit from organizing consumers just as much as from organizing workers:

Following labor’s loss in Wisconsin’s recall, the leader of the nation’s largest transit union says building coalitions with riders, not organizing more drivers, is the top priority for his union’s future.  Interviewed at last month’s Netroots Nation conference, Amalgamated Transit Union President Larry Hanley said that Wisconsinites’ willingness to keep their union-busting governor in office demonstrates the urgent need to change the relationship between public workers and the American public.  “No matter how much money we put into electoral politics,” said Hanley, “if we can’t change the attitudes of people…we’ll lose.  It’s just a matter of when and how hard.”

[…]

Austin highlights his group’s success in getting a King County, WA Republican councilmember to back a tax increase in order to stave off a 20% service cut.  He says aggressive turnout efforts, including leafleting on buses, paid off when riders formed a line “almost a mile out the door” to attend the first hearing on the issue. “The story in all the major media switched from about King County Council wants to raise your $20 car tabs to pissed-off bus riders angry about losing service…the story never went back.”


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