What a Great Idea — A Union for the Unemployed
Why didn’t anyone think of this sooner? It’s certainly a better use of the public anger than the corporately-sponsored Tea Party rallies.
An ingenious grassroots union for the unemployed is only a month old — and its numbers are growing.
By Harry Kelber
February 24, 2010 | AlterNet.org
It’s been only a month that a union for the unemployed has come into existence through an ingenious grassroots organizing campaign. In case you haven’t heard about it, the union’s name is “UR Union of the Unemployed” or its nickname, “UCubed,” because of its unique method of organizing.
UCubed is the brain-child of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), whose leaders feel that the millions of unemployed workers need a union of their own to join in the struggle for massive jobs programs.
The idea is that if millions of jobless join together and act as an organization, they are more likely to get Congress and the White House to provide the jobs that are urgently needed. They can also apply pressure for health insurance coverage, unemployment insurance and COBRA benefits and food stamps. An unemployed worker is virtually helpless if he or she has to act alone.
Joining a Cube is as simple as it is important. (Please check the union web site: www.unionofunemployed.com ). Six people who live in the same zip code address can form a Ucube. Nine such UCubes make a neighborhood. Three neighborhood UCubes form a power block that cntains 162 activists. Politicians cannot easily ignore a multitude of power blocks, nor can merchants avoid them.
The union is built from the ground up. Cube activists will select their own leadership in each cube, neighborhood, block and higher group as well.
Jobless Union’s Encouraging Progress in One Month
The UR Union of Unemployed (or UCubed) already has members in over 300 zip code addresses and 43 states, reports Rick Sloan, acting executive director of the union. Seventy-five cubes are up and running. For the first month, 19,998 people visited the site and viewed over 138,000 pages of content.
The union’s Op-Ed article appeared in 62 newspapers, ranging from the “Black News” to the “Mexican American Sun,” and from the “Las Vegas Tribune” to the “Senior Life of Northern Indiana.” Total circulation exceeded 12 million readers,
UCubed put out three press releases last month, informing politicians in Washington that the union of unemployed will be watching–and reacting–to their vote on the latest job proposals of the Obama administration.
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It is to the advantage of the AFL-CIO and Change to Win to encourage their unemployed members to participate in the UCubed organizing campaign. It is important for organized labor to display meaningful sympathy and solidarity with those who have been without a pay check for many months. A large union of unemployed workers can be an important ally in political campaigns and a source of legions of volunteers. When those unemployed workers finally get back to their jobs, we want them to have a favorable memory of how unions stood by their side.
Let’s give the unemployed the support they need to be effective in their own defense.