The UAW’s call for unions to align their contract expirations is legitimately achievable. But the work starts now.

by Hamilton Nolan, In These Times

The labor movement is a capricious friend — it hands out heartbreak as much as it hands out joy. But every once in a while, it is able to wave a triumphant flag and give us all a glimmer of what its potential could truly be.

The recently concluded UAW strike offered just such a moment. It wasn’t just the contract agreements themselves, which were a material success, but also the union’s public call for movement-wide coordination to build the possibility of mass action around the May 12028 expiration of the next auto contracts. ​We invite unions around the country to align your contract expirations with our own so that together we can begin to flex our collective muscles,” the UAW declared on October 29.

unite here workers on strike

This could be the beginning of the most exciting resurgence of American organized labor power in a century. Or, it could just be a tweet. What happens in the coming months will determine which of those things is the case.

The general feeling of a labor power resurgence since the pandemic has been fueled by a procession of high profile wins: The Starbucks and Amazon union drives, the massive organizing on college campuses, the friendly Biden administration and its uniquely pro-union NLRB, the historically high favorability of unions in public opinion polls, the periodic mini-strike waves at a variety of fed-up workplaces. This year, we have seen a trio of actions — the Teamsters backing down UPS with a credible strike threat, and the successful WGA and UAW strikes — that show what can be won with the power of strikes at a larger scale.

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