Lessons From Bessemer Part 2: Jane McAlevey Argues A Failure In the Basics Explains Bessemer Defeat

By Working Mass

Jane McAlevey’s “Blowout In Bessemer” in The Nation is probably the most widely shared – and most controversial – perspective on the Bessemer defeat. She argues that the responsibility for the defeat rests more with the mistakes of the campaign than any other factor.

Echoing the content of her books and work as a labor consultant, McAlevey emphasizes the importance of bread-and-butter organizing practices. She condemns the RWDSU for failing to push through fears around COVID-19 in order to have house calls with the workers. Another criticism is that the union consistently “third-partyed” itself by using language that created two separate identities, one for the union and one for the workers. She also points to the failure of RWDSU to demonstrate public majority support for the union through “structure tests,” and that community outreach was too little, too late.

Whether you think McAlevey’s critique is well-intentioned tough love, or overly critical pre-written sniping, it is hard to ignore the practical value of many of her suggestions. However, while her suggestions are important considerations for organizers working on any given NLRB drive, they do little to inform how the labor movement as a whole can take on Amazon, except  by winning one election at a time.

Click here to read the full article or click here to see her interview on Democracy Now

Continue To Part 3…

Lessons From Bessemer

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