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In Navel-Gaze or Thumb-Suck?

April 24, 2005


In These Times is carrying an article in its latest issue on the prospects for union backing of labor-oriented television and publications. Many unions do, in fact, have newsletters, but an SEIU focus group found that the "huge majority of people receiving a union publication are not looking at it, in the sense of not looking at it--period." The fact that it took a focus group to discover this is probably suggestive of a larger problem, inasmuch as most union mags read like grandma's family newsletters: a bunch of idle, and probably false, boasting about non-accomplishments.

The article suggests that labor invest in independent progressive outlets with a known pro-labor orientation. Sadly, our sources indicate that labor leaders are going in a somewhat different direction. Instead of issuing dozens of little bulletins, labor bureaucrats have decided to consolidate their efforts into One Big Magazine. It's called One Day Longer, and ReverseVoteSwap.org is giving you a special sneak-peek!

Here's a look at the cover of the inaugural issue:


And an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel's interview of Andy Stern, which appears in the issue:

KvH: SEIU has recently launched an organization called Purple Ocean. Tell us about this savvy, nuanced new initiative.

AS: Thanks Katrina. As you know, unions in this country were built on an understanding of the collective power of workers to bring the profit system to a halt at the point of production. But thanks to the Internet and the French academy, we now know that's all outdated. Today people's true power lies in voting for Democrats and giving money to Democrats as atomized individuals.

KvH: That's a very savvy and pragmatic realization. It seems that, until recently, unions have resisted the insights of postmodernist theory.

AS: Yes, which is why it's so fortunate that so many current labor leaders are Ivy Leaguers. A very high percentage of Purple Ocean's revenue goes straight into Democratic Party politics, cutting out all the superfluous costs of organizing, legal defense, strike funds, and other detritus associated with class-based unionism.

KvH: Well, you do give out bumper stickers. Isn't that a bit 20th century?

AS: We're hoping to phase out the bumper sticker in favor of a blog-ad and Blackberry wallpaper.

KvH: Savvy!

Posted by convener at April 24, 2005 12:44 PM