Interview with Joe Burns

Oaklandsocialist interviewed Joe Burns, author of Reviving the Strike and Strike Back. Joe is the head of bargaining for the Association of Flight Attendants. The main thesis of both books is that to have successful collective bargaining, a union must be able to stage a successful strike, meaning one that shuts down production. In his first book, Joe reviews the tactics that made strikes successful in the 1930s, the lack of success of alternatives in the present time, including “business unionism” and “liberal unionism”. In his second book, Joe focuses on public sector union, with the same thought in mind – what made public sector strikes successful.

Along the way, we talked about legality and the fact that almost everything that the unions did to win in the 1930s was illegal. We also discussed the connection between the weakening of strikes and the weakening of the labor movement and how that has affected workers’ consciousness today. That includes how it’s opened the door to workers supporting Trump.

The Democratic Party was also discussed, as well as the need for a working class party. Joe made reference to the Labor Party Advocates, in which oaklandsocialist was involved. (See this article, which includes video of the meeting which led the founder of LPA, Anthony Mazzocchi, to take that step.) As Joe says in the interview, If we build a class struggle labor movement, then I think class struggle politics will follow from that.”



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