Saturday Feb 24

PUBLISHER'S NOTE – 53.4

It’s been a long year!  Save me from the lines about how it “flew by.”  Maybe so, but a lot of it was a slog under the clouds of war and chaos.  I’m not saying it was a bad year compared to so many others, especially the recent pandemic and its horrors, but it was no breezy walk in the park.  I wish in our final number of 2023 in our 53rd year, we could paint lipstick on this pig, but, my friends, that’s not going to be happening.

Let’s start with climate, while we still can, and Stephen Eisenmann’s clarion call for a working-class environmentalism along the lines that his organization, the Anthroprocene Alliance, is trying to fashion.  He’s not putting any sugar in your coffee.  We need something big to happen.  Ed Martin makes the same case when it comes to economic policy as he dissects various theories and comes down advocating a return to the dramatic measures enacted and advocated by New Deal US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Later in this same issue, Bruce Boccardy, unpacks the way that personal financial issues are eroding the foundation of the administration’s claims of the success of Bidenomics.  In the midst of these hard truths about macro-crises, Olivia O’Conner’s report on how ACORN in Hamilton, Ontario has managed to bet back tenant displacement through “renovictions” seems like this issue’s version of a “feel good” story.

Another world is possible, and we can see some of the shape of this world in the Special Report from the Organizers’ Forum delegates on their recent exploration of northern Brazil, a little over twenty years after initial international dialogue in Brazil during the time of Lula da Silva’s first successful presidential campaign.  Doug Dykens of the BCGEU and Toney Orr of ULU give a good perspective on the condition of labor and its prospects in a second Lula regime.  Neil Sealy of ACO was able to update the progress of the MST, as Latin America’s largest social movement, where we benefited immensely from visits with a number of their projects and encampments.  Beth Butler of ACV shares how impressed she was meeting the women’s waste pickers’ collective and the Domestic Workers’ Union.  Kayla Szustaczek of ACORN Canada shares the story of the fight to protect and save Vale Encantado.  This was the first Organizers’ Forum International Dialogue after a break during the pandemic, so it was good – and inspiring – to share these reports.

James Mumm’s regular book review walks the walk with three different sets of authors to unpack issues for organizers and activists around strategy, women’s role, and professionalism.  Our columnists go deep as well.  Phil Mattera finds some encouraging life in the fight for consumer protection.  Drummond Pike wonders what’s happening in the unhinging of Elon Musk.  Gregory Squires examines the ongoing dilemma of achieving fair housing.  John Anderson makes the case that organizers need to not only listen, but also look to understand what potential members are saying with their body language.  I finish up in Backstory with a look at where labor unions find themselves as the year closes.

In short, this has not been an easy year, but our final issue of the year points the direction for how 2024 could be better, if we do the work.