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Submitted by mick on Sun, 07/03/2010 - 18:41

If you are reading Crosby for guidance on the political approach of unions you are reading the wrong book. He is not very left wing.
What he is good at is reorganising unions to be able to do the job of fighting back. Read this for guidance on how to do this and it is a very good book.
Of course it is from the viewpoint of the officialdom. That is who he is and who he is trying to convince.
There are a couple of points in Martin's review that may be honest mistakes or may be disingenuous. I don't know:
Martin states that once organizers have succeeded in helping a workforce win recognition they move on as though this is a bad thing. The whole point is to develop workplace power. Once the workforce has achieved recognition, has taken successful action against the employer, has elected and trained reps, has developed its structures and routines etc it needs to start to stand firmly on its own two feet. The organisers should be moved on to somewhere else that needs help.
The point about unions employing more people being bad - especially if some of them come from University is a poor one. Unite for example employs hundreds of secretaries, officers, national officers, assistant general secretaries, researchers, political officers, regional secretaries, press officers, canteen staff... It employs about 80 organisers - far more than any other UK trade union but not enough. There are whole sectors and millions of workers unorganised. It acheived that - through grim opposition - by redirecting resources away from these other areas. Quite bloody right! I cant think of any of Unite's organisers having come straight from Uni. I can think of one or two who have come from Uni via another union or something but most are from campaigns we have worked on or were reps somewhere - car-workers, chicken processors, cleaners, migrant support workers, baggage handlers...
Odd that we should be almost silent about the millions spent and the hundreds employed in cautious, slow, conservative servicing but make loud, often poorly understood criticism of unions spending resources on organising.
A minor point on Bob's comment - Crosby criticises "loud mouth" delegates not for speaking up. he is talking about people who dominate meetings and don't allow fellow workers to get involved and take power into their hands too. He is pointing out that often the genuine leader in a workplace is not the person with the big gob (normally a bloke) but it may be the serious woman at the back of the meeting who can get her workmates to take action.

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