Monday, December 26, 2005

TWU Stike a Civil Rights Struggle?

The recent TWU (Transport Workers Union) strike in NY has the union claiming that their cause is not a "union - labor matter" rather it is per the union, a "civil rights struggle":


Per the AP, here are a few of the justifications of why TWU's grievances are now civil rights matters:

Per TWU President Roger Toussaint: "There is a higher calling than the law and that's justice and equality. Had Rosa Parks answered the call of the law instead of the higher call of justice, many of us who are driving buses today would still be in the back of the bus,"

The Rev. Herb Daughtry, a longtime activist and influential black leader, said Bloomberg, Gov. George Pataki and Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials were in danger of being likened to "Bull" Connor, the segregationist police chief in Birmingham, Ala., who used fire hoses and dogs against civil rights marchers.

The Rev. Al Sharpton also weighed in with a civil rights struggle reference: "Martin Luther King Jr. was in Memphis to violate and defy a court injunction against a union strike when he was assassinated ... Would you call him a thug?"

Gary Chaison, a professor of labor relations, appears to think it's a good link to put the TWU strike out as a civil rights based matter:

"In organizing itself I see a tremendous increase in the reinventing of the labor movement as the heir of the civil rights movement," said Gary Chaison, professor of labor relations at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. "I think it's the recasting of the labor movement in a way that I haven't seen in many years."

"Unions have got to find a language that justifies the actions that they are taking, they're going to have to use the language of civil rights," said Robert Korstad, associate professor of public policy studies and history at Duke University. "They have to make that connection that they're fighting for the same things."

"They see the labor movement as essentially that - a movement - a civil rights movement," he said. "They think this resonates with minorities and immigrants because it focuses on giving them a voice."

I don't think that a large majority of Americans will see "any" union strike in current day America as a civil rights matter, and I think such attempts to link it as such will further damage their standing and objectives.

Especially when parallels like Bull Conner, Rosa Park, and Martin Luther King Jr. are used as examples in the argument........................