“Trade Unions & Worker Power on the Job”Immanuel Ness

“The 1930s sit down strikes represented the apogee of working class power in the U.S. That trade unions did not oppose Fansteel revealed their own fear that sit-downs would erode their external bureaucratic influence as representatives who delivered labor peace and cordial industrial relations to management (mass sit-down actions in factories led to the U.S. Supreme Court opinion in NLRB v. Fansteel Metallurgical Corporation in 1939, which circumscribed workers’ rights gained legislatively by effectively banning the sit down occupation of factories).

Subsequently, unions went further to eviscerate member power through the World War II no-strike pledge and the purging of left-led unions that ensued after the passage of the 1949 Taft-Hartley Act. Devoid of militancy and ideology, labor unions grew increasingly irrelevant in the private sector due to worker cynicism and distrust of labor leaders, and by the early twenty-first century had been rendered almost inconsequential.

From 1940 onward, the vast majority of workers had few alternatives but to conform to repressive laws and embrace the propaganda of capitalist logic.”

Workers’ Control & Revolution

Prior to the development of capitalism, the concept of ‘workers’ control of the production process’ could not have been a demand; it was a simple fact of life (within the limits allowed by nature).

Hence the apparent accessibility of workers’ control, which on principle reflects no more than the capacity of all humans to think as well as to do. In these terms, it shouldn’t be surprising that workers on occasion take over and run productive enterprises without necessarily having an explicit socialist consciousness or political strategy.

The faculties they draw upon for such initiatives are not so much new as they are long-suppressed-

for the majority of the population.

It is the overcoming of this suppression, as old as capitalism itself, that constitutes the explosive side of workers’ control. What workers’ control points to is more than just a new way of organizing production; 

it is also the release of human creative energy on a vast scale. 

As such it is inherently revolutionary.”

-Victor Wallis