By Brian Chidester | Published January 4th 2013 by socialistworker.org
“WHAT IS the alternative to this divisive and failed framework? Clearly, teachers’ unions need to adopt a broader outlook, taking up not simply contract issues, but also questions of racism and poverty. This model is what many activists refer to as “social justice unionism,” and it has gained a growing audience in the past several years. Weiner, however, goes beyond this model, advocating for “social movement unionism” as the alternative that can lead teachers in the struggle.
I use the term “social movement” union rather than ‘social justice’ union…because I think “social movement” union addresses the need for unions’ internal transformation, especially the need for union democracy. Social movement unionism gets at the relationship between the union’s organization and its vision of social justice.
Democracy–real democracy from below–is the common thread in “social movement unionism” that ties the union not just to social movements, but to a vision for the transformation of itself, of the public schools and of the entire society.”