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Why does the union bureaucracy exist?

 

Our idea is that this power to change society would be developed through workers organizing a labor movement that was run directly by workers themselves, not controlled by a hierarchy of paid officials. These self-managed workers organizations would prefigure and guarantee the democratic, non-hierarchical structure of the new social arrangement by this workers movement. The building up of unions directly self-managed by the rank-and-file is this, a strategy for achieving a libertarian, worker-managed society.

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But this strategy immediately raises many questions. Can unionism be a force for fundamental social change in the direction of workers control? And what should be our stance towards the AFL-CIO-type unions? Can these unions be transformed? Is it inevitable that unions should become bureaucratic? In order to answer such questions, we need to consider why the labor movement is presently dominated by the top-down, conservative bureaucracies of the AFL-CIO-type.  A 1988 article by Tom Wetzel.

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