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By Richard D. Vogel
Tuesday, Mar 2, 2010
Ur Union of Unemployed, nicknamed UCubed (U3), is an opening salvo in the civic revolution that is brewing in the USA.
UCubed is a community service project of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) and its partners intended to unify the unemployed in a unique and useful way. The strategy is to organize the unemployed and underemployed in specific zip codes into cubes (6 individuals), which, in turn will be organized into neighborhoods (9 cubes) and ultimately into power blocks (3 neighborhoods). The immediate objective of the U3 strategy is to have job activists, organized by their zip codes, advocate for sound labor policy across the nation. The long range implications of working people recovering a voice in national politics are momentous.
The sector of the US population targeted by UCubed is huge. With 31 million unemployed at the present time, unknown numbers of underemployed, and millions of additional jobs slated to be downsized, automated, or offshored, a significant proportion of the US working population is facing long-term, and, in many cases, permanent unemployment in a nation that has never had an adequate social safety net.
The federal government’s response to the current crisis was politically obscene. Washington chose to bail out the big financial institutions and to subsidize the multinational corporations that are using the money offshore to exploit emerging global markets. Neither program offers the slightest prospect of relief for the working citizens of the nation who will ultimately pay the bills. Greater concentration of wealth and more neoliberal globalization will only continue the trends of increasing inequality and growing absolute poverty of the last three decades. Our article, “The Fight of Our Lives: The War of Attrition against U.S. Labor” offers a succinct summary of the assault on labor that has led to the present predicament of working people in North America.
A Step in the Right Direction
The UCubed initiative by IAM and its partners is clearly a civic action that links those who still have jobs with the legions of Americans who find themselves in the ranks of the un- and underemployed. That linkage, in itself, is an act of civic revolution in a culture that promotes a “Get Yours” mentality. U3 is a direct challenge to the political hegemony of corporate power in Washington.
It remains to be seen how far the UCubed initiative will go, but it is clearly a step in the right direction. In the context of the present crisis, UCubed has the potential to become a meaningful political force in strengthening the position of labor vis-á-vis capital, combating neoliberal globalization, and reforming the political structure of the republic.
We must secure the right to work in the USA as a basic human right, not a privilege granted by the corporations that maintain a stranglehold on the world economy.
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