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Building the power to bargain, with Ben Speight

Donald Trump played a divide-and-conquer game on working people this election cycle, attacking immigrants on the one hand while promising jobs and an end to bad trade deals on the other. But many labor leaders and organizers didn’t fall for the con. Ben Speight is organizing director of Teamsters Local 728 in Georgia, and he joined me to talk about what real worker power looks like.

We have not mobilized a national movement of workers in recent memory. If we propose a National Worker’s March on Washington or a National Workers Day of Protest, that would create the circumstances for us to really have the power to demand a halt to reforms that strip us of our rights and to demand expansion of basic workers’ rights on the job. We have the capacity to call for such actions and sustain such actions, because of our resources, to hit the corporate regime where they are the most sensitive, which is in the workplace. Overall we have to shift, both inside the labor movement and outside of it, and see the workplace as a vital political battlefield. Not just a place to post anti-Trump stickers or flyers in the break room, but to actually see it as a place that we are challenging the prerogatives of those who set Trump up.

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Interviews for Resistance is a syndicated series of interviews with organizers, agitators and troublemakers, available twice weekly as text and podcast. Previous interviews here.