“The Feeble Strength of One”: Restoring Belief in Collective Power

“Our challenge is to reanimate that vision of working-class solidarity so that it resonates in a contemporary context. But how?

Karen Nussbaum, a long-time organizer, asks this question in a recent issue of Dissent.  And here is what she has been doing.

“Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, was created in 2003 to reach working-class people who do not have a union on the job. Our goal was to staunch the hemorrhage of union density by creating a new avenue to collective action and power, based not in workplaces but in communities. We begin with a personal conversation about the economy from a different perspective than the one they hear on Fox News every night. We talk about strength in numbers, offer opportunities to take action, and follow up with ongoing communications. We’ve been way more successful than anyone thought we’d be—more than three million members nationally—and yet, we often feel like an anomaly. Even the young, committed activists with whom I work at Working America cannot conjure a time when banding together was a natural response to injustice—it’s just outside of their experience.”

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