Clearly I'm not one of those people who can keep my blog up-to-the-minute, but I want to mention two more things about my visit to Detroit, even though I'm actually two states beyond at this point.
Before I left town, I had lunch with some staff members of Labor Notes, an incredible and radical organization/magazine that provides a forum for union activists to honestly examine problems within the labor movement (i.e., not just ever-weakening labor laws and employer offensives, but problems like weak unions and union leaders not doing their job). Similar to Bitch, they're a nonprofit organization that publishes a magazine. They also publish pamphlets and books (including one of my favorites, The Troublemakers Handbook: How to fight back where you work and win) and organize a bi-annual Labor Notes conference. I highly encourage everyone to read what happened at their most recent conference in April. There's some f'd-up stuff going on in union organizing these days.
When a supremely evil corporation takes some steps to mitigate or change its evil ways, does that change the fact that the corporation is evil? Can corporate responsibility ever be anything but a PR-motivated sham? Can we appreciate the actual changes for workers and the environment even as we remain skeptical and critical of the company's once and future practices?
Unions today have their share of problems. Among other things, many replicate the same corporations they're trying to fight—they're enormous, top heavy, and not responsive enough to workers or the changing political and economic climate. But they still remain one of the best forms of workplace democracy in this country, and they play a critical role in protecting our remaining labor laws.