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Interview conducted by Cal Winslow
John Borsos is vice president of the new, independent union, the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW). He is a well-known California labor leader, and an advocate of militant, democratic member driven unions; he was an elected vice-president of the 150,000 member United Healthcare Workers – West, until replaced in Andy Stern’s SEIU 2009 trusteeship. He was also President of the Sacramento Central Labor Council. Here he talks to Cal Winslow about Occupy Wall Street.
John, Occupy Wall Street has come to California in a big way. What is your take on the movement?
“I think it’s great. I think it’s one of those steps outside of the institutional boundaries of the labor movement - by a broader left - that will end up energizing labor.
“I was thinking about this historically, you know there have been certain times when movements have emerged spontaneously, truly grass roots, from the bottom. These are the kind of eruptions you will find if you go back, for instance, to the eighteen nineties and Jacob Coxey’s army of unemployed that marched across the Middle West; or the bonus marchers of the early 1930s, the World War I veterans who gathered in Washington, DC demanding relief, and battled General MacArthur; and, in a more organized way, perhaps, the Poor People’s marches and encampments that Martin Luther King, Jr. led in the 1960s.
“They were all somewhat tied to the labor movement but not in it. But I think that in fact they were harbingers of the more dynamic and militant labor movements that followed.
“I think the great energy of Occupy Wall Street and its manifestations across the country, including here in California, are really exciting. They call attention to the gross class disparities that really exist in this country; they do it in a way that hasn’t been done in a long time.
“Certainly they do this in a much more focused and convincing way than the mushy “fighting for the middle class” that has often been the mantra of the official labor movement in the country.”
Read the full article at ZCommunications.