Author: Herman Benson

HERMAN BENSON is the editor of Union Democracy Review, and the author of Rebels, Reformers, and Racketeers: How Insurgents Transformed the Labor Movement (2004).


1939: Soviets Invade Poland. Defensist? Imperialist?


When the Stalin-Hitler pact triggered World War II in 1939, and Soviet troops occupied half of Poland and then invaded Finland, the Socialist Workers Party in the United States was plunged into crisis.

Real Unions and Unreal Unions

A reply to Dan La Botz

     This discussion has shifted ground. It started with what I proposed, but now we're discussing Dan La Botz's views on the AFL-CIO. I wrote about the need to democratize unions. Dan wants to turn existing unions into "real unions."

The Continental Congress of Workers and Farmers,1933

The high point of social radicalism in America was the Continental Congress of Workers and Farmers for Economic Reconstruction in Washington, DC on May 6 and 7, 1933. Delegates came from around the country in response to the call from a few hundred prominent established leaders of unions, farmers’ organizations, cooperatives, the Socialist Party, student groups, organizations of the unemployed. Signers of the call came from thirty-one states and the District of Columbia. Every organization invited to attend was asked to send two representatives.

Getting ready for the future

Replying to an invitation from Rich Trumka

     If you’re a friend of labor, liberal or radical, Rich Trumka’s invitation applies to you. He’s asking for your thoughts on how the AFL-CIO can get ready for the future. (As you know, unions have not been doing so well these days, and maybe someone can come up with some good ideas.) Toward that end, he posted questions on the internet submitted by seven presumed notables, including former labor secretary Robert Reich and In These Times labor editor David Moberg. Within a few electronic moments, over a thousand comments poured in.


Left Pitted Against Left in "Labor’s Civil Wars"

The "civil wars" that Steve Early mentions in his new book are not about the class war between labor and capital, nor any war between a conservative right and a radical left in unions. It is the war that split labor’s progressive left, and Early is an apt author to tell us about it.

Landrum-Griffin Act at 50: Has It Been Good or Bad for Unions?

As soon as I acquired the hefty 2005 edition of The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States, I lugged it onto the coffee table and opened to its comments on two fascinating cases: Marbury v. Madison and the Dred Scott decision.

The New Unity Partnership: Sweeney Critics Would Bureaucratize to Organize

What John Sweeney did unto Lane Kirkland in 1995 may now be done unto him. On September 18, this year, Sweeney announced he would run for reelection as AFL-CIO president, along with Rich Trumka, secretary-treasurer, and Linda Chavez-Thompson, executive vice-president. But his term of office doesn't expire until mid 2005, almost two years to go.

Does "union democracy" undermine "solidarity?"

[We have asked labor activists to respond to "Card Check: Labor's Charlie Brown Moment?" by Robert Fitch, to encourage discussion on the important issues raised in the article. What follows is the response of Herman Benson.]

Does Buhle Ask Union Democracy to Save the World?

It is difficult to know just what Paul Buhle is driving at; it's even more difficult to figure out what relevance his remarks have to what I wrote in New Politics about the undemocratic leanings of the New Unity Partnership.