After a transformative year on the picket lines, the United Auto Workers’ ambitions for building worker power don’t stop at the US border.
Edited by The Nation
Just want to say a couple words about this one before we get into the column. For the longest time, I've meant to write something about the complete absence of working-class interests from U.S. foreign policy. Unfortunately, my attempts at doing so always seemed abstract or theoretical, hung up in an unproductive and uninteresting way on showing a negative. But then the United Auto Workers, as they have so often throughout 2023, solved the problem.
I set out to write something about the implications of the UAW's call for a ceasefire in Gaza. In doing interviews with three key figures involved in elevating the ceasefire call—I say "elevating," because the call came from the union grassroots, not imposed from the leadership, as you can tell from this November 22 interview Hamilton Nolan did with UAW President Shawn Fain—I learned that they have an eye on a deeper involvement in U.S. foreign and defense policies. It's early days for all of this. But this is what hope for U.S. foreign policy looks like: the impatience of the working class—the people who bear the brunt of U.S. geopolitical and geoeconomic decisions—turning into an organized counterweight to the compounded and compounding disasters of elite U.S. foreign policy.
Look at that: I wrote something optimistic. Thanks to Alex Press, Jacobin's fantastic labor reporter and one of journalism's 2023 MVPs, for helping me out with this one. Here's the column.