Why Solidarity Work

Updated: June 14, 2016
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Why Solidarity Work?

The Verizon Strike & The Meaning of Solidarity

When Verizon strikers put out a call for labor and community support in their recent battle with the company, many PSC members, both active and retired, joined picket lines across the city.

That gesture of solidarity raises the question of just what we mean when we use the word and what we accomplish when we engage in the practice. Why does our union have a Solidarity Committee? What is solidarity all about?

From the perspective of the PSC, those we represent are working people, a part of the working class. And the stronger and healthier and more secure the class as a whole, then the more likely it is that our own needs and aspirations will be met. What goes around comes around. And, after all, as the Wobblies used to say, “An injury to one is an injury to all.”

True, too often, solidarity has been an empty slogan. But as the autoworker, activist and author Gregg Shotwell reminds us, “Solidarity is not an ideal; it is a practical solution to an urgent need.” The Fight for 15, the efforts of CTU in Chicago, widespread support work for the Verizon strikers, and the PSC’s own success in building CUNY Rising are only the most recent evidence that Shotwell spoke the truth.

The working class majority is catching it from all sides. But monthly reports from Central Labor Council delegates, representing union after union, make clear that there’s ferment and fight back everywhere. It’s multi-issue, it’s cross-generational, it’s national and it’s international. And there’s growing recognition that the crises of the workplace, the community and the planet are intertwined.

Solidarity Work and the PSC

Our experience teaches that solidarity work strengthens the union. It raises our visibility and credibility both in the labor movement and in the communities we serve. It is a bank account we have found we can draw upon in our own struggles.

Moreover, solidarity work builds the PSC internally. Solidarity efforts raise member consciousness of our bonds to other workers and how important our own commitment to public higher education is to working people generally. These efforts make concrete the liberating idea, “Same struggle same fight.” They give meaning to the phrase “Not for ourselves alone.” And that heightened consciousness builds our cohesiveness, builds our determination, and builds our commitment to defend the commons.

The PSC's Solidarity Committee enables us to do this work of building relationships and power in a more continuous, coordinated, and thus more effective way. With regular meetings, we can respond quickly to urgent situations and we can also plan ahead and develop a solidarity agenda that furthers the particular goals of the union.

If you would like to share in the work of the Solidarity Committee, contact us at: jperlstein@bassmeadow.com

Jim Perlstein
Co-chair, Solidarity Committee