Q2 2022

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A SURPRISE UNION VICTORY AT AMAZON FINDS OUR COLUMNIST RIDING A NEW WAVE OF LABOR OPTIMISM By Rob Callahan "Hope is a discipline," I heard a legend- ary voice declare not long ago. Yes, hope is a discipline. But might it also be a contagion? F l a s h b a c k to l o n g a go : 1 9 9 7, No r t h Philadelphia, an urban college campus, brutalist architecture, a setting more gritty than ivied. That's the when and where of how I got my start in the labor movement. I was a young scruffy grad student and instructor at Temple University, teaching composition and lit courses in the English Department while making embarrassingly sluggish progress towards my own degree. Between classes and the piles of papers to grade, a few colleagues and I would spend our idle moments grumbling about Hopes and Dreams POWER SALUTE: Amazon Labor Union had few resources, but won anyway. P H OT O : A P P H OT O S the meager pay, the heavy teaching loads, the health insurance we wryly dubbed t h e "s p a t u l a p l a n" ( j u s t enough coverage to scrape yo u o f f t h e p av e m e n t i n the event of catastrophe), and looming budget cuts threatening to precipitate mass layoffs. Our kvetching klatches e v e n t u a l l y l e d t o o u r printing up fliers and dis- tributing them around campus, and those fliers drew several scores of bookish and bedraggled 20-somethings to crowd into the Sociology Department's claustrophobic g r a d s t u d e n t l o u n ge o n April 2, 1997. That gath- ering turned out to be the inaugural meeting of an organization that would ul- timately — after a five-year fight with the university administration — become A m e r i ca n Fe d e ra t i o n o f Teachers Local #6290. M y o r i g i n s to r y i s n' t special. It's much the same f o r a n y b o d y w h o f i n d s themselves drawn into the labor move- ment. The stories vary in their particulars, and they might play out as high melodrama, or instead be relatively quiet and under- Rob Callahan 14 C I N E M O N T A G E G E T T I N G O R G A N I Z E D

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