From Union to Communion: The Necessary Evolution of Organized Labor
Historically, labor unions have existed to champion the rights and needs of individual workers. These days, there is widespread debate over whether they continue to play a useful role. But the question that may be even more timely and relevant is: what form of collective organizing is needed if we are to protect the rights and needs of all life? Can we expand the concept of “union” beyond those individuals directly involved in the work? Can we organize collectively in union – in communion, even – with everything that is alive, fully conscious of our deep interdependence?
A recent effort by employees of Amazon suggests that the answer to these questions is yes. On April 10, a group calling themselves Amazon Employees for Climate Justice issued an open letter to CEO Jeff Bezos and the company’s Board of Directors. In the letter, they outline a bold and detailed plan for how the internet giant can “spark the world’s imagination and redefine what is possible and necessary to address the climate crisis.” Less than a week later, more than 6,500 employees have signed their names to the letter, representing more than 10% of the total workforce. It is not yet clear how the company’s leadership team will respond, but the pressure is clearly on.
Get ready. This is going to spread – as it must. Every business is filled with opportunities and imperatives for healing, at every point of interaction with the human and more-than-human world. Most leaders don’t yet realize that they are authorized to do what is right and to honor life as the true bottom line. It will likely take the collective voice of the people to make that authorization explicit and to make bold action the expectation and the norm.
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