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Responding to conditions faced in their respective countries, workers in countries as different as Brazil, the Philippines, South Africa and South Korea have created what are arguably the most dynamic and powerful labor movements in the world today. Solidly based in the production-distribution-exchange processes of their respective societies, the importance of these new labor movements goes beyond the "mere" organizing of workers: these labor movements, along with a range of social movements in each of these countries, are major actors in the struggle for democracy, human rights and social justice in each of these countries.
But how can those of us who focus on labor understand these new movements? How can we conceptually understand them? And even if we have a useful conceptual framework, can we apply it to an existing labor movement? Answers are suggested in this paper. To provide a conceptual framework, I will mention several different approaches to understanding labor movements and put forth the approach taken herein. I will describe this new type of trade unionism from within this framework. And then I will present a case study of the Kilusang Mayo Uno(KMU) Labor Center of the Philippines that suggests the viability of the new type.
To place this discussion in an understandable framework, I will first mention the different approaches to understanding labor movements, and cite one reference as an example for each, and then discuss the particular framework that I am using in this article to understand these new labor movements.
Approaches to Understanding Labor Movements
Labor movements can be discussed from several different perspectives. At very least, they can be discussed by the categories of activities in which observers theoretically place them; they can be discussed by the factors their observers consider to be most important to their development; they can be discussed according to the way observers see them act in society; they can be discussed according to how they see themselves; and they can be discussed through a combination of these or other approaches. There has been considerable theoretical confusion within the field of "labor studies" because many writers have approached the subject of labor from different perspectives without consciously recognizing these differences and stating their particular viewpoint. I will use a combination of approaches in this article, while trying to maintain a recognition of this throughout: I join a theoretical understanding of seeing labor movements as agents of radical social change--one type within Larson and Nissen's typology based on analyzing labor's primary social role--with both the perspective of the actors and observations of a labor movement's role in society. But before going further, I must first discuss my understanding of the theoretical perspective from which I write.
Seeing Labor as an Agent of Radical Social Change
Seeing labor as an agent of radical social change has traditionally been the viewpoint from which both Marxists and syndicalists have understood labor movements. While I will consider the Marxist approach here, I am bypassing the syndicalist approach; and I will counterpose to the Marxist approach efforts to create a conceptualization of social movement unionism, and follow that with my refinements to the conceptualization.
Traditional Marxist and Leninist Approaches
This approach, seeing labor as an agent of radical social change, goes back at least as far as Karl Marx. As Lozvovsky points out, "Marx, first and foremost, considered the trade unions organizing centres, centres for collecting the forces of the workers, organizations for giving the workers an elementary class training" (Lozvosky, 1935, reprinted in Larson and Nissen: 44). The class training was to overthrow the bourgeoisie.
However, Marx didn't write much about trade unions. The Marxist who did devote considerable attention to the labor movements was Lenin. Most of us familiar with the Marxist tradition are certainly aware of Lenin's writing on the unions in What Is To Be Done? But despite having a very great impact on generations of Marxists, Lenin's view of labor movements was a very instrumentalist one; he saw unions, while important for the individual workers, primarily as instruments for assisting the vanguard Marxist party in capturing and then maintaining state power.
Thomas Taylor Hammond, in his study of Lenin and trade unions, captured Lenin's approach toward the unions:
It is perfectly clear in Lenin's writings that from the first he wanted the trade unions to be under the influence of, and if possible controlled by, the Party; he wanted them to be Social-Democratic [i.e., communist-KS] in ideology and in action. But he was willing, under some circumstances, for the unions to appear neutral, so as to attract nonsocialists to membership and to avoid interference by the police.
Lenin urged Party members to join the unions and strive to achieve the dominant role in them. Each union, he said, should establish connections with the local organizations of the Party, and the unions could, under certain conditions, affiliate with the Party. To ensure firm control by the Party over union activities, Party cells should be established in the unions. These Party cells would be expected to secure the elections of Party members to all important offices, and see to it that the unions followed the Party line. Lenin felt that unless the unions were firmly under Party control there was the danger that the workers would succumb to bourgeois ideology, that they would neglect politics in favor of the economic struggle, and would look for their salvation in the trade unions rather than to the revolutionary Party (Hammond, 1957, reprinted in Larson and Nissen: 58).
The key to understanding Lenin's approach of controlling workers was this belief that unions could never become revolutionary, and that for workers to reach that point, they would have to join a revolutionary political party; that workers alone could never transcend the split between economics and politics. This yawning gap, which underlies Lenin's conceptions of the role of trade unions, is key to understanding the Leninist conception of unions.
But while that tradition of "Party control" can be found today in both Marxist and radical nationalist circles, efforts to understand the new trade unions have required that analysts go beyond such instrumentalist thinking.
Social Movement Unionism: Initial Development of the Conceptualization
The emergence of the new trade unions in particularly Brazil, the Philippines and South Africa, and the failure of the Leninist approach, caused analysts such as Peter Waterman in The Netherlands and Rob Lambert and Eddie Webster in South Africa to attempt to understand this new unionism.
Peter Waterman (1988) tried to develop the concept of social movement unionism in response to a request from people involved in labor studies and struggles in the Philippines, as an effort to assist their understanding of labor struggles in their country. Acknowledging the use of this concept in the works of Webster (1987), Lambert (1988), Lambert and Webster (1988) and Munck (1988), Waterman particularly focused on Lambert and Webster's use of the term "social movement unionism," in which he wondered if this term was nothing more than a substitute for the earlier term "political unionism."
Waterman wanted to ensure that this concept was theoretically developed so that it would be much more than a substitute:
I am concerned that the term be defined in such a way that it provides both a new theoretical tool and suggests a new political norm. In other words, that it be distinguished both from traditional terminologies and from traditional practices (Waterman, 1988: 1).
In his paper, Waterman stated the necessity of relating this social movement unionism to social movements, and then discussed the development of social movement theory. Comparing social movement unionism to the old concept of political unionism, Waterman notes, "We are talking not simply of a different union model but a different understanding of the role of the working class and its typical organization in the transformation of society." He goes on to point out that this new concept is a product of the newly emerging social movements and a new type of unionism (Waterman, 1988: 6-7).
It was within this orientation that the discussion has taken place.
There are three main points in Waterman's conception: one, he sees social movement unionism as being not only a different model of trade unionism but based on a different understanding of the working class and its organization in the struggle to transform society; two, he thinks this model is--and must be--radically different than the Leninist conceptualization of trade unionism; and three, he sees social movement unionism as necessarily being linked with other social movements.
Trying to build upon Waterman's work, Rob Lambert also picked three areas which he felt were critical in the definition of social movement unionism: organizationally transcending the traditional political-economic divide, attempting to form structured alliances with social movements, and third, engaging in national campaigns of resistance against the state. Lambert's strongest point is critically important to understanding this new unionism:
... the primary task of social movement unionism is the transcendence of the bourgeois separation of politics and economics which needs to be understood in the light of the relationships between economy, civil society and the state. The greater the containment of unionism within the collective bargaining system, the greater the social stability of capitalism. That is why new forms of workplace organization and practice that transcend the divide and lock into civil society and the state in new ways pose a threat to capitalist dominance... (Lambert, 1989: 6).
But what does "transcending the economic-political split" mean in real life? The real issue is not the separation of the economic and the political in the workplace, because workers' struggles against dominative power in the workplace are immanently political, but the separation between the workplace and the rest of workers' life-spaces. The new labor movements are themselves able to analyze the existing social order and their role in it, and to make their own decisions as how to interact with it--and they are not dependent on the advice or direction of any external organization regardless of whose interest the external organization claims to represent.
To differentiate these new unions from traditional ones of both the "right" and the "left," Lambert and Webster developed a typology of the different types of unionism that exist today. This typology is at least implicitly developed from within the theoretical tradition of seeing labor movements as agents of radical social change.
Lambert and Webster define "orthodox" unionism as:
a form of trade unionism which concentrates almost exclusively on workplace issues; fails to link production issues to wider political issues; and finally encourages its members to become politically involved without necessarily engaging itself in the wider political arena, believing that this is best left to other organizations more suited to the task. The political content of such unionism varies widely, but in each instance, what is common to this orientation is an accommodation and absorption into industrial relations systems, which not only institutionalizes conflict, but also serves to reinforce the division between economic and political forms of struggle so essential to the maintenance of capitalist relations in production, in the community and in the state (Lambert and Webster: 20-21).
They define "populist" unionism as
unionism in which trade unionism and struggles in the factory are downplayed. The latter is a tendency that neglects struggles over wages, supervision, managerial controls at the workplace and job evaluation. It places in its stead a political engagement that only serves to dissipate shop floor struggles (Lambert and Webster: 21).
And "political, or social movement unionism" as
attempts to link production to wider political issues. It is a form of union organization that facilitates an active engagement in factory-based, production politics and in community and state power issues. *** ... it does not negate the role of a political party, but rather asserts the need for a co-ordinating political body that is democratic in its practices and therefore able to relate to political unionism in a non-instrumental manner (Lambert and Webster: 21).
However, I have several differences with Lambert and Webster's types. I disagree with their "orthodox" type when they say that this type of unionism doesn't necessarily engage itself in the wider political arena--this certainly isn't true of the AFL-CIO (and it probably isn't true of any trade union movement in the world in one way or the other). The AFL-CIO is very actively engaged in electoral politics, while accommodating to and being absorbed within the established industrial relations system. I generally agree with Lambert and Webster's "populist" type, although I would suggest that these unions are controlled by or subordinate themselves to political parties, and to which they give primary loyalty instead of to the immediate interests of their members. In cases where these unions exist within a state socialist social system, they can and sometimes engage in international labor operations that are designed to support unions affiliated with political parties which are allied with their dominant party. And I will discuss my conception of social movement unionism below.
To understand these new labor movements, I have to present my conceptual approach to them. First, I theoretically understand these labor movements predominantly as agents of radical social change. Second, from time spent with members and leaders of the KMU of the Philippines during five visits throughout the country over the last seven years, combined with extensive research, I know that the majority of members and leaders of the organization see their labor movement as an agent of radical social change. And from my observations of the KMU, I have come to describe this new type of trade unionism based on how I see it functions in theirsociety.
Following Lambert and Webster, I am going to suggest there are three general types of trade unionism, although I would call them "economic," "political" and "social movement"--and I use these terms differently than do Lambert and Webster. It is necessary for me to delineate these so as to distinguish social movement unionism as a separate type of trade unionism.
I define "economic" unionism as being unionism that accommodates itself to, and is absorbed by, the industrial relations system of its particular country; that engages in political activities within the dominant political system for the well-being of its members and its institutional self but generally limits itself to immediate interests; and that can and sometimes does engage in international labor activities that are largely but not totally designed to help maintain the well-being of its country's current economic system, ostensibly for the well-being of its members, and these international activities are usually opposed to any type of system-challenging trade unionism.
I define "political" unionism as unionism that is dominated by or subordinated to a political party or state, to which the leaders give primary loyalty--and this includes both the Leninist and "radical nationalist" versions. This results in generally but not totally neglecting workplace issues for "larger" political issues. These unions can and sometimes engage in international labor operations that are designed to support unions affiliated with political parties/states which are allied with their party/state.
And I define social movement unionism:
Social movement unionism is a type of trade unionism that differs from the traditional forms of both economic and political unionism. This type sees workers' struggles as merely one of many efforts to qualitatively change society, and not either the onlysite for political struggle and social change or even the primary site. Therefore, it seeks alliances with other social movements on an equal basis, and tries to join them in practice when possible, both within the country and internationally.
Social movement unionism is trade unionism democratically controlled by the membership and not by any external organization, and recognizes that the struggles for control over workers' daily work life, pay and conditions are intimately connected with and cannot be separated from the national socio-political-economic situation. This requires that struggles to improve the situation of workers confront the national situation--combining struggles against exploitation and oppression in the workplace with those confronting domination both external from and internal to the larger society--as well as any dominating relations within the unions themselves. Therefore, it is autonomous from capital, the state and political parties, setting its own agenda from its own particular perspective, yet willing to consider modifying its perspective on the basis of negotiations with the social movements that it is allied with and that it has equal relations.
This conception recognizes that social movement unionism as being not only a different type of trade unionism, but is based on a different understanding of the working class and its organization in the struggle to transform society. It transcends the traditional economic-political divide of society, which is common to the economic as well as the political conceptions, and thus radically differs from the Leninist conceptualization of trade unionism. It is based on democratic control by the membership within the unions, rejecting any external control from either the left or the right. And it is willing to ally with social movements on the basis of equal relations, and even consider modifying its particular perspective through negotiations; these alliances include both short-term and longer structural relationships, ultimately for the purposes of engaging in national campaigns of resistance against the state. Additionally, its conception of internationalism is built on solidarity relations.
Thus in the present discussion, I theoretically understand social movement unionism as one type of unionism wherein labor movements are seen as actors for radical social change, but this new type of unionism is distinct from traditional Leninist trade unionism, and is based on a more refined understanding than that presented by either Waterman or Lambert and Webster.
And now that I have presented a theoretical conceptualization of these new labor movements, it is time to examine one to see if this conceptualization has any basis in reality. For this purpose, I present some of my research on the KMU.
THE KILUSANG MAYO UNO (KMU) OF THE PHILIPPINES: A CASE STUDY
The KMU is only one of five different labor formations in the Philippines--the others are a group of federations affiliated with the formerly Soviet-dominated World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU); the Federation of Free Workers (FFW); the Lakas Manggagawa Labor Center (LMLC); and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP). While the WFTU-affiliated federations are considered by the KMU to be politically "progressive," the FFW and LMLC are considered to be "moderates," while the TUCP is "conservative." (The TUCP was created by Marcos to serve as the mass organization among workers to support his dictatorship.) In addition to these, there are independent unions arrayed across the political spectrum. And while these political designations are often collapsed into the categories of "genuine" and "yellow" by the KMU--the former progressive and the latter reactionary--the different formations will sometimes unite tactically on different issues, particularly regarding economic wage demands, while remaining politically opposed to each other.
Why did the KMU develop? What were the conditions which caused workers to create it? What has enabled it to survive and grow?
There were three reasons to found the KMU. First, workplace conditions were terrible. Second, the traditional unions had sold out workers. And third, there was a clear need for a workers' organization that would organize against foreign domination; as long as the country remained subservient to foreign interests, it would be unable to develop and confront the problems that faced its people.
The Kilusang Mayo Uno
KMU, which translates to May First Movement, was founded on May 1, 1980, during the dark days of the Marcos Dictatorship. The seven founding union organizations had 35,000 members under collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) at the time, with an additional 15,000 as members but without CBAs. After 10 years, there were 350,000 members under CBAs, and another 400,000 workers which were under the KMU but without CBAs.
But there is obviously more to the KMU than just size or even membership growth. How did the KMU survive the repression of a dictator--including the arrest and detention of its chairperson, general secretary and almost 100 top leaders? How could the organization continue after the assassination of its subsequent chairperson, facing massive human rights violations and almost total opposition from the military and the ruling class? Where did the KMU find the strength to be able to lead and win its second national general workers' strike within nine years of its founding?
Part of the KMU's power to endure is related to its basic principles of being genuine, militant and nationalist. A top leader interviewed in 1986, who did not want his name used, explained what these principles mean to members of the KMU:
By "genuine," we mean that the KMU is run by its members. The members are given all information and decide the policies which run the organization. By "militant," we mean that the KMU will never betray the interest of the working class, even at the risk of our own lives. The KMU believes workers become aware of their own human dignity through collective mass action. By "nationalist," we believe the wealth of the Philippines belongs to the Filipino people and that national sovereignty must never be compromised. The KMU is against the presence of the U.S. bases (Scipes, 1987: 12).
In other words, the KMU is class conscious, believes that workers learn more from mass struggles than from leaders cutting back room deals, and is determined that Filipinos should control the Philippines.
The statement about never betraying the interests of the working class, even at risk of KMU leaders' own lives, is not hyperbole; many KMU organizers, leaders and members have been arrested or killed. The assassination of KMU Chairperson Rolando Olalia in November 1986 demonstrated the risks involved in being a genuine trade unionist even for those highest in the organization.
Another key aspect to the KMU's survival and growth is the organization's political concept of "genuine trade unionism." Genuine trade unionism (GTU) extends the scope of trade unionism beyond mere relations in the workplace; it also includes struggles over the political economy of the nation and its internal social relations. KMU-affiliated unions have developed this concept to the greatest extent in the Philippines, although it is not limited to them.
Genuine trade unionism opposes domination from without; it is against imperialist interference in the Philippines from particular nations such as the U.S. or Japan, as well as from institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bankandthe AFL-CIO.
It is this involvement in the debate over the future direction and shape of the nation--together with the KMU's increasing ability to interfere with economic production due to its position in the nation's workplaces--that makes the KMU such an important subject for examination and understanding.
Further organizational strengths are to be found in the internal processes within KMU-affiliated organizations: the KMU is committed to union democracy and accountability of its membership. It requires sacrifices from leaders and fights internal corruption. The KMU is controlled by its membership and not by any other organization from the left or the right.
There are three political factors that make the KMU unique: its education program that is designed to provide political education to each member, and not just limited to officers and shop stewards; its relations with other social movements such as peasants, women, fisherfolk, urban poor, tribals and students; and its lack of political dependence on outside organizations.
The KMU has one of the most developed trade union education programs in the world. It serves as perhaps the key component in leadership development.
Known by the general name of "genuine trade unionism," the KMU education program is composed of three different courses: PAMA, GTU and KPD.
PAMA is a one day introductory course, which is short enough that organizers can give basic educational training even on picketlines. In this course, workers are taught not only trade union rights and responsibilities, but political economics as well. Surplus value is explained in a way all workers can understand. The term "imperialism" is demystified and shown to be a key explanation for the economic degradation and poverty of their country. Gaining national sovereignty is clearly shown to be an important part of workers' struggle for liberation.
The three day Genuine Trade Unionism course, GTU, goes into greater detail. Workers discuss the problems of labor. They examine and analyze the differences between genuine trade unionism on one hand, and "yellow" unionism--whether of the "bread and butter/rice and fish" version or its more collaborationist form--on the other. They focus on the history of the Filipino labor movement and previous efforts to develop genuine trade unions. And workers discuss the struggle for national and working class liberation.
The third course, KPD, propagates the national democratic program. Originally part of the GTU course, KPD has been further developed on its own. This focuses attention on the struggle for national democracy, which includes joining with different political forces fighting for national sovereignty. The goal of national democracy is the establishment of a truly independent country and a national democratic coalition government, based on the various sectors of society such as peasants, workers, fisherfolk, women, urban poor, students, etc.
Though these courses were formally developed in Metro Manila at the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER), a Church-based organization, they were created in response to the high priority placed on member education at the KMU's founding congress in 1980. These courses were developed in the field--on picket lines and at union meetings--and brought back to Manila for integration and development at EILER. They were then taken back into the field, tested and then further modified when necessary.
Education centers have been established throughout the country. Each KMU federation has an education department, as do most KMU geographic alliances. Making information available and accessible to workers is their goal.
This information is not just for KMU members. In Bataan, workers demanded that all members of the provincial alliance--even unions affiliated with other labor centers--be given genuine trade unionism education. This seems to be the case in most alliances. Also, in some areas independent education programs have been established, such as the Visayas Institute for Research and Trade Union Education in Cebu, which serves any union in the Visayas region.
This education process is one of the main differences between KMU organizations and those controlled by other labor groupings. The KMU tries to develop workers' understanding in order to get them involved in confronting their problems and the problems of the country. It uses every opportunity to educate workers, whether trying to win certification elections during respective "freedom periods" or helping workers take control over their own union to make it militant.
Key to this education process is the way it is run. Rather than just telling workers what they should think or do, KMU educators have developed curricula which enables workers to share their thoughts on various issues and discuss alternatives. It is through open discussion and input from the instructors that workers educate themselves and each other.
The importance of this education simply cannot be exaggerated. It brings workers together, away from the work site. It allows them to think about and discuss what they want and how they can best achieve their goals. It also allows them to interact with one another, building solidarity within the organization.
The most important result is the general empowerment of workers. Once workers have been through an education course, they get a real sense of themselves and what they are doing. While this sounds abstract, it comes through concretely in their determination in their particular struggles; maintaining 24 hour picket lines for over a year during a strike is not uncommon.
These courses also encourage workers to develop their own courses. For example, the IGMC Workers' Union in the Bataan Export Processing Zone developed a course for their members on the capitalist relations of production in their firm. Why is production arranged in the manner it is? What is the company trying to do? How are they able to do it? What can the union do to strengthen itself? Those are some of the questions that their course focused on. The union had put all of its 700+ members through the course by early 1986.
Relations with Other Sectoral Organizations
In the Philippines, national democrats within each sector of society--such as workers, peasants, fisherfolk, women, urban poor and students--have developed organizations to meet their people's specific needs. These are known as sectoral organizations.
Joining with sectoral organizations to fight for demands that would benefit the entire population of the Philippines and refusing to limit KMU's interests only to workers and their problems is another key factor in the KMU's development. Benefiting fromthis cross-sectoral unity, the people of the Philippines have been able to develop a tactic called a welga ng bayan, or "people's strike," that is even more powerful than the almost-mythic "general strike" in industrialized countries.
A welga ng bayan includes a general workers' strike, but it is much more. In addition, all public transportation is stopped, all shops and stores are closed, and community members set up barricades to stop still-operating private vehicles or they join workers on their picket lines.
The first welga ng bayan took place in Davao City on Mindanao in 1984. The concerted actions of the people paralyzed most significant economic activity in response to increased military operations and brutality on the island. Two more island-wide people's strikes were launched during 1985, again protesting the militarization of the island. The third people's strike was so successful that when the island's military commander asked the leaders to call it off after one day, they refused. "We'll call it off when we reach our objectives," a leader told him. The welga ng bayan lasted three days.
How did this tactic develop? Erasto "Nonoy" Librado, Secretary General of KMU-Mindanao, explained that leaders from different sectoral organizations had noticed very little response to their efforts to win their particular demands; and they began talking to see if together they could all be more successful. Their efforts paid off with a tactic that, while difficult to mobilize properly, was incredibly powerful when launched.
In May 1985, the various sectoral organizations, including the KMU, organized into a national alliance called BAYAN, or New Patriotic Alliance. BAYAN, which means "people" or "country" is organized on a national level and it has local chapters in most major urban areas throughout the country.
The next significant people's strike took place in Bataan Province against the Westinghouse-built Bataan Nuclear Power Plant in 1985. This power plant, built on the side of a volcano in an active earthquake zone, was intended to supply electricity to the U.S. military bases, Clark and Subic, and to the export processing zone in Mariveles. The welga ng bayan was described:
Several major protests have been launched against the plant. The largest was the three-day province-wide strike in June 1985. Eight towns were brought to a standstill. All banks, shops, schools, public transport, private businesses and government offices shut down. Even fishing boats in the local port refused to put out to sea. Workers from the industrial free trade zone, where the factories of the multinationals are located, marched for two days to join the protests. Workers blocked all roads to thenuclear power plant and grappled with armoured cars sent to clear a way through (Watts and Jackson, 1986).
The first nationwide welga ng bayan was launched in August 1987 in response to an oil price hike by the government. Although called off early in response to a military coup attempt, the effort had immobilized 95% of the country beforehand. Interestingly, the next military coup attempt took place after plans for another nationwide people's strike had been announced but before it could be launched in December 1989.
Welga ng bayans are evidence of a recognition by progressive Filipinos that they can gain much more together than they can alone. Welga ng bayans also show KMU's recognition that labor must be involved in national issues that affect other sectors because these issues also affect workers as well.
KMU's Independence from External Organizations
The KMU has been repeatedly charged with being a front for the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). By labeling it as a front, violence and repression against the KMU is therefore "legitimized" within the middle and upper classes in a society that, like the United States, is strongly anti-communist. This charge is an important one to my contention that its trade unionism is a new type, for if it is a "front," then the KMU should more properly be typed as a political union and not a social movement union.
Why do I maintain that the KMU is independent of the Communist Party? What evidence supports this position? Actually there is much to consider.
Despite the charges, no one has ever proven that the KMU is controlled by the CPP; even Ferdinand Marcos, with all his powers and having a subservient judiciary at his disposal, could not prove this allegation. The KMU has repeatedly denied it is a front for the Communist Party of the Philippines. A number of KMU leaders have been arrested and detained on charges of "subversion" and "rebellion," which are in reality charges of belonging to the CPP and, as far as I know, the charges have never been sustained against them in a court of law. KMU leaders have been investigated time and again by government agencies, and have not been shown to be members of the party. KMU Chairperson Crispin Beltran also has stated specifically this is not true:
The CPP has its own program, a substantial part of which is like that of the KMU, but it is altogether a different one. In the first place, the most important consideration is the peaceful and parliamentary character of our struggle: we denounce the use of violence in order to achieve our goal. We are guided by the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, and we are continuously pledging allegiance to the flag and to the Constitution.
It weakens the charges of being a communist front when the accused organization denounces a key component of the Communist Party's political line, the necessity of armed revolution.
Accordingly, both the Aquino and the Ramos governments have been dealing with the KMU as a responsible party, and the Aquno government included the KMU in its Labor Advisory and Consultative Council.
Yet the charges of being a communist front keep getting made. These charges could lead people to believe that there must be something there, despite the fact that no credible evidence has been presented, on the belief that "where there's smoke, there's fire."
I have thoroughly researched this issue over the past seven years, in his efforts to ascertain whether the KMU is one development of a new type of trade unionism or whether it is a product of a very sophisticated communist party. I have talked with workers, union activists, organizers and top leaders of the KMU, leaders of anti-KMU unions, academics, Church activists and clergy, community organizers, as well as journalists; some singly and others in small groups. I have read material by the KMU--as well as the excellent GTU: Course on Genuine Trade Unionism, developed by the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research, that the KMU uses as its basic educational document--and have evaluated claims by people politically from both the left and right of the KMU.
In addition to this, in conversations with KMU leaders, I have specifically inquired about the organizational decision-making processes and development. Both of these factors are key to gaining insight as to how an organization functions internally.
From this research--which has also included attending local union and regional federation-wide meetings--I have found that the KMU is run democratically. Union meetings that I have attended have been well attended and debate was vigorous, thoughtful and critical. Relationships between leaders and members have appeared open and respectful.
There are a range of politics among the various federations, and debates within and among them seem quite lively. Unions have the right to abstain from major campaigns, although obviously, abstention is discouraged. In at least one major case in which the evidence seems quite clear and resulting positions are known--the case of political interference by the International Food and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF)--the National Federation of Labor (NFL) was not forced to withdraw from the IUF even though the three other federations did withdraw and this appeared to be a major attack on the existence of the KMU itself. Additionally, the NFL publicly disagreed with the initial KMU analysis of the massacre at Tienanmen Square, and was not forced out of the organization. The KMU is not controlled by "democratic centralism."
Another factor that has been ignored by KMU critics is the way in which the KMU has developed--a substantial number of organizations and leaders within the KMU came from political positions considerably to the right of the KMU. Out of the 11 federations that are now members, three of them are considered yellow at earlier points in their history, as was the United Lumber and General Workers of the Philippines (ULGWP) before it withdrew; in fact, Ilaw at Buklod ng Manggagawa (IBM) only left the right wing TUCP in 1987 to join KMU. AMA-SUGBO, the alliance of Cebu, initially was comprised of nothing but TUCP-affiliated unions. And there is at least one high-ranking KMU leader who once was a regional officer within the TUCP; and I assume there are other formerly high-ranking leaders of yellow organizations now working within the KMU. Especially because of the controversial reputation of the KMU, it seems extremely unlikely for these organizations or leaders to move from the right to the left as they have done without seriously investigating the charges against the KMU, and deciding that the KMU was an autonomous organization.
Not only are these charges not supported by specific evidence, but Miriam Golden's research in Italy has shown that even where a communist party is legal, institutionalized and has mass electoral support, it "is difficult for the party to control organized labor to the extent that communist unionists are themselves heterogeneous in their policy orientations and effectively act against their own party" (emphasis added) (Golden, 1988: 245). It is much more unlikely to have as much or more control in a situation where the communist party is illegal and where public accusations of being a "communist" can result--and unfortunately, have resulted--in the accused being killed.
In addition to all of this, the KMU's concept of genuine trade unionism--where the issues of the factory are seen as an integral part of the national situation, meaning that the economic aspect of the struggle cannot be divorced from the political--is radically different from that developed under Leninism. When one reads Lenin's classic What is to be Done?, in which the communist theory of trade union organization in the period preceding seizure of state power is most developed, the reader discovers that Lenin's concept is that trade unions cannot develop beyond the economic aspect of the struggle; to go further, workers must join in revolutionary organizations. Genuine trade unionism specifically denies this dualistic separation of aspects of the struggle for liberation. Once this distinction is understood, then it seems clear that the KMU is not a communist front.
From the evidence I've seen, I have concluded that the KMU is controlled by its membership and not by any outside organization, whether of the left or right. The positions it takes are a result of political struggle within the organization, not from outside; the strengths and weaknesses of the KMU should be attributed to the organization itself and not to any outside forces.
Critique of KMU
While there is much to commend the KMU to workers, there are a number of areas of its practice that still need to be changed and/or refined. Particularly it needs to clarify its own ideology and specifically address the charges that it is a front for the Communist Party of the Philippines. It also needs to actively develop women's leadership and resolutely move to make women's participation in leadership reflect the participation and contribution made by women to the overall organization. It also needs to develop an anti-bureaucratic focus.
The men and women of the KMU have built a strong and powerful organization. This labor center is based on a philosophy of being genuine, militant and nationalist and, from that philosophy, workers have developed the concept of genuine trade unionism. Coupled with this has been a democratic decision-making process, a structure of federations and alliances that is mutually reinforcing, an elaborate and emphasized education program, alliances with other sectoral organizations and independence from other organizations.
The KMU has unified organizations at a number of different levels from throughout the country into a national labor center. And it has survived for over 10 years, something no previous radical labor center has accomplished in the Philippines.
As a result, during its first 10 years, the KMU led two nationwide general workers' strikes and constituted a major force in a nationwide welga ng bayan, while continuing regional and provincial efforts. These efforts have combined KMU unions with unions from other labor groupings and sectoral organizations.
It is clear that social movements, united in BAYAN, are a key force in the future development of the Philippines. And central to BAYAN is the KMU.
At the same time, however, the KMU has some problems it must address. It must get clear on its political ideology and its vision of the future, and it must differentiate its vision from that of the CPP. It must become much more sensitive and active in tackling women's oppression, within the unions, the society and the general culture. And it must confront the problem of bureaucracy within its ranks.
But in criticizing the KMU, the question must be asked if the labor center has developed a organizational process by which these problems can be addressed. It seems quite clear that it has, and I expect substantial progress to be made in regard to these issues in the up-coming period.
Evaluation of the Case Study
There are three important factors to come out of this case study. The most important is the different conception of working class organization and the transcending of the separation between economics and politics, both which are integral to the KMU's conception of genuine trade unionism. There is no doubt that the KMU conceives itself as fighting for the well-being of all Filipino working people, and it has joined as an equal with other social movements to change society. This can be seen with its participation in welga ng bayans (people's strikes) and its membership in the national alliance, BAYAN. But it also understands that it must fight domination of the country from outside, whether from particular nations, international institutions and/or reactionary foreign labor movements.
Another key factor is its autonomy from capital, state and political parties, and the internal processes within the organization. The KMU is controlled by its membership and not by any organization from the left or the right. The KMU is committed to union democracy, and the leadership is held accountable to the membership. The organization is decentralized as much as possible.
Another important factor is the importance placed on formally educating the rank and file through the PAMA, GTU and KPD education courses. Most trade union education, when there is any, overwhelmingly focuses on elected leadership and in some unions, shop stewards--the KMU not only educates these key people but insists on educating the rank and file. In January 1986, while Marcos was still in power, I was told by the Secretary General of the National Federation of Sugar Workers, Serge Cherniguin, that all 80,000 of the NFSW's members had completed the one day PAMA course. This is all the more impressive when one understands this was under great repression, and that a large number of the sugar workers are illiterate.
The case study of the KMU has shown that it is neither an economic nor political type of labor movement; it is one example of what I call social movement unionism. It is a trade unionism that has developed from the concrete situation in its own country, and it is one that workers have created that they run themselves rather than it being a product of a communist or any other party to which workers are recruited while being limited politically to responding to the needs and desires of the party.
This obviously has important ramifications for struggles for democracy, human rights and social justice in their country: workers and members of other social movements have a powerful, organized forced that can represent and, at times, enforce their interests upon the current social order, including the government controlling the state apparatus. While this force is weak in relation to the government and the state overall, at times it has forced the government to change not only practices but policies it has publicly announced. A government must also consider the KMU's possible response before publicly launching many of its ventures.
In this paper, I suggested that there was a new type of trade unionism being created by labor movements in Brazil, the Philippines, South Africa and South Korea.
I conceptually discussed different approaches as to how labor movements could be understood, and then focused my attention on the perspective that sees labor movements as agents of social change. I discussed traditional Marxist approaches to viewing labor movements, noted initial efforts to conceptualize the new unions by Waterman and Lambert and Webster which differed from the traditional Marxist approaches, and then suggested refinements to their typology that makes the distinction even more clear. And once I had presented a conceptual framework to understand these new types of labor movements, I then presented some of my research on the KMU that showed the viability of this new conceptualization.
What has not been shown in this article is whether the labor movements in Brazil, South Africa and South Korea are also of this new type. My experiences, both in reading available material and in talking with members of these labor movements--and especially with a number of South Africans--suggest quite strongly that these others are of this new type. Obviously, additional research is required.
However, I have not only suggested how analysts can understand these new trade unions, but have presented evidence to show that at least one labor movement exists that validates this new conceptualization. In light of the KMU's experiences, it seems that there is a lot to be learned from them, and that labor movements around the world should consider [re]creating themselves on the basis of this new type of trade unionism.
Asian Labour Monitor. 1987. Min-ju No-jo: South Korea's New Trade Unions. Hong Kong: Asian Monitor Research Center.
Baskin, Jeremy. 1991. Striking Back: A History of COSATU. London and New York: Verso.
Cella, G. and T. Treu. 1987. "National Trade Union Movements" in R. Blanpain, ed., Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations (3rd Edition). Deventer (Netherlands): Kluwer: 197-228.
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research. 1988. GTU: Genuine Trade Unionism. Quezon City: EILER.
Golden, Mariam. 1988. Labor Divided: Austerity and Working-Class Politics in Contemporary Italy. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.
Kraus, Jon. 1988. "The Political Economy of Trade Union-State Relations in Radical and Populist Regimes in Africa" in Roger Southall, ed., Labour and Unions in Asia and Africa. Basingstoke: Macmillan: 171-211.
---- 1988. "Political Unionism in South Africa: The South African Congress of Trade Unions, 1955-65." Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University.
---- 1989. "Social Movement Unionism: The Urgent Task of Definition. Comments on Peter Waterman's Brief Note on Social Movement Unionism." Perth: University of Western Australia, unpublished paper.
Lambert, Rob and Eddie Webster. 1988. "The Re-emergence of Political Unionism in Contemporary South Africa?" in William Cobbett and Robin Cohen, eds., Popular Struggles in South Africa. London: James Currey: 20-41.
Larson, Simeon and Bruce Nissen, eds. 1987. Theories of the Labor Movement. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.
Lenin, V.I. 1953. "What is to be Done?" in V.I. Lenin, Selected Works in Two Volumes, Volume 1, Part 1; London: Lawrence and Wishart Ltd: 200-409.
MacShane, Denis, Martin Plaut and David Ward. 1985. Power! Black Workers and Struggles to Build Trade Unions in South Africa. Boston: South End Press.
Munck, Ronaldo. 1988. The New International Labour Studies: An Introduction. London: Zed Press.
---- 1987. "KMU: Building Rank and File Unionism in the Philippines." ideas and action, Spring 1987: 12-15.
---- 1988. "Learning from the KMU: Alliance Building." Workers' Democracy #28 (Conference on WSO, Second Issue): 8-12. Reprinted in Don Fitz and Dave Roediger, editors, Within the Shell of the Old: Essays on Workers' Self-Organization. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company, 1990: 81-88.
---- 1990a. "Aquino's Total War and the KMU." Z Magazine, January: 116-121.
---- 1990b. "Interview with Cleofe Zapanta, Secretary General of the KMK." Z Magazine, May: 105-107.
---- 1992. "Social Movement Unionism and the Kilusang Mayo Uno." Kasarinlan [Third World Studies Center, University of the Philippines], Vol. 7, Nos. 2-3 (4th Qtr 1991-1st Qtr 1992): 121-162.
---- n.d. Building Genuine Trade Unionism in the Philippines: The First 10 Years of the KMU.
Transnational Information Exchange. 1984. TIE Report, No. 17, "Brazil."
---- 1988. "'Social Movement Unionism': A Brief Note." The Hague: Institute of Social Studies, unpublished paper.
---- 1991. "'Social Movement Unionism': Beyond 'Economic' and 'Political' Unionism." Amsterdam: International Institue for Research and Education, Working Paper No. 19.
Watts, Simon and Henry Jackson. 1986. "Morong: Closed by People's Strike." International Labour Reports, July-August: 17.
Webster, Eddie. 1987. "The Rise of Social Movement Unionism--The Two Faces of the Black Trade Union Movement in South Africa." Johannesburg: University of Witwatersrand, Sociology Department, unpublished paper.
 I want to thank the anonymous reviewers and the Critical Sociology editorial board, and particularly Val Burris, for their constructive comments and support in the preparation of this article. This support went far beyond that extended by the EBs or staffs of the critical journals with which I have previously dealt, and should be seen as a model by the left.
 While a trade unionist, I served for five years as the North American representative for the British-based journal International Labour Reports (ILR). During this time, from reading the articles published in ILR as well as other material--particularly Transnationals Information Exchange (1984), MacShane, Plaut and Ward (1985), Asian Labour Monitor (1987), and Munck (1988)--and from my experiences with the KMU in the Philippines, I saw that new labor movements were emerging in these countries that were obviously different from traditional unions. (For a more recent report on the unions in South Africa, see Baskin, 1991.) The specific labor centers in these countries that I refer to--CUT (Central Unica do Trabalhadores) in Brazil, KMU (Kilusang Mayo Uno) in the Philippines, COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions) in South Africa and KTUC (Korean Trade Union Congress) in South Korea--are ones that, as I argue in this paper, should be conceptualized differently than traditional trade unions. These experiences, I suggest, provide the basis for the development of a concept of "social movement unionism" and serve as a model to rejuvenate trade unionism in particularly the less economically developed countries and at least in some more economically developed countries such as the United States.
However, I do not confine the possible development of social movement unionism to just these countries; it is the experiences of these labor centers, however, that are the clearest and thus the strongest bases for any new model. Certainly, the experiences of Solidarnosc in Poland should be considered, and Solidarnosc probably fits this conception at least during 1980-81--Lambert and Webster include Solidarnosc their conception of social movement unionism, although in general and not limited to any particular time period (Lambert and Webster, 1988: 39, FN #3). However, I'm not so sure what happened during the martial law period, and evidence I have seen is contradictory--obviously, much more research needs to be done. Munck (1988: 121-22) writes of some local forms of social movement unionism in India. Personal reports on the UNTS in El Salvador suggest it might be another social movement unionism-type labor center, but more detailed information needs to be acquired. I've heard some interesting reports on new unions in Mexico. I assume there are also other experiences along these lines taking place in other countries, although they haven't yet been reported. In short, I believe this concept of social movement unionism fits a range of unions beyond those that I specifically refer to.
 A note on terminology: I am focusing in general on labor movements, which include trade unions and conglomerations of trade unions, as well as other organizations that support the overall movement, both inside and outside of the workplaces, and these are "organized" by labor "centers." (In the US context but using international labor terminology, the AFL-CIO is a "labor center.") Thus educational support centers that advance the ideas and thinking of a labor center are included in the term labor movement. However, the heart of any labor movement is the workers organized into trade unions at the point of production, distribution and exchange.
 Larson and Nissen, 1987.
 Cella and Treu, 1987.
Lambert and Webster, 1988.
 Golden, 1988.
 This I am doing because the syndicalist approach to labor movements does not have a strong presence in the less economically developed countries, and specifically not in the countries whose labor movements I focus my attention on.
 I only present brief summaries of the work of Waterman and Lambert in this article; for a stronger presentation of their positions and a discussion thereof, see Scipes, 1992: 127-132.
 Thanks to Amrita Chhachhi for reminding me of this point.
 Jon Kraus claims that the most important factor regarding performance of the labor movement in "populist" or "radical nationalist" societies--and he examined the labor movements in Algeria, Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania--is the experience and institutionalization of the labor movement prior to the regime's coming to power. In a case such as Ghana, where the labor movement had the most experience and longest institutionalization of the four countries, he argues that "the primary commitment of most union leaders remained to their unions..." (Kraus, 1988: 182).
However, Kraus presented no evidence of the unions in Ghana systematically challenging the differing populist or radical nationalist governments and their respective organization of society. This suggests that those unions that did not give their primary loyalty to the regime were themselves economic unions under my typology, rather than political unions.
 This definition is the result of a theoretical debate I have been engaged in with Rob Lambert (1989) and Peter Waterman (1988, 1991) regarding the conception of social movement unionism. For my formal entry into the debate and my comments on both Lambert and Waterman's positions, see my 1992 article and pp. 127-134 in particular; as far as I know, neither have responded in print to my position.
 Although I examine the KMU in this paper, and argue that it is an example of social movement unionism, this is a intellectual conceptualization I am using to understand the KMU and not a term that the KMU has adopted to describe itself. Therefore, I bear all responsibility for any application of this conceptualization to the KMU. However, Rob Lambert has also used the KMU as an example of social movement unionism (Lambert, 1989).
This case study is from my manuscript currently under consideration by a publisher (Scipes, n.d.). The cut-off date for my study (with only an overview to bring people up to date) was May 1, 1990.
 Interview with KMU Chairperson Crispin Beltran, May 2, 1990 in Manila. All interviews were conducted by me in the course of my research on the KMU.
 Interview with a member of KMU's International Department on April 16, 1990 in Manila.
KMU's numerical size, while the largest labor center in the country, is still quite small in proportion to the number of workers in the society. In 1987, 40.76% of the labor force of 15.58 million workers--9.06 million--were employed as wage/salary workers. "Of the wage/salary earners, 2.1 million or 23% were organized into unions, of which only 346 thousand worked under a collective bargaining agreement" (Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research, 1988: 2). (Obviously the KMU had been quite successful between the writing of this book, which they use as their key educational document, and 1990.) Nonetheless, KMU's location in strategic parts of the economy and its alliances with other social movements give it a power considerably beyond itsnumerical size.
 Another important factor in the KMU's survival and growth is its unique organizational structure, combining "vertical" federations with "horizontal" alliances. However, discussing these is beyond the scope of this article. For details on geographic, industrial and conglomerate alliances, see Scipes, 1988: 8-10 and Scipes, 1990a: 118-120; for information on an alliance based on gender--the 20,000 member Kilusang Manggagawang Kababhaihan(KMK) is a KMU-affiliated national alliance of women workers--see Scipes, 1990b.
 National democracy is generally seen as a stage preceeding socialism. The national democratic movement in the Philippines includes both legal and illegal organizations, with the KMU and other social movements comprising the legal wing, and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People's Army and the National Democratic Front comprising the illegal wing. And although these groups are politically seeking similar goals, they are not organizationallly united. Additionally, neither of these groupings or "wings" is a monolithic entity, but comprises a wide range of politics and outlooks within each wing and within each organization.
 One of the interesting things about the KMU's conception of a national democratic coalition is that it is based on social sector representation--peasants, workers, women, etc.--and not by political party. When I asked Primo Amparo, chairperson of the AMBA-BALA alliance in Bataan whether or not the CPP would have any representation in their conception of government, he replied, "If they are in the sectors. [There] will be no party; it must be [by] sectoral representatives." Interview with Primo Amparo, April 14, 1990, in Mariveles, Bataan.
 Interview in Manila in January 1986 with a person who requested that I not use his name.
 Interview with the late Erasto "Nonoy" Librado, April 30, 1990 in Davao City.
 Interview with Crispin Beltran, May 2, 1990 in Manila.
 I don't know if the Ramos government has continued this council since it has taken office in the summer of 1992.
 Altogether, I have taped, transcribed and edited over 100 hours of conversations with KMU leaders, plus I have had many hours of conversations that were not taped. (This is in addition to many conversations and discussions with workers throughout the country.) These have been with leaders throughout the organization, from organizers and leaders of local trade unions to the highest national officers of alliances, federations and the labor center itself, and covering the range of politics within the KMU. I am confident of my conclusions.
 Joe Tampinco, a former officer of the National Sugar Workers Federation/KMU who had left the NFSW and had helped establish a rival union, was assassinated in July 1988. Dan Gallin, Secretary General of the IUF, believing the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) was behind the assasination, charged the NFSW with "moral complicity" in the killing. He justified this by claiming that since the NFSW was controlled by the CPP, it shared the burden of the assassination. (However, Gallin admitted to International Labour Reportsin a February 1989 interview that he did not even have substantial circumstantial evidence to support either his claim of CPP control over the NFSW or of the NFSW's "moral complicity" for the killing.)
In response to the IUF attack, which was the latest in a string of controverial issues, three of the four KMU-affiliated unions that were also affiliated with the IUF withdrew from the IUF, claiming that the IUF had politically intervened in their internal affairs, discriminated against them and tried to split their organizations. For details, see Scipes, n.d.
 Immediately after the massacre at Tienanmen Square, the KMU issued a statement supporting the efforts of the Chinese government to protect itself from "enemies of socialism." This resulted in much criticism of the KMU by its friends, both internally and internationally and, of course, its enemies. I asked Crispin Beltran specifically about this, and he stated that the statement that was publicly released by their Public Affairs Bureau was not the one the leadership had approved--and that the offending staff members had been fired from their positions. Interview with Beltran, May 2, 1990 in Manila. Furthermore, the leadership repudiated the initial statement, presented a collective self-criticism, and came out in support of the workers and students. There was much debate among the National Council over this issue during 1989, and it was referred to the 1990 National Congress. After hearing a report on the issue from the responsible leaders, who criticized their own actions, the National Congress declared that the issue was organizationally resolved. For my critique of the situation, which focused primarily on political issues and not just organizational ones, see my discussion of the "KMU's Ideology" in Scipes, 1992: 147-154.
 Lenin, 1953. See particularly Chapter III, "Trade-Unionist Politics and Social-Democratic [Communist] Politics": 259-308.
 There are communist party members in the KMU, just as there are members of almost every political organization in the country who are also members of the KMU. The essential question is whether members of these external organizations can force the KMU to take positions or carry out activities in opposition to the interest and activities of KMU members as a whole. As stated, I do not think any group within the KMU is strong enough to override the organization, and I've seen no convincing proof that this has been done.
In addition, my personal experiences as an industrial worker, union member and labor-community activist in many organizations over a 20 year period make me very sceptical that one organization can "take over" another without destroying the one taken over. This seems especially unlikely in a situation such as that faced by the KMU, whereby organizational survival is so dependent upon membership participation.
It seem incumbent that should anyone claim that the KMU is controlled by an external organization, besides confronting the issues specifically raised in the text, they also show how the KMU is controlled by this external organization over time. In other words, it is not sufficient to claim that "Organization X" set up this or that organization, or that a member of "Organization X" is in this or that position, but the claimant must show how this has been used to force the KMU membership both to accept "X" leadership against its own interests and to maintain its participation.
 I develop these points much more fully in Scipes, 1992: 150-157, and Scipes, n.d. Because they are somewhat tangential to the argument of this paper, I will not comment further on these issues here.
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