In the FT: ‘Union drip’ shows how the American labour movement is changing

In which I become the first (probably) and last (possibly) person to use the phrase “dripped out” in the Financial Times:

Chris Smalls, leader of the Amazon Labor Union
Chris Smalls (Getty)

Back in the sixties, a prescient essay from the British historian Eric Hobsbawm stated that “explosive” spikes in union support could only occur after what he termed “qualitative innovations in the movement”. Bad conditions alone weren’t enough of a driving force to galvanise workers into unionising, he argued, unions had to also move with the times: introducing modernised ways of thinking, new demands, and fresh leadership.

In 2022, it could be said that this reinvention quite literally hangs off the shoulders of Chris Smalls, the leader of the Amazon Labor Union (ALU), and an aficionado of what has come to be known as “union drip”. 

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