This Weekend We Get Ready to Walk

06/13/2005 01:38 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

This week the leaders of our union, SEIU, met to discuss the future of work and workers in our country. We should all appreciate that we are living and sharing in the most radical transformation of our economy in history, far more significant than the last economic revolution, when workers left farms to go to factories -- from rural to urban living -- in what we now call the industrial revolution.

This revolution is televised and globalized 24/7, and is far from over.

We are adrift in a moment of uncertainty with no road map or compass to guide us through, and, to date, the promises and results for Americans leave most workers feeling anxious and insecure.

The information economy bubble with its "high-tech" jobs that were to replace our old manufacturing middle-class jobs has burst, as white collar software, accounting, engineering, medical technology, and legal work get sucked out of our country.

Trade, which was supposed to be the answer, has left America with a $667 billion trade deficit -- and growing.

"Workers of the world get smart" (rather than unite), has left too many kids with college degrees in search of steady work, and escalating college costs have put too many working kids' futures at risk.

And a labor movement that has been growing smaller and not stronger, proposes trusting its fate to old-style politics and politicians, rather than to changing ourselves, and reclaiming our own destiny by creating unions with the resources, focus, and strategies to change workers lives now.

In the 21st century we need new partnerships and new ways for American workers, business, and government to join together and reward everyone's hard work. That is the American Dream

But the road the AFL-CIO wants to continue to walk on is a dead end.

It is time for all of us to have the courage in our unions, political parties, and communities to provide new leadership. Leadership means going first, and walking off old dead-end roads in a new direction, because we can make new roads by walking.

Life is not a spectator sport, so in SEIU we chose to be ready to leave the AFL-CIO and try to build something stronger, to make a new road for American workers by walking in a new direction.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and this weekend we get ready to walk.