Class Struggle in North America: A Panel Discussion on Continental Crucible: Big Business, Workers and Unions in the Transformation of North America. 2nd edition, 2015

The neoliberal offensive of big business in North America has created more inequality, more poverty, and fewer rights for workers in all three countries — Canada, Mexico, and the United States. The increased continental integration of the labor market and production processes has been part of this process of deepening the rights of capital and weakening the rights of labor. Free trade agreements (Canada-U.S. in 1989, NAFTA in 1994) have been used by big business to consolidate their agendas and organize themselves continentally. On the other hand, the formal organizations of the working class, unions, have tried to halt the offensive through the use of old strategies, strategies that have little prospect of success in the new context.

Continental Crucible (PM Press and Fernwood Publishers, 2015) examines the class war by big business against workers as well as labor’s inadequate response from both a pan-continental and class struggle perspective. The failure of traditional labor responses to stop the continental offensive has led workers and unions to explore new strategies of struggle and organization, including an embryonic vision of a continental labor movement. The obstacles and possibilities for the development of a new class-wide, inclusive and continental labor movement are discussed.

This new edition adds an examination of recent developments in the offensive of North American big business, especially the blitzkrieg of Constitutional reforms carried out in Mexico in 2013-2014. Both Mexico’s explosive crisis and its strategic implications for the North American Left and labor movements are explored in new and greater depth. This second edition also includes new material from renowned writers Leo Panitch and Steve Early as well as the original preface by Mel Watkins.

The panel will reflect critically on the issues raised by the book.

About the Kalmanovitz Initiative

Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor develops creative strategies and innovative public policy to improve workers’ lives in a changing economy.