A Labor Day Memory by Annette Rubinstein

Monday, September 05, 2005

In honor of Labor Day, we spoke with New Yorker Annette Rubinstein. She's a 95-year-old teacher and editor who lives on the Upper West side...and has been involved with labor issues most of her life. She says she’s still looking for meaning in the holiday and in the movement itself:

I was born in Manhattan in 1910. I taught English literature in Eastern Europe. I was blacklisted during the so-called McCarthy period. I was fairly well known in the radical movement. The AFLCIO is, because of competition, going to do more organizing. But what has happened is that more and more its been for their own members which is the traditional union thing - that they are working for the pension plans and so on but not trying to organize the great vast of unemployed. And it has become in this country not only a class but a race issue too. I think that this was one of our big mistakes to underestimate the importance of small improvements and so on. That you have to fight for small immediate gains whether if it's a tax break or whatever it is but not have the illusion that its going to solve things.

I would have thought we would have been further down the road to socialism but I've seen a great many changes.

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