This expression resonated during the French Revolution of 1789. Often attributed to Marie Antoinette, but actually uttered by another high born, the rebuke (or advice) was in response to learning that the French peasants had a shortage of bread.
Removed, oblivious, the “haves” just have no idea, and you do not have to be a patissier to see the societal tiers we have in the United States. We can be sliced and served into religion, sex, race, politics, geography, teams we follow, shows we watch, et al. No matter the portion plated, there are two layers which are receiving a great deal of attention – the “haves” and the “have nots”. The class gap is growing daily, the differences backed by statistics and the noise still short of clamor. The AFL-CIO wants to drive this wave and create some parity (as well as dues generation). They may have some success!
The AFL-CIO, the “House of Labor” federation, representing some 57 national and international unions, has just concluded their annual convention, which took on a marked distinction from years past, according to a New York Times, September 13, 2013 article, “At Labor Group, a Sense of a Broader Movement”. They opened their tent wide to non-union organizations!
With declining union membership and understanding that the status quo was no longer relevant for union and non-union labor alike, the AFL-CIO has recognized that partnering with other disaffected groups just might regain some clout and wage leverage for all stripes. The federation is primarily an advocacy group, so the focus can be on business, government and Congress. At the convention, “They debated how to shore up the sagging labor movement, how to raise wages and how to persuade Congress to pass legislation that would help 11 million undocumented immigrants gain citizenship.”
Who knows if this new call for unity and energy will result in a more focused labor movement? If you have your finger on the pulse of general sentiment across the US, you may be able to feel a flutter here and there. We saw this recently with the fast food restaurant and retail “strikes”. People are feeling left behind and disenfranchised, particularly with services slashed due to the mandated sequester and our affairs abroad, like in Syria. This outreach by the AFL-CIO may just have play. As one Union President summarized, this is “…our need to put some movement back in the labor movement”. That cake aroma starts to smell pretty good, even from afar!
John Hendrie is the author of the LRA blog ‘A Guy Walks In’. LRA is a leading research and consulting company in the emerging discipline of Customer Experience Management (CEM). We work with our clients to help them design and deliver consistently exceptional customer experiences in order to drive customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy, and company growth and profitability. We have built a range of quality assurance, mystery shopping, research, training and consulting solutions to help them do so.
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