One expression of the recent revitalization of Sweden's venerable 100 year old libertarian union, the SAC, is the organization's 2013 summer tour, a recruitment campaign which has helped SAC come grips with criticisms of being all too focused on the country's three largest cities and in addition led to the formation of new locals who are now joining the federation.
Skaraborgs LS and Sundsvalls LS. These are the names of the new general membership branches founded in the wake of the SAC summer tour travelling across Sweden. Interrim treasurer Philip Nehlin of Skaraborgs LS says "we've had a local section for four years, and we have always had in mind to form local co-organization [LS]. This summer tour provided us with the kind of push we neeeded." Not long after the formation of Skaraborgs LS, yet another local was founded, this time in the industrial town of Sundsvall in the north-western part of Sweden.
Workers employed in the electricity sector who joined the recently founded Sundsvall Energi Workplace Section
This years' summer tour - which has been going on for four weeks - has been the first of its kind in quite a while, and it's chief aim has been to energize and support the already existing local branches in rural areas. Activists have tabled local events and fairs, handed out information to passers-by, and holding courses on the basics of syndicalist unionism and workshops on how to negotiate successfully.
At the last stop of the tour, the northern town of Umeå, the activists visited workplaces, participated in the local street festival "Vännäsdagarna". After having taken part in this revived form of outreach (SAC and SUF were well-known for their energetic "biking organizers" during the 20's and 30's) the participants seem to have reached optimistic conclusions on the future of radical workers' organizing outside of Sweden's major cities: "From the reactions we met in the towns we visited, it is obvious that there are people out there who are interested in starting to build their own local syndicalist union, in Sollefteå for instance. This recent growth seems to have inspired confidence", says Nehlin to Toivo Jokkola of the SAC weekly Arbetaren.
"People often view unions as an institution which they can turn to when they are in trouble. But in reality, unions are made up of their members, and it is the commitment and efforts of the members which is the basic building block which constitutes everyday union activity, says Mikael Tsiouris of Bergslagen LS. "Many people we meet are keen to talk to us about their own experiences and problems, and people are clearly interested in our take on what a union should be," he explains. To syndicalists, the labour market of today is more and more coming to resemble what it was a hundred years ago, and thus, the need for a combative union is now greater than it has been in years. Temp agencies are a case in point. Local news media has highlighted the difference between the syndicalist approach to union organizing and the reformist approach. SAC welcomes all kinds of workers in all kinds of organizations. And even though SAC had about 20,000 members at the end of the 70's and are now down to 5-6000 members, it is obvious that there has been an increase in both interest and membership applications.