imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

If We Don’t Change The Union, The Union Will Change Us

by Richard Mellor Saturday, Feb. 19, 2005 at 9:39 AM
aactivist@igc.org

The Bay Area grocery workers' contract continues to erode workers' living standards and strengthens the employers' resolve. Only a revolt in the ranks can reverse this trend.

Richard Mellor

Retired member, AFSCME Local 444

Oakland CA

Ron Lind, UFCW spokesperson and Secretary Treasurer of UFCW Local 428 considers the recent contract approved by his members to be a pretty good deal. He isn’t as angry as many of his members are. I don’t know the details but I am certain Ron never opposed the contract. But then, like most union officials, he won’t have to work under it. Ron also earns upward of 0,000 a year so even if he had to pay it, the a month retirees will now have to pay toward their health insurance premium wouldn’t burn too deep a hole in his pocket. And he isn’t going to be one of the new employees who will have to work five years before reaching top pay instead of one year under the old contract.

Grocery workers here in the Bay Area voted to approve the contract despite feeling miserable about it. After all, what alternative is there? The UFCW and the AFL-CIO have failed to mount a serious challenge to the employers’ increased aggression and the recent defeat in Southern California has not gone unnoticed. “Two thirds of our members agreed that it wasn’t worth a strike” says Lind. This shows how democratic he is. The members have spoken. But what strategy does Ron Lind, the UFCW and the entire AFL-CIO offer the member that is different than that which failed in Southern California? There wasn’t one. The strategy is the same and workers know that, so why go on strike.

The Union says it “did as well as could be expected under the current bargaining climate” reports one local paper. Could someone explain to me what the current bargaining climate is and what makes it different from other climates? I know that Ron Lind and all the top union officials have a lot to do with creating climates. At the end of January when UFCW negotiators agreed with the employers to further destroy union members’ lifestyles, Lind justified his actions with the following remarks in the press, ”We could have gone for a bigger wage increase, but it would have had to come out of our health-care benefits plan…….” (1)

Well that comment sends a not so subtle message to the employers I would think. The Union then gets a “labor expert” to give intellectual justification for the defeat, Harley Shaiken from U.C. adds, “This is a very good contract in a very tough context---the precedent in Southern California and the shadow of Wal-Mart.”, Shaken is the default academic who adds weight to the union officials’ argument that you can’t win and going backwards is the only direction possible.

First of all, I very much doubt that when Ron Lind says “we” he is referring to himself. I could be wrong but I doubt that his health care plan was under attack. But what sort of climate do his remarks create? They create a climate of defeat and despair and that is their intention. They tell the employer that there will be no offensive on the part of the union movement against their profits and power in the workplace. And the members are told that a wage raise comes at the expense of health benefits. So why fight? . And Harley Shaken should consider what led to the “precedent” in Southern California being the defeat it was. It was not the membership who lost five months pay. It was the leadership of the UFCW and the entire AFL-CIO who refused to shut the grocery stores down nationally.

The contract “sets the tone for another 10,000 workers…” writes Jim Knowles in my local paper, the San Leandro Times. It sure does and they can kiss some wages and benefits goodbye too. Let’s be realistic here. What can they do? The climate has been set by the labor leadership’s obsession with legality and with their blind worship of the market and the rights it conveys on the employers. They cannot think outside the box to use a modern term.

Here in the Bay Area the main strategy of the union leadership during negotiations was getting consumers to sign pledge cards, to pledge they would support (not shop) the grocery workers if there was a strike or a boycott. The grocery chains laughed at this one. Organizing consumers is not what builds unions or win concessions from employers; organizing workers is. But the dangers there is that the membership will become conscious of its own power, will want more, not just from the employers but from union leaders as well. In fact, Ron Lind’s 0,000+ salary is a mere pittance compared to some. UFCW leaders are among some of the highest paid union officials in the country. Jack Loveall, former president of local 588 here in California was on about 0,000 a year before his recent retirement. John Niccollai, President of local 464A about the same. An active, conscious membership would soon put a stop to that. But this is not the main issue; their view of the world is.

The employers intend to drive us back to the conditions that existed prior to the rise of the CIO in the 30’s. They have made this clear. The entire leadership of the AFL-CIO has no answer to this onslaught other than to beg and plead with a return to the old days, the 50’s and 60’s when things were relatively good by historical standards. And climates? In the 1990, s profits reached a 40-year high and still the labor leaders refused to go on the offensive. I would like to hear from Ron Lind or any other union official that supported this and all the other concessionary contracts we have endured over the years: What climate are you waiting for and what is the force that will bring it about?

I can answer that question myself. Get the Democrats back in power. This is the best the labor leadership has to offer. Andy Stern, president of SEIU who is said by many to be the new face of the labor movement considers Howard dean a great organizer. He is impressed by Dean’s Internet skills and SEIU’s Internet site purpleocean.org is based on Dean’s efforts during his election campaign. Let’s face it Brothers and Sisters; we, the members, the folks who pay the dues, we have to change things.

The first thing we have to accept is that the idea that we are in a bleak climate is false. Money is everywhere; the productivity of labor is such that we could easily work three-day weeks. I was talking to a guy recently who tried to tell me that society couldn’t afford a 30-hour workweek. There are the more obvious figures about wealth like the billion profit that Exxon made or the billion that BP made or the 0 million this or that executive makes each year. But capitalism is such a wasteful and inefficient system all round. There are the billions spent in advertising drugs that are bad for you. There are the same billions spent on developing them. Then there are the billions wasted in the fast food industry advertising and selling us food that contributes to the illnesses that we have to buy the drugs to cure. This is apart from the billion or so a month the U.S. is spending in Iraq and Afghanistan. No, there’s money all right; the world is “awash in cash” as one big business commentator once put it.

If we are to reverse the present course; if we are to prevent the employers from taking us back to pre- 1930’s conditions we have to return to the methods of the thirties that built the unions in the first place, mass pickets, occupations, and being prepared to challenge anti-union laws. We have to reject the employers’ view of reality that is echoed by the labor leaders. We can raise our expectations.

The other thing that we have to accept is that we have to build oppositions, caucuses and rank and file committees in our unions that openly challenge the failed policies of our leaders and actively campaign against them. This is difficult as opposing the established leadership is portrayed as being disloyal to the union or even worse. But many workers and union members want a change. Their discontent with the failure of the union leadership to make gains or protect what they have often manifests itself as hostility to the union itself which is a mistake. Many workers will be drawn to an open opposition to the views expressed by Ron Lind and his co-thinkers in the labor movement. They will see an alternative and be drawn to it.

This is what we, the average union member, must consider. There is no easy way out; the alternative is further decline and no future for our children.

(1) Ron Lind, UFCW spokesperson, SF Chronicle 1-25-04

Report this post as:

LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 2 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
The Time for a Militant Wildcat Strike is Now Strike to win Saturday, Feb. 19, 2005 at 5:16 PM
Tactical advice Strike to Win Saturday, Feb. 19, 2005 at 5:28 PM

Local News

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A12 5:39PM

lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 6:38PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights M01 6:28PM

What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It M01 3:30PM

Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down F14 2:44PM

Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29 F13 12:51PM

Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf F13 11:04AM

Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development F12 8:51AM

Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine F09 10:25PM

Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents F09 7:14PM

Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters F07 9:50AM

City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre F04 3:17PM

Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling F04 12:42PM

Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present F04 10:52AM

Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police F03 11:11PM

LA Times Homicide Report F03 1:57PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

What does the Quran Say About Islamic Dress?? A21 4:15PM

Biodiversité ou la nature privatisée A20 11:22AM

The Market is a Universal Totalitarian Religion A20 7:14AM

Book Available about Hispanics and US Civil War by National Park Service A19 5:52PM

The Shortwave Report 04/20/18 Listen Globally! A19 4:01PM

The Republican 'Prolife' Party Is the Party of War, Execution, and Bear Cub Murder A19 11:48AM

Neurogenèse involutive A18 9:21AM

Paraphysique de la dictature étatique A16 10:13AM

Book Review: "The New Bonapartists" A16 3:45AM

The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia A14 12:25PM

Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine A14 3:30AM

The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally! A12 3:50PM

“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize! A12 3:48PM

The World Dependent on Central Banks A12 4:43AM

Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine A11 9:40PM

March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update A10 10:52PM

Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel A10 3:33PM

ICE contract with license plate reader company A10 1:14PM

Palimpseste sisyphéen A09 11:23PM

Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes A09 5:32AM

Prohibiting Micro-Second Betting on the Exchanges A09 4:18AM

Prosecutors treat Muslims harsher than non-Muslims for the same crimes A08 10:33PM

Amy Goodman interview on cell phone safety A08 10:29PM

Mesa, Arizona police officer kills unarmed white man A08 9:50PM

Israeli leaders should be prosecuted for war crimes A08 9:48PM

Paraphysique de l'autorité A08 12:11AM

Two Podcasts on fbi corruption A06 10:13PM

Fbi assassins assault & try to kill DAVID ATKINS A06 7:29PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy