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Sunday, Sep. 02, 2007 at 11:06 AM
CONTINUING TOUGH TIMES FOR THE AMERICAN LABOR MOVEMENT- AND THAT IS NO LIE
FORGET DONKEYS, ELEPHANTS AND GREENS- BUILD A WORKERS PARTY!
This writer entered the blogosphere in February 2006 so this is the second Labor Day scorecard giving his take on the condition of American labor as we approach Labor Day. And it is not pretty. That, my brothers and sisters, says it all. There was little strike action this year. The only notable action was among the grossly overworked and underpaid naval shipbuilders down in anti-union bastion Mississippi in the spring and that hard fought fight was a draw, at best. Once again there is little to report in the way of unionization to organize labor’s potential strength. American workers continue to have a real decline in their paychecks. The difference between survival and not for most working families is the two job (or more) household. In short, the average family is working more hours to make ends meet. Real inflation in energy and food costs has put many up against the wall. Moreover the bust in the housing market has wrecked havoc on working people as the most important asset in many a household has taken a beating. Once again forget the Federal Reserve Bank’s definition of inflation- one fill up at the pump confounds that noise. One does not have to be a Marxist economist to know that something is desperately wrong when at the beginning of the 21st century with all the technological advances and productivity increases of the past period working people need to work more just to try to stay even. Even the more far-sighted bourgeois thinkers have trouble with that one. In any case, here are some comments on the labor year.
*The key as it was last year, although certainly not the only action necessary, to a turn-around for American labor is the unionization of Wal-Mart and the South. The necessary class struggle politics that would make such drives successful would act as a huge impetus for other areas of the labor movement. This writer further argues that such struggles against such vicious enemies as Wal-Mart can be the catalyst for the organization of a workers party. Okay, okay let the writer dream a little, won’t you? What has happened this year on this issue is that more organizations have taken up the call for a boycott of Wal-Mart. That is all to the good and must be supported by militant leftists but it is only a very small beginning shot in the campaign (See archives, dated June 10, 2006). National and local unions have taken monies from their coffers not for such a worthy effort but to support one or another bourgeois candidate. Some things never change.
*The issue of immigration has surfaced strongly again this year, especially in presidential politics. Every militant leftist was supportive of the past May Day actions of the vast immigrant communities to not be pushed around, although one can also note that they were not nearly as extensive as in 2006. Immigration is a labor issue and key to the struggle against the race to the bottom. While May Day and other events were big moments unless there are links to the greater labor movement this very promising movement could fizzle. A central problem is the role of the Democratic Party and the Catholic Church in the organizing effort. I will deal with this question at a latter time but for now know this- these organizations are an obstruction to real progress on the immigration issue. (See archives, dated May 1, 2006)
*If one needed one more example of why the American labor movement is in the condition it is finds itself then yet another article this summer by John Sweeney, punitive President of the AFL-CIO, and therefore one of the titular heads of the organized labor brings that point home in gory detail. The gist of the article is that the governmental agencies, like the National Labor Relations Board, have over the years (and here he means in reality the Bush years) bent over backwards to help the employers in their fight against unionization. Well, John, surprise, surprise. Needless to say this year his so-called friends in Congress were not able to pass simple legislation to formally, at least, protect the right to unionization, the so-called employees’ bill of rights. That was a non-starter from the get-go. No militant leftist, no forget that, no militant trade unionist has believed in the impartiality of governmental boards, agencies, courts, etc. since about 1936. Yes, that is right, since Roosevelt. Wake up. Again this brings up the question of the leadership of the labor movement. And I do not mean to turn it over to Andy Stein and his Change to Win Coalition. We may be, as some theorists imagine, a post-industrial society, but the conditions of labor seem more like the classic age of rapacious capitalist accumulation. We need a labor leadership based on a program of labor independence and struggle for worker rights- and we need it damn soon.
THIS IS PART OF A SERIES OF ARTICLES ON THE 2006-2008 ELECTION CYCLE UNDER THE HEADLINE- FORGET THE DONKEYS, ELEPHANTS, GREENS-BUILD A WORKERS PARTY!
FOR MORE POLITICAL COMMENTARY AND BOOKS REVIEWS CHECK MY BLOG AT- Http://markinbookreview.blogspot.com/
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