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by Richard Mellor
Thursday, Apr. 29, 2010 at 5:34 PM
Do they honestly expect us to believe that their campaign isn't linked to the Democratic Party candidate?
AFSCME Local 444, retired
The AFL-CIO and no doubt the Change to Win coalition are about to spend millions more of workers hard earned dues money helping the Democrats defeat the Republicans in the California governor's race. The heads of organized Labor are very free with their member's dues money when it comes to that "other" capitalist party, spending hundreds of millions of dollars each election cycle.
It is not just money either. During Walter Mondale's run for the presidency against Reagan, this writer's local provided 40,000 volunteers for his campaign. All this for a political party that began deregulation of the trucking and airline industry (under Carter) that was intensified under Reagan. In fact, Carter used the Taft Hartley against the miners in 1978. During Carter's period in office despite Democratic control of both Houses of Congress and the presidency, wages increased on average 31% while the CPI rose 41% ( a huge wage reduction) and corporate profits 54.6%. Same with Clinton, Democrats controlled both houses for two years and we got NAFTA and the eviction of mothers from welfare via the welfare to work program that also undercut good paying Union jobs. During a boom when profits reached a 40-year high, the Labor leaders still never went on the offensive so it is not bad economic conditions that prevents them from doing so.
The leadership of the California Labor Federation, Democratic Party loyalists to a tee, are going on the offensive for their party with money and material help. They plan to announce their campaign on Monday according to the Reuters news agency. * And what is this campaign? It is a campaign aimed at persuading voters not to vote for the Republican Meg Whitman and to vote for their candidate, the Democrat Jerry Brown. The campaign will have a website: www.wallstreetwhitman.com. Whitman was a director of Goldman for a couple of years. The union campaign is not linked to Brown's campaign, the Reuters article explains, no doubt being told this by a Union spokesperson. No thinking worker believes this of course but even if we did, what conclusion could we draw from such a campaign? That we should vote for the Greens? The socialists?
The role of the trade Union leadership in the political sphere is a pernicious one. As I said, no thinking worker believes that their campaign isn't waged on behalf of the Democrats. Most of us can read, workers that is, and many of us are aware of how closely the Democrats are tied to Wall Street and Goldman Sachs. Robert Rubin, Secretary of the Treasury during Clinton's entire term was with Goldman for 26 years including eight years as co-chairman. He also worked at Citigroup for eight years receiving 6 million in stock and cash for what was described by many as a "poor performance".
Oh yes, and then there's Lawrence Summers, he served under Clinton and is now with Obama. Here's a little bit about him, "Summers teamed with Alan Greenspan and Enron executive Kenneth Lay to lecture California Governor Gray Davis on the causes of the crisis, explaining that the problem was excessive government regulation. Under the advice of Kenneth Lay, Summers urged Davis to relax California's environmental standards in order to reassure the markets." more
The Labor leadership covers for the Democrats by ignoring their role and then by lying about it. Obama collected nearly million from Goldman Sachs employees for his campaign and the next biggest recipient was former Democratic Party senator Hillary Clinton. And as a previous blog pointed out, "Goldman's political action committee, that is its fund for bribing politicians, is second only to AT&T's in total political bribes at .6 million. Nearly two thirds of these bribes have gone to Democrats and around one third to Republicans." Here's some news for you; they are all linked to Goldman; the Labor leaders know it, and the working class knows it. That is why so many have dropped out of politics altogether and millions of others hold their noses and vote for the lesser of two evils, for pain next week instead of this week. It is why the Labor leadership has no credibility.
Organized Labor spent some 0 million getting Democrats elected last election cycle. The SEIU alone spent million or so. This has gone on for years. When I was a delegate to the Alameda Central Labor Council here in the San Francisco Bay Area, there were numerous socialists, communists and lefts of one sort or another present as delegates, yet for years, I was the only delegate that voted against the endorsement of Democratic candidates who went on to participate in the savaging of workers wages and overall living conditions. The left also covered for this political betrayal of working people by their silence.
The reason for this betrayal many workers attribute to corruption. But for the present leadership of organized Labor it is more than that. They could easily run independent Labor/community candidates given their resources, financial and physical. International Unions have a network of thousands of locals and district councils. The AFL-CIO has hundreds of councils and other bodies throughout the nation. My own Union AFSCME had around 4000 locals when I was a member. And with a program that challenged the capitalist offensive as any program that speaks to workers' needs would, independent candidates could win elections locally and even nationally such is the anger in US society at the rich. Are we expected to believe an African American can be elected in this country with its racist history but a worker's candidate can't? Even wrestlers can get elected so hated are the established political parties.
His members "Are angry at Wall Street CEOs who have been getting really, filthy rich," Art Pulaski, head of the California Labor Federation told reporters according to Reuters. Pulaski is right about the members, they are mad. He is not pleased about that because this anger could take to the streets. This would lead inevitably to the demand for independent candidates and an independent party at some stage of the game; plus, heightened struggle would make it impossible to obscure the disastrous role that the heads of organized Labor play in cooperating with the employers on the job and the Democrats in the political arena; that other part of the "filthy rich". Better ensure this anger is channeled in to the Democratic Party where it can be dissipated and made harmless; when the betrayal occurs, they can always blame those "damn Democrats" and ramble on about rotten politicians. If the Labor leaders were in the political driver's seat the demand on them to produce the goods would be too much to bear and their role, as guardians of capital harder to obscure. Better that workers become disillusioned and drop out of activity altogether than become active and conscious of the real processes at work here.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know there is anger out there so Pulaski is no genius. And he may refer to "his membership" but the membership would have no idea who he is and he'd like to keep it that way. Most workers would have no idea that they belong to the California Labor Federation either so absent is it from our daily lives.
The consequences of the Labor leadership's policies are tragic, catastrophic even. They mean that we have to go through much hardship that would be unnecessary were they to lead an offensive against capital. Instead we are faced with a war on two fronts, against the capitalist offensive and our own leadership who accept capitalism and the market. Who have the same view of the world as the employers. Mobilizing the tremendous potential power of their membership can only lead to chaos from their point of view as it would be an act that would rouse and draw in to activity all oppressed sections of society; power attracts. They prefer defeats, just slightly less destructive defeats than the capitalists want to inflict, anything but a victory though, for these would inspire their members, would inspire the working class, which would mean Art Pulaski's days, and many like him, would be numbered. It is for these reasons that they suppress dissent and suppress any movement from below that attempts to challenge their concessionary policies.
A major consequence of the Labor leadership's refusal to offer an alternative to the Democrats is that many workers draw the incorrect conclusion that all politics is bad, that all politicians are corrupt, as opposed to understanding that their actions are a consequence of them representing class interests. But despite the whining from the heads of organized Labor for the bosses to be a little less aggressive, to return to the old days of the post war boom; times will not allow it.
Capitalism is in a crisis, not just in the US but globally; it is forced by the laws of its own system to drive US workers further back to conditions that existed before the great upsurge of the 1930's and the civil rights movement. In this sense it is our greatest ally, it will force us to fight, it will force the rank and file of the Unions to eventually overcome the obstacle of its own leadership and it will force the building of a mass workers political party.
*Unions link Whitman to Goldman in California race Reuters 4-28-10
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