Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 27, 2005

Labour Struggle

by Debs is dead (lifted from a comment)

This is either very bad or perhaps it's going to be a good thing. People involved in the US Labor unions will have a better idea.

The article which reports the disaffiliation of the Teamsters and SEIU from the AFL-CIO can be taken as a sign that the right has finally managed to drive a wedge through the middle of one of it's main opponents to it's enslavement of everbody to corporate ethos.

On the other hand in the article

The 939 delegates who registered for the convention held in Chicago's cavernous Navy Pier would get no chance to evaluate proposals, only peruse letters slipped furtively under their hotel room doors by Change to Win squads imparting the news that a few union presidents had decided things without bothering to consult them.

If the labour movement has got that undemocratic and modelled itself on the dems rather than providing a viable democratic model for the dems to emulate, perhaps it is time for a massive purge followed by reconstruction.

The article also says:

The one interesting moment of the convention's first day came over a couple of resolutions concerning diversity. One gives additional slots on the federation's governing bodies to black, female, gay, Latin and Asian representatives; the other mandates that by the next convention each delegation will have to represent the racial and gender make-up of a union's membership.

These changes involve more than cosmetics because of how they came about. Over the past few months of top-tier to-ing and fro-ing over labor's future, the AFL's constituency groups, especially the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, began to insist that the domination of the discussion by older white men indicated problems with organized labor's leadership, focus and priorities more than any matters of internal scaffolding or dues structure.

If the AFL/CIO has really waited until 2005, 50 years after the success of the civil rights movement which is nearly as long as the time it has been campaigning for EEO from employers to fix it's own structure, then it's a miracle it lasted this long.

Apropos the 'Cease Fire Violation' thread its gotta be time to walk away from these dinosaurs because if things are this primitive in the unions they will be worse in the political arm of the labour movement, laughingly called "The Democrats" which I suppose fits in a country where the imperialists call themselves 'republicans'.

If that sounds harsh I'm sorry because there is absolutely no justification to suppose that people who live in the US are innately more backward than elsewhere, but at some point people, ordinary battlers have to make a stand.

I'm not trying to be holier than thou just cause at the moment I live in NZ where I'm unaware of any white male holding a position of power in either the government or judiciary or union movement for that matter. I have nearly as much problem with that as I do with the US where it seems only white males hold power. Nations like the UK and Australia aren't shining beacons of equality either but the fact that they have modified their structures a long time ago to ensure that the hegemony of the whitefella is over at least informs us that there is genuine impetus to try and have the power structures reflect the community.

If the US labor movement and dems haven't ever got past tokenism that means they have never really had the sort of revolution that people's organisations need to have to be effective now.

I really think the best thing to do is to walk away and start again because who really needs to keep fighting the old battles when there are a lot of urgent new battles to be won.

Posted by b on July 27, 2005 at 13:44 UTC | Permalink


If I get this right it is a fight about where to spend money. The Teamsters and SEIU group wants to spend it on aquiring more members, the AFL-CIO wants to spend on lobbying.

Looking at the poor member numbers, especially in service jobs, my emotional first push is for the first group. Why is Wal Mart not unionized? There would be a huge benefit for those workers. If the existing unions want to help the workers there, I am all for it.

To spend a $ on lobbying in Washington DC is wasted money. The repubs will not listen anyway.

That said - the way this is done is catastrophic and a very bad exsample. They should have had discussions and the delegates tshould have voted for their preference. After that, a split would at least be justified.

Posted by: b | Jul 27 2005 15:17 utc | 1

Unionizing is difficult because of open shop/"right to work" laws.

Added to the legal difficulties is what amounts to pervasive classic petit-bourgeois ideology. "Service economies" depend on the employment of "non-produictive" labor. These workers tend to identify politically with the capital class upward mobility, affirmation of the status-quo of capital inasmuch as seeks change w/out changing the system, "power fetishism" of this inbetween class looks to the state to legitimate the fantasy of upward mobility at the expense of working poor. Mills' White Collar is still the best analkysis of the american petit-bourgeois ideology.

I don't need to mention how durable this ideology is even as white collar workers are proletarianized by Walmart et al. More important are the dangers of the allure of fascism for this economically powerless group. Just as the marxist insight about clasic fascism showed how the transition of capital from landownership to monopoly capital weakened labor solidarity and paved the way to dictatorship, so the same analysis can be pressed to show how the threat of fascist dictatorship increases as we grope our way through what can be called the global feudalization of labor via nonunionized nonproductive labor, accompanied by the exploitation of labor in the periphery.

What to do? Not protectionism or "round up the immigrants," but global labor organization. Try to get on that train when it leaves the station.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 27 2005 16:43 utc | 2

@ slothrop,

Using global labor organizing as the answer to US labor schisms? Isn't that a little like the republicrats exporting "democracy" and "freedom" while suppressing both here at home?

If American labor cannot protect itself inside a creeping authoritarian system, how can international laborers in established authoritarian and totalitarian systems protect themselves? I don't understand how that 'train' can get moving where the 'tracks' are controlled by even stronger dictators.

Posted by: gylangirl | Jul 27 2005 17:11 utc | 3

With history as a guide, the "solution" to the petit-bourgeois middleclass econ woes will be a populism mixing anti-big capital rhetoric w/ rhetoric exploiting immigrant xenophobia and nationalism.

Sounds like a fullblown american fascist dictatorship could emerge from the democratic party, w/ Bush playing the historically comparable role as>Brüning in prefascist germany: the guy who presided over the big fuckups, warming the electorate up for something faster and bolder.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 27 2005 17:11 utc | 4

It was economic protectionism and "labor monopsony" which "protected" workers in the imperialist countries (USA-Europe, "metropolitan" economies). This arrangement benefitted capital for numerous reasons in the postwar global economy.

This has changed in part owed to the pressing need for capital expansion and the improving conditions for the exploitation of workers elsewhere in the production of consumer goods especially. These problems cannot be solved any longer by protectionism, most of all because global capital can no longer improve accumulation by doing so.

This is why the great lies of fascism will seem such an expedient remedy for capital. But this will hardly be able to resolve the contradictions
of accumulation. Just a stop-gap extremism to squeeze complicity out of "service" workers with the spectacle of domination and cruelty.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 27 2005 17:27 utc | 5


there's no train there, yup.

need to listen to a utah phillips the rest of the livelong day.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 27 2005 17:31 utc | 6

Okay, a couple more questions:

Could a split have been averted by a Sweeney resignation?

If the split wasn't democratically decided by the departing union's members, will those unions split in turn?

And an observation:
It was only after the women's movement split over similar controversy [aligning too closely with a political party that ignored their demands] that women finally achieved their primary goal, the right to vote.
If the departing unions are willing to challenge and embarrass Dem candidates, they may get some concessions from them. But if they aren't, they may not accomplish as much. Also the Dems were in power when the feminsts split. Now they are out of power, so splitting might not have an impact.

Posted by: gylangirl | Jul 27 2005 17:43 utc | 7

It's more than just the open-shop laws that make organizing difficult -- in fact, they are a lot less pernicious than the fact that labor rights often do not confer an individual or institutional right-to-sue, and can only be vindicated by the federal government. Which probably worked well enough when FDR was President, and the NLRB was staffed with a bunch of idealistic New Dealers, but is a tragedy when the DLC'ers, or, worse, Cheney Admin officials get their hands on the agency. Imagine where civil rights would be if only the federal government could sue to protect them, and you had the likes of Trent Lott making those decisions. It's that bad.

As for the ultimate good of this deal -- I am all for shaking up the labor movement. It needs it something awful, and although Sweeney might have arosed labor from its 25-year-long PVS, we're still not able to follow the light with our eyes. But this split, really, truly, has as many earmarks of political powermongering on it as it does of real ideological conflict and a war of ideas, which, I agree, would be a good thing.

What points to this? SEIU and HERE are good unions, doing the right things. Teamsters is a pretty mixed bag, with a lot of real organizing activity going on, but a structure you have to wonder about. I mean, they have Jimmy Hoffa running things again. Granted, it's Junior, and he's actually getting better as a leader, but this is the guy the Republicans knew they were going to get as IBT leader if they were able to knock our Tom Carey, which they were. But the others? The Carpenters are ancient throwbacks and make Iraq look like a functioning democracy. And the Laborers were the holdout corrupt union until pretty recently. They are not really ideological allies with the likes of the SEIU. They're strange political bedfellows.

So, honestly, I am worried. It would be great if increased innovation and competitive forces were unleashed by this deal. And they may be. But that is not inevitable, as it was not primarily the clash of ideas that brought about this split, as far as I can see.

Posted by: NickM | Jul 27 2005 17:49 utc | 8

I have no idea what the internal AFLCIO politics are visavis other unions. All I know is the previous accommodations by capital of domestic labor is no longer operable. Capital doesn't need domestic labor as it once did,

If you come across a good cite explaining the present dynamics, please post!

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 27 2005 17:55 utc | 9

@Slothrop - the Nation actually has a pretty good article on the ideological dimensions of the conflict, and between the lines I think you can see some of the other dynamics. It also has another good (but less recent) summarizing article by the smart labor reporter David Moberg.

You are right that capital doesn't need domestic labor as it once did. I'm not sure that this split is going to - or really meant to - address that problem. I don't know what can, outside of a real international labor movement, which is almost Utopian to contemplate. You know what the problem is - any sign of a solution?

Posted by: NickM | Jul 27 2005 18:05 utc | 10


As for the feminist/union thing. Hardly anywhere can the ideology of the petit-bourgeois ideology be better demonstrated than in the "freedoms" won by women to compete against men for jobs. What a disaster bourgeois-feminism has been.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 27 2005 18:24 utc | 11

Thanks Nick. What to do? "Workers of the world..."

Otherwise, history redux:

fascism is basically (the) program of petty bourgeois currents. This fact alone, more than anything else, shows of what tremendous - rather, of what decisive - importance the self-determination of the petty bourgeois masses of the people is for the whole fate of bourgeois society.--Trotsky, The Struggle against Fascism, 28o-1.)

And Poulantzes:

The rise of fascism corresponds to an economic crisis for the entire petty bourgeoisie. This is an important fact: in both Germany and Italy, the petty bourgeoisie was particularly affected by the economic crisis the countries had just been through. But in so far as the crisis had begun to be resolved before fascism actually came to power, the essential point is the step of transition to the dominance of monopoly capitalism to which fascism corresponds. The acceleration of the concentration of capital during the rise of fascism directly jeopardized the economic existence of mall-scale production and small-scale ownership. As for the salaried employees, this step caused a sharp and considerable increase in their numbers, accompanied by the unemployment and under-employment normal in such circumstances.--Fascism & Dictatorship, 248

Worse, we have a bunch of proletarian Walmart workers who really think they're petty bourgeois. What a mess.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 27 2005 18:59 utc | 12

great post!'ve got the correct idea. the labour movement must somehow wake up and globalize like the multicorps. connecting the labour movement worldwide is much easier with the communications technology of today.

Posted by: lenin's ghost | Jul 27 2005 20:02 utc | 13


Worse, we have a bunch of proletarian Walmart workers who really think they're petty bourgeois.

Have you done polling of walmart workers, to back up your conclusion, or are you fitting the facts to your theory?

Just curious.

Posted by: Mega-M | Jul 27 2005 20:18 utc | 14

The Boston Globe has a good column on the issue:

In the short run, it's a real setback. Even a weakened AFL-CIO is still a crucial voice on pro-worker legislation and for the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. It's one more progressive institution that seems on the ropes.

Below the national radar, the AFL-CIO has done important work helping to create local and state labor councils, which often become key players in local politics. In Los Angeles, the local labor federation was a major factor in the rise of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. This may be jeopardized.

But the longer-term picture is more complex. If real resources are indeed shifted to organizing, that's a huge plus. There was hand-wringing in the 1930s when labor radicals founded the Committee on Industrial Organization outside the established (and enfeebled) AFL. It was CIO unions that organized new industries like autos and steel, where earlier efforts by craft unions had failed.

Posted by: b | Jul 27 2005 20:51 utc | 15


Yeah, now I reread that and am aware it is a bit of class-contempt on my part. My proof is admittedly anecdotal. For ex.: There was a year-long battle, begun by auto dept. employees at a Longmont, Colorado "superstore" to unionize. On Feb. 25, 2005, the store employees voted unanimously against unionization. Why? The union claimed intimidation, but workers also did not believe union would improve things. (articles in the Longmont Call unfortunately unavailable via lexis. The relevant article is Feb. 25, 2005; several articles in previous year)

But such albeit limited proof doesn't harm my thesis: the ideology I referred to exists and is partly the explanation for political marginalization of class consciousness impelled by middleclass professionals who usually villify unionization, even as many of these same people lose their status and are forced to work at Walmart. I have faith, offered real alternatives of collective bargaining, most workers would choose to do so? I wish.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 27 2005 21:29 utc | 16

Also, in any case, traditional labor organization hardly addresses the larger structural problems of capitalism. That's my main point. And against this failure, fascism offers "solutions."

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 27 2005 21:34 utc | 17

"As for the feminist/union thing. Hardly anywhere can the ideology of the petit-bourgeois ideology be better demonstrated than in the "freedoms" won by women to compete against men for jobs. What a disaster bourgeois-feminism has been."

That's pretty harsh IMO somewhat akin to blaming Iraqis for stepping in the path of a coalition of the willing bullet.

The union movement and the left always modelled their programs on the concept that the cost of goods was a reflection of the cost of inputs, so that when the free market principles were thrust upon the world, where the cost of goods was purely a function of demand it was inevitable that changes in the labour force conditions that reduced the barriers to women competing would cause a change in the financial effectiveness of discrete economic units like families. Initially when a family had two income gatherers instead of one it was easier to buy a house etc. Of course as others saw the benefits and the reduction in barriers became more widespread it became inevitable that without managed intervention, all that would happen would be that housing prices would rise and pretty soon families would have to have two income gatherers.

I hope a few readers twitched at the intervention word but a number of different remedies could have been adopted to mitigate the worst effects of a sudden increase in family incomes. Local and state authorities could have considered their citizens rather their developer colleagues when releasing land for domestic housing.

So yes part of the short term consequence of allowing people themselves to determine what it is they do with their lives rather than repressive power structures do it for them, is that 'choice' has been hoist on it's own petard.

However maintaining the status quo would have been unmanageable as well as being completely unjust.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jul 27 2005 21:46 utc | 18

I'm not quite tracking your arg DiD. Sudden jump in housdehold incomes? The lowest income inequality occured around 1970, coinciding w/ entry of women into the workforce. Wage depression in the middle quintiles has accelerated even though most families have two or more persons working full-time. From 1970-1980, female employment grew by 12.4 million, or 42%. Jobs for men, on the other hand, grew by only 4.5%. This trend continued from 1980-90, as the growth of women in the workplace swelled by nearly 36%, or an addition of 8 million workers. All this occurring when real wages in the middle quintiles were quickly declining: from the 3% per year in the 1949-1969 period, to the roughly 12% for pretax income of the average household through all of the 1970s, to 11% over the whole of the 80s. Exploitation of the labor of women hurt everybody.

Of course, I'm not arguing for June Cleaver, either.

Handy ref: Poverty & Prosperity in the USA in the Late Twentieth Century. ed. by Dimitri B. Papadimitriou and Edward N. Wolff. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 27 2005 22:01 utc | 19

The Teamster/GOP more than occasional marriage of convience demonstrates the most fundamental of facts about unions in America. That is the principal of self interest is the only one that works or matters.

The socialist roots of unions live on in their genes but it's a recessive gene never to be expresed again.

This is really what traditional Liberalism says should be the case. Talk all you want about high principal etc. etc. etc. but offer influence, power and money and they will come.

Posted by: Jorma | Jul 27 2005 22:11 utc | 20

We're essentially saying the same thing. The mass entry of women into the workforce created a growth in family incomes which was immediately offset by a drop in real wages ie inflation, so that any income gains were neutered. This meant that a woman's decision to work changed from being 'voluntary' to being essential.

Although you choose to see the increased entry of women into the workforce as "exploitation of the labour of women", women did not feel that way about it, so to have fought against the use of women in the workforce would have been repressive and unjust unless the fight had been to pull all people out of the corporate workforce, regardless of gender.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jul 27 2005 22:41 utc | 21

Just an interesting note:

We apparently now have Indian H1-B or whatever workers in this country as truck drivers.

A retired trucker friend informed me of this earlier this week. His granddaughter works as a waitress at an interstate truck stop and reported in.

Hoffa might begin organizing the the IBOT, Lahore Local, #1--they are apparently Sikhs.


Posted by: Mega-M | Jul 27 2005 23:17 utc | 22

If I get this right it is a fight about where to spend money. The Teamsters and SEIU group wants to spend it on aquiring more members, the AFL-CIO wants to spend on lobbying.

Looking at the poor member numbers, especially in service jobs, my emotional first push is for the first group. Why is Wal Mart not unionized? There would be a huge benefit for those workers. If the existing unions want to help the workers there, I am all for it.

To spend a $ on lobbying in Washington DC is wasted money. The repubs will not listen anyway.

That said - the way this is done is catastrophic and a very bad exsample. They should have had discussions and the delegates tshould have voted for their preference. After that, a split would at least be justified.

Posted by: b | July 27, 2005 11:17 AM | #

You are right that it is about where to spend the money, but it is also about strategy. AFL-CIO think that the best way to support union issues is to lobby congress and buy onair ads. You are right that the Repugs don't give a damn because the way they see it, they don't need to fear unions because unions are not a big constituency in the electorate. The SEIU and Teamsters instead believe that the best way to promote labor rights is to get more people into unions. More union registration would mean more people that would vote independently for pro-union politicians as opposed to the AFL-CIO model of trying to convince a non-union electorate to support pro-union politicians.

The Teamsters and SEIU know exactly what they are doing. As most AFL-CIO members saw huge reductions in union membership, the SEIU has seen huge gains. And here is why:

The AFL-CIO spent most of the 80's and half the 90's opposing immigration. The SEIU quickly realized that immigrants represent a substantial pool of potential new union recruits, particularly because people from latin america have a long history of unionization and union activity. While one side was openly antagonistic to hispanic immigrants, the other saw an opportunity and reached out to them. One side grew, the other side diminished. Plus, it is precisely these many latin american immigrants that work in the types of professions that are the most dangerous and exploited.

The SEIU kept the banner of what the labor movement was about, improving conditions for all workers. The AFL-CIO on the other hand has been more interested in the last couple decades of just protecting the benefits for current members.

It is a very simple calculus and one that shows that the AFL-CIO is stagnant and has no clue. As a disclaimer, my brother is an organizer for the SEIU, trying to organize school bus drivers. The SEIU is also working to organize tech workers and other industries. The SEIU understands much better how to improve labor in this modern world. They want to build a ground up organization that cannot be discarded. The AFL-CIO has no clue.

Posted by: Bubb Rubb | Jul 27 2005 23:17 utc | 23

you all might appreciate this Henry Liu article.

Posted by: dk | Jul 27 2005 23:23 utc | 24

I must be in a nit-picking mood.
@Mega-M I don't quite understand your point. Until the arrival of 'Sikh' truck drivers in the US had all previous drivers been US born? If these drivers are Indian Sikh's why would they join a Pakistani (Lahore) local?
I gather H1-B is some sort of Immigration status code given to new arrivals that 50 years ago would have been merely released into the workforce and told to 'go for it'. If what Bubb-Rubb is saying is on the ball these complex residental status classifications can be the result of unions arguing for restricted migration. If it was that they have scored an 'own goal' because what has happened is that the classifications further divide the workforce and reduce the job security/status of migrants.
This in turn means that it is difficult for migrants to compete for jobs on an equal footing so employers take advantage of the weakness by offering lower/wages conditions to migrants, thereby pushing US born workers out by making their hire 'less economic'.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jul 28 2005 0:36 utc | 25

Well Debs, I guess point was, truck driving aint rocket science and if companies wanted to train Americans and adjust their operations a bit, they could fill all their driver slots.

Even though trucks are reasonably homey these days, no one in their right mind likes the idea of two weeks working, far from home, for 1 day off. Real work week is 60-70 hrs+.

Similarly, giving away good programming jobs in the PC NW, instead of investing in training our own. Short term fix again, instead of investing in this country.

"This in turn means that it is difficult for migrants to compete for jobs on an equal footing so employers take advantage of the weakness by offering lower/wages conditions to migrants, thereby pushing US born workers out by making their hire 'less economic'"

That remark was hilarious DEBS. You ought to be a Fucking Republican plutocrat. You have no knowledge of America or labor movements in America or any thing else.

I will not even try to educate you on H1B.

You might try googling Department of Labor, but since you know it all, that of course is not necessary.


Posted by: Mega-M | Jul 28 2005 1:24 utc | 26


You haven't said anything of substance. This happens here more and more I'm afraid. You'll have to prove something more than arrogance. You do not have the cache here to elliptically dismiss anyone.

"shit on our carpets," as rgiap said.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 28 2005 1:43 utc | 27

Well Slothrop, I think with DEB's illumination of American labor history, it is high time for me to exit this incestuous, fetid,"intellectual" bell jar.

And fuck you too sloth. Your "Marxist" masturbation and mastication has been most amusing.

don't go blind!

Posted by: Mega-M | Jul 28 2005 1:52 utc | 28

really, nothing. In all your comments, just poorly drawn opinion. empty.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 28 2005 1:58 utc | 29

You'll do well in Our America. All you need is a loud voice and an opinion.

You have much to prove.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 28 2005 2:03 utc | 30

I give you the last word, sloth.

Posted by: Mega-M | Jul 28 2005 2:13 utc | 31

It is always better to use logic and accuracy in here if possible. After a quick google as I had surmised H1-B is some sort of employment sponsorship for a 'green card'.
I guess that Mega-M's anger can only be attributed to his being caught out making ignorant racist remarks. Hell Sikh's Pakistanis Indians they're all the same not white and not like us. Whoever us is because since I'm unaware of a predominance of Native Americans in truck driving in the US I guess most of the drivers were from somewhere else originally.
Mega-M is correct as I pointed out in the post I'm not that familiar with the intricacy of US labour relations but I am familiar with the union movement and experience has unfortunately taught me that the quickest way to destroy a union is to break solidarity. Breaking solidarity comes in many forms from siding with the bosses, to scabbing, to dividing members along the lines of gender, creed or race. All have the same effect, that is the union members spend more time arguing amongst each other that working for their common good.

All of this just basically serves to reinforce my original comment which was that if the US labour movement is that archaic that it ghettoizes and tokenises (nah they probably can't be made into verbs, but this is a union thread and certain allegations have been made so I'm gonna find the alligator) genders and races then the only chance for a modern labour movement is to walk away and start again.

p.s. Indian workers often have a good handle on industrial relations, one of my best fellow delegates was a bloke from Goa whose hands were covered in scars, a little memento he picked up organising in India where he was grabbed by the local police at the behest of the bosses and they held him for a couple of weeks decorating his hands, arms and legs with hot coals and cigarettes.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jul 28 2005 4:51 utc | 32

Unionism has been dead since the 50's, when they purged all their socialist activists. They're just in a prolonged death knell.

Without a critique aimed at the heart of capitalism, an ideology, it's hard to build a movement. The critique being that capitalism is about expropriating the wealth created by workers, and giving it to the ruling class.

Posted by: folkers | Jul 28 2005 6:30 utc | 33

All-or-nothing thinking apparently pervades both right and left.

As does misogeny, with slothrop arguing that women "compete for mens jobs" and thus bring down wages of 'everybody else', meaning the apparently more deserving men of course. Bad women, bad! If female labor is exploited, then it is because men of all classes and ideologies are okay with that. This is what is wrong with the left in the United States: they are male-dominated and male-supremacist and exclude women from the struggle by excluding women from the benefits of struggle. The argument D.i.D. makes [about labor's fubar anti-immigrant policy resulting labor losing power] can also be said of labor's fubar lack of support for women: misogeny and racism harm the labor movement.

re folker's comment:
UNREGULATED capitalism is about "expropriating wealth created by the workers and giving it to the ruling class". Socialist activists who saw/see the Soviet union or Cuba style socialism as the anti-capitalist solution are as blind as the petit bourgois. Because the elite of those socialistic systems ALSO expropriate[d] wealth created by the workers and in order to give it to the ruling class.

Posted by: gylangirl | Jul 28 2005 9:55 utc | 34

Where is everybody? Why no posts for the last few hours, or am I just not getting them?

Posted by: catlady | Jul 28 2005 17:56 utc | 35

late to the party, but here's is my take...

full disclosure: i've been a union member for 6 years, HERE for one year, and working for an AFL-CIO union for the last 4. My mom has had a union job for 7 years now. thismakes my mom and I unique as the only union members in my extended family. I think the AFL-CIO will perpetually be in need of major reform as all large entities should...

A lot of the media attention (the rare occasion where U.S. media give a rats ass about labor)has focused on SEIU talking points. The debate about organizing or lobbying is a ruse.

SEIU donated $65 million to Kerry & dinocrats last year, more than any other union or single entity (i think). AFL & CIO have had spurts of growth when there has been significant legislation, never quite ideal, but something to gain momentum from. Old habits and all that. Also, u.s. labor protections have no teeth, making it impossible to organize without getting people fired. this is a regulatory issue which Clinton & DLC cared little for & the current and prior AFL-CIO leadership should be rightly blamed.

SEIU, UNITE-HERE, & UFCW have this reputation in some circles for being bastions of social change and progressive ideals. SEIU's justice for janitors campaign in 1995 was the beginning of my uncapitalism & activism (along with the dead kennedys & punk rock).

That said, SEIU, HERE, Teamsters, Laborers & Carpenters - the Change to Win unions - have a reputation known to many unionists & many of those unions' activists for being some of the most undemocratic top-down hierarchies in labor, regardless of mob ties and assorted chicanery.

This is by no means is exclusive to CtW unions, but their proposals, made when they were called 'new unity partnership' showed exactly how they saw things.

Their plan was to merge the 58 AFL-CIO unions into 10 unions along industrial lines. Their metaphor was the corporation: to take on corporations, unions have to look like corporations. This is utter bullshit. If unions start looking to corporations for inspiration, I'll look for another line of work.

There was no mention of dues paying members being given a voice in this matter. Workers who belonged to one union with a distinct culture (ie. decentralized, local-run, member-activism) would have found themselves in mega-unions with an army 'professional' organizers and no local autonomy, no local activism. Also, consolidations haven't helped Australia's labor movement & it is more than possible to coordinate multiple unions in an industrial union strategy (i.e. coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions)

and I think the first quote from the counterpnch article refers to the way the CtW unions boycotted the AFL-CIO convention, thus making sure that there was no actual discussion. The had made up thier minds a long time ago to split. There's blame enough for both sides here, but CtW took every opportunity to let it be known that either they get the keys to the car, or they take a chainsaw through it and walk with thier half.

It is painfully clear that this was not about ideology, but egos. The dissident unions
never bothered to fully articulate why structure should come before function. The current AFl-CIO leadership forgot their 1996 promise of change and grew static.

maybe this whole episode defibulates the U.S. labor movement and gets us in sync with workers interests & global solidarity and the rest of it.

Posted by: served cold | Jul 29 2005 20:59 utc | 36

also, if anyone is reading...

in case it wasn't a joke, why in the fucktard would Indians want to join the teamsters? this is some american exceptionalist bs that has killed progressiveism in U.S. culture.

If anything, people in the U.S. who are horrified with the way our future is unfolding should look to people's movements elsewhere and take notes.

Some this has to do with % membership, but even when the numbers are there, no one has figured out a coherent way to create some global solidarity that plays to labor's natural strenghts, one reason being that we all forgot what those strenghts are or exactly what the beast is.

I don't have the answers, but neither do SEIU et al, AFL-CIO, or the fat-cat international labor federations that can make Judean People's Front look like EZLN. and its always old white men (labor, not EZLN).

what a pissed off way to start the weekend...

Posted by: served cold | Jul 29 2005 21:19 utc | 37

Molly">">Molly Ivins 7/26 on the split

Posted by: dk | Jul 30 2005 13:48 utc | 38

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