Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Labor Pains

From a theoretical standpoint, I am very pro-union. I strongly support the concept of workers banding together to have a say in how their corporation, company, enterprise or governmental unit is run.

However, in the real America, unions ain't half of what they use to be. Too often, they focus on very narrow self-interest and refuse to look at the big picture (e.g., like how the demands of one union in a company might adversely affect another union in the same company). Many of their own big wigs have become about as corrupt as the management folks they rub shoulders with daily.

Worst of all, most of the major unions have married themselves to the Democratic Party and, regardless of how anti-union and anti-labor some Democratic candidates are, they support them to the death.

David Sirota makes this same point.
We saw this here in Colorado when the AFL-CIO responded to Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet's opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act - ie. labor's top legislative priority - by loyally restating its lockstep support for Bennet and by then insisting that EFCA was suddenly a "non-issue" for labor unions. We also saw it with AFSCME president Gerry McEntee compliantly endorsing Rahm Emanuel for Chicago Mayor, despite Emanuel consistently laying waste to organized labor's basic agenda. This was the same McEntee who previously promised to lead the fight against any progressive groups trying to run primaries against anti-labor Democrats. Now, we see even more of this ignorance/corruption from labor leaders -- and in even more shockingly ignorant/corrupt terms...
For years I was a state leader of the Green Party in Oregon (1999 - 2004) and Washington (2006 - 2008). No matter how hard we tried to get organized labor to work with us on reforming the stilted political system or to consider seriously supporting our candidates, it was a definite no-go. Though our political agenda was a far better fit for them, labor would fall into lockstep for the Democrats every two years!

In between elections, organized labor makes a lot of noise. They decry the Democratic Party's abandonment of America's working class. They hold conferences, write editorials and make grandiose statements about how in the NEXT election cycle they will pull support from those candidates who do not support a pro-labor agenda. The rhetoric sounds all well and good, but as soon as that next election comes near, they soften the rhetoric and turn their backs on everything they said in the preceding months.

The refrain every election is the same: Yes, the Democrats may not be our friends, but the Republicans are our sworn enemies. So vote Democrat.
In an article headlined "Labor holds nose, backs former foes," Politico reports that "Labor's big threat to punish misbehaving Democrats has largely evaporated in the heat of the midterms, as unions now scramble to rescue incumbents they once pilloried." In this, the message to all Democratic politicians now and in the future is clear: Labor may talk about using the stick, but it won't actually follow those threats up with action come election time. Which, of course, tells all Democratic politicians that they won't pay a price for opposing labor's agenda... which, of course, effectively encourages Democratic politicians to oppose labor's agenda on behalf of corporate interests. This is, in short, labor saying "Thank you sir, may I have another?" to anti-labor Democratic politicians...
Labor once held strong political clout, but it's not as strong as it use to be and it grows more irrelevant by the year. At the rate they're going, they will soon become a political non-factor.

Poll after poll has shown that many Americans crave a new political party that will serve the interests of the vast majority instead of the machinations of the corporate class and wealthy elite. Organized labor could be the catalyst in the formation of such a party IF they had the courage to stand up for what they say they believe in. Unfortunately, as long as they steadfastly hitch their horse to a wagon going in the wrong direction, the chances of creating a populist-based progressive political force are about nil.

In many ways, organized labor has become its own worst enemy. What a shame!


  1. so which side do you choose in the following cases?

    Teachers union has labor trouble of its own
    Negotiators picket Ohio Education Association over contract disputes

    Professional Staff Union members picket outside Ohio Education Association offices.

    Ohio's largest teachers union is having labor problems of its own.

    Labor-relations consultants, who help local teachers unions negotiate contracts with school districts, and other employees of the Ohio Education Association walked off the job this morning.


    To Protest Hiring of Nonunion Help, Union Hires Nonunion Pickets
    Jobless Recruits Get Minimum Wage 'To March Around and Sound Off'


    1,600 apply to haul trash in case of Teamsters strike

    Waste Management's five-year offer includes a wage increase of $1 per hour in the first year, bumping up the current pay rate of $26.29 per hour by 3.7 percent.

    By the last year of the contract, the average driver's annual compensation will reach $109,553, Waste Management said, and the company will contribute more than $15,000 per year to each employee's pension fund.


  2. Taoists are against big government and forced compliance to control.. Unions are Government tools of control these days and so I'm against unions....

  3. I am against unions because they take money out of my wages to give to politicians...even if I happen to agree with the union over who to support, I don't want that.


Comments are unmoderated, so you can write whatever you want.