Saturday, March 12, 2011

Wisconsin: the public sector's PATCO, but all workers are the victims as the Labor leaders capitulate again.

Wisconsin's governor, eliminating 50 years of workers' rights
This is what professor Harley Shaiken, a "Labor expert", says about the Wisconsin events:
"Autoworkers sat down to win collective bargaining rights during a cold Flint, Mich., winter in February 1937. For the past few weeks, 14 Wisconsin Democratic senators have been sitting in motel rooms in Illinois to preserve those rights for public workers."

Damn, I sure wish I went to university, it would have learned me something.

This is what too much education does for you.  He compares Democrats who opportunistically holed up in Illinois in order to maintain the link to the money and footsoldiers that organized Labor's leaders provides them, to workers who occupied a GM factory in Flint for 44 days, fought pitched battles with cops and built a union at a corporation that owned countries. When threatened with the troops they refused to come out and made it clear their deaths were on the governor's hands.  How dare Shaiken insult these men and women comparing them to the opportunistic politicians of the millionaires who, by the way, are willingly handing over our living standards to Wall Street.

Half a million workers occupied factories and workplaces and this so-called Labor expert, the Labor bureaucracy's "go to" academic compares these politicians of a Wall Street political party to them.  He even talks of the great cooperation between auto workers and auto bosses in making them profitable again.  In auto, wages, benefits and work rules have been savaged.  Wages were cut in half.  A secure job and a decent pension gone.  Shaiken is a Labor expert alright, a capitalist academic who writes about Labor issues from a capitalist point of view. He is used to give the Labor  bureaucracy intellectual credibility, that's his role.  He is an ideological enemy of working class people.

The Democrats were forced by events on the ground, by the swell of opposition from workers, to take the position they did.  But there is another reason.  The CEO's that Michael Moore and the Labor officials (many of them millionaires themselves) argue the Republicans are representing, are also represented by the Democrats.  The bosses are very fortunate, they have two parties, or more accurately, one party with two wings to it.  The actions of the Democrats are also designed to weaken the likelihood of the call for independent Labor and working people's candidates coming out of such an unprecedented movement.  This is why they have taken actions that portray them, with backing from academics like Shaiken, as champions of our cause.

"But the fight in Wisconsin isn't over - Democrats and unions are already filing lawsuits against the proposal and recall actions against GOP senators who approved it." says the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel. "It's just the beginning," the JS quotes Democrat Bob Jauch as saying. "This is the civil rights issue of this century."

This is the nail in the coffin.  Relying on the courts has done nothing to stop the employers from savaging the wages, benefits and working conditions of American workers.  The future generations have been abandoned not only by the politicians of the two capitalist parties but also by the heads of organized Labor through their pro-market, pro capitalist policies exemplified by the Team Concept. The courts never built Unions, the courts never ended Jim Crow laws in America's Apartheid South, and the courts won't stop this assault.  The courts are not there to protect workers rights but to protect employers' rights.

The top Labor leadership and their friends in the Democratic Party are about to orchestrate another PATCO.  In 1981, PATCO, the Union that represented air traffic controllers went on strike. Two days later, that thug and B movie actor President Ronald Reagan with a Democratic controlled Congress, fired 11000 of them and banned them for working in that industry for life.  Their leaders were on TV in handcuffs being carted off to jail.

This was a full frontal attack on American workers and our Unions.  As of 2006 only 846 of the 11,000 controllers were allowed back on the job.  The AFL-CIO and its moribund leader, Lane Kirkland did nothing, to their eternal shame.  The cowardice of the heads of organized Labor gave the bosses the green light and they went on the offensive more aggressively.  Why not?  Strikes in transportation, meatpacking, the newspaper industry, were all defeated as the heads of the AFL-CIO yawned, threatened lawsuits and told us to elect Democrats.  My former Union, AFSCME, provided 40,000 volunteers for the Democrat Mondale in his failed presidential campaign; the public sector was doing well then . After the defeat of the Hormel strike in Austen Minnesota through a powerful combination of the meatpacking bosses and the UFCW/AFL-CIO, the wages in that industry plummeted.

If the movement that has arisen in Wisconsin and other states is allowed to fizzle through the Labor leadership dragging it from the streets to the courts and in to that black hole we call the Democratic Party.  If we do not build on the independent power of working people in our communities and on the job, link our struggles to those of the youth, immigrants, people of color and all victims of the free market, this will not only become the public sector's PATCO.  It will be for the employers the culmination of years of attacks on working people since PATCO.  An offensive that faced  no resistance from the Labor officialdom and in most cases was carried out with their cooperation. It will be a defeat of historic proportions as it comes on the heels of a similar onslaught on our brothers and sisters in auto.

The heads of organized Labor have already conceded defeat. "We may have lost the battle in Wisconsin, but it's galvanized us to win the war." an e mail from the Alameda (CA) Central Labor Council  said yesterday.  The Labor leadership have thrown in the towel again without a fight, filing a lawsuit is not a fight; it is capitulation.  We are witnessing yet another betrayal, by a combination of the Democrats and our own leaders, and we must fight to stop it.

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