Friday, January 27, 2012

Indiana right to work law practically a done deal

I'm confused. If there's a war on workers, whose the middle class?
Some important history is being made as I write these words.  Indiana is about to become the 23rd right-to-to work state in the U.S., as the first such law in over a decade is almost certain to become law. The law bans Union contracts from requiring that employees pay Union dues and after passing in the Indiana House, the legislation now moves to the Republican controlled Senate.

Right to work of course actually means the right to work for less and under whatever conditions the boss imposes on you.   It’s the way they spin this stuff in the media just like they use the term “willing” when it comes to workers like immigrants and other economic refugees of the market or the women of Bangladesh or Vietnam for example who have no rights and are forced to work for worthless wages and in brutal conditions.

I always had real battles with some of the worthless and lazy right wing workers in my place that opted out of paying Union dues although there weren't many of them.  It would be one thing if they weren’t covered by the contract and never received the rights, benefits and other gifts the collective struggle of workers had won.  It would be one thing if we didn’t have to represent their sorry asses or if they had to negotiate their own individual contract with the boss.

The bosses’ politicians say that the law will attract jobs, that capitalists won’t invest capital in Indiana and create jobs if they can go to other right to work states like Arizona or Texas.  They’re right, it makes perfect sense from the bosses’ point of view that if they can get workers cheaper and a Labor process and profit making will not be slowed by disruptive Union safety rules and other obstacles in Texas as opposed to Indiana, they’ll choose Texas.

These developments are the culmination of years of class collaboration on the part of the Union officialdom offering concession after concession to the bosses in their efforts to prop up their system and to keep their profits flowing in.  Every attempt by the ranks of organized Labor to drive back this offensive of capitalism and build an offensive of our own, has been suppressed by the Labor hierarchy and its huge full-time apparatus as it threatens their world-view and the relationship they have built with the employers based on Labor peace.

The employers are naturally emboldened by the open collaboration on the part of Labor’s leadership and every concession has increased their confidence; weakness breeds aggression as they say. As the politicians of one of the two capitalist parties go on the offensive with anti-Union legislation, what does the other party do?  What do these guardians of the workers’ interests in the Democratic Party do as right-to work legislation is pending in another nine states?

In Indiana the Democrats fled to Illinois for five weeks so a quorum couldn’t be reached which delayed the bill for a while but realized that it wasn’t possible  “to kill it through endless delay” Democrat Scott Pelath tells the Wall Street Journal.  The Democrats are forced to engage in such charades like fleeing town as the Party receives hundreds of millions, in fact billions of dollars over the years not to mention thousands of volunteer foot soldiers from organized Labor for their election campaigns. The Democrats and Republican’s play the same game the cops do, one beats you the other gives you a cigarette but they both want the same thing

It is as clear as a bell that the Democratic Party, even if there are sincere individuals within it and there probably is, is incapable of defending workers.  The Democratic Party is a capitalist party, a party of big business, of the 1%, of Wall Street.  It cannot serve our interests.  It is the original party of the slave owners and the only political party in history to have dropped nuclear bombs on heavily populated civilian centers. It is the party of the Labor hierarchy who cling to it in desperation, in the hope that the bosses will please, please return to the good old days and just be a little nicer. 

US capitalism is mired in crisis, economically, politically and culturally. US capitalism is broken and has to make workers pay. The wars it is engaged in to defend the profits of corporations are so unpopular at home that it cannot risk losing too many young American lives and is planning to reduce troop levels and replace them with unmanned armed drones and “hunt and kill” special ops in conjunction with regimes it can bribe and cajole in to supporting it as back up.  These special teams are the types that the bosses will want to use against US citizens as the class war at home heats up.

As we repeatedly point out, the leaders of the AFL-CIO and the Charge to Win Coalition are shameful and the blame for the success of the bosses’ offensive lies squarely on their shoulders. These overpaid bureaucrats complain that the members aren’t active.  For every defeat they blame the folks who pay the dues.  They claim that the movement doesn’t get enough support and their answer to that is to spend a million or two on ads showing images of responsible workers.  Nothing contentious, no images of strikes because Unions aren’t about conflict, we must never be seen hitting back.  This is a reflection of their own cowardice not the timidity of the US working class.

Yet we have had a situation in Longview Washington where workers, members of ILWU local 21 have used direct action tactics in a struggle to prevent the bosses from weakening the ILWU with the help of another Union, the Operating Engineers.  Local 21 has had an open declaration of support from the Occupy Wall Street Movement that has made it clear that the attempt to break Local 21 will be met with a massive response through direct action and a community picket line.  As previous blogs have pointed out, the ILWU International has done all it could to undermine the militant actions of this local and break the community Labor link that was strengthening.  The Union leadership at the highest levels has intervened to ensure that the bosses’ interests were not threatened and a victory made possible through the power of Labor and community action averted.

No matter the mistakes, the Occupy movement has in it some very serious, committed and courageous individuals and the conservative Labor hierarchy is terrified of this movement linking with Labor.  For any victory, even small ones, will embolden workers to take further action and for the strategists of Labor a conscious and active membership can only lead to chaos; for them, capital rules.

In Indiana, James Hoffa, the lawyer that heads the Teamsters Union tries to frighten the bosses saying that there will be a “tremendous backlash” from the voters if the bill passes. In other words, a recall or another big drive to replace Republicans with Democrats. The bosses are not afraid; they control both parties.

We have seen hundreds of thousands of people on the streets of Madison, thousands upon thousands of workers in Ohio working on a successful effort to defeat anti-Union bills and replace republicans with Democrats.  And we have witnessed the rise of the Occupy movement.  This is tremendous working class power and these results in Wisconsin and elsewhere, show that we have the resources and organizational ability to run independent workers candidates in opposition to both parties of Wall Street. That we can through running individual candidates on a program of jobs, housing, education, health care, and end to the wars etc. that we can build a national working people’s mass party that can change the balance of class forces in US society and linked with mass direct action change society for the better.

Instead, as the Wall Street Journal points out, these “bruising fights” over right to work legislation in the states, “…sap time and resources that labor leaders would rather use to help re-elect President Barack Obama.”  This is the strategy of those at the helm of organized Labor------rely on the courts and the Democrats and we can rely on neither. We can only rely on ourselves.

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