Friday, July 13, 2012

Wall Street Journal's war on teachers' Unions political donations

The Wall Street Journal's propaganda war against workers and Unions has been in full swing lately.  There are regular reports about the money that Unions donate to political causes.  The amount of money that the Labor hierarchy pours in to political races has been raised and objected to many times on this blog, literally billions of dollars over the years.

There was a report a few days ago about organized Labor's political spending and in today's Journal there is another one attacking the Teachers Unions for lavish political donations.

During my years of activity in the Labor movement, I never objected to political education or spending our money on political issues that affect working people.  I did object to giving money to elect candidates of the capitalist class, primarily those in that other party of the 1%, the Democrats.  Money and politics are important but money spent on electing politicians and given to a  political party that represents the interests of the bankers is like the chickens inviting the fox in to the henhouse. The lesser of two evils argument for pouring money in to the Democratic Party simply leads us to our deaths a little slower---it has been a catastrophe for workers in the US.

The other important point is that we can't compete with the capitalist class when it comes to money; they have more of it.  They are not known as capitalists for nothing---they are the personification of capital and will always outspend us.  A new report from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign report released Thursday shows that business interests give $12 for every $1 donated by labor unions. The other issue as the AFL-CIO points out is that the Journal "...ignores the fact that corporations outspend unions by more than 10 to one but are free to hide their spending while unions disclose everything." The Journal is forced to admit that "Unions must publicly detail and categorize all expenses annually under rules put in place by  George W Bush."

Throwing Union members  money down the drain
What we do have is numbers and our special role in the productive process that the capitalist class owns and manages although it is the brains and brawn of workers that allows the machine to function.  The object of the production (or labor) process for the owners of capital is to exit the process with more capital than they had when they went in and they do that by paying workers less for the use of their labor power than the value the use of it produces.  This added value comes from a portion of the Labor time used up in production that is unpaid, that the capitalist gets for free.

Public expenditure on education, the post office, transportation, crowds out private capital from the market place and the opportunity for profit making; it has to go.

This morning's journal talks of the money the Teachers unions are spending on political issues. The teachers' Unions are a main obstacle to the 1%'s efforts to privatize education and pretty much eliminate public education altogether. "Fostering allies among progressive groups" the Journal writes, ".....has helped give the teachers widespread political clout on Capitol Hill and in statehouses..."  Unfortunately, this "widespread political clout" doesn't amount to much as the war against education and teachers is quite successful.  The Labor hierarchy, including in the teachers Unions, is completely wedded to the Team Concept, on the job and in the political arena with support for the Democrats.  This world view, that says that workers and bosses have the same economic interests, is the dominant reason the Labor hierarchy refuses to fight, refuses to mobilize the potential power of Union members and the unorganized in to a generalized offensive of our own. They make moralistic appeals to fairness and decency but having no alternative to the market, they collaborate openly in the assault on workers and gains we have made over the last 150 years.  They must save the system, the alternative is chaos.

What the struggle over Union political donations is mostly about I believe, and the main reason Union political activity is coming under attack is that the vast majority of cash and resources the heads of organized Labor spend on politics goes to the Democratic Party and candidates.  I have pointed out many times that my former Union AFSCME provided 40,000 volunteers for Walter Mondale in the 1980's in his bid for the presidency. They will throw all their resources now behind Obama.

This is a huge resource advantage for the Democrats and why they opposed Governor Walker's attempts to eliminate collective bargaining rights and dues check off in Wisconsin. The Republicans have had  the religious right as their foot soldiers (a problem for them undoubtedly) and the lunatic Tea Baggers, while the Democrats have had organized Labor and other "progressive" organizations.  That section of the capitalist class that supports the Republican Party that vies with those that support the Democrats for which of them will govern and plunder society for four years want to undermine or sever the Democratic party's access to these valuable resources.

The heads of organized Labor will throw these resources behind Obama this election for the lack of any alternative and certainly without providing one despite having the resources to do so.  There are some 1000 Labor Councils throughout the country as well as District and regional councils of international Unions.  AFSCME has some 4000 locals.  The structure and money is there as is the desire for change-----for an alternative to the twin parties of capital. But a political party governs society, or it's aim is to govern society.  Such a development places extreme pressure on the Labor hierarchy to "produce the goods" but they can't given their world-view so they avoid it at all costs.

The Union leadership will no more voluntarily build a political alternative, go on the offensive politically and independent of the bankers and Wall Street than they will voluntarily launch an offensive of our own through mass mobilizations, strikes and direct action against capital's assault on workers and the poor.  This will only arise from below.

The unfortunate aspect of the Labor hierarchy's collaboration with capital is that while major struggles are inevitable, we will be fighting back from a deeper hole than we could have been in were this not so.

Bur rest assured, the US working class will take its rightful place in these global events---history teaches us that much.

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