Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Labor's leadership and the Team Concept must be challenged

by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

I have been thinking about labor officials like Tim Paulson appearing at events like the one in the video in the previous blog.  People like me have heard him and others like him say the same old thing time and time again.

The more I think about it, what is so unpleasant about it for me is that it insulting to rank and file workers to allow people like him to use events like this to cover for their betrayals and collaboration with the employers that causes untold harm to the folks that pay the union dues. We are participating along with him if we say nothing or continue to allow it, I feel like I'm letting my workmates and all workers down.  In fact, I do not think we should allow them to continue to speak at events some of us organize, we owe that to workers. 

In 2010 two of us that have written for this blog played a considerable role organizing a rally in Oakland against the attacks on public education, we have videos of that on this blog.  Despite considerable obstacles we were successful in keeping big business politicians as well as the labor bureaucracy like Tim Paulson from using the event to cover their class collaboration, to portray themselves as something they are not.

We have to tell the rank and file union members the truth;  we have to fight to make our unions the fighting organizations they have to be if we want to stop the bloodletting.  The labor hierarchy, people like Tim Paulson, will fight ferociously to prevent us from threatening the relationship they have built with the bosses and their political friends in the Democratic Party, a relationship based on labor peace and at the expense of their members' livelihoods.  Yes, the obscene salaries and perks of many of them matter, but it is their worship of capitalism and the market, their worship of profits that leads them to defend the bosses' so aggressively.  No worker or activist claiming to want to fight for workers and change the present concessionary policies of our organizations can do so without openly condemning and abandoning the Team Concept and the idea that bosses and workers' are one, that we have the same interests.

As was done in the rally in Oakland in 2010, if the union hierarchy is going to come and use the platform as a cover we should keep them out.  Their support amounts to nothing but words anyway. It is their members that we must orient to and we won't get respect from them by allowing their present leadership to use our venues in their effort to obscure the disastrous role they play in suppressing militancy within the ranks and any efforts by the members to confront the bosses. In the worst cases they cooperate with the bosses to fire militant workers.

You can visit the videos from the rally in 2010 here  most of the speakers were young people, students and ordinary workers---the voices of the people that matter.

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