Saturday, November 12, 2016

Militant response to Trump victory from labor's top dogs.

It's OK Dick. Trumps a nasty guy but you can work with him
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Naturally the headline is a joke.

While all workers will be under assault from the Trump administration in short order, public sector workers will be especially targeted. They will not only be directly targeted with further attacks on wages and conditions, but through “right to work” legislation that will be put on the fast track.  The US Supreme Court, the top judicial body of the US bourgeois, will most likely be hearing Afscme v Janus which like previous efforts is legislation aimed at defining either membership or forced fees, which non members have to pay as a condition of employment, as violating the First Amendment. Presently, 26 states have right to work laws and there are others where lawmakers passed such laws that were vetoed by governors. New Republican governors will likely ensure those decisions are reversed.

White working class voters that had previously supported Obama switched to Trump and many of these were union members. They voted Democratic time and time again only to see their standard of living continue to decline. Unlike the black workers that the Democratic Party machine relies on so often, white workers do not have to fear the racial backlash that occurs when the political administration veers to the right. And Trump’s racist language and his refusal to condemn the violence at his rallies not to mention his support for Nazi’s the KKK and other white nationalist groups, is especially distasteful to them and that’s putting it mildly.  It is this lack of a viable alternative, particularly a multi-ethnic working class party that keeps the vast majority of black workers trapped in the clutch of the Democrats. If such an alternative existed, white workers too would welcome it.

In the last election 65% of union members voted for Obama according to an AFL-CIO post election survey while 56% supported Clinton against Trump.  Some 37% of union members supported Trump including some 25% of UAW members according UAW president, Dennis Williams.

As I have pointed out in previous comments, trade union leaders like Richard Trumka who heads the AFL-CIO and the UAW’s Williams must be held responsible for the significant role they have played that has led to a con man and a buffoon being elected president of the most powerful nation on earth.

Mouthpieces of the US ruling class are now calling for a rallying around the man so many of them claimed was unfit for the job, a bigot, a misogynist and a conniver. By unfit, they meant that he was a hindrance to capital accumulation and profit making.  “Our Democratic Republic is still alive”, Peggy Noonan writes in today’s Wall Street Journal, neglecting to add that it is the best democracy money can buy by far. But it is, as are most US election victories, a weak mandate.  Adding up the percentages, Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, and others Noonan points out left Trump with between 47% and 48% of the vote.  Those millions of Americans who have abandoned the process altogether are ignored by the politicians of both parties completely but their anger will spill on to the streets as well at some point in the not so distant future.

Aware of this razor thin victory over an opponent who won the popular vote losing to the rigged Electoral College scam, Noonan, aware of Trump’s lack of qualifications, calls on her class, particularly those in her party and many of them unwilling to help Trump during the elections, to help him.  Noonan is no fool and recognizes the serious damage Trump’s racist, misogynistic and nationalistic language has done.  “many fear they will no longer be respected.”. she writes, “They need to know things they rely on are still there.”.

Noonan goes on, stressing the dangers, “They don’t understand what has happened, and are afraid. They need---and deserve---reassurance. Trump apparatus: Find a way. (My added emphasis).  She ends her comments with a warning, “The next president needs you. This is our country. Help him.”

When Noonan refers to “our” country, she is not referring to working people, the poor, the marginalized communities, not just those of color but the very white working class that supported Trump because they too, are marginalized when it comes to their standard of living.  Noonan is referring to the few thousand unelected individuals that own the means of production, communication and exchange; in short, the US capitalist class. 

What Noonan is afraid of is how quickly this hunger for change will turn to anger as change comes but change in the opposite direction.  Trump’s infrastructure plan is a joke. He calls for spending $1 trillion in new infrastructure to be funded entirely by private investors. He claims that these investors, who refuse to invest in health care or housing that would save hundreds of thousand of lives, will fork over $1 trillion for roads.  Even if they were given significant tax breaks to part with a trillion dollars, these breaks will be funded by taxes on construction workers and the contractors involved in the projects “Trumpeters” proclaim. If Trump finances it through government borrowing he will be at war with his own administration or with the millions of people faced with further austerity to pay the debts.

This is not to say there are not divisions among them, but we see them all making friends despite personal animosities and hatred some of them have for each other. Class solidarity is very strong among the bourgeois. But capitalism has laws to it and those laws will emerge in force as the economic crisis of capitalism worsens.

Returning to the clique that sits atop the national bodies of organized labor.  As angry as one might be for workers taking positions that harm our own interests or that choose to leave or abandon our organizations in disgust rather than entering them and fighting to change the present leadership, the post statements from some of them are a repeat of the approach that has brought us this far and allowed the rise of someone like Trump.

Richard Trumka, the head of the AFL-CIO says, “The AFL-CIO accepts the outcome of this election and offers our congratulations to President-elect Trump.”

“More than anything, this election is an indictment of politics as usual.” Says Trumka, “For too long, the political elites have embraced economic policies that hold down wages, increase inequality, diminish opportunity and ship American jobs overseas.”

One has to agree with that but perhaps continuing “politics as usual” and campaigning for one of the “elites” might not have been the best way to go. Trumka knew what was going on as he admitted in March this year that “Donald Trump is tapping into the very real and very understandable anger of working people.” 

So was Bernie Sanders but Trumka’s recognition of this makes his and the entire leadership of organized labor’s betrayal of their members  and the working class as a whole, by not providing a real alternative, even more disgraceful. 

Dennis Williams, the head of the United Auto Workers, a union leadership that has become almost indistinguishable form the bosses over the past period like so many opf them, claims some 25% of his members voted for Trump. Prior to the election he announced that, “The more and more we educate our members, the more they’re understanding why we endorsed Hillary Clinton,”

Some education. His members have been educated through years of concessions and have learned that concessions and voting for their leadership’s friends in the Democratic Party has not produced the desired results.

This comes as no surprise of course as the UAW leadership has cooperated in undermining any struggles from the ranks that threaten to derail their pro-management policies, their class collaboration with the auto bosses.

As with all the strategists in organized labor, William’s myopic and market worshiping worldview leads him to post election remarks that even the bourgeois know would be a disaster. He said that the UAW is considering a new slogan, “if it’s not made in America don’t buy it.”

This would lead to catastrophic consequences but the narrow minded Williams cares not, he has a secure job, a gift from heaven for an individual that knows as much about how the capitalist economy works as Trump knows about gender studies. The trade union leadership is as distant and disconnected from their members and the working class as their candidate Hillary Clinton is.

The voice of the AFL-CIO bureaucracy is the same refrain we have heard for decades as the Florida state AFLCIO states: the “Candidates from all parties promised they would help working families during this election cycle. The Florida AFL-CIO looks forward to working with all elected officials from any party to make that happen and will continue to hold them accountable when they don’t.”

Trump and his privateers are shaking in their boots at that threat aren’t they?  “Hold them accountable”? Oh yes, they’ll support the Democrat four years from now. Once they “educate” their members as why that’s the way forward.

I will end this with the election statement from Lee Saunders, the president of my former union, Afscme, Saunders’ writes:
“As we take stock of the message voters sent yesterday, we see that many were motivated by a real, palpable fear for their ability to provide for their families. We must come together now to address that economic insecurity while not falling prey to the politics of division and hate. We must focus on rebuilding the middle class and restoring the American Dream for everyone, not just the privileged few.

“For our part, the 1.6 million public service workers of AFSCME will never quit working to make their communities safer, healthier and better places to live. We will do what we do best to hold President-elect Trump accountable on his promise to restore the American Dream: organize and advocate for solutions for all working people, from affordable health care for all, to reducing student debt, to rebuilding America’s infrastructure.”

This says nothing. It inspires no one. It is a pathetic bland response to what is happening in society. It is why workers voted for Trump.  Saunders knows, as they all do, that neither Trump not Clinton were about to restore anything.  We have seen years and years of declining living standards, endless corporate wars that the US working class is paying for and that are detrimental to our interests. The membership is to blame for this to be sure. They are paying for their apathy, their avoidance of the struggle and the need to inform themselves about politics, foreign policy, what their government is doing and how the world works.

Taking the easy road, the desire for a quite life and Sunday morning football has brought us this far.

It’s time to stand on our own two feet. We cannot rely on the liberals, on the parties of capitalism, on the professors and pundits that accept that there is a nicer side to capitalism if they can only find it. We cannot continue allowing the fakers that sit atop our unions to remain there. As Marx once wrote: “The emancipation of the working class must be the act of the working class itself.

No one can do it for us.

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