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"Happy" #LaborDay, including words for the #TrumpTrain and unions

Income inequality and economic immobility both continue to grow, even as Speaker Paul Ryan tells easily refuted lies about the latter.

How did this happen?

A mix of many factors.

One is not directly economic, but the general cowing of workers through courts siding with businesses in stripping away workplace civil liberties is a psychological factor. And, other than in rare cases like Ledbetter, where it's actual discrimination, not civil liberties in general, many Democrats have gone along.

Just as Democratic presidents, while not actually working to gut the National Labor Relations Board, generally declined to reverse gutting by their Republican predecessors.

On income inequality, people still don't talk about how bad it's gotten. For the US as a whole, it's as bad as Mexico. That may be another reason fewer Mexicans are coming to the US. (A greater and greater portion of Hispanic illegal immigrants are from Central America.)

An article by the NYT, claiming that $16.60/hour would be the same in Rochester, New York, as in the Bay Area, leaves it halfway pulling its punches on this issue.

It is right — but doesn't push on it hard enough — that allowing companies to designate more people as contractors is another problem. Republicans encouraged this one, too, and Democrats generally acquiesced, until Obama tried to take too big of a bite back at one time, and too late in his administration.

The biggest problem, in many ways? Organized Labor.

The Carpenters and AFL-CIO heads both sitting on Trump's business council? Nothing new. Remember Nixon's hardhats in the early 1970s? Reagan Democrats? (A full 22 percent of them went for Reagan in his first election, and 34 percent of them who thought civil rights was moving too fast.) Andy Stern's suck-ups to big biz of the previous decade? 

Goes back before that.

Maybe as far as Haymarket. US Organized labor was in general, at that time, more bourgeoisie than its European counterparts. And, Haymarket, Bethlehem Steel and Ludlow coal world incidents aside, more willing to play ball. The American presidential-driven, duopoly-based political system, by helping shut out a political party that might be labor-specific, was a related problem.

But organized labor itself was often part of the problem.

Yes, Debs' railway union and Bridges' longshoremen were color-blind, as well as having stiffened spines, but AFL unions before the rise of the CIO? And even somewhat after that?


Sure, Jacobin can point at Communists working to help blacks and whites organize together in the South in the 1930s, but that's the exception that proves the rule. Long before that, black workers were used as strikebusters in urban areas North, Midwest and South. Having often been shut out of organized labor by whites, having been opposed in the workforce by white laborers, at best, they often felt they had little choice; at worst, they likely felt smoldering resentment.

(The next time the likes of Jacobin writes an "it's all classism and never racism" piece, ask them how many black faces they can find in, say, pictures from the Flint strikes of the late 1930s. In my opinion, it's intellectually dishonest to try to gloss over the history of racism in organized labor, or to try to reduce racism to classism in nearly every instance — and that goes for people beyond Jacobin.)

Mainstream AFL-CIO unionism would shoot itself in the foot in other ways, or if not direct foot-shooting, undermine broader politically left issues.

It was the third leg, along with the AMA and big business, in opposing Harry Truman when he made the first serious push for national health care in the US.

It cooperated willingly with the CIA in helping establish anti-Communist sham unions outside the country, especially in South America.

Many of its leaders, as well as members (those hardhats), virulently opposed antiwar efforts in the Vietnam War — and later.

In industries like autos, its members believed the whisperings of the ownership class about job loss fears and stridently opposed the environmentalist movement as it grew in the 1970s.

Much (but certainly not all) of organized labor has slouched toward Gomorrah for decades.

That said, so has the American workforce that is not unionized.

Class-conscious in a way that the Paul Ryans of the world won't admit publicly, but surely push to enhance privately, for many gray-collar and tech-collar employees, "union" remains a dirty word.

The labor movement in America, inside and outside unions, isn't going to get better until these things happen:
1. Democrats stop nominating neoliberal candidates / or Greens start breaking through with labor voices
2. Union leaders stop willingly being co-opted by Republican leaders and business leaders
3. More workers indicate their willingness to look beyond the Democratic Party and beyond organized labor if 1 and 2 don't happen.

This post first appeared on SocraticGadfly, please read the originial post: here

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"Happy" #LaborDay, including words for the #TrumpTrain and unions


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