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Monday, July 26, 2004

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steve

The SEIU is and was one of the more important actors in the antiwar movement btw. ya wouldn't know it from the prowar bloggers out there, but there ya have it.
one of the bigger differences with the antiwar mov't in the 60's, much more labor participation. not enough, but a good start.

Tucker

Great post. The premise can be extended to the entire Democratic Party, who is also in need of deep reform. Howard Dean was a catalyst, but he was marginalized.

If Kerry wins, it'll be interesting to see if it's the same ol' same ol' or if they do champion some progressive causes like health care.

I tend to believe, however, that the Party needs a jolt in the form of a lost election again attributed to Nader votes.

Steve Smith

I was wondering when the hoary old chestnut about how the left needs to lose another election so that the contradictions can be heightened down the line was going to be raised. Half the time the argument is made, it reflects a fear of actually having to wield power and make tough decisions, and the other half of the time, it's offered by a member of the right wing fifth column (ie., Ralph Nader, Pat Caddell, Mr. Snitchens) whose power and influence derives from a weakened progressive movement. I don't know what camp Mr. Stern belongs to, but it's his job, not the job of the Democratic Party (whatever that is) to make labor unions relevant again in the 21st Century economy.

William Meisheid

>one of the bigger differences with the antiwar mov't in the 60's, much more labor participation.

While you see that as a positive I see it as an extreme negative. When unions get political rather job, skills, and accountability of their membership oriented then they violate the basic tenent of their existence - as negotiators with their employers on behalf of their members for equitable pay and working conditions. For me, that is one of the primary (that and unaccountable corruption) failures of labor unions in the United States.

Andrew

Carry the "the party has to keep losing so that it'll find its center again" argument to its logical extreme, and the Whigs ought be primed right about now.

GMRoper

I'm a little biased against unions because I once got fired for not joining a union. The actual termination was that I took time of for final exams, but I had put that in writing two weeks before I took time off. A couple of the union members who were friends told me later that it was because I wouldn't join. As I got a job the next day, no biggie. And this was in a "right to work state."

I hope Stern and the SEIU are successful in reforming the labor movement. But that might mean divorce from the Democratic Party. What a conundrum for the Dems and the Unions. Now, is there a Black Leader out there with the same guts as Stern? I'd like to think so.

rosedog

Marc: You are deservedly proud of your smart and beautiful daughter.

About Stern, however, while it's valuable to read his views and concerns---more discussion is better than less---in the end, his conclusion strikes me as cynical and defeatist. Like the Nader candidacy of 2000, it is---to use the cliché du jour---making the perfect the enemy of the good. And the stakes are too damned high for that now.

Plus, the dynamism in the party, as you pointed out in your pre-convention column, is not with the DNC types. They're still in power, but history is moving away from, not toward them. If Kerry wins, Dean, MoveOn et al, will have been a big part of what made that possible. In many ways, the time has never been better to push for change from within the Democratic party---rather than sitting around on the outside, hoping that somebody'll fatally poison the king, so to speak.

And, hey, how can one be entirely cynical in the face of Obama’s speech Tuesday? He’s been a passionate social justice liberal since he arrived at the IL senate 1997. He opposed the Iraq war from early on. And the dude was, far and away, the star of the night.

steve

I hope Stern and the SEIU are successful in reforming the labor movement. But that might mean divorce from the Democratic Party. What a conundrum for the Dems and the Unions. Now, is there a Black Leader out there with the same guts as Stern? I'd like to think so.

--There's no strong support in the Republican Party for measures that raise wages, a big issue for unions naturally. More important, there is almost no support among Repubs for legislation that makes it illegal to fire a worker for trying to organize a union, something far more common than workers who are fired for not joining a union. The Dems aren't perfect by any measure, but outside of a Labor Party or the Greens, you're not gonna find politicians who support a union agenda. Thus their not jumping ship to the Republicans to join forces with union busters, anti-social security, anti-immigrant, tax cut for the wealthy, anti-union NLRB judges, anti-minimum wage legislation, downsizing of worker safety inspections, and the like...
Gettin fired for not joining a union is a pretty hard thing to pull off, especially since unions aren't the boss in most factories, anti-union fantasies notwithstanding.

steve

When unions get political rather job, skills, and accountability of their membership oriented then they violate the basic tenent of their existence - as negotiators with their employers on behalf of their members for equitable pay and working conditions. For me, that is one of the primary (that and unaccountable corruption) failures of labor unions in the United States.

--a reasonably expressed disagreement, but I'd disagree still. by not paying attention to political trends like the loading of the NLRB with rightwing antilabor judges, decreases in the minimum wage, attacks on welfare, social security, etc. labor can only hurt its capacity to bargain for fair wages. such policies are only beneficial to business campaigns to drive down average real wages. unions are, invariably, very political organizations, there is no way around it, nor should there be.

William Meisheid

>unions are, invariably, very political organizations, there is no way around it, nor should there be.

And top-down politics it is and with politics comes all of the cronyism and corruption that striving for political power brings. In addition your list of "political trends" has little to do with collective bargaining over the represented employees working conditions and pay. No, in this context is it little more than an excuse to use a union to spread socialism rather than support hard work and self reliance.

Unions don't have to be socialistic, but sadly that is what they are here.

rosedog

Warning: this is not labor-related:

Al Sharpton just spoke and went (gasp, choke wheeze!) ELEVEN MINUTES OVER HIS ALLOTTED TIME!!! according to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, who was aghast, grim, and even, well, really….SADDENED at this egregious transgression. Even worse, Sharpton was CRITICAL OF BUSH.

At a Democratic convention, no less.

The horror.

“This is not the message that the Kerry campaign is trying to project,” mourned Blitzer, genuine pain lacing his bearded visage. “Not the message at all.”

Oh, shut up, Wolf.

Sharpton did exactly what was needed in order to counter the recent “the Dems are taking the African American vote for granted..” accusation. (Although, admittedly the teleprompter dude was having as, one pundit put it, a Maalox moment, trying to find his place.)

Judy Woodruff was equally frown-y. As was Chris Matthews. ("Wa-a-a-y off message." they each said grimly on their respective networks.)

Sharpton gave a barn burner. Y Que? Good for him. This dismissive attitude is really offensive.

I think the commentators were REALLY pissed because they actually had to LISTEN to the damned speech in order to have something to say about it, rather than being able to depend upon their canned, pre-planned remarks on their pre-read, pre-vetted copies of said speech.

Bummer. Sucks to be them.

There. I got that out of my system. Thank you.

Now, back to our regular programming.

In addition your list of "political trends" has little to do with collective bargaining over the represented employees working conditions and pay.

--I'm afraid William a quickie course on labor history would be helful. For one, how can you collectively bargain good wages if there is no minimum wage? No safety net for unemployed workers? No decent basic health care guarantees. Anti-labor judges on the NLRB? Doesn't that help employers put more pressure on workers to accept the worst contracts during bargaining? It's remarkable that any supporter of labor couldn't see the connections here. The book Poor People's Movements by Piven and Cloward showed the connections beautifully, I'd highly reccomend it.

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Unions don't have to be socialistic, but sadly that is what they are here.


--The option would be to fight for free markets a la the 1920's?
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Dermot

unions are socialist "here"...here being the US? If only....

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