Monday, January 11, 2010

Labor, Part II: Trumka

One of the few bright spots in the recent development of the labor movement is the election of Rich Trumka as president of the AFL-CIO. A quick view of the succession of AFL-CIO presidents, from Meany to Kirkland to Sweeney to Trumka, shows that the political views of each gets a bit more leftish. This corresponds to the increasingly weak and desparate state of the labor movement - though of course lagging behind the real situation.

Trumka is a veteran of the ferocious Pittston strike in the 80s. He was president of the United Mine Workers and lead the UMW into the Labor Party in the 90s. The UMW is a blue-collar union of workers actually making goods, not moving paper or providing labor services. The recent demonstrations in Chicago against the bankers convention there were the biggest mobilization labor has had in awhile - and it was highly visible. Trumka just today warned the Democrats that a bad health plan and a lack of financial regulation will lead workers to stay home in droves in 2010, as they did in 1994 under Clinton. He pointed out that workers at that time did not see a dimes worth of difference between the partys' practice, inspite of the Democrats happy labor sloganeering.

Trumka could help lead to a new attitude towards labor's electoral and strike practice. Watch Trumka.

Red Frog


AA said...

QUOTE Trumka just today warned the Democrats that a bad health plan and a lack of financial regulation will lead workers to stay home in droves in 2010, as they did in 1994 under Clinton.UNQUOTE

Sorry to sound cynical but I doubt this will make a difference. This threat presupposes that there is a free-standing Democrat party, which can choose its strategic direction based on voter pressure. I would argue to the contrary: the party is in the iron vise-like grip of vested capitalist interests. That is to say: Democrats might like to be in power but the threat to not support them will not make them decide on more radical or progressive policies. They are a front. They will resort to the usual trick of vague promises, which will be promptly jettisoned should they be voted in.

What is needed is a mass movement and civil disorder. The rest is -- pardon my language -- just jerking off. Peoplke need to stop clutching at straws and fathom the ideological bankruptcy of both parties.

Red Frog said...


However, Trumka was a member of the Labor Party, which was ostensibly established to form a new party. So his views, while not breaking with the Democrats yet, indicate he is more upset than his predecessors with their mere sloganeering. This 'might' result in something different. Or lead those in the ranks to question even more the love-fest with the Democrats.

What is that about 'tiny steps' in the real world?

AA said...

Change is the one constant of life and it's inevitable -- even for the American empire. But this change is coming from external impulses (such as the rise of new powers) and from intractable domestic contradictions (e.g., the economic "recession"). It's not coming from Democrats, liberals, and progressives -- nor will it come from, or be channeled by them . They are incidental, redundant, not even bit-part players. You could put the lot in a concentration camp and nothing would change. Sometimes I think their ineffectual protests and bleating actually provide a patina of legitimacy to the empire's minders: it makes it appear as if there's vigorous discussion about important issues in the country,that ethical concerns are discussed, that the damned place is a democracy.

Anyway, there's a nice essay today at commondreams which pertains to what you posted:

AA said...

Here's a well-written essay by Shamus Cooke on the (long-overdue) death of US liberalism:

QUOTE And yes, liberals and many “progressives” do constitute a wing of the political establishment — they do not propose measures that would overhaul our economic and political system, but only minor reforms to make things less blatantly exploitative. Sometimes, real reforms — like single payer health care — are proposed, but quickly abandoned so that the Party agenda can be pursued (corporate health care and corporate welfare).

By never advocating a solid revamping of the economic system, liberals are inevitably pushed into supporting the status-quo, a system where large corporations dominate society, and consequently massive inequality and social misery is produced.UNQUOTE

A bunch of worthless wimps, in my humble opinion.