Who Allowed this to Happen?
Since slavery, the southern United States has been home to the most reactionary forces in the U.S. - forces now concentrated in the Republican Party and the oil barons of Dallas and Houston. Slave labor and wage labor have several things in common - especially if wage labor can be made to more closely resemble wage slavery. So if you thought the Civil War ended in 1865, you'd be sadly mistaken. Georgian Jimmy Carter prepared the ground for Reagan by moving to the right. Ronald Reagan made it official, establishing 'small government' as the goal of U.S. society. Arkansas Bill Clinton incorporated Reaganism into the Democratic Party by echoing Reagan and declaring the 'era of big government over' in 1996, adopting a form of rampant libertarianism that continues to this day. Some local and national Democrats oppose this neo-liberal trend, but they have been on the losing end of the debate inside the Democratic Party for 30 years. Now big city neo-liberals like Obama and Rahm Emanuel exemplify the northern mirror of southern Reaganism. So who remains as the real opposition? Certainly not the wobbling Democratic Party. Which is why the snake has moved north.
Why is this important? The recent vote in the Minnesota legislature to hold a referendum on so-called "Right to Work For Free" is merely the southern chickens coming home to roost. And you thought this shit would stay south? After all, it was the southern United States and their 'union-free' or 'union-lite' environments that first decimated northern industries in the 70's and 80's - it was not Mexico or China. And that process is still going on - witness all the automobile manufacturing plants located in Alabama and the Carolinas. Turning the whole U.S. into a free-fire, cheap labor zone for capital is the ultimate goal. And destroying or weakening unions is key to that goal. That is capital's "American Dream."
As unions have shown, wages, working conditions and social conditions are worse in every single 'Right to Work for Free" state in the U.S. These laws forbid the closed shop - essentially weakening the power of a union to bargain or strike even if they win a union vote. It would be like forbidding businessmen from working together if one businessman disagreed. It holds the majority of workers to the standard of the most conservative minority - essentially an anti-democratic move. Breaking up working-class solidarity is the goal of every single capitalist. Oh, except maybe for those ice cream guys in Vermont.
As an example, take a look at the hipster town of Athens/Clark County, Georgia - the south. It is home to the University of Georgia at Athens. It features a cute downtown with lots of music venues and bars, and now a foodie culture. Yet is is one of the 10 most unequal counties in the United States. Why? Can you say 'overpaid college bureaucrats' and a professorial elite on the one hand, and non-union service and small manufacturing employees on the other? Only unionization will bring a living wage or some kind of small equality to Athens. Certainly not more REM songs.
This is our Scott Walker. If the legislature passes the bill to put this on the ballot, the war is ON here in this state. Like Ohio, the working class can stop this attack. Every union, every non-union worker, every student and every activist in every disparate, separated, minuscule, isolated organization in Minnesota should come together and fight against this proposal with everything in their power. A united front of community groups and unions should be formed. I understand as one example the Campaign for a Mass Party of Labor will be attempting to work with unions to bring the message of defeating this slave labor law to the general public. After all, it is non-union workers that will also see their wages and working conditions decline if this law passes, as their benefits are partly calculated based on competing with union scales.
Defeat this proposed vote. Complete the civil war. Organize the South.
March 15, 2012