SF Bay Area Indymedia indymedia
About Contact Subscribe Calendar Publish Print Donate

U.S. | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism

AFL-CIO tops: 50 years of Labor Peace. What Labor Peace Are They Talkign About
by Richard Mellor
Thursday Mar 10th, 2011 11:45 AM
The national and state heads of the AFL-CIO are upset at the attempts by the bosses to eliminate their jobs. They claim the Republicans(the can't say Democrats as they are friends with them) want to shred "50 years of labor Peace. What "Labor Peace" are they talking about?
Amid a movement of hundreds of thousands of workers, some never before active in any political event, never mind their own Union. the strategists atop the AFL-CIO make their position clear:

"Scott Walker and the Republicans' ideological war on the middle class and working families is now indisputable, and their willingness to shred 50 years of labor peace, bipartisanship and Wisconsin's democratic process to pass a bill that 74 percent of Wisconsinites oppose is beyond reprehensible."

You have to think about this statement from the national AFL-CIO and leaders in Wisconsin for a moment. They are upset because the bosses are "shredding 50 years of Labor peace." What Labor peace are they talking about? There has not be Labor peace, there has been an ongoing war against Labor, all workers, unionized or not, and there always will be; it has gone on with the tacit support of these very same Labor leaders. What is happening is that this war has intensified and become more brutal.

The Labor peace they are referring to is their peaceful existence in the face of this brutal offensive against workers and Unions. Their arrogance and contempt for working people and their own members is completely revealed in such a statement that they can make it as workers wages, benefits, pensions, workplace protections and the lives of future generations have been destroyed as they enjoyed this historic period of Labor peace "for them". It didn't just start in Wisconsin. Michael Moore can be irritating for me at times but he said on the Rachel Maddow show last night that "We should never have crossed those picket lines; those planes shouldn't have been flown." referring to the PATCO Air Traffic Controllers strike in 1981 when the thug Reagan fired all of them for life and the AFL-CIO leadership did nothing. Moore left that out, that they did nothing but we cannot ignore their role, it's not a personal issue.

There is never Labor peace in capitalist society; there's "relative" Labor peace perhaps. But the war never stops, as I said the other day, the bosses and their mouthpieces in the mass media only call it "Class Warfare" when we fight back.

They have had Labor peace at the expense of their members and all workers who have suffered due to their class collaboration basically. I am having to contain my anger here. I have been in Detroit, Kokomo, Chicago, and met auto workers who have had their lives torn apart, their incomes and benefits savaged by the bosses and the heads of organized Labor talk about "Labor peace". Here are some more results of the "Labor Piece" strategy: Greyhound strikes (two) defeated. Hormel Strike: defeated. Eastern Airlines strike: defeated. Staley strike: defeated. Pittston miners strike: defeated. California grocery workers strike in 2003: defeated. That's what the AFL-CIO's leadership's strategy of Labor peace has meant for workers and the heroic participants of those struggles on the ground. A Piece of Labor is more accurate. In fact, a few pieces, that's what the bosses have been doing, dismantling organized Labor, workers rights and living standards as the Labor hierarchy sat and watched, and in many cases assisted them. Now they might lose their social positions, their reason for existing and their worried.

“Tonight, Scott Walker and his cronies in the Senate Republicans turned our proud state of Wisconsin into a banana republic.” Marty Beil Executive Director (what a name for a Union official, Executive Director) of the Wisconsin State Employees Union said of last night's vote. This is the general line of the AFL-CIO, this is about a seat at the table and nothing else.

From the AFL-CIO"
"Beil sharply criticized Walker and Republicans for destroying 50 years of labor peace, bipartisan cooperation, and Wisconsin democracy. He also encouraged Wisconsinites to channel their energies into peaceful demonstration and adherence to the democratic process—namely the recall of 8 Republican Senators who blindly stood with Scott Walker and his rapidly-sinking ship."

This is the strategy, recall the Republicans and get the Democrats in who will at least talk to the Labor leaders as they strip public sector workers of wages, benefits, working conditions and pensions.

The message about Wisconsin from AFL-CIO president, Richard Trumka I received this morning in California is clear: "Now their true motive--paying back CEO campaign donors by stealing workers' rights to bargain for a middle-class life--is exposed for all to see. Tell your CA lawmakers: Don't try this in my state. Attacks on collective bargaining will not stand. Politicians who ignore the will of the people will pay the price at the ballot box."

Is there one worker out there that didn't know the employers were after us? You can see by Trumka's phrasing that it is his seat at the table he is worried about. He has no qualms about giving them our benefits and pensions to chop up as they see fit. He has no problem with eliminating work rules that protect us on the job but make the boss "less" competitive because it might slow down production. His friends in the Democratic Party, also recipients of hundreds of millions of dollars from CEO's and the corporations will allow him a seat at the table as they savage our living standards as Jerry Brown is doing here in California, attacking the poor, disabled and the elderly in particular.

He makes it clear what the AFL-CIO's position is. He threatens the Republicans that they will "pay the price" at the ballot box. It reminds me of the Seinfeld episode when George wanted to get out of a promise of marriage he'd made. He asked for a prenuptial in the hopes she would be so disgusted and offended she'd break it off. "Go ahead" she says, "I've got more money than you, I'll sign anything you want."

Trumka can "Go ahead" the employers and CEO's (the guys that were at Obama's inauguration for example) will say to each other in private. The Democrats will get in, the cuts will stay on the table, the Labor hierarchy will be happy they still have a reason to exist, and hopefully the workers will go away.

They will be right on almost all points except the last one. What to do with all those people. The "Labor peace" they talk about comes at the expense of workers' rights, living standards for those of us working and for future generations. To have Labor peace, the Labor hierarchy refuses to explain how the bosses use racism and sexism as a divide and rule tactic in their war against all workers but with catastrophic consequences for women, people of color, undocumented workers and the poorest of us especially our children.

We all want a peaceful world. But not at the expense of a decent and secure life and a clean environment. And that's what the AFL-CIO's call for Labor peace means. Peace between the Labor Hierarchy and those who want to take from us the rewards of a few centuries of struggle.

Not a single cut in wages, benefits, spending, conditions.
Every contract to be signed to contain increases for the workers covered and for spending in services.
For a $15.00 an hour minimum wage or a $5.00 an hour increase whichever is the greater.
For a guaranteed job for all through a public works program and reducing the length of the working week with no loss in pay.
For free education and free health care for all at the point of use.
For an end to all wars and occupations and a reduction in military spending.
For a campaign to explain how the employers and their class have used and still use racism and sexism to divide and rule the working class movement and to oppose this.
For the election of all union leaders subject to recall at any time, their wages to be the same as the average wage of their members and all their expenses to be made available to all their members.
For the building of a working peoples party as an alternative to the bosses parties the Republicans and Democrats.
For the movement to have at its center a discussion on the nature of the capitalist system and what the alternatives are. In the case of our blog we see the alternative as a Democratic Socialist Society in the US and on a world scale.

LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the latest comments posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
Give Up on AFL CIO Helping anything.Tony KimbleFriday Mar 11th, 2011 2:15 PM