Notes on the Class War
As strange as it seems, I get the feeling these days that we could well be witnessing the demise of the American labor movement. One thing is for certain; there right-wing forces led by the Republican Party, and their Tea Party storm troopers, who are determined to destroy the right to collective bargaining in the United States. We saw this clearly when they tried to use the financial crisis to abrogate United Auto Workers’ contracts with the auto industry. This would have destroyed one of the largest unions in the private sector. Only the resistance of the Democrats prevented this from going down.
The frontline in this fight to preserve organized labor just now is Wisconsin, a quintessential union state where the newly elected Republican Governor, Scott Walker, is determined to abrogate the collective bargaining rights of public sector unions. Tens of thousands of union members and their supporters, led by the teacher’s union, have taken to the streets. Their will to resist and fight the powers of the corporate dominated state has been stiffened by the pugnacious posture of the governor, who provoked the fight with his outrageous demands.
This new crop of Tea Party Republicans was elected to office on far right platforms and came in spoiling for a fight. As shameless shills for the filthy rich, they are determined to break the back of organized labor by whatever means necessary. It is clear that their disagreement with the union goes far beyond the budgetary matters that they used to provoke this fight, since the unions have capitulated to their monetary demands without a fight. It is the right to collective bargaining – the raison d’être of labor unions – that is the sole issue under dispute. Hence the representatives of public unions are correct in their conclusion that the governor is out to destroy unionization of the public sector in Wisconsin, they are also right in their decision to fight!
Some of the unions that supported Walker like the firemen and Police, whom he deviously exempted from the proposed law to abrogate collective bargaining rights, are now coming out against him; casting their lot with fellow unionist. For instance, when the leader of the fireman’s union, a Mr. Mitchell, was told that the Governor had 19, 000 e-mails from “the silent majority” in Wisconsin he cynically replied “Wow—19,000! That’s cute. If I had a cat, it could cough up 19,000 anti-Walker emails right now.” Then he looked around at the burgeoning crowds and observed: “I think I have 19,000 people behind me,” said Mitchell. Pointing to one edge of the massive audience arrayed before him, he said: “And 20,000 there.”
Tracey Fuller, President of the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association, issued a statement condemning Governor Walker’s actions in which he openly expresses regret for having supported him in the past election. Written in capital letters for emphasis Mr. fuller said:”I SPECIFICALLY REGRET THE ENDORSEMENT OF THE WISCONSIN TROOPER’S ASSOCIATION FOR GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER. I REGRET THE GOVERNOR’S DECISION TO ‘ENDORSE’ THE TROOPERS AND INSPECTORS OF THE WISCONSIN STATE PATROL. I REGRET BEING THE RECIPIENT OF ANY OF THE PRECIEVED BENEFITS PROVIDED BY THE GOVERNOR’S ANNOINTING”
Ironically, there are probably a lot of union members in Wisconsin who are feeling the same way, as they realize that this is a mess that they made for themselves. Hyped up by Tea Party propaganda, and having an attitude toward President Obama – whom Rush, and Sean, and Bill and Glenn has convinced them is a “communist, fascist, racist, undercover Arab jihadist” – they voted for the Republicans just to show that elitist coon shacked up in the White House, who done stole our country, what’s what! Marching behind the banner “We want our country back!” they proceeded to elect Republicans in a stampede to the right. Well…as the bible says: “Ye shall reap what ye sow!” Thus the mess organized labor is facing, not just in Wisconsin but across the country, may well be proof of the old political science axiom: “A people will eventually get the kind of government they deserve!
Having worked to elect these Tea Party buffoons, white workers must be asking: “what now?” Considering the fact that the dignity of labor is being besmirched by right-wing media provocateurs, and their bargaining rights are under assault by right-wing politicians, there is nothing to do but fight! They have literally nothing to lose but the chains that bind them to a system which throws them away like toilet paper once they are used up. This will be the fate of any group of workers who are deprived of bargaining rights.
In order to devise a strategy to fight this assault on their right to organize – which would throw the working class back to the dark ages before the passage of the 1937 Wagner Act – the unions must conduct a serious survey of the situation and the assess the relationship of forces arrayed against them. Upon close inspection several things become clear: There is a conspiracy between Republican politicians and the most reactionary elements of the filthy rich, the pugnacious plutocracy, to destroy organized labor and defund the Democratic Party. Others have written about this effort so it is well documented.
The defunding of ACORN was a terrible blow to the chances of poor and powerless people affectively participating in the political system. Although ACORN was officially non-partisan, once the poor become politically educated they vote for the party that represents their interests – which is the Democrats. This is clearly demonstrated in the Wisconsin case, where only the decision by Democratic lawmakers to flee into Illinois has prevented the anti-union Republican plan from becoming law. The Republicans understand that workers educated by ACORN vote Democratic; that’s why they launched such a vicious plan of attack to discredit them. Once they succeeded in destroying ACORN, the Republicans began to go after the main source of Democratic Party support, organized labor.
Now that the class war is out in the open, what should organized labor do? Considering that they are arrayed against the vast wealth of the corporate class such as sinister billionaires like the Koch brothers – who are determined to turn the majority of Americans who neither belong to a union, or a union household, against them – they had better come together in a United Front and let the country know what life will be like if they elect enemies of organized labor to office. No justice…no peace! That must be the new marching mantra of labor. And the best way to dramatize what this will mean is to organize a national strike!
Radical unionist need not wait for their leadership to act. In fact, public sector unions will fare better if they are wildcat strikes! That way the union leadership cannot be held accountable for these actions. American workers should take a lesson from the masses of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, etc and turn to the internet and face book to organize. They don’t need to meet anywhere; they can send all instructions by e-mail and post it on face book. They should also set up a website that can be easily accessed from links in e-mails or posts on face book. Organized labor has all of the elements necessary to whip up a mass movement faster than they are doing in the mid-east…all they need is the will to exercise their power!
Unions should take this moment in history to teach Americans a lesson about the power of organized labor that the nation will not soon forget…nor want to experience again. They should put aside the usual conceit that it is only Americans who have lessons to teach the rest of the world about popular democracy, and take a lesson from the populist masses in the Middle East who are bring tyrants to heel. One need only listen to the rancid rhetoric on the right, and the policies they are trying to implement that would render unions impotent, to know that this is a life and death struggle for unionism in America. And the battle of Wisconsin is the frontline in what may turn out to be a protracted war with the forces of right wing reaction.
The People Seize Their House!
Since it is obvious that the Republican assault on labor is national, Labor must respond with a national action. It’s time to let Americans know what the country will look like when the working class decides to really fight back! It’s time for a national strike of all unionized labor – public and private – to let the nation know that they are indispensable to the proper functioning of this country. No justice! No peace!!!
Keepin it real!!
How Wisconsin workers feel about their Republican Governor
Harlem, New York
February 21, 2011