Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
MARX: A HERO FOR OUR TIME? — Suddenly, everyone from the Wall Street Journal to Rolling Stone seems to be talking about Karl Marx. Louis Proyect delves into this mysterious resurgence, giving a vivid assessment of Marx’s relevance in the era of globalized capitalism. THE MEANING OF MANDELA: Longtime civil rights organizer Kevin Alexander Gray gives in intimate portrait of Nelson Mandela and the global struggle of racial justice. FALLOUT OVER FUKUSHIMA: Peter Lee investigates the scandalous exposure of sailors on board the USS Reagan to radioactive fallout from Fukushima. SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT: Kim Nicolini charts the rise of Matthew McConaughey. PLUS: Mike Whitney on the coming crash of the housing market. JoAnn Wypijewski on slavery, torture and revolt. Chris Floyd on the stupidity of US policy in Ukraine. Kristin Kolb on musicians and health care. And Jeffrey St. Clair on life and death on the mean streets of an America in decline
A Message to the UAW

Labor, the Environment and the Occupy Movement

by MICHAEL LEONARDI

For many of us that have been involved with the Occupy movement from its onset, we find it questionable that the UAW is attempting to co-opt the movements language.

The leadership of much of organized labor has proven to be almost completely out of touch with the Occupy movement and its rank and file members from day one in Zuccotti Park and more beholden to its 1% bosses.

I would suggest that the UAW send representatives to the General assemblies and take part in the May 1st international call for a General Strike. This would be adding some real world relevance to a labor movement that is sorely lacking in leadership.

We are well aware of the corrupt politics that control your union as well. The suspension of the constitution to ratify a terrible contract with FIAT/Chrysler for example, and the undercutting of the skilled trades workers.

If organized labor wants to play a role in this movement and we know that some elements do, then the leadership is going to have to look beyond paychecks to human and ecological issues.

For the occupy movement both nationally and internationally some things are not negotiable — Wars based on lies, Tar Sands, Nukes, The corporatization and modification of our food supply, Fracking, and Coal are all non negotiable.

The UAW does not oppose any of these on ecological grounds or idealogical grounds. Therein lies the problem. The UAW of Toledo supports a political machine tied to WAR spending that is sucking trillions of dollars out of our local economies to be spent on foreign wars based on lies.

Yesterday Obama announced that he is fast tracking the southern portion of the keystone xl pipeline, another grave sell out to the planet in the face of drastically rising temperatures. The UAW of Toledo backed a regressive congresswoman that supports this pipeline, tars ands in general, nukes, coal and fracking.

The UAW supported a congresswoman who is anti-choice, opposed to marriage equality and doing nothing to champion real health care reform which would be Universal Single Payer healthcare.

Occupy is calling on you to look beyond these constructs of the 1% to a peaceful, safe and green renewable future.  Organized labor risks compromising itself out of any relevance and out of existence.

Joining the Occupy Spring on MAY DAY can change that. Joining the general strike that has been called for is the only hope for a desperate planetary situation.

The time to act is now and that means making a real break from the 1% that have been pulling your strings for decades. Whether it be the Defense contractors that finance our congresswoman, or the new Mafia bosses of Chrysler, or the Oil and Nuclear cartel, this movement is not about compromise, it is based on principles — something it would be good for organized labor and activists that claim to care about social justice should try to find again.

Michael Leonardi lives and works in Toledo, Ohio and along Ohio’s North Coast. He can be reached at mikeleonardi@hotmail.com