Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only shake you down once a year, but when we do we really mean it. It costs a lot to keep the site afloat, and our growing audience, well over TWO million unique viewers a month, eats up a lot of bandwidth — and bandwidth isn’t free. We aren’t supported by corporate donors, advertisers or big foundations. We survive solely on your support.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Possible Strategy for Organized Labor

by DAVID MACARAY

Which of the following scenarios would be “most beneficial” to a society?  Scenario A,  where $100 million is spent by randomly mailing 100 million people a check for $1.00, or Scenario B, where that $100 million is spent to build a brand new modern library in a city that desperately needs one?  Most of us would agree that concentrating those resources would have the more salutary effect.

If organized labor (i.e., Richard Trumka and the AFL-CIO) is sincere about wanting to assume a larger role in national and international politics, they need to stop behaving like ideological rubes, and get down to the serious business of becoming political “hit men.”

For openers, labor needs to stop pretending they represent God and country, or that they’re this respectable vanguard of social change.  They need to reconnect not only with their history but with their mission, acknowledging that they are (and always have been) a rogue institution, despised and feared by those with money and power.   The only difference between Labor Past and Labor Present is the lack of blood on the streets….and the size of their bank accounts.

In 2008, organized labor spent a reported $400 million getting Barack Obama and other Democrats elected.  No matter how you cut it—whether you’re a Saudi oil sheik or a Wall Street hedge fund manager—that’s a considerable amount of money.  Just think what could have been done with part of that sum—say $150 million—had it been spent judiciously.

What labor needs to do is think small.  Put away the chainsaw and bring out the scalpel. One way to do that is to identify three or four particularly toxic Republican congressmen or senators, and go after them.   Dedicate yourselves to defeating them.

We’re always hearing people say that money has too much influence in politics, that it’s corrosive and insidious, that it’s undermining our democracy.  If that’s true (and who can dispute it?), then it’s incumbent upon labor to exploit that unfortunate fact.  Labor needs to pour huge amounts of cash into a handful of targeted elections in order to change their outcome.

Organized labor may not have many friends these days, but one thing they still have—with approximately 14.7 million union members nationally—is plenty of money in their coffers.  And that Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court, although repugnant, now allows unions (and corporations) to contribute all the money they wish without having to reveal their identity.

Accordingly, instead of contributing to these sprawling, grandiose, across-the-board national campaigns that are so easily diluted and refracted, labor needs to draw up a “hit list” of its own.  They need to pick out a few influential, anti-union, Republican congress members, home in on them with laser-like intensity, and defeat them.  Destroy them.  Ruin them.

Again, don’t try to re-populate Congress overnight, because that’s not going to happen.  Think small.  Pick three leaders who have an inordinate amount of influence and whose absence from Congress would make a difference.  For example, Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor and Michelle Bachmann.  If these three ideologues were defeated, their absence would be felt immediately.  Their absence would create a tiny void.  It wouldn’t change the country, but it would be a start.

Pick three Congress people to attack in 2012, and in 2014, pick three more.  Chip away at the edifice.  And don’t your waste time and money on “back benchers,” those politicians who don’t have the personalities or whiskers to gain a following.  Go for the ones who make a difference.  And if it costs you $50 million (or more) to unseat one of these people, so be it.  It’s only money.  The one thing you have plenty of.

DAVID MACARAY, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor”), was a former union rep.   He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

 

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is “Nightshift: 270 Factory Stories.” He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 29, 2016
Robert Fisk
The Butcher of Qana: Shimon Peres Was No Peacemaker
James Rose
Politics in the Echo Chamber: How Trump Becomes President
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Vice Grip on the Presidential Debates
Daniel Kato
Rethinking the Race over Race: What Clinton Should do Now About ‘Super-Predators’
Peter Certo
Clinton’s Awkward Stumbles on Trade
Fran Shor
Demonizing the Green Party Vote
Rev. William Alberts
Trump’s Road Rage to the White House
Luke O'Brien
Because We Couldn’t Have Sanders, You’ll Get Trump
Michael J. Sainato
How the Payday Loan Industry is Obstructing Reform
Robert Fantina
You Can’t Have War Without Racism
Gregory Barrett
Bad Theater at the United Nations (Starring Kerry, Power, and Obama
James A Haught
The Long, Long Journey to Female Equality
Thomas Knapp
US Military Aid: Thai-ed to Torture
Jack Smith
Must They be Enemies? Russia, Putin and the US
Gilbert Mercier
Clinton vs Trump: Lesser of Two Evils or the Devil You Know
Tom H. Hastings
Manifesting the Worst Old Norms
George Ella Lyons
This Just in From Rancho Politico
September 28, 2016
Eric Draitser
Stop Trump! Stop Clinton!! Stop the Madness (and Let Me Get Off)!
Ted Rall
The Thrilla at Hofstra: How Trump Won the Debate
Robert Fisk
Cliché and Banality at the Debates: Trump and Clinton on the Middle East
Patrick Cockburn
Cracks in the Kingdom: Saudi Arabia Rocked by Financial Strains
Lowell Flanders
Donald Trump, Islamophobia and Immigrants
Shane Burley
Defining the Alt Right and the New American Fascism
Jan Oberg
Ukraine as the Border of NATO Expansion
Ramzy Baroud
Ban Ki-Moon’s Legacy in Palestine: Failure in Words and Deeds
Gareth Porter
How We Could End the Permanent War State
Sam Husseini
Debate Night’s Biggest Lie Was Told by Lester Holt
Laura Carlsen
Ayotzinapa’s Message to the World: Organize!
Binoy Kampmark
The Triumph of Momentum: Re-Electing Jeremy Corbyn
David Macaray
When the Saints Go Marching In
Seth Oelbaum
All Black Lives Will Never Matter for Clinton and Trump
Adam Parsons
Standing in Solidarity for a Humanity Without Borders
Cesar Chelala
The Trump Bubble
September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]