• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

CounterPunch needs you. piggybank-icon You need us. The cost of keeping the site alive and running is growing fast, as more and more readers visit. We want you to stick around, but it eats up bandwidth and costs us a bundle. Help us reach our modest goal (we are half way there!) so we can keep CounterPunch going. Donate today!
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Who Is Organized Labor’s Most Feared Enemy?

Based on everything that’s happened in the last 70 years or so, one might reasonably assume the Republican Party is labor’s chief adversary. After all, it was the Republicans who sponsored the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, a squalid piece of pro-business legislation that pretty much defanged and de-clawed the landmark 1935 National Labor Relations Act (known as the Wagner Act).

Among other things, Taft-Hartley outlawed jurisdictional and wildcat strikes, secondary boycotts and secondary picketing, the closed shop, and most importantly, provided the legal underpinnings that made “right-to-work” states possible. And, as late as 2009, it was congressional Republicans who torpedoed the proposed EFCA (Employee Free Choice Act), which would have made “card check” the law of the land.

Another candidate for “labor’s chief enemy” might be the Tea Party, a fairly recent addition to the political landscape. Given that TP’ers seem to hate every other post-New Deal progressive measure that came down the pike, it stands to reason they would hate labor unions as well. Yet, for reasons unknown, organized labor doesn’t appear to be on their radar. If it were, yes, the Tea Party would undoubtedly hate unions as much as they hate the government, immigrants and secular humanism.

The Tea Party’s position vis-à-vis labor is reminiscent of that exchange between Peter Lorre, as the wormy Ugarte, and Humphrey Bogart, as Rick Blaine, owner/operator of the Cafe Americain, in the classic 1942 film, Casablanca. The scene: a wormy, overly solicitous Ugarte is groveling in Rick’s office.

Ugarte: “You despise me, don’t you?”

Rick: “If I gave you any thought, I probably would.”

But as a matter of fact, organized labor’s arch-enemy is neither the Republican Party nor the Tea Party. Labor’s arch-enemy—and a truly dangerous enemy it is—happens to be the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, led by its single-mindedly anti-union president and CEO, Thomas Donahue.

What makes the Chamber of Commerce so formidable an adversary isn’t simply that it’s vehemently anti-worker (Exhibit A: the Chamber wants to abolish the federal minimum wage of $7.25, arguing that even this pitifully low wage unfairly cuts into management’s earnings), but that it is the biggest lobbying entity on Planet Earth. And needless to say, when you’re the world’s biggest lobbyist, you’re going to have enormous influence.

Granted, it’s our elected officials, those Republican congressmen and senators—and not the Chamber of Commerce itself—who pass the anti-labor legislation (or, more accurately, keep pro-labor legislation from being passed), but it’s the Chamber’s mighty lobbying engine that installs them in office, gives them their marching orders, gets them re-elected, and buys their votes.

In November, 2010, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported that U.S. companies had their best quarter ever. Repeat: Their best quarter ever. Business recorded profits at an annual rate of $1.66 trillion in the third quarter of 2010, which is the highest rate (in non-inflation-adjusted figures) since the government began keeping records more than 60 years ago. And with wages stagnant and workforces slashed, why wouldn’t these businesses flourish.

But even with corporate profits at record levels, the Chamber hasn’t let up in its war against the American worker. It rejoices in wages remaining low and workers being laid off, because skeleton workforces and tiny payrolls translate into more coin in the company’s pocket. Compared to the well-oiled and rapacious juggernaut that is the Chamber of Commerce, those flag-waving Tea Party folks seem almost whimsical.

David Macaray, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy: Essays on Modern Labor”), was a former union rep. He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
May 24, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Iran, Venezuela and the Throes of Empire
Melvin Goodman
The Dangerous Demise of Disarmament
Jeffrey St. Clair
“The Army Ain’t No Place for a Black Man:” How the Wolf Got Caged
Richard Moser
War is War on Mother Earth
Andrew Levine
The (Small-d) Democrat’s Dilemma
Russell Mokhiber
The Boeing Way: Blaming Dead Pilots
Rev. William Alberts
Gaslighters of God
Phyllis Bennis
The Amputation Crisis in Gaza: a US-Funded Atrocity
David Rosen
21st Century Conglomerate Trusts 
Jonathan Latham
As a GMO Stunt, Professor Tasted a Pesticide and Gave It to Students
Binoy Kampmark
The Espionage Act and Julian Assange
Kathy Deacon
Liberals Fall Into Line: a Recurring Phenomenon
Jill Richardson
The Disparity Behind Anti-Abortion Laws
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Chelsea Manning is Showing Us What Real Resistance Looks Like
Zhivko Illeieff
Russiagate and the Dry Rot in American Journalism
Norman Solomon
Will Biden’s Dog Whistles for Racism Catch Up with Him?
Yanis Varoufakis
The Left Refuses to Get Its Act Together in the Face of Neofascism
Lawrence Davidson
Senator Schumer’s Divine Mission
Thomas Knapp
War Crimes Pardons: A Terrible Memorial Day Idea
Renee Parsons
Dump Bolton before He Starts the Next War
Yves Engler
Canada’s Meddling in Venezuela
Katie Singer
Controlling 5G: A Course in Obstacles
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Beauty of Trees
Jesse Jackson
Extremist Laws, Like Alabama’s, Will Hit Poor Women the Hardest
Andrew Bacevich
The “Forever Wars” Enshrined
Ron Jacobs
Another One Moves On: Roz Payne, Presente!
Christopher Brauchli
The Offal Office
Daniel Falcone
Where the ‘Democratic Left’ Goes to Die: Staten Island NYC and the Forgotten Primaries   
Julia Paley
Life After Deportation
Sarah Anderson
America Needs a Long-Term Care Program for Seniors
Seiji Yamada – John Witeck
Stop U.S. Funding for Human Rights Abuses in the Philippines
Shane Doyle, A.J. Not Afraid and Adrian Bird, Jr.
The Crazy Mountains Deserve Preservation
Charlie Nash
Will Generation Z Introduce a Wizard Renaissance?
Ron Ridenour
Denmark Peace-Justice Conference Based on Activism in Many Countries
Douglas Bevington
Why California’s Costly (and Destructive) Logging Plan for Wildfires Will Fail
Gary Leupp
“Escalating Tensions” with Iran
Jonathan Power
Making the World More Equal
Cesar Chelala
The Social Burden of Depression in Japan
Stephen Cooper
Imbibe Culture and Consciousness with Cocoa Tea (The Interview)
Stacy Bannerman
End This Hidden Threat to Military Families
Kevin Basl
Time to Rethink That POW/MIA Flag
Nicky Reid
Pledging Allegiance to the Divided States of America
Louis Proyect
A Second Look at Neflix
Martin Billheimer
Closed Shave: T. O. Bobe, the Girl and Curl
David Yearsley
Hard Bop and Bezos’ Balls
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail