FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Labor Day Blues

As my late friend, zoology professor Mark Rowland, liked to say when addressing the emotional issue of pro-life vs. pro-choice: “Some people see the uterus as half-empty, and others see it as half-full.” That mordant, binary sentiment could apply to the current state of organized labor.

According to some observers, the once vaunted American labor movement is either already dead or is in the process of dying a hideous death. Granted, these pessimistic observers consist largely of sheltered academics, Chamber of Commerce officers, and Michigan Republicans.

But other, more optimistic observers happily note that, with 14.8 million people belonging to unions (11-percent of the workforce), the U.S. labor movement is still a vital—if unfocussed and demoralized—force to be reckoned with.

Do the math. If the National Rifle Association (NRA), with a membership of barely 5 million, can strike terror in the hearts of America’s lawmakers, surely 14.8 million union workers have the ability to make some noise.

Union people will tell you that there are two legislative moves required to level the playing field. The first is passage of the EFCA (Employee Free Choice Act), which would make “card check” the law of the land, effectively eliminating the bureaucratic morass and stalling tactics regularly used by management.

While hypocritical businessmen pretend that, like the powdered wig set of the 18th century, they abhor Big Government, when it comes to workers being allowed to freely join a union, they beg the feds to intervene, beg them to step in and make joining a union as complicated a procedure as becoming a U.S. citizen.

And this isn’t an ideological or constitutional issue for these profit-takers; it’s an economic one. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015), the average weekly wage for a union employee is $980, and the average weekly wage for a non-union worker is $776. Simple as that.

The second thing is repeal of half the provisions in the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act (including prohibition of secondary boycotts and sympathy strikes). This anti-labor law, passed over the veto of President Truman, defanged the 1935 National Labor Relations Act (the Wagner Act), ushered in the toxic phenomenon of “right to work” states, and rendered organized labor more or less powerless by cutting its nuts off.

Beginning in the late 1970s, in response to the implementation of UAW “emergency concessions,” and continuing into the early 1980s, when President Reagan declared “open season” on organized labor by firing more than 11,000 PATCO workers (air traffic controllers), union activists have been engaged in a lively debate over how best to spend AFL-CIO funds. One thing the House of Labor has plenty of is money.

While some people want to see the lion’s share of AFL-CIO discretionary spending used for national organizing drives, others want to see it spent on stuff like advertising, community awareness, “education” and political donations.

Not that the Democrats have done organized labor any favors lately, but I’ve always favored the political donation route. Consider: If reactionary, draconian laws were what crippled us, then progressive, labor-friendly laws must be what makes us whole.

An officer with an International that must remain nameless, once suggested a crazy idea. Given that the AFL-CIO spent an estimated $50 million trying (and failing) to organize Wal-Mart, and given that lobbyists and donors are the mother’s milk of politics, and given that money has already poisoned the well, the AFL-CIO should consider bribery.

They should identify 50 congressmen who could a make difference in the outcome of critical labor votes and then have a bag man discreetly deliver each of them $200,000 in cash. Don’t call it a “bribe.” Call it a “donation.”

Donations of $200,000 to 40 key House members and 10 key senators would amount to $10 million, which the AFL-CIO could easily afford. It’s clean, it’s quick, and it beats the hell out of wasting money on futile Wal-Mart campaigns. In return, unfair labor laws are repealed and the American worker is given a fighting chance.

Let’s not get all self-righteous. After all, isn’t this how the military-industrial complex functions? Hasn’t the Saudi royal family, going all the way back to FDR, donated millions of dollars to the U.S. to gain preferential treatment? As Tom Hagen said to Santino Corleone, “It’s business, Sonny!”

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

June 17, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
The Dark Side of Brexit: Britain’s Ethnic Minorities Are Facing More and More Violence
Linn Washington Jr.
Remember the Vincennes? The US’s Long History of Provoking Iran
Geoff Dutton
Where the Wild Things Were: Abbey’s Road Revisited
Nick Licata
Did a Coverup of Who Caused Flint Michigan’s Contaminated Water Continue During Its Investigation? 
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange and the Scales of Justice: Exceptions, Extraditions and Politics
John Feffer
Democracy Faces a Global Crisis
Louisa Willcox
Revamping Grizzly Bear Recovery
Stephen Cooper
“Wheel! Of! Fortune!” (A Vegas Story)
Daniel Warner
Let Us Laugh Together, On Principle
Brian Cloughley
Trump Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Weekend Edition
June 14, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0
Bruce E. Levine
Tom Paine, Christianity, and Modern Psychiatry
Jason Hirthler
Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism
T.J. Coles
How Much Do Humans Pollute? A Breakdown of Industrial, Vehicular and Household C02 Emissions
Andrew Levine
Whither The Trump Paradox?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of 10,000 Talkers, All With Broken Tongues
Pete Dolack
Look to U.S. Executive Suites, Not Beijing, For Why Production is Moved
Paul Street
It Can’t Happen Here: From Buzz Windrip and Doremus Jessup to Donald Trump and MSNBC
Rob Urie
Capitalism Versus Democracy
Richard Moser
The Climate Counter-Offensive: Secrecy, Deception and Disarming the Green New Deal
Naman Habtom-Desta
Up in the Air: the Fallacy of Aerial Campaigns
Ramzy Baroud
Kushner as a Colonial Administrator: Let’s Talk About the ‘Israeli Model’
Mark Hand
Residents of Toxic W.Va. Town Keep Hope Alive
John Kendall Hawkins
Alias Anything You Please: a Lifetime of Dylan
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigots in Blue: Philadelphia Police Department is a Home For Hate
David Macaray
UAW Faces Its Moment of Truth
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Horace G. Campbell
Edward Seaga and the Institutionalization of Thuggery, Violence and Dehumanization in Jamaica
Graham Peebles
Zero Waste: The Global Plastics Crisis
Michael Schwalbe
Oppose Inequality, Not Cops
Ron Jacobs
Scott Noble’s History of Resistance
Olivia Alperstein
The Climate Crisis is Also a Health Emergency
David Rosen
Time to Break Up the 21st Century Tech Trusts
George Wuerthner
The Highest Use of Public Forests: Carbon Storage
Ralph Nader
It is Time to Rediscover Print Newspapers
Nick Licata
How SDS Imploded: an Inside Account
Rachel Smolker – Anne Peterman
The GE American Chestnut: Restoration of a Beloved Species or Trojan Horse for Tree Biotechnology?
Sam Pizzigati
Can Society Survive Without Empathy?
Manuel E. Yepe
China and Russia in Strategic Alliance
Patrick Walker
Green New Deal “Climate Kids” Should Hijack the Impeachment Conversation
Colin Todhunter
Encouraging Illegal Planting of Bt Brinjal in India
Robert Koehler
The Armed Bureaucracy
David Swanson
Anyone Who’d Rather Not be Shot Should Read this Book
Jonathan Power
To St. Petersburg With Love
Marc Levy
How to Tell a Joke in Combat
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail