Toil and trouble Archives

October 11, 2005

Burn the biggest lice first

Organized labor must focus its fury if it wants to be feared.

Let's be specific: defeat the re election bids of, say, the weakest, most venal 5 of the CAFTA 15.


By fully funding "peace and jobs" independent runs in these five districts. Split the bastards' base. Run a charismatic martyr, maybe a long haired peace and foliage gal, or a minority bobcat, or a lunchpailer. Run them straight onto the ballot with all the money you've got and find celebrities to be their campaign managers. How hard can it be to find five Hollywood or sports ex-spotlight hounds willing to set up camp in these districts, for a few months of national attention?

Nothing constructive about this at all, of course -- that's the beauty of it. It should be seen as pure punishment: "Regardez, all you big-D whores out there... this may be your fate next time. Wise up or we're coming for ya."

Real political short run consequence on the downside: Zero. More beauty. This is not a spoiler op. The Dems, short of a second '29 in '06, won't retake control of the House anyway. A slightly nearer miss is no better then a mile, with all those yellow dogs on the big-D side of the looking glass anyway.

Major consideration here: don't fall for the age-old Gomper-room BS getting batted around these days by little Jimbo Hoffa, to wit, that organized labor ought to "reward Republican friends." Skiing down that crud slide is nothing but folly. No: we must focus our limited funds where it can have maximum effect, croaking a few of our fondest, nearest enemies.

In case anybody doesn't remember the CAFTA 15, here they are, with my picks for the initial carthago-delenda list in boldface:

Melissa Bean, Illinois (8th District):
Jim Cooper, Tennessee (5th District);
Norm Dicks, Washington (6th District);
Henry Cuellar, Texas (28th District);
Ruben Hinojosa, Texas (15th District);
William Jefferson, Louisiana (2nd District);
Jim Matheson, Utah (2nd District);
Gregory Meeks, New York (6th District);
Dennis Moore, Kansas (3rd District);
Jim Moran, Virginia (8th District);
Solomon Ortiz, Texas (27th District);
Ike Skelton, Missouri (4th District);
Vic Snyder, Arkansas (2nd District);
John Tanner, Tennessee (8th District);
   and... and.. and... egregious beyond the power of words to express:
Edolphus Towns, New York (10th District).

August 31, 2006

American dream: You too can own a Congressman

I'm a union boy, straight down to my dermatophytes' hard hats, but boy are those AFL-XXX pie-crats up their own....

Check this out:

The AFL-CIO is spending $40 million in 2006 and building a massive, sophisticated, voter contact and turnout program to get pro-worker candidates elected to the Senate, House and state-level offices and as governor. Some ask: Why not put all that time, energy and money into organizing drives, to increase the size, and therefore power, of our unions?

...unions must participate in politics and work to elect legislators who will protect our freedom to form unions. We cannot believe in the false dichotomy of organize or politicize.

Oddly, "pro-worker candidates" seems to mean Democrats, though the word doesn't appear even once in the piece.

Let me say if your idea of class politics starts and stops with feeding one or the other head of Orthrus -- i.e. playing two-party politics -- for my buck, you suck, chief.

Tot up the money spills of our august house of labor and you get this lame donk echo.

Like the pwog dance on the supreme court's evil clout, that tewwible destroyer of civil liberty, jobsters face the national labor relations board, the executioner of toilers' dreams, destroyer of all organizing abilities, etc. Inference: elect donks today and they'll appoint yer pals to these key star chamber seats.

Lesser claims:

We pay to help the people of our sovereign states choose gubners that let public workers strike. We also pay candidates that will do their level damnedest to repeal all anti-union state laws. Bottom line: we can buy you a gubmint, with your dues, that will make it 1937 all over again.

Sum up: Forty million dues dollars for Rahm Emanuel and St Hill.

Down with the Sweeney machine! Movement politics si! Party politics no! -- and organizing a job site action -- el supremo!

October 9, 2006

Pathos & bathos

JSP earlier posted -- without attribution, the snake -- an item from the AFL-CIA blog, to wit:
Easily forgotten is how close 15 of the Republicans’ victories were in 1994. Had Democrats in key districts won a combined 52,000 more votes, there would have been no “Speaker Gingrich.”

... You can be sure that on Nov. 8 there will be another list of races decided by such small margins. It’s up to us whether those names will deliver change or more of the same.

That last line made me laugh -- a long, harsh, bitter laugh. I can't imagine a better way to ensure "more of the same" than voting for a Democrat.

October 11, 2006

Unions: screw the worker, protect the brand

More from Jacob Hacker, now not just at Fort Drum but on Slate, too.

Hacker's knees knock rather disappointingly on single-payer health -- because the unions are against it! Instead he's for another hodgepodge combo, another turkey rope that confriggulates a higher super-shuffle biz-fed partnership.

What a fuzzlement, what a waste, what a union-backed pile of horse apples.

Hey I'm union all the way down to my deepest declivity, but it's pure piecardery for unions to stay in the "better fringe benefit" biz.

In fact, I contend it's precisely these fat-cat "look for the union contract difference" meows that isolates the shrinking unionized high-wage kulaks from the growing mass of us Wal-Mart clipped "restock and smile" type jobblers.

October 16, 2006

Takin' care of Massa's business

Idiocy, or crackpot opportunism? Notice this AFL-CIA blog post extolling the nanny party fiscal prudency of the Clintonian years, over the Bushcapades. They even cite a Daily Kos post to prove their point!

Where have you gone, Sidney, where have you gone...?

November 23, 2006

The case of the toothless Doberman

Here's a featurette: the AFL-CIA blog watch.

Item one:

The effect of "free trade baiting" on Dem runs in socially conservative districts with job-loss hot spots. Example first among equals:

NC Demmer Heath Fooler, running hard as a "fair trader", whips job-exportin' CAFTA scumsuckin' repug stooge.

Item two:

More on fair trade and this November's ballot box. Notice, in this piece the farmer is thrown in with the factory worker, in typical pie-head cross-back lobby-scratchin' mishmash, quoting a Michigan pie chief in a think column for the Detroit News: "For the manufacturing worker it's "will my job be outsourced next?" For the farmer it's "will another trade agreement put yet another crop into worldwide price-cutting competition?" And for the rural small business person the worry is "when my customers suffer, how long before I am next?" My takeaway: support the agri lobby's phoney Farmer Brown front for expediency max, and widening out to the whole job nation.

What is to be done? According to the AFL, that is:

  • Slow President Bush's rush to negotiate new bilateral free trade agreements.
  • Review all current agreements.
  • Reform the current trade regime so that we can renew our commitment to participating in a just global economy, one that works for working families and not just to boost the profits and power of multinational corporations
Quite a toothy attack plan by Generalissimo Pie-Critter, eh? How 'bout that "review all current agreements..."? I'd say, how about we attack the job killer number one -- the imperial dollar and its entourage of North currencies?

Item three :

My favorite -- a spotlight on heros aqnd martyrs records the bold participation of a big face pie-card at an actual demostration somewhere not too far from the school for Latin American torture.

Why yer fave, Paine?

The post -- for balance, one suspects -- goes on to cite a "blistering" report on the academiy of manslaughter by nothing less then the brass hat school's old friend, and big labor's own winsome cold war mastodon, the AFL-CIO "Solidarity Center." Yes, that little shop of dirty foreign tricks, the nexus of nasty itself for all AFL-CIA class-backward interventions since Stalin wore argyles.

Ah, life's little ironies.

November 29, 2006

Waving the brown shirt at the Yellow Peril...

... and calling 'em all Reds into the bargain: that's the gist of a recent post at the AFL-CIA blog site. It's rabid, it's foolish, it's, well, forgive my old sectarian slip showing here, it's class traitorship. The AFL-CIA -- not for the first time -- are carrying water for the profiteers they got contracts with.

Here's a specimen -- it's the steel and rubber union prez foaming at the mouth:

...there is no better evidence than at Goodyear, where 15,000 of our members have been forced out on strike by a company that has announced it plans to increase its tire imports ten-fold from Communist China, where workers are routinely oppressed.
Communist China! With Communist plots to do Communist harm to our free nation! God, these union guys are trogs. But back to the steel-and-rubber prez:
Our manufacturers here at home are finding it harder and harder to compete against an economic system in China that is built on oppressed workers, subsidized inputs and capital, stolen intellectual property and other unfair advantages.
Stolen intellectual property! Oh man, I'm steamin' mad now, and I bet Father Smiff has got the bell, book, and candle out. By comparison, the bit about "subsidized inputs" hardly seems impudent at all.

But here's the best:

China also keeps its currency value artificially low, making its exports cheaper and imports more expensive.
So the "labor movement" -- and what a sick joke that phrase is, as applied to the likes of this know-nothing -- lay that one on Peking too, and not on Wall Street and the Fed!

This boughten fool has turned reality on its head, and let his members' real enemies right off the hook. Sure, we need to stop the job export boom -- but we need to put the blame where it belongs, and keep it there.

December 12, 2006

The second front

Remember the union bumper sticker: "the guys who gave you the weekend"?

Amidst all the hugger-mugger by both branches of organized labor, where's the shorter job week movement? Are the so overstuffed with the heath-bennie trip they can't recall their greatest triumph?

Knocking off the axiom that Saturday is job day number six, like the eight-hour premium barrier, are class wide jobbler progress. Raising the minimum wage and tying it to an index, hey, that's grand, but it don't cut to the quick, brothers and sisters -- hour Maxie is wage Minnie's hot fraternal twin.

January 26, 2007

Wheeere's... Johnnie?

Here's a hot potato to toss in Jury Johnny E's union maid of a lap:

It's about Smithfield Food's full-court union bust, complete with undoc raids and all the shapes and sizes of class struggle in post 9/11 America, and its epicenter is right in Johnnie's home state:

On Wednesday, January 24, agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, (ICE) staged a raid of the largest pork processing plant in the world -- Smithfield Food's massive operation in Tar Heel, North Carolina. This plant has been the site of intense struggle throughout the last year, with over a thousand workers striking in November against the firing of undocumented workers. According to the first press reports, this raid arrested 21 workers -- in a plant where the federal authorities are demanding the firing of over 600 workers for being undocumented.
Sorry this article is by 'narrow sectarians' but hey, I take it where I find it.

February 23, 2007

Free willies

It's... free choice week!

As members of Congress return home for the Presidents Day recess, working families are launching a Week of Action to push for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act.
Read this free-to-dribble act -- it's toothless mush:
  • Establishing stronger penalties for violation of employee rights when workers seek to form a union and during first-contract negotiations...
  • Providing mediation and arbitration for first-contract disputes....
  • Allowing employees to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation...
Tea-party rules for organizing -- and yet for most Democrats it's way too vicious and Bolshie. My guess, all but about 130 Congos find this bill downright incendiary.

The road ahead to "job choice" will only shorten when these union cadre get out of the lobby and over to the job site. Only when they themselves are willing to get their own fat asses arrested for doin' a little direct de facto enforcement of workers' rights, will the tower boys take notice and the public respond.

Job sites are like lunch counters and front seats on the bus -- you got to occupy 'em and not budge, if you expect to have any chance of making them yours by right.

March 4, 2007

Stay tuned for our next exciting episode

Today's and tomorrow's civil rights movement will be the jobs rights movement. But it will not be on television -- not till it really bites enough corporate asses. Kinda like the anti-Jim Crow movement: the congress could never seem to get anything past the senate, and its own fine old peculiar institution, the filibuster, till all hell had broken loose a number of times. It takes a movement, Hillary.

In this light: mock dKos update:

"Hoo hoo hoorah, all but two Democrats in the House voted for card check class struggle." Yes, brothers and sisters of the great unorganized, the Employee Free Choice Act passed the House with flying blue colors yesterday:

and will now sail into a full and final stymie as it hits the big check -- namely, the fine old aforementioned filibuster

Mr Peabody observes: "Yes, Sherman -- the cliff-hanging drama and ultimate defeat of card-check unionization -- 'twill be another instance of the grace and balance of our bicameral legislative branch. Nothing hasty, nothing rash, nothing faddish. Of course the chronic humiliation of the labor movement, splendid as that is, can't compare with the Senate's greatest historic achievement, the life-support of segregation. Why the filisbuster kept lynching alive, for an extra 30 years at least. Speaking of checks, Sherman, you might even call our legislative system a rubber check democracy."

PS: Here is a nice story of the piecard jack ass dance on this from Carter through Clinton:

As recently as 2000 the AFL-CIO was disinclined to support labor law reform in any fashion, still smarting from the disappointment and embarrassment of the failed labor law reform push of 1977-78.

This labor-led reform drive during the Carter presidency ultimately crashed on Senate rocks after winning passage in the House. Carter eventually threw in the towel on this issue, leaving labor and the reform legislation hanging.

The angry reaction of many union leaders and rank-and-file members to what was perceived as a Democratic Party failure at minimum -- and betrayal at worst -- played a part in the collapse of the Carter regime and the election of the notoriously anti-union Ronald Reagan in 1980.

Significant sections of top union officialdom resolved to never again broach the labor law reform subject and risk another electoral debacle.

In recent years, the AFL-CIO refused to seriously support labor law reform, privately fearing that it would serve only to expose Democrats who were happy to accept labor's support while doing nothing to address the labor rights catastrophe. Promotion of labor law reform by organized labor was minimal-to-non-existent throughout the Clinton years, being routinely dismissed as "unrealistic."

April 23, 2007

The long-running AFL-CIA

I read this at the AFL blog site:

Indy unions sprouting right in mother Russia's TNC groin? Hmmmm, what can this mean? Better call that stalwart of the struggle, Herb Sorrell III, grandson of the famed Hollywood slugger hisseff, the king of the pickets, Herbert K Sorrell, scourge of Walt Disney, Ronald Reagan, etc. Thus his grandson on the phone to me, (maybe after a few jars):

"Oh, that! Fuck, Owen -- the jobster struggle in Russia needs those pixie dust dancers and their new "independent" unions about as much as I need my balls slapped with a pine paddle. Ahh, the poor Slav dupes, listening to voices from Solidarity House USA, that fuckin' CIA cutout -- AFL-CIO, AFL-CIA -- change one letter is all it takes, pal.

"To get to the truth here, this stinker is the CIA, baby, the CIA -- forwarding the global class struggle? Real unions? Does that sound like the guiding mission of the CIA to you?

"Yeah, sure, the Sweeney pack supposedly cleaned out the cold war stables -- but just contact the Hurricane Hugo movement. Ask them about the "independent" oil union down there, and its ties to the "solidarity center".

"The real mission is, any foreign gubmint party or union opposing Uncle's empire games gets shit on. That's about as plain as Tony Bennet's nose, and the AFL piecards know it.

"We tried moving the last federation convention to close that CIA-infested shithole, that filthy house of spook wax, and we got a a groundswell goin', till suddenly this invisible wall comes between us and the rank and file conventioneers, and we're in Nowheresville. A little later one of the top piecards tells us, 'Guys, this just ain't your night.'"

June 5, 2007

Sweeney agonistes

Enter John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO executive council, that comfy club for aging pie-heads:

Seems he's got a message for the rest of us. Pathetically, only the Boston Globe, not the Washpost or NYT, found it fit to print. I suspect this lead shows us why:

"AMERICA'S WORKING families today are running faster than ever to keep up, and still falling behind. "
Pretty durn ho-hum, right? Oh, and here's a surprise for us groundlings:
....disposable income is now part of the "good old days."
But let's get down to brass tacks. Give him credit -- John tries to answer a big question: "How did this happen to America's workers?" And even more to his credit, he notices some key stuff: "unfair trade laws and poor national fiscal policy." But then sure enough, don't he pass them by, and the imperial dollar too, so he can get to what it's really all about:
... a major factor that often remains hidden.... Corporations have systematically riddled workers' freedom to improve their lives through unions, and our nation's labor laws are too weak to stop them.... union workers earn 30 percent more than workers without a union and are much more likely to have healthcare and pensions
Sweeney provides a seemingly obvious conclusion: "Increasing the number of people who are in unions."

But how we do that is not so obvious, since according to John, anyway, we gotta first make legal union recognition and contracts doable under the present system of laws and regs. 'Cause as it stands now:

companies routinely violate workers' basic right to form a union.... Unfortunately, these nasty methods of threat and coercion work for the employer.... In more than 90 percent of union elections a majority of workers indicated in writing that they wanted a union at the beginning of the process. However, unions won less than half of these elections, after months and years of employer intimidation.
Hmmmmm. Blunt fact: the CIO breakthrough originally occurred inside an industrial society and under a "superstructure" far worse than the one we have now in this post-Reagan white-worker future-shock America. So what is John-john's solution? Well not my solution, it seems. Nope, John doesn't want us to go into massive job-class upheaval mode. He don't want us to put on another 7-year rage and rampage like in 30-36. God forbid we get fired from our precious jobs -- let alone arrested -- for trying to freeze up the flow of corporate profiteeing. No blockades, no occupations, no job site rebellions, not for old John. Just lobby to change a few key parts of the legal superstructure.
Fortunately, there is legislation in Congress that will give workers the real freedom to join a union.... the Employee Free Choice Act.... a crucial first step to rebuilding the middle class and ensuring that working people can once again share in our nation's prosperity.
What can I add to that pea of a product? Analogy is tricky at all times, but here's an obvious one anyway: Black America and her allies hit the system hard and at multiplying points long long long before "the laws changed."

The free-to-choose line is pure bird crap and I bet swino John knows it in his heart of hearts. But he's got to keep the wheels of his gristmill turning, right?

Mates, I say with Father Smiff -- stop traffic!

June 13, 2007

Blame it on the Veba Nova

The tower trolls are 24/7/365 maximizers, aren't they, coming up with new higher highs and lower lows all the time. Here's a specimen of their latest model for that oldest of something-out-of-nothing gambits, the famed "rip dip flip and skip"... incarnated by the proud new owners of Chrysler Motors, namely Cerberus Capital Management:

In its 15 years of operation, Cerberus has bought up companies in a range of industries, from real estate to governmental outsourcing services to firearms to transportation .... Cerberus .... institutes cost-cutting measures and sells the restructured companies back to investors at big profits.... Last year it began making bids for a number of pieces of the U.S. auto industry.... GM's lucrative financing arm, GMAC, Tower Automotive, and Delphi.... GDX Automotive, CTA Acoustics, Guildford Mills, and Peguform....
A metal eating Wall Street ogre indeed. While you're reading, savor well my favorite new wrinkle in the benefit strip fob-off department: introducing la VEBA, aka the Voluntary Employees Beneficiary Association: if Cerberus can stir one of these into the mix, the flatfooted UAW itself will end up assuming "a huge chunk of Chrysler's health care costs."

Mark this gimmick down: you're likely to see it a lot in the next few years, at least until Uncle Sam sweeps all this unfunded corporate liability onto the taxpayers' plate. (BTW, "GM and Ford have sought similar agreements in the last two years.")

To get an idea of the money at stake if this Big Three offload on to the UAW goes through, "the UAW'S VEBA would assume an estimated $95 billion in current and future health care costs." Result: "the UAW could be forced to administer health care concessions to its own members."

So much for the treaty of Detroit, eh? Can it get any richer, uncle Walt?

I doubt it. So is our noble UAW ready to rumble -- ready to take all those fuckin' plants down with 'em, if that's what it takes?

Do you have to ask? Seems Gettlefinger's gang of lawful resolutes prefer -- drum roll please -- a vigorous legal gambit. Their model: those paragons of hard-biting, bare-knuckle struggle, the steelworkers, who though not having conducted any "successfully waged full-scale fightbacks", have had none the less "some limited success in using" -- grip something well bolted down now -- "strong successorship language in contracts"! Oh, and they've come forth to battle fire-breathing "financial tactics" too!

Oh sister Flynn, where be the likes of Big Bill and Jolly Joe Ettor when the mates really really need 'em?

September 4, 2007

Two cheers for the Gilded Age

Build it here and they will come -- or: Better here than there, Part One.

Over the past 40 years or so, I doubt the People's Republic could easily find many Yankee friends with a significantly greater love and respect for the New China than resides, has resided, and will continue to reside for as long as it beats, in the heart of yours truly, Owen F. Paine.

But that being proclaimed, let me now proceed to toy with the dragon's wrath, as I plunge into my topic for today's post:

Not only do we need to reduce our bilateral trade gap with China as soon as practicable and by all means necessary; we need to liberate ourselves from her wares, as close to entirely as makes common sense.

Let's start with just two numbers: 9 and 180. Each element of the first number can have, all to itself, 20 counterparts in the second number. Yes, the second number is twenty times as big as the first number, and that's apparently the cold quantitative difference -- measured in dead souls -- between two recent coal mining tragedies, the one out west here, and the other over there, inside China.

Can we seriously doubt these two numbers roughly reflect the difference in working conditions here and there?

Now I ask you humanitarians out there, in light of this: where -- at the economists' infamous margin -- should the globe's coal get dug? Here at home -- or over there in China? Moreover: where should that extra coal, once dug, get consumed, to produce more goodies for the globe's most consumer-crap-mad middle classes? In fact, where -- at the margin -- should your goodies, my goodies, our goodies, come from? China, or here at home?

The answer, I think, is obvious: we need to make our consumer shit right here in the land of liberty. At least we damn well oughta try to -- that is, if my beloved class struggle and your good green earth are really really our top priority.

Isn't it obvious and simple? The battle for our red/green future oughta start and finish right here in our backyard, where both these milliennial contests can be fought out with greater chances of victory.

I submit to your considseration the following proposition: sustainable earth, Inc., can only get incorporated under the red, white, and blue: and that's because, at least as of now, it's here -- not China, not India, not Mexico even -- that we little people of earth have a better set of rules of engagement.

et me throw you a further simple synthetic deduction: it's far better strategy to restore our industrial platform and start building more of our goodies back here at home, than trying to export our rules over there. And by making as much of our stuff here as we can, in the process we'll import a nice big slab of their little people, to help us build it all the right way, the clean way, the green way, the high-wage, high-employment way.

Yup, our fair and stalwart nation oughta return to its post-Civil War promised-land gilded-age nation-building paradigm -- updated of course, and controlled this time 'round by the mass of we the people, precisely for the direct immediate benefit of the crass sweatin' mass of us, not by and for the corporate elite.

Here's a nice irony of history: the same type of silk-hat smokestack jackoffs that today profit handsomely from exporting our jobs and importing low-wage foreign substitutes, back then refused to open our markets to the outside world's industrial products. Yes, with true Hamiltonian vigor, the predecessors of today's barons of industry blocked the entry of alien procducts, not alien people! And as a result, in just 65 years, the relatively brief span between the freeing of our 6 million African brothers and sisters from slavery, on the one end, and running smack-dab into the catacysm of 1929, on the other -- in that short 65 years, humble weebles, many flooding in from around the world, built the largest industrial platform on earth.

I suggest we do it again, but this time with a fair-trade, balanced-trade dollar and a chock-full employment job policy.

And note well -- once we get really rolling again here, like we did in 1940, we'll welcome the help of more hands and brains from outside our borders.

Just like back in the day.

September 17, 2007

VEBAs wobble, and they DO fall down

Here's my 70's-era prole-left tale for today:

Called a “single payer health solution” for America's big three auto families, the proposed grand health VEBA is really just one big corporate rip dip and shift -- a massive Enron-scale financial fraud that will end up sticking it to workers one way or other, either through direct charges to workers or in a bailout by corporate field-dog, Uncle "Fetch and Carry" Sam.

What's a VEBA, comrades? Stands for Voluntary Employees Beneficiary Association. It takes some solemnly-promised stream of benefit payments off the books of corporate America -- in this case, the future wage-employee health payment obligations of Chrysler, Ford and GM -- for a one-time, good-faith, duly-diligent, fairly and squarely discounted lump-sum pay-in to a very specially chartered nonprofit -- in this case union-administered – fund. And what happens then? Well, it's all in the numbers really.

Looking with gimlet eye at this auto VEBA, I'd say it's likely to become the absolutely biggest bust yet. Despite the union's heroic efforts to "responsibly" offload as much as possible of the upcoming payment stream back on the retired workers themselves, the time will come when the fund goes bump in the night. Enter Uncle Sap.

By that point the workers will, by honest accounts, have paid for it all at least twice already -- first up front, in corporate promises in lieu of wages, and at the back end, in passthrough charges in lieu of funds. And the “health” industry will no doubt manage to extract a third payment from the man in the striped suit. What remains unpaid out of the bills overcharged, will prolly in a burst of state generosity -- after a union leadership heartswelling sturm-und-drang worthy of Rock Hudson -- end up on Uncle's famous riskless tax-backed people's credit card.


My favorite mild underlining in the labor notes story linked above: "Business analysts claim... under-funding is one of the key advantages of a Big-3 VEBA solution." Care to give a better working definition of a corporate welfare state?

January 14, 2008

I'm dyin' up here

So unions took a 35-year corporate mugging and seemed to find it "inevitable". Why?

This chum at Counterpunch thinks he knows:

1. "The hollowing-out of the country's manufacturing base and, with it, a decline in those industry jobs which, historically, had not only been strongly organized but well paid."
Crap, it took 70 years to crack the industrial corporations, and before they cracked plant wages were horrible just like service and commercial wages now.
2. "Government has assumed custody of key union provisions."
That's the reason? Unions can't top Uncle Sam's social contract? The real wage min is lower than Johnson started with, and longer hours too, health costs are still private payroll rape jobs. To be sure, corporate pensions going bust get Uncle bailouts -- funny how the attack is on the social security system when its the only sound pension game in America.
3. "Changes in demographics and culture"
Now this alibi deserves scrutiny:
"There is a decreased respect for the role of organized labor, for its founders, its battles, its overall narrative, and an alarming lack of interest in labor's political and social implications."
Maybe the unions deserve that rap, eh? In fact our mate here says as much:
"High school history and civic textbooks of the Baby Boomer generation (and the one preceding it) routinely included accounts of the achievements of labor leaders such as Samuel Gompers, John L. Lewis, Walter Reuther, et al, mentioning them in much the same way they mentioned political leaders and social reformers Today, it would be ludicrous to expect a high school history text to single out specific contemporary labor leaders who've made a difference-unless it was something scandalous or bizarre (e.g., the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa). "
But here comes the pop-bottled socio-criticism:
"We've also witnessed a marked decline in our sense of community.... Today, everybody seems to want to call himself an independent.... Working people... prefer to think of themselves as incipient, yet-to-be-realized entrepreneurs rather than proletarian toilers."
Really? That's why collective job site action is nowheresville -- us prole cats don't see ourselves for the sweatin' chumps we really are? What do we see then in the morning mirror? The next Donald Trump?

Moral of the tale:

".... working people don't have the core respect they once had. Simple as that."
There's a spectre haunting wage slave America circa 2008, and its name is... Rodney Dangerfield

The chap that wrote this is one David Macaray. Brother Mac is "a Los Angeles playwright and writer" and former "president and chief contract negotiator of the Assn. of Western Pulp and Paper Workers, Local 672, from 1989 to 2000."

January 21, 2008

Official history

Here's a remarkable take, by one Ian Welsh, on the history of the laboring man and woman:

Unions in America have been in a decline for over 60 years....

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), created by the Wagner Act in 1935 as independent agency of United States Governments holds the official mandate to conduct elections for labor union representation and to investigate and remedy unfair labor practices. Under the Bush administration, the NLRB has:

  • made it impossible for large numbers of workers to join unions(pdf);
  • potentially reclassified many workers as supervisors (including many nurses) in order to remove them from unions;
  • passed numerous rulings which treat employers in one way, and unions in another.
Accompanying this mournful history there is a graph:

Now one of the things that strikes me about this graph is that the decline has been monotonic since 1955, through Democratic and Republican years alike. So Ian Welsh's focus on the last seven years seems a little, um, tendentious.

Ian, however, would like us to draw a very specific conclusion:

Another 4 or 8 years of a Republican presidency could doom American unions...

Unions, even more than the US itself, need a new FDR. Without FDR unions would have never had their day... absent a President who really cares about unions there's no reason to believe that decline will stop.

Based on the historical record, as shown by Ian's own graph, it would be equally plausible to argue that another 4 to 8 years of a Democratic presidency would "doom American unions."

The amazing thing here, of course, is the claim that unions gained ground in the Thirties because they had a nice sympathetic President. This is sheer mythography. The causal arrow runs the other way, in fact: the President was sympathetic because Labor was ready to hang Capital from the nearest lamppost, and Capital got the message. Ian's message is a little different:

What government took away, fertile conditions for organizing and pro-union policies, government can give back... the most important factor for the fate of unions ... is who the President is.

With the right President, and the right NLRB, the union movement can have it's renaissance....

John Edwards has spent the last four years working with unions....

Government "gave" these "fertile conditions" back in the day? That's not the history I read.

The "most important factor" is... the President? Now you've made me mad, Ian. What ever became of the people's own agency? Can they only act through a President? What became of all those lampposts?

January 31, 2008

One word: Jobs

I kinda like the look of this chap – probably because he could be my half-Jewish half-brother with a slipped wig.

He's a union econ-con mouthpiece and I like that too. He's calling for billions in construction dollars for immediate public infrastructure projects -- low tech, hard hat division -- what's better than that? Green designs, sure, but who can wait for the blueprints? We gotta get the nailguns and sheetrock flying:

"The average age of public school buildings is roughly 40 years, and they need a total of at least $17 billion a year in maintenance and rehabilitation. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Transportation has found more than 6,000 major bridges that need to be repaired or replaced. On the environmental front, more than $4 billion in wastewater treatment projects are ready to go to construction, if funding is made available. Let’s provide the money for all these needs—schools, bridges, sewage treatment plants and more. Every $1 billion of construction spending creates 14,000 to 47,000 new jobs — and these should be good-paying union jobs — and also generates up to $6 billion in additional economic activity."

June 3, 2008

All SEIU'd up

Andy's Stern Gang is having a convention. And yes, the Disco Duck of organized labor has seen fit to let his drones fix the proceedings. This barren farce is as rigged, as stage-managed and scripted, as any affair produced by any tinpot Issimo from here to Boys' Town.

But is that bad per se? I mean a rigged convention.

Okay, I must admit, all the hullaballoo about bottom-up participation and rank-and-file this or membership that often does smack of stale process over novel product. But don't ya think a big time union movement that has no product worth a toot to begin with at least oughta strive for some first-class process?

Here's Steve Early making a rather tepid bid to rally some indignation against these "union leaders" using their "heavy handed" methods on brave progressive insurgent groups:

As history has repeatedly shown, the rulers of “one-party states” rarely concede power gracefully or quietly. When organized opposition emerges, such regimes often resort to a strategy of disinformation and intimidation to maintain their grip on power, whether the battleground is a nation or—closer to home—a national union.

Only because he's the latest pinup in a line of rebels from within that have launched on dear Andy, here's Sal Rosselli, president of the biggest chunk of Andy's SEIU, to cry nyet, no mas, forget about it, at the purple duce's top-down "corporate" unionism.

As mentioned here before, he's still getting hustled toward the exits by the piecards, without a fists-flying convention floor showdown, worthy of any halfway decent two-fisted Popeye of a union man.

November 12, 2008

Trickle, trickle, dime and nickel

The mage of Kentuck strikes at the hated tower suite queens demanding balance-sheet and cash-flow injections: "Uncle, honey, come fill my pipes" -- leaky pipes as they may be.

Father S has a money fetish, I fear. He thinks dollars must come from somebody's pocket. But Uncle Sam-I-Am has an unlimited supply of digital dollars, a bottomless pocket like Baucis and Philemon's wine-jug--

--and the leaks at least might drip down into the real economy, eh?

Here's today's you-figure: If GM's too big to fail -- is the UAW too big to fail? The plan most foul prolly includes a bail for the various legacy funds.

Okay, so these pot-bellied Joe the Line Worker types won't see the high side of $25 an hour ever again -- but at least Uncle could provide health and pension plans.

Then again, we could let the Big Three slide away, and scrap the whole damn Reuther hophop down the bennie-trail.

November 20, 2008

In a nutshell...

... why the Democrats are the prison-house of constituencies. From the Huffington Post:

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is effectively shutting down its Wal-Mart watchdog group in order move its focus to... legislative priorities....

"We set up Wal-Mart Watch to highlight the issues facing American workers as seen through the largest employer... Then we win this election, and a bigger voice than ours says, 'We have an economy that doesn't work for Main Street, it works for Wall Street, and we are going to do something about it.'"

Indeed, the move by the SEIU underscores how much the labor community anticipates a new political landscape under the upcoming Obama administration -- one in which it can score legislative victories as opposed to fighting outside-government battles.

December 12, 2008

Critique of critical criticism

Just thought I'd pass along this bulletin I got from my pal Herbert Nott Sorrell (grandson of his late great namesake):

McDonald's isn't lovin' free choice for its employees. Over the weekend news broke that the fast food giant is organizing its store owners to oppose the Employee Free Choice Act. McDonald's has reportedly even formed an "internal response actively participate in the opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act.

Write to McDonald's and say employees need free choice - we'll send your letters to McDonald's headquarters to make sure they get the message....

In Solidarity,
Michael Whitney
Change that Works

The purple wave also rises? I doubt it. But a target of merit indeed is Herr Baron von Ronaldstein. Target his archepelago of drivethru greaserias, and you target the Ford of fast foods ... right?

January 5, 2009

What? Labor? Sold Out? AGAIN?!

Belate-o-gram from the institutionalized class struggle:

Seems alas our top union mugs' beloved card check instant-organizing formula is heading for a fall, right off the senate docket, despite the piecards' massive dough and get-out-the-vote action this fall.

As GOP sandstorm Kim Stifle, er Straffel, shown left, puts it:

"It hasn't been much noticed, but the political ground is already shifting under Big Labor's card-check initiative. The unions poured unprecedented money and manpower into getting Democrats elected; their payoff was supposed to be a bill that would allow them to intimidate more workers into joining unions...."

For example, behold this Democratic water buffalo from the Duchy of Walmart, Senator Mark Pryor, shown left, who's got a fairly standard aisle double cross in the making. Again, Mizz Strassel sums it up for us:

"In 2007, Mr. Pryor voted to move card check, Big Labor's No. 1 priority. And why not? Mr. Pryor knew the GOP would block the bill, which gets rid of secret ballots in union elections. Besides, his support helped guarantee labor wouldn't field a challenger to him in the primary. Postelection, Mr. Pryor isn't so committed. He's indicated he wouldn't co-sponsor the legislation again. He says he'd like to find common ground between labor and business. He is telling people the bill isn't on a Senate fast-track, anyway."
One recalls the old line -- "honest pols stay bought" -- with a slow shake of the head.

Ahh, 'tis a low age of official progress we traverse. But still! Change awaits her cue in the wings.

Methinks 'twill take tons of Father Smiff's induced traffic jams on the corporate highways to bring her forth, though.

March 13, 2009

Yesterday's palladium, today's pestilence

From the next world, old champions mobilize to view the contest ahead: Mr Republican, Bob Taft, and Daddy Wagner himself.

Today the Employee Free Choice Act was introduced once again in the House.

After a swan ride through that body, it occurs to me there might be a mighty comical Senatorial grapple over this too-long-dangling measure.

We might just get treated to the finest of all great American football games. Just imagine -- 100 senators present in the flesh, feeling very imposed-upon about having to show up, een the pheesical sense, in that august chamber.

Here's a recent shot fired from the roof of one of our hallowed halls of personal liberty, the famed Heritage Foundation:

"Unions now want the government to take away workers' right to vote -- after only a card-check campaign. The Employee Free Choice Act would do this and more."
Translation of subtext:

"Hey bub, are not privacy and choice the very Mutt and Jeff of our nation's liberty? We must guaad with our blood and our treasure the sacred individual personal private right to choose. The choice to unite or not to unite is a choice each solitary soul's secret unrevealed conscience must make. The ballot box is a confessional, without the disadvantage of a sacerdote; a registration of faith and hope in individual stand-alone judgement. I the atom of society must choose, alone, unafraid, unaffected, uninfluenced, individually, privately, secretly -- so we the people can be free."

Nonsense -- right?

Well, actually, when we get down to it, this act turns ugly complex prickled and spiteful on us.

I wonder if the corporate mouthpieces can summon the old Mittelstand pandemonium here, to make the scrap look especially noble?

I mean a defense of our individual freedoms led by that Great Satan -- personal privacy. If that happens -- and why wouldn't it -- watch us all drown in that corporate whore lady Liberty's scat.

Imagine a quagmire like the following: Senator Blowhard from Dixie Incorporated intones:

"My fellow senators, I ask you: what exactly is the foundation of this towering paragon of freedom that is our blessed America? Ah say it is nothing less than... the secret ballot!

"Only this can fairly and squarely transcend the bonds of individual contract. If we are to violate the right of any one honest independent soul to assign his labor for a certain period of time and for a certain portion of pay by an act of hiw own free unencumbered will -- then we must be sure it's violated to a higher authority and a higher right.

"Such independent consent can be transcended through one process only: each involved soul must cast one informed carefully considered vote, and these must be cast in secret, until the process establishes a clear and stable majority of those concerned.

"In the last analysis, the crux of the crux is an absolutely positively REQUIRED commitment to that most beloved of our republican institutions, here writ small, perhaps, but indispensable nonetheless....

"We must have the secret ballot or no unions at all!

As John Locke, fairy godfather of us all, once said: 'If we are to be free men there can be no compromising our individual liberty.'"

That's where the bastards will make their Little Big Horn stand: on the toilet stall for depositing personal preference, the utterly sacrosanct, but unsacerdoted, completely private, coyly curtained confessional, the voting booth.

Now add in to this reckless scramble some pwog piecard fancy-boy, hurling the left's hammer of Thor:

"Senator, you are a fool, and a hog slopped at the corporate trough. You wouldn't know democracy from an ice cream soda. The ground for a free and open competition for support between union and company cannot exist under the present conditions inside our job sites.

"Freedom, liberty, the very civil rights of humanity, American style, end completely and absolutely at the entrance to any one of our unorganized places of business.

"O I hear it now -- the song of the equilibrist:

'Given enough time, any open honest free-wheeling campaign to organize, under any possible set of rules and refs will lead to fair and balanced results.'

"But under the realities of job time today, if it culminates in a secret balloting process, after the company wall guards have had the time to lower the boom...."

"'One law' for the lion and the lamb is tyranny!"

Nothing will come about here in one great leap.

This act, when and if it finally reaches senate floor consideration, is headed at best for a crucial set of amendments.

Union piecards: listen to me now, believe me later. Your watchword oughta be "speed" Whatever you squeeze out, make it all happen fast

Secret ballot must stand? Okay. But then a vote must follow the filing in less than a work week, and the contract must follow the vote in less than a month.

On a broader note:

If job force America needs to conduct a self-liberation movement -- and it sure as shootin' does -- what actually is the clincher here among the proposed reforms in this act? Do any amount to anything?

I think so; but then I'm a semi-syndicalist deviant.

At any rate: what minimum collection of reforms would amount to progress toward the goal of employee liberation? What reforms will aid, and what subvert, the collective will of the job-site majority?

The nub here, the line where class divides will surface fast and furious, will be over this poser:

Does group influence need legislative nullification?

April 2, 2009

I sold you and you sold -- naah, I just sold you

As every three-year-old in the country now knows, the Democrats are getting ready for a breathtaking betrayal of the labor movement on the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), otherwise known as "card check", a measure that makes it easier to organize unions. The filibuster will be their excuse.

Shown above is Strom Thurmond in his glory days, a man with whose execrable name the splendid Senatorial institution of the filibuster will be forever linked.

Let's take a quick Wayback trip to 2005, when Pwogs were eager to defend Senator Thurmond's favorite -- well, second-favorite -- institution against those mean ole Bushies. Here's The Nation:

Fight for the Filibuster
posted by Peter Rothberg on 05/23/2005

A vote to end debate on the nomination of extreme conservative Priscilla Owen to the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled for Tuesday, May 24--the first strike in the so-called "nuclear option" to eliminate the use of the filibuster in judicial nominations. Now is the time to tell your senators that you oppose eliminating the filibuster.

The filibuster, which Peter and his friends loved so much back then, is now deployable by the mean ole Republicans. And so it's the Democrats' handy excuse for not passing EFCA. No wonder the old pros wanted to hang onto it -- though what was the pwogs' excuse?

The Democrats were all strongly behind EFCA as long as it had no chance of passing. But now that they have a majority in both houses, they must find a face-saving way to lose the fight (except Dianne Feinstein -- shown left, with another fox in the hencoop -- who apparently needs no excuse and has thrown EFCA overboard with a shameless barefaced fuck-you grin.)

Enter the filibuster! Those mean ole Republicans who wanted to take the filibuster away are now going to... use it! (This is a nice mirror image of the Democrats, who fought to keep it and didn't use it. Anybody see a pattern here?)

This is the burden of the donkeys' song: Since us good-hearted well-meaning Democrats only have a majority, not a filibuster-proof supermajority... ah well, we fought the good fight. Better luck in the next life, toilers of America. Oh and don't forget to vote for us in the next Most Important Elections In History, scheduled for 2010. Give us a filibuster-proof supermajority! And then we'll find some brand-new way to sell you out!

So far, we're wading hip-deep in bullshit, right? Well, hold your breath, because we're about to step off a ledge right into the bottomless Marianas Trench of bullshit.

The filibuster is a straw man. There is an arcane provision in the Senate's rules that any measure covered under what's called "reconciliation" can't be filibustered. It's a long story, but the short of it is that what is and what isn't covered by "reconciliation" is ultimately determined by the presiding officer of the Senate. And that would, of course, be Vice President Joe Biden.

The Republicans used this "reconciliation" dodge a lot back when they were the majority. I think we can safely predict that the Democrats will not -- and most especially, that they will not on the EFCA bill. Obie could put a stop to this treachery with a couple of phone calls, but he will not make them.

Obie, and the congressional Democrats, climbed labor's support for EFCA into office, and now they'll kick it away -- as they did with the public's warsickness. And no doubt labor, just like the so-called antiwar movement, will take the kick with a shit-eating grin and ask, Please sir, may I have another?

* * * * *

Update: Owen and I were thinking along the same lines. He writes:

Who sez there ain't no way to beat the fillibuster?

"Senate Democrats are increasingly receptive to using a controversial budget shortcut to ease passage of health-care reform legislation, a shift in stance encouraged by the White House but denounced by Republicans, who say the maneuver is an unfair partisan trick."
My personal GOP idol, Phil Specter's older brother Arlen, seems ticked:
"There are those of us on this side of the aisle who have cooperated," Specter said. "I think it fair to say that to misuse the reconciliation process would be a very strong blow against bipartisanship and cooperation. Obviously, it would impede future activity by the Obama administration in reaching across the aisle to get necessary Republican votes."
As a friend of demo-muppet fellow aisle-squatters like Bridgeport Joe, this must come as a deep disappointment to Senator Specter. But of course it's how the repugs got their donors' tenderloin of a tax cut past a prostrate deadlocked Senate in '01.

I wonder -- can card check slip through this loophole too? I bet not -- eh?

Hell, even cap-and-trade is a bridge too far, so firing shots in the class war? Heavens!

May 21, 2009

About time

"Hundreds of union workers packed a lunchroom at the Hart Schaffner & Marx manufacturing plant here May 11 and voted unanimously to stage a sit-in at their factory if a new owner tries to shut it down. The company, also known as Hartmarx Corp., employs 600 people here and is one of the last and largest remaining suit makers in the U.S."

"Workers at Hartmarx are borrowing a page from the playbook of workers at Chicago’s Republic Windows and Doors factory. In that situation, Bank of America cut off credit to the company, leading to its closure last December. The workers and their union fought back, staging a six-day occupation at the plant, which gained national and international attention including support from the Obama administration. The workers eventually won a settlement with the bank, securing sick leave and vacation pay they were owed, and health benefits. Today, new owners have reopened the plant and all 260 former Republic workers are in the process of being re-hired, represented by their union."


August 12, 2009


Current events blogging gets toxic after a while. For change of pace, a hypothetical. What if the exercise of power within a political system came at a penalty rate? A year as the mayor of Smbivania must be paid for by a year keeping the streets of the fine city free of garbage and, uh, pet residues. I think this would tend to raise wages and impose comfortable limits on both the exercise of power and type of person who seeks it.

September 28, 2009

Trumka triumphans

The mighty AFL (ee i ee i oh) pulled off its quadrennial indoor dressage last week without a hiccup.

I'll glide past the long-awaited Trumka coronation and head straight for the federation's newly elected number two secretary-treasurer -- she's the ashy-haired one on the left of His Bullness.

Her name's Liz Shuler and she wants to reach out to -- young folks.

Her words:

“They don’t hate us, they don’t like us; they just don’t know us.”
Indeed. In other news...

The march of the HERE hares, after 4 years in the wilderness fox-trottin' with Andy's purple gang, back into the robust if wrinkling arms of Mother Gompers' deathless creature. Bed-changers, stew-ladlers and barkeeps of America, rejoice -- Kaiser John is back where he belongs "in the house of labor" and yes, he's ready to rumble.

Brothers and sisters of the grand pacific union of the unorganized, nothing could better personify the gerbil-wheel nature of piecard unionism in America than this guy from high-60's Yale, late of Vegas, and now most firmly DC-centered -- the Mel Torme of bottle-washing, John Tempelhof Wilhelm III:

February 5, 2010

Drop in the bucket

Ferdinand Trumka claims we need to generate 10 million jobs -- give or take one or two. If so, what in ballpark numbers oughta be the size of Stimpak II?

I'd say well in excess of 1.5 trillion dollars over four quarters. But citizens, be warned: though "Democrats from the president on down say jobs are their No. 1 priority", here's the House bill of December vintage. It's ten sizes too small, and that's before the Senate gets a whack at it.

Okay, so what's the size of the recent turbocharged Obama job package? Does anyone know? Does anybody got a number or should I say a grouping of numbers on this? Like a dollars-in package with a spread and schedule set of numbers... plus a bit of multiplier magic, as those numbers work their way through the markets and end up producing a time-scheduled set of jobs-out numbers?

I'm laying down a benchmark here: if after all is said and done the input number is much more than 100-150 billion, I'll eat my big toes.

I see this steady message for at least the next year from the frontier of recovery: "The stag continues. All engines... half steam ahead!"

March 7, 2010

Hodge shall not be shot(*)

The executive council of the AFL-CIA, backing its charging fearless leader Ferdinand Trumka, has issued a 5-point jobs plan -- and as far as Knothole Paine here is concerned, at least one of the points sucks hot rivets.

Here's all 5. Can you pick out the banjo? Hint: it's not even number 5:

  1. Extending current federal supplemental unemployment benefits programs to prevent a downward spiral as families fall into bankruptcy and lose their health care and their homes to foreclosure.
  2. Investing the money to meet the $2.2 trillion in unmet infrastructure needs, while including prevailing wage protections and strong Buy America provisions.
  3. Helping state and local governments meet pressing needs to overcome an estimated $180 billion shortfall in the fiscal year 2011 and $588 billion over the next four years.
  4. Putting people back to work doing work that needs to be done by preserving good public jobs that provide vital services and capacity for building strong communities. In addition, expansion of vital services in targeted areas can reduce unemployment and provide infrastructure for economic growth.
  5. Easing the credit crunch for small-and medium-sized businesses by establishing a fund to lend TARP money to small-and medium-sized businesses at commercial rates, managed by the community banks left out of the Wall Street bailout, with the banks taking first-dollar risk
Yup, number 2! Precisely because it oughta stop with "needs". The bit about "including prevailing wage protections" is just the sort of special hard-hat handout that alienated the broad mass of the job force from these blue collar kulaks -- and it's also what motivates the "strong Buy America provisions", though I can live with that for quite diffrent reasons than union job protection.

For that matter, point 3 looks like special consideration horseshit, too. God, I hate public-sector unions as currently constituted, almost as much as the construction trades crowd, the perennial establishment butt boys of the "movement".

Ahh, but I say too much, don't I. Where's my party muzzle when I need it? Oh yeah, we're in 'post-party' times here in America, and how awful that is, especially for big-mouth egg drops like me, here at the SMBIVA bugle.

Father Smiff allows too wide a range of flourishes to this reckless irresolute copperhead.


(*) I never shall forget the indulgence with which [Johnson] treated Hodge, his cat: for whom he himself used to go out and buy oysters, lest the servants having that trouble should take a dislike to the poor creature....

This reminds me of the ludicrous account which he gave Mr. Langton, of the despicable state of a young Gentleman of good family. 'Sir, when I heard of him last, he was running about town shooting cats.' And then in a sort of kindly reverie, he bethought himself of his own favourite cat, and said, 'But Hodge shan't be shot; no, no, Hodge shall not be shot.'

-- Boswell

March 17, 2010

No more teacher's dirty looks

Suitably the reverend father writes of uni-ville; I write of dutyville, in particular the 5th international view of teachers' unions, as rendered in words by one Shango Cooke:

...public controversy seeks to dislodge teachers' unions: the right-wing trashes teachers’ unions outright, while the “liberal” media takes a more subtle, sophisticated approach, blaming the state of public education on “bad teachers” ....The bi-partisan goal is to undermine and dismember public education....

... as public education is gutted, rich investors parasitically benefit from it by opening for-profit “charter schools,” curriculum corporations, [etc.]

Shango goes on to trace our future if this orgy of union-busting proceeds as planned by Obummer, Incorporated:
If teachers’ unions cannot keep schools open, or teachers from being fired... If any teacher can be fired when they are labeled “bad,” then one of the fundamental concepts of unionism, seniority, is crushed.... The struggle of the teachers is thus the struggle of all union workers. But unions benefit more than just union workers.
Shango's prescribed counterattack:
Taxing the rich and corporations must be the rallying call for the entire public sector workforce, which remains the bedrock of American labor.
Sounds pretty good, up to the business about public-sector (PS) unions as "the bedrock of American labor". In fact the rise of PS unionism has coincided with the decline of private-sector unionism, and I don't think that's a coincidence.

Can post-industrial American unionism be all about schools, libraries, hospitals, and nursing homes? I sure hope not.

Once you add in those sectors that are quasi-public, PS unions have joined the blue-ribbon contruction kulaks in dominating the movement. And they're Dembo barnacles to a man. They typify political-machine shakedown unionism -- the very nexus, so effectively targeted by rage radio, of do-little and care-less parasitism. We got ours, and know what? You can go to hell if you don't like it.

To the unorganized, un-connected mass of badly jobbled citizenry, these rackets can look as much like gangsterism in uniform as the Brownshirts. The bastards are giving unionism a bad rap.

Okay, okay, it gets complicated. One thinks of the last pair of serious transit actions in NYC and Phili. Tactics need sharpening here, and the corporate media certainly can twist a plea for fairness into a screw job and a holdup. But as a Woodstocker I first think of the goddam police "unions", and that other working-class hero scam, the firemen.

As to their plainclothes cousins, one notes the teacher outfits... say the NYC UFT under Shanker.

Of course none of this in itself is fatal to union expansion, but letting these apes run the federations and the councils can cripple organizing in tougher sectors where the unions face bottom-line alley cats, not tax-based puddy tats.

The union movement needs to self-reconstruct, right?

If its long slide is to reverse itself, a new organizing paradigm is needed -- as big as the protracted antagonistic transition from trade to industrial unionism that culminated in the birth of the CIO -- to organize the vast privately owned and operated low wage corporate service and commercial sectors: the restaurants, the hotels, the retail stores, the cleaning services, the delivery and warehouse networks and so on.

Yes, the health sector has been a partial success, largely because inside-baseball unionism works, and even sustains itself in a hostile sea of anti-unionism, wherever gubmint money flows into payrolls. The locus classicus is construction, where all the Davis-Bacon Act rig jobs allowed the rise of the hardhat kulakery and created reactionary Meany-streak unionism back in the 'Nam days.

Even if Meany and his ilk are now long since members in that final union beyond, down here the culture of unionism is still entirely based on inside deals, i.e. ways to carve up added surplus extracted from a passive, nearly prostrate fee- and tax-paying public.

That's not the model of a "progressive" union, which would be a market-restricted shift in value-added shares between corporates and their job force. Rather, the PS unions' model is a surplus upcharge instead of a takeback. Instead of shifting the shares of value-added between labor and the corporations, public unionism is all about locating possible new sources of capturable surplus -- what the econ-cons call drilling for rent -- or better, collaborating in the erection of ever-new tollgates to scim-scam more of the innocent public's money

Education, of course, is the gold-standard horrible example, but health care is right u there too -- may even be the ultimo mishmash of irrational arbitrary taxing disguised as pricing.

But I come to save unionism, not to bury it.

I hope to live to see the union movement, that loveable old much-battered pug, rising majestically from his stool like old Laertes, his strength miraculously restored by the gods of class war, ready for the next big round.

August 5, 2010

Lemme at 'em

POTUS to AFL chiefs:

'In my deck of cards you're aces-high guys... but here all I got is a pair of deuces for you to work with.'
No, that's not what he said. Not literally. This is what he said:
"Well, you guys don’t need advice from me, but let me tell you what I see out there. We were hurt by this recession, badly hurt. This is going to take some time to recover. Unemployment is at unacceptably high levels."
And talk about soft soap:
"FDR was asked once what he thought about unions. He said, “If I was a worker in a factory and I wanted to improve my life, I would join a union.” Well, I tell you what. I think that’s true for workers generally. I think if I was a coal miner, I’d want a union representing me to make sure that I was safe and you did not have some of the tragedies that we’ve been seeing in the coal industry. If I was a teacher, I’d want a union to make sure that the teachers’ perspective was represented as we think about shaping an education system for our future."
NB: the sectors he notices both already have unions. How about Walmart, Mr POTUS, and those Toyota assembly plants and Mcdonalds and and and...?

But hold the presses! There's more!

This speech to the Aflack politburo by our maximum leader is a real rip-snorter, a stem-winder, cork popper, an honest to God fightin' man's job class tennis-court oath.

Not only would Barry join the coal miners' union, if he was a coal miner; gander at this, headline message number II:

'We're gonna export our way out of this dirty brown job shit hole we're in once and for all.'
Another Paine jape? In effect, he did say that:
"Instead of giving tax breaks to corporations that want to ship jobs overseas, we want to give tax breaks to companies that are investing right here in the United States of America."
Whoops, wrong quote. Forget that one. Pretend you didn't read it. He's not as grotesque and Kerry-tree-like as that makes him out to be. Really. No, really.

Ahhh yes, here it is, the money line:

"We are going to keep fighting for an economy that works for everybody, not just a privileged few."
C'mon, Paine, boooo! Yer stallin'! What about that export-led recovery?

Shaddup, here it is:

"the message I want to deliver to our competitors -- and to those in Washington who’ve tried to block our progress at every step of the way -- is that we are going to rebuild this economy stronger than before, and at the heart of it are going to be three powerful words: Made in America. Made in America.

That’s why we’re finally enforcing our trade laws -- in some cases for the very first time. That’s why we’re fighting for tax breaks for companies that invest here in the United States as opposed to companies that are investing overseas or that keep their profits offshore. Because it is my belief -- and I know it’s the belief of this room -- that there are no better workers than U.S. workers. There are no better workers than your members. And they are absolutely committed to making sure that America is on the rise again."

Okay, okay, nothing there about exports. But hey, plenty of import substitution... Maybe... Possibly... Some day when the Rocky Mountains march on Washington. But ye of little faith, behold: here is the export charge stuff:
"... when business and labor are working together, then we can compete against anybody, and we can knock down trade barriers in other countries, and we can start selling products around the world. And we make great products in this country. We’ve got the best workers in the world, the best universities in the world. Got the most dynamic economy in the world. We have the freest market system in the world. And all those things give us a huge competitive advantage if we’re all working together."
Knock down trade barriers! Cue Bert Lahr:

"Ya, ya, let us at 'em! Let us at 'em! We'll moidah dose bums! We'll knock 'em silly! They all got glass jaws, the sissies. We'll flatten 'em, send 'em to funky town, rubberize 'em, extoiminate 'em!"

October 9, 2010

Property is theft

"America's Union", SEIU won a big representation fight at health services giant Kaiser-Permanente: 18,290 votes for SEIU (61 percent) to 11,364 for the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) (38 percent).

Bad news for progressive unionism? Most reports from the left say so, but we'll need to see what happens next.

The loser, feisty independent NUHW, took a near two-to-one beating. Was this microscopic outfit of former SEIU cadre simply outgunned? Probably. But at least in part, the problem lay elsewhere.

Despite many enemies among the college of labor organizations, thanks to both the success and ruthlessness of ex-SEIU purple duce Jimminy Stern, it seems SEIU leverage managed to cut off both major sources of funds and human resources for bootstrap op NUHW. The nurses' union and after them, the the hotel workers, both dove into this fight against SEIU, but then both, as part of comprehensive national settlements of outstanding jurisdiction disputes, agreed to get out and stay out of SEIU's fight with NUHW.

Not a very encouraging start to any new era of broadly-based contested representation. The ruling paradigm remains exclusive franchising, enforced collectively by the ad hoc invisible confederacy of business unions.

The union chieftains appear to still dream of reconstituting the George Meany era, even as this squalid collaborative paradigm, after 30-plus years of total war by their limited liability counterparts, finds former "big" unionism with nothing but pathetic scraps of membership, bankrupt treasuries and contemptuous laughter from the boardrooms of corporate America.

If I were the NUHW crowd, I'd use the present base inside Kaiser to push for multi-union "company" recognition under other provisions of the National Labor Relations act in the upcoming contract negotiations. Exclusive rep contracts are not the only legal form of collective rep contract. Even with the checkered history of right-to-work laws to the contrary, the legal reality has always left other options open.

The stark motivation behind striving for an exclusive rep pattern is simple and sensible enough: involuntary dues collection from all members of a bargaining unit. That explains the exclusive pursuit by all "real" unions of exclusivity.

I hardly need add: much needs to be discussed here....

October 27, 2010

Dead in the water

Of course the usual patter of strikebreaking news continues, as if the press could will the French workers back to their appointed tasks in the great hyperconnected mechansim that is a national economy these days:

" France's massive strikes appear to be losing momentum as garbage collectors in the southern city of Marseille went back to work and workers at three oil refineries voted to end their protest.

Striking garbage collectors in Marseille on Tuesday started chipping away at the trash that has piled up in the streets during two weeks of protests over plans to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62.

The FO union has voted to end the protest out of concerns over 'hygiene and safety.' Nine oil refineries are still blocked by strikers, but workers at three plants voted to return to the job on Monday. It is expected to take a few days to return to normal operation.

About one in four gas stations in France has been shuttered, and trains and schools have also been affected."

Could it be possible? Have the quite small but well-located French unions begun to strangle the beetlejuice out of Sarkozy and his fellow neolib bedbugs?

I know the students playing Red Mardi Gras have captured most attention here; but what counts, what gives traction to it all, where the wheels meet the road, or in this case don't meet the road -- is in the parallel strike underway.

For two weeks now the transport and refinery unions are oh so elegantly constricting the windpipe of modern France.

No general strike this; no big stand-up of the job class; no mass sitdown. Nothing hyperbolic here in either sense of the word, no sharp rise only to fall: just a methodical clamping down, a one-hand-only strangulation, and to one end only: with the vanishing of all things combustible, the gradual disappearance of commercial motion itself.

December 28, 2010

Scapegoats du jour

Public employees and their unions are often hated by poorly fact-oriented wage-class citizens, and today the reactionary cadre of the corporate class mischief movement are harvesting this misbegotten wrath.

Honorable if frustrating work this, battling the wave after wave of corporate-class lies about gubmint and its 'umble woikahs. And yet belief in the lies is running toward high tide these days, and why? Well yes, in part because the job class is predisposed to believe this stuff. But at least as important is the higher level of job insecurity in the private sector.

Obvious stuff, of course, but in the absence of a speedy and total recovery in both our job markets and our house lot markets, trying to get out the facts here about these toiling public servents to the nation's broad masses is nearly futile.

And by the way... as to the public sector unions: look, comrades, after clinging fiercely to the underbelly of the corporate-dominated Democratic party all these years, they have no one to blame but themselves if their corporate-groomed choice for prez has allowed a job class cratering, and subsequent protracted stagnation, of biblical proportions.

January 22, 2011

They're comin' for ya...

... brothers and sisters of the public service!

It's a historic moment. Last year the lines crossed; now we have more pubsec union workers then prisec -- both in the 7 million range. Amazing!

The pubsec unions are waking up to the horror: "we are alone now... almost."

Much of the corporate McShitski jobholding citizenry, as unionless as a flock of barnyard fowl, see the public sector unions as a nasty cartel made of boneless blubbery parasites, freeloaders, no-shows, etc. -- a menagerie of human vice. And of course this conclave of leeches is also seen as the puppetmaster of the Democratic party, which doesn't do the latter any good.

Yes, it's a terrible unfair soul-draining caricature and to a large extent a figment of ignorant willfulness; but not only do large toonish abstractions make for nice punch toys on talk radio, it's a outcome I blame on the Dembots.

What with the snarling lizardry of the GOP in perpetual motion attacking them, what heros have these poor white-collar geefs toiling in the public interests, if their champions are the likes of inconvenient bore Al Gore and Bobby "miniature golf" Reich? Are these the lead hounds you'd want defending you against the yahoos of business liberty?

It's bad enough we got a president like Bill "NAFTA" Clinton from the state of Arkansas, where unions are non existent outside the walls of Bugrustle State Prison. Now add in endless nanny talk about "what you folks need is more tax-supported spinach and schoolin'" from the mouths of blithely supercilious pompous frauds like Cherry Tree John Kerry. With friends like these the pubsec unions might as well shoot themselves in the head right here today and have done with it.

Pubsec fish must swim in a sea of private union voters, not hope to survive off the preachings of Ivy League Ichabods and furfaced Oxford-trained mutts.

If I were a pubsec union leader I'd be setting up a private sevice sector equivalent of the glorious Committee for Industrial Organization. Much as the miners' money funded the steel and auto organizing drives, the pubsec guys and gals need to fund organizing drives aimed at Walmart, Best Buy and Freshdirect, the big national restaurant chains, the counter, cashier and table server class.

February 18, 2011

The power of a bad example

Of course I'm really glad to see what's happening in Wisconsin.

Who can doubt that seeing people in other countries do this stuff emboldens us to try it ourselves?

May the rot spread and spread.

February 20, 2011

The hinge of fate

The Repugs sure can come on strong, eh? Looks like they hope to criminalize public unionism in our time, with one big state-by-state wave of prohibitive legislation.

Musical question: can the 7 and 7 gang push back hard enough?

What's that, you say? The 7 and 7 gang, Citizen Paine?

You know: the public sector unions, and their long-in-the-wilting private sector brothers and sisters, now roughly of similar size at 7 million souls each under dues-paying organization.

Unfortunately, the movement today may finally be small enough to drown, and I say that even after digesting all the lovely splashing and thrashing around we see now in Wisconsin.

One thinks of the Egyptian flu; but seems maybe this is more like it -- the last gasp of Brit blue-collar fribbulating, "the winter of discontent" in 78-79.

Unions took a horrible beating at the polls that spring. Seems the public majority -- like here in 1946 -- was revulsed, not inspired, by the fantail of the class struggle.

Soooo... can some sort of global Zeitgeist, out and about the planet now, quite contrary to '79, draw Clio's class power needle to the left this time round? I mean right here in River City, so we don't get an American Maggie T. in '12?

My longtime pal and labor gadfly, Herb N Sorrel III remains sanguine:

"Paine, you puggy doom pimp, this ain't the 70's all over again. This time we got the horsepower to make the climb. This time we'll swing the innocent public behind us. Mark my words!"

Damn, I hope he's right.

February 23, 2011

Eye of the beholder

Here's an interesting just-the-facts item from, of all places, USA Today:

Poll: Americans oppose weaker unions

MADISON, Wis. — Americans strongly oppose laws taking away the collective bargaining power of public employee unions, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. The poll found 61% would oppose a law in their state similar to such a proposal in Wisconsin, compared with 33% who would favor such a law.

And here is the mighty highbrow New York Times' highly anecdotal take on the same topic:
Union Bonds in Wisconsin Begin to Fray

JANESVILLE, Wis. — Rich Hahan worked at the General Motors plant here until it closed about two years ago. He moved to Detroit to take another G.M. job while his wife and children stayed here, but then the automaker cut more jobs. So Mr. Hahan, 50, found himself back in Janesville, collecting unemployment for a time, and watching as the city’s industrial base seemed to crumble away.

Among the top five employers here are the county, the schools and the city. And that was enough to make Mr. Hahan, a union man from a union town, a supporter of Gov. Scott Walker’s sweeping proposal to cut the benefits and collective-bargaining rights of public workers in Wisconsin, a plan that has set off a firestorm of debate and protests at the state Capitol. He says he still believes in unions, but thinks those in the public sector lead to wasteful spending because of what he sees as lavish benefits and endless negotiations.

I must say that my heart sank when I saw the byline on the Times piece. Another fucking Sulzberger? Is there no end to them? Whose whelp is this wretch?

April 6, 2011

Dear Dr Schadenfreude:

Gotta love these public schoolteachers' unions, am I right? Especially now they and their members face... total online wipeout!

Why, it's like the weavers of yore and their guildhalls facing the onrush of Blake's satanic mills. Where's the Mahatma of the three R's?

Here's the iron maiden of Times Square:

"Students in kindergarten through grade 12... are taking online courses.... Nationwide, an estimated 1.03 million students... took an online course in 2007-8, up 47 percent from two years earlier... About 200,000 students attend online schools full time, often charter schools that appeal to home-schooling families... Advocates.. say they allow schools to offer not only makeup courses, the fastest growing area, but also a richer menu of electives and Advanced Placement classes when there are not enough students to fill a classroom. But critics say online education is really driven by a desire to spend less on teachers and buildings, especially as state and local budget crises force deep cuts to education."
[Cue the bell of doom]
" They note that there is no sound research showing that online courses at the K-12 level are comparable to face-to-face learning. "
Had enough? Sorry, one more, and you're gonna hate this most of all, you totalizers!
"About 200,000 students attend online schools full time, often charter schools that appeal to home-schooling families"
Yes... home schooling families!... Not credentialed professionals... families... Oh, the children, the poor poor children! Next thing you know, getting credit for academic stuff will be like, like, I dunno... acquiring a drivers license... or a fishing license or a barber's license, and equally fragmented and partitioned: "Son, for this job I'll need to see a few licenses... Civics II and yer Algebra I and your... "

Well, frankly, Miss Peach, I don't give a damn. To hell with all that 19th century Horace Mann stuff. It's past its expiration date. Liberating? Come now. It's nothin' but universal compulsory childhood hostage-taking. It's right out of Buster Brown's too-tight shoes, his Sunday go to meeting suit, his tutorial ear-twisting, his hours of finger-drumming and foot-shuffling and ass-shifting -- one big 5 through 17 spiritual thumbtack applied to a kid's evolving soul. If there's purgatory here on earth, that there, next to listening to amateur chamber music, is the genuine article. Why, it's worse than a paying job!

And for a twelve-year-old! Why is that even in question? If the little fuckers had the right to vote on it -- you know, categorical imperatives uppermost in their minds -- do you really imagine they'd be in school?

To hell with mass elementary schooling, and secondary too. It's a nanny Gulag, straight from Calvin's breakfast table.

Besides, Miss Peach, I don't care about you and your, what is it, 3 million sorry-ass do-good members' jobs. You want solidarity? I bet you do. I bet you'd like us to figure "after you they'll come for me".

Well, brothers and sisters, they already CAME for me! And where were you when that happened? Raising childhood horizons, no doubt. Where will you be when they automate landscape oil painting? And create online doctor's checkups, and Robo-parsons, and virtual lawyers, and generally crucify the rest of the liberal professions? Where will you be when they replace state legislatures and mayor's offices with two-way TV call centers and direct household lawmaking (subscription required)?

It's happened, it's gonna continue to happen, anti-corporate grapes of wrath notwithstanding. And to me, it's delicious, it's delirious, it's delightful.

April 28, 2011

Might be time to START a fire, guys

(That's Father Smiff's local fire station up above.)

In the battle against the ongoing GOP border-to-border nationwide anti-union press, it looks like at least the firefighters have moved onto a better path by adding some stick to the carrots:

The nation’s main firefighters’ union, long a strong supporter of Democratic candidates, announced on Tuesday that it would indefinitely suspend all contributions to federal candidates out of frustration with Congressional Democrats who... have not fought harder against budget cuts and antiunion legislation....

The union, the International Association of Fire Fighters, said it would focus its contributions and energies on state and local races because many legislatures have sought to curtail collective bargaining or otherwise weaken public-sector unions.

Harold A. Schaitberger, the president of the 300,000-member union, said in an interview that he was dismayed with Democrats in Congress for not fighting harder against Republican budget cuts and efforts to weaken unions in more than a dozen state legislatures...."We’re tired that our friends have not been willing to stand up and fight back on our behalf with the same ferocity, the same commitment that our enemies have in trying to destroy our members’ rights,” he said. “Quite frankly, our enemies are trying to kill us as...a movement."

...The firefighters... donated $1.9 million to Democratic candidates in national elections during the 2010 campaign cycle. The union’s endorsement is especially coveted by candidates, because of the firefighters’ stature in many communities, especially since 9/11....Mr. Schaitberger complained that Congressional Democrats were doing far too little to combat ongoing efforts to weaken public-sector unions in Florida, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Tennessee and elsewhere...The firefighters’ union was disappointed that the Democratic-led Senate and House failed to pass legislation last year that would have given firefighters and police officers nationwide the right to bargain collectively...Mr. Schaitberger, echoing several other union leaders, said in an interview, “We’re feeling taken for granted” by the Democrats. "

Indeed, unions and their members -- private as well as public -- are "taken for granted" both as donors and as voters.

Sign up now! Take the lefty pledge, gang!

May 25, 2011

Fed up, and not taking it any more

Yes, it's true: at long last, after what? Is it really 50 years now? Of nothin' but burned fingers and frozen-off toes? Our national union leadership is standing up. They're fed up all the way to their eyeteeth with eclair-spined party-hack "just wait till next cycle " Dembot frazzle-dazzle.

Take brother Ferdinand hizzseff, the top bull of the entire dues-yielding great American organized private sector job pampa. Why he's so pissed-off and flat-out furious that he's closing the iron door on all of 'em: all the dang blue-dogged yellow-legged turkey-necked buzzard-breasted goose-livered sparrow-knee'd frog-footed professional friends-of-the-people buggery-bay politicos.

Hear ye one and all the words of Der Trummer:

"...Our role is not to build the power of a political party or a candidate. It is to improve the lives of working families and strengthen our country. It doesn’t matter if candidates and parties are controlling the wrecking ball or simply standing aside — the outcome is the same either way. If leaders aren’t blocking the wrecking ball and advancing working families’ interests, working people will not support them. This is where our focus will be — now, in 2012, and beyond."
Errr, "focus", Mr President? Focus? Maybe that doesn't really say exactly what it might oughta say, but then, it's been a long time since we've heard this much.

In other blue-collar-blues news, there's this, from the greater international of unionicity, as realized by something calling itself "the European trade union institute." And baby, is it ever the boilerplate special, the steaming heap of corned beef and cabbage, the gold-seal groupthink-up of the decade. It's entitled boldly as a bean-fed fart: "Escape from Neoliberalism: Toward the Rear End of a Brighter Future."(*)

If you're a jobholding average nitwit you can't exactly go home anymore -- at least, not to the one "Kapital" burned down 30 years ago. But you can dream about it. You can even dream of a neat new better one, the job world of tomorrow's tomorrow.

If you're stuck on the pot with the runs and an Ipad, read the jellyfish intro by Joe 'Cousin It' Stiglitz, and of course the inevitable seamless seemlessness of that timeless class actor, jobbler tribune, careful Brit scribbler and all-around self-serious veteran bore, Tom "don't call me Bombadil" Palley. Starts on page 55 -- God, yes, 55 -- of the PDF.


(*) Yes, of course I made that up.

May 27, 2011

Out of bondage

"Working people need a party of their own", or so sez a spirited commenter at AFL-America's blog.

While reading comments over there recently, under brother Trumka's dire public threat to end all reflexive union sacrificing of "dues sweat and tears" at the altar of the Demo-party.. -- the shameless half-century of piecard Stockholm syndrome -- sure enough, I ran into a hailstorm of like chitter. In summary: "We need to form a third party...NOW!"

What a rallying cry that is, boys and girls. First among sequels to be wished into existence to sublate the Judas goat Democrat racketeers. Specifically, we need a union propelled labor party.

With this as topic, do I hear the ritual SMBIVA "Ho hum"? But honestly, mates aren't we all tempted by thirdness? My favorite: some poor benighted soul even naively suggests we look to perfidious Albion for a model -- yes, the party of Blair and Brown! We even get the Machiavel's dream: "...Labor should infiltrate both parties and take up seats until Labor is strong enough to build its own polical party." I don't buy it. Why bother building a toy class party -- in fact, why bother to build a party of electoral success of any kind? Why waste the time and treasure when you can run just about anyone you want in the general election as an Indy?

"Why else -- to build something lasting, something permanent, Paine!"

Really? Permanent? Like what -- the populists... the Debs socialists... the Greeeeeeeeen party?

Why not simply jam into the democrat big-tent primary scrum? That oughta both get your feet wet and splash some mud on the face of professional Democracy.

Now before Father Smiff, who hates a primary even worse than a Whig, sinks his fangs into my fetlock, I hasten to add that you enter the primary bearing a solemn "sore loser" pledge to fight on, a la Joe the Lieberskin, if the votin' majority of the local party base, in an act of unspeakable self-disgrace refuses to back the one true pwog candidate -- namely, you.

We have, till further notice a twofer ballot box system, in most places, and so far as I can see, that suffices as a basic electoral structure, for whatever electoral politics are worth -- that is, so long as outsiders fail to worship insiders and troublesome resolutes continue to pee through the tent flap as early and often as possible.

June 1, 2011

Biting the hand that feeds 'em

This is really delightful:

"Politicians of both parties have been tough on public employees in this recession, balancing state and city budgets through layoffs, wage freezes, furloughs, and benefit cuts. But rarely have labor-backed Democrats targeted the very right of public employees to collectively bargain. That’s now changing. In Massachusetts, New Jersey, Illinois, and Connecticut, Democratic legislators, eager to save money, are betting they can cut into public employee bargaining rights and still win union backing at election time."
That's puttin' it in your face, eh? Raging union chief and all-round bull goose Rich Trumpcut sez:
"Democrats get most of their campaign funding—72 percent nationally—from business... the union share of the Democrats’ war chest has fallen to half what it was a decade ago."
Here's a real juicy fact:
"AFSCME [the union of pub sec workers extraordinaire] claimed top place in all political spending in 2010, pouring $87.5 million into campaigns."
Man oh man, those poor buggers prepaid for their own royal ass kicking, didn't they?

Somethin's gotta give here, at some point.

June 11, 2011

Bend over and let me drive

The belower wage strategy to re-industrialize Norte Amigo takes another hit:

"The union tried everything. Wage cuts that dropped pay to $12 an hour. Higher health insurance costs. Letting the company bring in an automated assembly line and a “lean manufacturing” program that pumped out product 98 percent on time...But none of it was good enough...Management has already started shipping presses to a new facility in Monterrey, Mexico...the union estimates labor cost per unit for the fluorescent-light fixtures is $3 in Tennessee and $1 in Mexico."
So hey, let's set the peso/dollar rate accordingly. Err, that would destroy millions of marginal Mexican farms, of course, and make the landless farmer outlet -- jobs north of the Rio G -- three times less attractive.

Straight forex fixes are an answer only good for nasty Yankee weasel heads. We need a system of border adjustments optimal for each, according to the market impact involved -- i.e., planned cross border markets. Not gonna happen. So?

Well, occupy the plant in Tennessee before all them "presses" are gone to cactusland. That bull-headed approach comes to mind as a start. Then again, to get a systemic change, we need to freeze by units industrial imports. That we can do -- if a global trade war is within the purview of the plausible.

The light dawns?

Contradictions within the job class...resolved?

The AFL has come blazingly into the single payer healthcare camp, after years of touting the union way to higher fringes. At long last, are the piecards realizing that class-wide interests are long-run union interests as well? (*)

One recalls an earler time when unions wanted pols to stay away from non-employer-based systems of universal healthcare.

After 60 years, NO MORE! A snail by any other name still moves real real slow, eh?

This link gives a snapshot of the heinous muddle in the collective union headquarters of America just prior to the Obummer ascension.

The Barrycare hodgepodge that squirted out the hind end of '09 seems to have cleared a few of those heads, in particular chief heads like the Trumka's.

Recall his home union, the UMW, for years was a big go-it-aloner on health insurance.


(*) Naaahhh. -- Ed.

June 29, 2011

Head for the hills, Ma...

... Deluge a-comin'!

Maybe the NLRB might be up to something. Let a scarecrow from National Review tell the tale:

"Today the NLRB announced proposed changes to union-election procedures, the effects of which will dwarf the importance of the Boeing case and substantially increase the number of unionized workplaces. In a nutshell, the NLRB’s proposed rules would implement “quickie elections,” a process that would allow unions to organize a workplace as easily as they could have had the Employee Free Choice Act (also known as “card check”) passed...This is a very big deal. "
"The proposed rules would.. shorten the time period between the filing of a petition for a union-representation election and the actual conduct of the election.... to a mere 10 –20 days."
Here comes the best part, the patented NR yellow-journal move, the panic-button moment:
"The union win rate will far exceed [the recent] 68 percent. In fact, it’s likely that many employers will choose to not even go through the expense of an election that he’s sure to lose, but will simply voluntarily recognize the union upon a showing of authorization cards."
Help! Help! Run for the gold, Binkers! The end of corporatism as we know it is near! Wages will soar... work effort swoon... operating margins go bright red... beer wagon horses will win seats in the US Senate, dogs dance with blondes.

One only hopes that at least one or two plethoric old porkers will get their final apoplexy from this item.

November 17, 2011

Labor kleptocracy

This just in, from the AFL-CIA:
Illegal Downloads Steal Wages, Benefits From Workers

Too few people who download entertainment illegally recognize that they are stealing wages and benefits from workers, Paul Almeida, president of the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees (DPE) told a bipartisan Capitol Hill press conference today.

Almeida joined with members of Congress and business leaders to discuss the continuing harm illegal downloads and other online infringement or counterfeits pose to American jobs and the economy.

This is all in aid of the House's Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bill, an even more insane counterpart to the Senate's PROTECT-IP bill -- I can't even remember what that stands for, but you get the idea.

The details are obscure and tedious, but the bottom line is that both measures require internet service providers (ISPs) and search engines like Google to deny any access to any site that a court -- or in some versions, the Justice Department -- has decided infringes somebody's copyright on something.

In practice, this means that your ISP -- Time Warner or Verizon or your campus network or whoever -- would have to tell you, when you navigate to some supposed 'pirate' site, that there is no such site. ('Navigation' includes clicking on a link in some otherwise innocuous Web page.) And Google would have to excise any references to such putative pirate sites that might turn up in its search results, before delivering them to you.

The ban includes sites hosted outside the US, in places where such activity may be perfectly legal. (For those of you who care about legality.)

I note with amusement that the Senate version is sponsored by that fine liberal Democrat, Patrick Leahy of Vermont. The House version is sponsored by a nice bipartisan list of bargain-basement vendible lickspittles:

  • Lamar Smith [R-TX]
  • Rep. Mark Amodei [R, NV-2]
  • Rep. John Barrow [D, GA-12]
  • Rep. Karen Bass [D, CA-33]
  • Rep. Howard Berman [D, CA-28]
  • Rep. Marsha Blackburn [R, TN-7]
  • Rep. Mary Bono Mack [R, CA-45]
  • Rep. John Carter [R, TX-31]
  • Rep. Steven Chabot [R, OH-1]
  • Rep. John Conyers [D, MI-14]
  • Rep. Ted Deutch [D, FL-19]
  • Rep. Elton Gallegly [R, CA-24]
  • Rep. Robert Goodlatte [R, VA-6]
  • Rep. Tim Griffin [R, AR-2]
  • Rep. Peter King [R, NY-3]
  • Rep. Ben Luján [D, NM-3]
  • Rep. Thomas Marino [R, PA-10]
  • Rep. Alan Nunnelee [R, MS-1]
  • Rep. William Owens [D, NY-23]
  • Rep. Dennis Ross [R, FL-12]
  • Rep. Steve Scalise [R, LA-1]
  • Rep. Adam Schiff [D, CA-29]
  • Rep. Lee Terry [R, NE-2]
  • Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz [D, FL-20]
  • Rep. Melvin Watt [D, NC-12]
Of course we all knew that, as Mark Twain observed, we have the finest Legislature money can buy. But the AFL-CIA's sign-on, even to me, still seems a bit more startling, though one has seen for decades that there is no depth to which these depraved parasites won't happily sink.

Ah, the American labor movement: let's turn our handful of members into rentiers.

About Toil and trouble

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Stop Me Before I Vote Again in the Toil and trouble category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

The Wright stuff is the previous category.

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