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A Rebel Alliance? Guest post, by Cal Zero

By Al Schumann on Sunday August 2, 2009 12:56 PM

A rebel alliance?
by Cal Zero


And now, your highness, we will discuss the location of your hidden rebel base...

Most people who follow labor news already know about the loud denunciations of Andy Stern at last month's UNITE-HERE convention.

"Piracy on the Seas of Labor!" proclaimed AFSME head Gerald McEntee;“Deplorable!” lamented Laborers President Terrence O’Sullivan; and, most colorfully, Vince Giblin of the Operating Engineers' repeatedly referred to Stern as "the Darth Vader of the labor movement."

Many would-be labor leftists are applauding the news, some of them cheered by what they regard as a lifting of the indifference with which labor watched Stern's quashing of UHW President Sal Rosselli and the busting of the Puerto Rican teachers' union; some have even wondered if this might not presage a "reunification of the labor movement".

What a pipe dream!

For leftists to believe, however cautiously, that this new "solidarity" of labor can put us on the road to "build fighting, democratic unions" is a feel-good delusion of the highest order.

It's just too easy to put a black hat on Stern, too easy to beat up on SEIU as "the bosses' lackey union," too flattering to bask in the press attention that any attack on labor's most powerful leader will inevitably garner. Just ask Jimmy Hoffa.

There's so much lazy thinking going on - and an understandable reluctance to dig into this stinking pile - that it's easy to lose sight of the basic facts:

1) The "sanctity of jurisdiction" is never, but never, really about organizing strong unions. It is about not having your union's cozy deal with the employers disrupted.

2) "Democracy" is fine as a value, and occasionally important as a rallying cry, but it is a very easy claim to manipulate, and down-right pathetic as a cover for weakness and demoralization.

3) Raising an outcry against SEIU's "organizing at any price" is a handy distraction if you're not doing any organizing at all.

4) Strong unions are built, not in an rarified atmosphere of political peace, but on hard-won common ground. Some rivalry between unions is not only unavoidable, it can be a good air-clearer.

5) This fragile anti-SEIU "unity" will amount to nothing.


Aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?

My question: is a policy of all-out war against the SEIU is a real option, or just an ideological red herring? What, other than union busting, would "all-out war" even mean? Should we bust the SEUI "just to see it die"? It's important to be clear that this is what Wilhelm and his supporters advocate.

I don't see how this can be a viable strategy for unionists. As I see it, the only consistent policy is one of constructive engagement and mediation at the top, and cooperation and organizing under both flags at the grass roots. To counter Stern's opportunism with demagogic covictioneering won't make strong unions - it will only create political space for a new opportunism.

This, then, is what is being revealed: that the UNITE HERE merger - and the Change to Win coalition - were never based on sound principles. The cash-strapped HERE wanted to sieze UNITE's assets; Bruce Raynor saw HERE's jurisdiction as a road to political prominence; and the CtW unions most of all just wanted out of the AFL-CIOs per capitas and legacy costs.

And to think, these "leftist" dunderheads - surveying the havoc caused by these ill-concieved maneuvers - see a "new hope" in more opportunism!

Perhaps a real wave of labor militancy is rising, but this is still just chop; we ain't surfin' USA yet. Until then, keep your head, and don't miss the comic side of this political theater.


Bruce Raynor: the Bib Fortuna of the labor movement

Comments (29)

Billy O'Connor [TypeKey Profile Page]:

Bust Stern just to see HIM die.

Just because getting rid of Stern won't put us on the road to "building fighting, democratic unions", doesn't mean he shouldn't be gotten rid of. He's just no good and he has to go, if it does no other good than to be rid of him.


Ok - I understand the feeling, but how would you get rid of him?

Al Schumann:

Cal, I'm curious about something. Would you elaborate on Point #5?


I'm guessing that these "unions united" against Andy won't do much of anything, just as the AFL unions which hated the Teamsters didn't.

There's speculation that they might return to the AFL-CIO, which is possible, but I think that the high legacy costs will prevent it.

Andy is no fool, either - he's shown to be quite effective at crossing boundaries without transgressing so far that he threatens people enough to actually unite them.

The Teamsters example is quite instructive, really. There's some possibility that an isolation will result that makes SEIU vulnerable - but it would probably be the state that would act decisively against it, not other unions. And I don't think SEIU is powerful enough to warrant that at this point.

The day the hatred of the DP approaches the level of Stein-despising is the day labor might possibly stop kissing the floor.

It ain't yet.

Each and every "activist" alert I receive from my state branch of the AFT is a call to phone my rep on some DP lost dog story.


specific union outfits have reason to battle the purple gang
ascme (note big Mc's quote above )
is in a number of rep struggles with the wave

the uaw on the other hand is in a gaming
rep war with HERE

stress lines only build in these posse of justice confrontations
build till the bonds brake
meanwhile the impetus to org anew has blown itself out
in wolf calls and narrow head raids
poaching is bad enough decert/recert
is nearly always a pure waste of org sweat


Most importantly - there may be re-adjustments within labors top alliances, but because these are just opportunists "re-arranging the deck chairs" they won't escape the restricted event horizon of the top bureaucrats.


Yep, Op. These wanna-be leftists are practicing the opposite of inside baseball.

The worse thing is that this was not even just hot air - it was a positive call to inaction and a defense of the status quo. Wilhelm wants these unions to do nothiing, most of all - to not call out his seizure of lady garment workers' funds, to not join a call for arbitration.

Peter Ward:

With the left as self-destructive as they are, who needs a right these days? At least the folks actually fighting the battles, as opposed to the gossip artists such as represented here, aren't worried about how sophisticated they appear or whether they be regarded as "left" or not.

Here's what I say:

Bust the DP just to see it die.

Just because getting rid of the DP won't put us on the road to "building fighting, democratic unions", doesn't mean it shouldn't be gotten rid of. It's just no good and it has to go, if it does no other good than to be rid of it.

P.S. And as plain old vengeance for its decades of cash-sucking betrayals.


Peter - I'm not sure who you are defining as the "gossip artists" here. Do you mean Stern, Wilhelm, Raynor et al?

The Wilhelm-HERE play on this one is pure PR. They are trying to forestall public pressure for a mediated settlement, because legally they are holding the stronger hand.


"actually fighting the battles"

What battles?

In my opinion
The piecards are largely throwing their human resources away on
Nothing of job class wide

" Gossip" ?
That has nothing to do with anything here

When the media went after jimmy senior it was for
Big stakes
As cal alludes in the 60's the teamsters master freight contract could have shit the inter state economy down
Only the railroads in debs hay day had such paramount clout

The Purple vaders
Shit as md sez
pours dues money into donk troughs and gets back a few hail andys
And a lot of hind products

Al Schumann:

Battles indeed. OP is right. Those who are fighting are, for the most part, fighting to keep their heads clear of a sea of spite, mediocrity, grandiose spite, greed, careerism, more spite and vindictiveness. Organizing within that is practice, practice, practice in anticipation of events and moments that in all likelihood will slip away. There's a lot of boredom when it's not galling and sometimes it's scary. My hat is off to the comrades who can stick with it year in, year out.

My hat is off to myself, given that I actually know what these AFL(formerly CIO)-lackers pay themselves, once they reach the promised land of national offices, yet still I pay my dues, on the smallest of hopes...

Labor leadership is entirely as fucked up as the rest of the system.

The first thing a real union movement would do is pursue the fuck out of discovering and declassifying the "sponsorships" and tricks from above. I suspect it would make the Soviet black book look like a Post-It Note. And the "house of labor' would be shown up as the "sponsored" fraud it is.

The mofos bought the AFL-ack in c. 1947. Stone cold truth. Never been undone, either. And the purchased part was the top, which runs the last Stalinist "elections" in the world. Where the fuck else do you need to fly to a "Convention" to cast a "collective" ballot?

It's a mega-scandal.

The IWW always had it right. There's another point for the AFL-ack to digest.

P.S. I spent 10 very hard years trying to prove to myself that all this isn't so. It is so.


i'm not sure i follow your expose of
the afl-xxx
"The first thing a real union movement would do is pursue the fuck out of discovering and declassifying the "sponsorships" and tricks from above...the "house of labor' would be shown up as the "sponsored" fraud it is....
The mofos bought the AFL-ack in c. 1947. Stone cold truth. Never been undone, either. And the purchased part was the top..."

the kold war solidarity house configurment
is still going strong
and that alone is sufficient evidence
of effective imperial class penetration
of the washington union elite

uncle hegemonic runs all sorts of cut outs thru that workers of the globe stink hole

but seems u have something more total in mind here eh?

despite 47 as a fine pivot point
for most things kold war korporate
i'm not sure precisely what
lies under the boldly thrown blanket
of your bill of indictment here

what does the indictment contain
or better
what ..if anything ... doesn't it contain ??

the legacy of our red nation's
beloved bill haywood - vince st john -joe ettore - helen flynn et al fightin' wobblers
circa 06-19
needs vast careful collation and sifting

alas in the end
a complete reconstruction
i suspect
will shape into a cautionary tale
much as a pre figuration
of what now must be done

Michael Hureaux:

Far more promising then any Andy Stern bashing, I think, is the west coast effort to create the National Union of Health Care Workers. Anything that takes the focus off of certain personalities and which strengthens the confidence of rank and file opposition is a step forward. NUHW is a very small step, but it contains quality, it seems to me. a spark which needs to be babied for now. I'm sure it offers its own internal challenges, what doesn't? But it looks like a good start.


i agree oakland is the epicenter
of the big u movement story de jour


but the first couple three rounds
betwixt em and darth purple's peckerheads
may prove .... problematic

the hideous de cert /recert game
has already begun
and as i see it the white hat rebs
have violated rule one

don't fight a rep election
you can't win

these guys are up against somethin'
so much bigger then themselves
they need to read mao

my motto
no losers are beautiful losers

as i understand it
and cal knows much more
above he writes:

"labor watched Stern's quashing of UHW President Sal Rosselli "

andy's gang has already
cut off
their best source of funds
the former cal nurse outfit

again as i understand events
andy et al have " come to terms "
with that nurse org nationally

--check with cal--

it's gonna be a scrap
and a long scrap
even if the rebs get
"ample financial
and boots on the ground support"

shades of the 60-70's farm workers/teamsters

as cal recently showed me
chavez needed way more then "right and justice " on his side
he nedded and got meany's afl

meany playing louis the 16th eh ??

regardless super annuated side walk supers
like el meo
are effectively useless
if we don't ...send em money !!!!


send money here:


OP, I'm suggesting things like finding out where Al Shanker came from, and who put what in his bank accounts.

I'm not a conspiracy guy, but isn't it a virtual certainly that there have always been some rather strategic ties between the Shankers and the Hoovers of this madhouse? I'm saying the renewed AFL-ack should examine the financial flows of each and every one of its past "international" officers, and order an FOIA file on the same cast.


i asked cal zero
if unite-here was riding to nuhw's aide :

" these "anti-raiding" pronouncements
(by unite-here agin seiu)
preclude closer involvement between the two orgs (u-h and nuhw)....U-H would be a 'raider' if they supported Rosselli(nuhw). "

"U-H has never come out in support of NUHW"

this tangled back stage tale
conceals much
but reveals much too...eh ??

its not at all about
what it appears
to naive pwogs to be all about


real union politics:


"DeMoro appears to have used NUHW’s conflict with SEIU as leverage to secure a better deal with Stern, while SEIU has removed a potential financial and political backer of Rosselli’s new enterprise, while burnishing its image as a unifier."


"DeMoro appears to have used NUHW's conflict with Stern as leverage"

And now Wilhelm is doing the same...

We've moved past it, but I'd like to call attention back to my original point: UNITE-HERE and the unions which have lined up in suppoort of it's jurisdictional claims vs SEIU, is no ally of NUWH.

Most people (not here, but broadly) seem to be missing the fact that the roles are opposite in the two cases: Raynor is a break-away just as much as Rosselli. Just because it seems obvious to many that Stern is a bad guy in every circumstance shouldn't obscure this. If anything, these hacks are justifyiing doing nothing in the Rosselli case!

MD, you're right - always follow the money. In this case, the fat bank that UNITE was carrying around (really - Amalgamated bank, worth $5 bil) looked mighty tasty to brother Wilhelm and his profligate bunch. So they decided to "liberate" it from Raynor and the lady garment workers. And the left is buying his slick-talk about his "high-minded" goals.

This is, as much as anything, an attempt to blunt this bald-faced seizure of possibly of the biggest liquid asset there is in the labor world.

It's just sad lefties are buying it. What was it Vader said "yes luke feel your anger". Well they're feeling a lot and thinking a little.


"the renewed AFL-ack should examine the financial flows of each and every one of its past "international" officers, and order an FOIA file on the same cast."

agree agree agree
you're an inspiration !!!

lets by pass
the 3d solidarity house of horrors
and start with
"finding out where Al Shanker came from"

his fiefdom the aft
in its salad days of the late 60's early 70's
is one of the gemstones
of late kold war helmeted zionics

al ran a race hate machine
of galactic proportions

el al was an atomic monster
in w allen's sleeper---

thebrilliant strategic wedge
driven between nyc jews
and blacks ???
the wedge may have ended up
in ed koch's rectum
as much as by anyone
it was factured by the shank
in his community school control plot

hey i suspect he did his bit
out of a devil's lunch pail
of twisted convictions
not corporate corruption

the guy was strictly
inner party material
but every satan parachuted in
must swim in a pond full of venal familiars

rubber fuckwits
that never past up a chance
to cash in on the soft money


el al hizzseff



uncanny how the great man
evil twin-ed noam Chom

Man dude:

The best thing I've read about the uh split. Thanks cal


one might note

the sudden burst of local control bottom up control
allows kaiser wilhelm to duck blame for his local 2 's attacks
"what can i do andy ...they have their autonomy "

watch the maneuvering gang

hey even if this decentralization is for real
i'd dare not call it rank and file control

recall our venerable saxon liberty
enscribed in the blessed magna carta
was signed
with the barons not the peasants

HERE was traditionally
a "flexible" system
of largely autonomous
local cabals and chieftans
paying a small tribute
to the three monkey center

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