Thursday, September 17, 2009

Response to World Socialist Party Regarding AFL-CIO

Thank you for the heads up on Trumka.


He takes over a very ineffectual AFL-CIO, who as we know from our Labor History and personal and familial experience struggled mightily to form, only to retreat to the allowed role of collective bargaining and have over the years seen this compromised position eroded so terribly as to have to acknowledge almost a complete lack of a Labor Movement in the United States (and elsewhere?)...

Just minutes after I read your piece on Trumka, I got an e-mail from the AFL-CIO, inviting me to join their movement. I joined saying that I am a Union member (I am the Chief Organizer of the Peoples' Equity Union, not (yet?) a member of the AFL-CIO. When asked to specify, the only category that fit was "other".

You see, when checking out a rather long list of affiliated Unions, it became very clear that the Union has a (very decimated) body, but no brain whatsoever. I will elaborate on this point, when I discuss what I watched of Trumka's speech.

Included was a series of videos of Trumka's "acceptance" and leadership speech, which I watched the almost the first two (of about seven), enough to allow me to offer the following observations.

Trumka concedes the ownership of all resources to the Capitalists and Corporations, including the press. "But you can't own us", he defiantly growled to a crowd that looked like Sweeney's Union of Office Workers. No contention, only that Organized Labor "built a "middle class" by "fighting" and would do the same again (i.e. rebuild a middle class by fighting). His facial expressions revealed he knew the absurdity of his claim.

My questions for Trumka and thee all, relate to these two areas of consideration.

First of all, would a true labor movement concede ownership to the Capitalists?

I think that you all would agree that the answer is no...

Secondly, was it a middle class that we built or a dysfunctional Capitalist empire?

True, once upon a time, some if not many of our families moved via Union and non-Union gains of "post-war" (it was to a large extent the continuance of a military industrial complex as a base of the expanding economy) abundance based on the assumption of infinite available resources to fuel infinite economic growth (abstractions) into this "great American Middle Class". Some if not many could eventually work their ways into positions of petty Capitalism and/or Corporate participation in the ownership drive of Capitalist global hegemony. Certainly, many of us were put into positions where we were allowed to take mortgages (on what once were relatively affordable properties).

But the American dream has died for most and Trumka's call for its revival (in other words) is ridiculous.

Let's assess the term "middle class". I find it offensive. First of all, it assumes that it is something less than noble to be "working class". I am proud to be a worker, but I doubt joining an organization such as the AFL-CIO, which accepts the rules of the Capitalist game, is going to allow me to gain equity in what is a fundamentally inequitable and "out of sight" and irrational economic system.

Secondly, defining the goal as reaching a higher class, but not quite the highest, explicitly accepts a legitimacy of a ruling Capitalist Class.

We must say no.

Where the Union brain must step in and become coordinator of the body is in the definition of a mission for one big (world) union and the fundamental principles that underlie that mission (inclusion, equity, humanity, quality of life, environmental/public health and wellness, sustainability, and peace).

We must ALL understand that the economic system never was (and never should be) run by invisible hands. Given resource constraints, equity and population concerns, we all need a union of heart, mind, and body to plan and implement an ecological economic redevelopment within the aforestated mission principles.

We need to somehow come to consensus for methodologies for reimagining, reorganizing, restructuring, reforming, reallocating, rebuilding our communities. Such will take a fundamental reassessment of the way that we allocate resources among and within economic sectors and to and within villages/communities. Inter-community, inter-regional, and world unity and cooperation is and will be essential.

I have, in a way, joined the AFL-CIO, because as an old record album from the sixties was titled ,"I Salute the Body Politic".

I have great respect and empathy for labor movements throughout the world and the terrible sacrifices and partial gains that such have made beneath the shackles of overlords and their ways of oppression.

Let us start and eventually finish our finite existences on this planet by declaring peace.

It's not all we're saying
but give peace a chance...
- John Lennon

In Peace, Friendship, Community, Cooperation, and Solidarity,

Mike Morin

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