Category Archives: Plutocracy

Labor Needs a Different Kind of “Ground Game”

November 20, 2012

Published at Common Dreams and CounterPunch.

After suffering almost two years of ramped up union-busting, the labor movement came out swinging in the recent elections. It swung its hardest in swing states like Ohio, delivering the 2012 presidential election to President Obama and propelling other labor-endorsed candidates to office.

Labor’s decisive role in reelecting Obama and boosting dozens of other Democrats in key races was acknowledged in the national press. And it was acknowledged by labor. Read the rest of this entry

Decision 2012: Austerity vs. Austerity

November 6, 2012

As this year’s election finally reaches its conclusion, working-class people will soon know who will drive the agenda of austerity over the next four years. Whether it’s Obama or Romney, the underlying priorities remain the same, and at the center of those priorities is a commitment to cut the deficit on the backs of workers and the poor.

Up to this point, the campaigning on either side has sought to lead voters into a state of mind in which substance and style bleed together as one. Because beyond style, both Obama and Romney share more in common on policy than they disagree. Even if Democrats and Republicans differ on how to get there, the goal is the same: safeguard the dominance of corporate power and point to the deficit as reason enough to march forward with the assault on the working class.  Read the rest of this entry

European Austerity Deepens, Workers Strike Back

September 26, 2012

Plutocrats in Europe are continuing their march against the poor and working class. Their efforts to bleed workers dry has once again pushed unions in Greece to declare a nationwide general strike. And in Spain, protests this week turned violent as more austerity measures threaten the lives of workers already hurting from high unemployment and suffocating budget cuts.

Greek workers have endured massive cuts over the last several years and have repeatedly been forced to use the one thing they still have: the power to withhold their labor. Read the rest of this entry

Labor Politics and the Captive Electorate of 2012

March 14, 2012 

Published at Common Dreams and CounterPunch.

Back in 2010, Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.5 million-member American Federation of Teachers (AFT), lashed out at President Obama who she said was part of the “blame the teacher crowd” of education reform.

“I never thought I’d see a Democratic president, whom we helped elect, and his education secretary applaud the mass firing of 89 teachers and staff,” she said – referring to the firing of all teachers at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island earlier that year.

Last month, the AFT executive council unanimously voted to endorse Obama for reelection. Read the rest of this entry

Military Intervention vs. Maritime Union Power

UPDATE: Jan. 24 – Settlement reached between ILWU and EGT. Rank-and-file longshore workers approved the agreement that requires all EGT work to be dispatched from the Local 21 hiring hall. ULP charges and other litigation has been dropped, but damage claims against ILWU totalling $300,000 still stand. And EGT is not required to keep workers on the job if there is no grain to move. While EGT will employ ILWU labor, as part of the agreement its lease with the port has been amended so that EGT is not obligated by the port authority to hire members of any union at the terminal. The pact reopens negotiations for a labor contract and the union must must ask all outside supporters, including Occupy, to call off all picket actions unless collective bargaining talks break down.

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January 21, 2012

Published at Common Dreams.

For the first time in 40 years, the U.S. Armed Forces will be deployed to intervene in a labor dispute, facilitating a scab operation against union dockworkers at the Port of Longview in Washington.

In the long dispute between International Longshore Workers Union (ILWU) Local 21 and EGT Development, the international conglomerate is now poised to make its first grain shipment from its new $200 million export terminal, violating its contract with the publicly-owned port and the union’s jurisdiction on the waterfront.

But it may take an army to cross the picket line. Read the rest of this entry

Remembering Pittston: 99 Strikers who Occupied before Occupy

December 15, 2011

Published at Counterpunch, Common Dreams and Socialist Worker.

After a year of revolutions, strikes, and protest occupations, a new era of struggle has shifted the political landscape. Workers and the poor have taken to the streets, occupying public squares and striking across the globe – from Egypt to Greece to cities across the U.S.

In particular, the Occupy movement in the U.S. has helped to mainstream radical critiques of the capitalist system. The movement’s bold tactics have terrified the ruling one percent, which has lashed out violently to protect its power and wealth from the fury of the 99 percent.

When it comes to breaking the rules of the one percent, a natural yet complicated alliance between Occupy and the labor movement offers today’s new struggle against economic inequality historical lessons written by the organized working class. Long before Occupy, the labor movement shaped a tradition of militancy in the United States – a tradition of factory occupations and civil disobedience in the fight for justice and workers power. Read the rest of this entry