Posts Tagged ‘Unions’

Back after long break

January 25, 2009

I started this blog last month, and then my home internet went down for a week, I was traveling for the holidays, and I’ve been extremely busy with work since I got back. So that’s why posting abruptly halted. I am going to try to get back into the routine of blogging, so bear with me.

Rather than try to be a news and analysis type of blog, I may take a more conversational approach, and just post current thoughts and musings. Hopefully this may be of interest to some folks. If not, then its just another random blog out of millions on the internet, which is fine with me. The next Billmon I’m not. (And I wish Billmon would go back to regular blogging, especially about the economy. That guy is sharp! Steve Gilliard was my 2nd favorite blogger and he’s gone now. The internet is just not as fun without them.)

So in no particular order – here’s some thoughts.

Good riddance to George Bush! Not an original thought, of course. In fact, it seems to be the mainstream concensus these days. Now we can finally have some progressive discourse in the national debate, since conservatism is completely discredited. Which comes at the cost of a worldwide economic meltdown. Hey maybe that Karl Marx guy was right about some things – like capitalism is inherently unstable, and the more free reign we give the bloodsuckers, the wilder, crazier and stupider it gets. FDR saved capitalism – George W Bush almost did it in. Now Obama is no socialist. He’s clearly a centrist who leans just a little to the left, as left is defined in America. I think his economic recovery package needs to be doubled at least – and liberal economist Paul Krugmann says the same thing. But at least its a start and far more than what McCain would have done. McCain would have let the economy drown while he bombed Iran. That guy clearly cares nothing about the average American and gets his hard-ons from war.

But lets move on. Hopefully the economic recovery package will be just the first deposit on what we need, which is a lot more public sector in our economy. If it was up to me, I’d say nationalize all the banks (they are busted and on the federal tit already, why not own them collectively), nationalize the auto companies, and take a look at public ownership of energy sectors on top of that.

The big test of Obama will be on the Employee Free Choice Act. Nothing drives American capitalists crazier than the idea of having to let workers have any kind of voice at work – they are already fighting this tooth and nail. Will Obama cave in? Stay tuned. If Obama sticks to his guns, and they ram it through the Congress and sign it, there may be some hope for American liberalism after all. EFCA won’t solve all the unions’ problems. We also need to repeal Taft-Hartley, repeal “right-to-work-for-less”, ban permanent striker replacement (scabbing), and engage in a little thing called class struggle. But EFCA’s a good start.

Speaking of class struggle vs. class snuggle, folks should pay attention to the latest news from the purple plague – SEIU. It’s long been clear to any decent trade unionist that SEIU Pres. Andy Stern is the sleaziest lying hypocrite the American labor movement has ever produced. His “21st century” “we-love-our-bosses” approach to unionism, which means secret back room sweetheart deals with employers is the opposite of real unionism. More and more SEIU members are sick of his bullsh*t, and are in full rebellion against his dictatorial rule of SEIU. The seiu-sh*t is now hitting the fan, and Stern is attempting to put the 150,000 member United Healthcare Workers West in California under trusteeship – sending in hundreds of kool-aid drinking staffer-scabs to take the over the rebel union and do occupation duty. UHW rank and file leaders are saying they will throw the scabs out of the workplaces when they see them. Let’s hope this becomes Andy Stern’s Vietnam and the end of his personality cult for once and for all. Sternism is basically modeled on stalinism without the ideology. To see him disappear would be a good thing. And take his kool-aid drinking corrupt cronies and hacks with him.

And lastly, what about Iowa?

Well, we have a couple of issues. The budget crisis threatens to severely hurt public services that people need and laying off public employees is not going to help the economy. We need to start taxing the rich and closing corporate loopholes to fix the budget shortfall. Culver’s bonding plan is a good thing – borrowing money when interest rates are almost zero is smart. Culver screwed up badly last year when he vetoed open-scope collective bargaining. He’s got a chance this year to redeem himself by helping with fair share agency shop (where everyone who’s in a union workplace helps pay for bargaining and representation, greatly strengthening the power of workers and their ability to engage in collective action by making free-riding a non-option). Will Culver wimp out again? The GOP tried to run against “big labor” in last falls elections and they got nowhere. That dog just doesn’t hunt. It time to tell the Republicans to shove their free market crap where it belongs, and tell them that its a new day in Iowa and the nation. F*ck bipartisanship.

And that’s the word from the frontlines of the class war in Iowa.

Hopefully I’ll be back next week with another rant.

Happy class struggle everyone!

 

P.S. – Iowa blogs I recommend are

Bleeding Heartland

Iowa Independent

Iowa Politics

 

The Des Moines Register is pretty clueless, and seems to be laying off so many reporters that they are becoming a 3rd rate rag. Dead tree journalism is in pretty deep sh*t these days and thats a shame.

Advertisements

Postville and The Shame of Iowa

December 6, 2008

The Des Moines Register reported yesterday on Lt. Gov. Patty Judge’s visit to Postville, where the shutdown of the Agriprocessors plant has thrown the community into turmoil.

Postville, Ia. – Lt. Gov. Patty Judge came here Thursday to face dozens of questions, some of them testy, from former meatpacking plant workers and others left adrift in the near-collapse of the town’s main employer.

“We’re to the point now where we can’t even feed our children,” Ginger Worthen, a former Agriprocessors plant worker, told Judge. “Christmas is coming up. How am I going to explain to my 5-year-old and my 2-year-old that Santa didn’t come this year?”

The lieutenant governor stood behind a folding table, looking concerned. “I hear you,” she said.

Postville has been struggling since last May, when federal immigration agents raided the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant and arrested half its workers on charges of being in the country illegally. The town has spiraled down in recent months, as the plant’s former leader was jailed, the company went into bankruptcy and the production line stopped for nearly three weeks.

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20081205/NEWS/812050366/0/archive

 

The treatment of immigrant workers in Iowa’s meatpacking industry brings shame to our state (and all of the other states that are home to this vicious industry too, for that matter). The saddest part is that this industry used to provide good-paying union jobs and much safer working conditions in many places until the Reagan-era attack on unions destroyed union conditions in this industy (as those of us old enough to remember the Hormel strike and P-9 can testify … boy I’m dating myself here … OK, I’m an old fart, I admit it).

This tragedy illustrates several things –

1) the need for unions and the priority of making it possible for workers to form them again – passing Employee Free Choice Act is the immediate priority. Banning striker replacement and renegotiating the “free trade” deals (which have nothing to do with trade and everything to do with giving goodies to job-shifting union-busting multinational corporations) to include basic workers’ rights is second.

2) the need for a humane and just solution to the plight of immigrant workers. And building a wall isn’t it. If our ancestors could get across the Atlantic ocean to come here for a better life, what kind of idiot thinks a fence is going to stop the oppressed and exploited and starving workers of Latin America from getting here? Well, GOP bigots, for one. But they think Sarah Palin is a genius, so let’s forget about them. These workers are coming here, whether we like it not (although the depression will probably cut down on immigration, since we have fewer good jobs – or jobs that look good compared to rural Mexico, for that matter – to draw hardworking people here). What we need to focus on is, what are the conditions they encounter when they get here. Are we going to let greedy employers pit them against us and drive everyone’s wages down? Or we going to stand together as workers? I seem to recall our grandfathers and grandmothers saying saying something about “an injury to one is an injury to all.” They didn’t let the employers divide them as squareheads and bohunks and dagos and paddies and polacks and all the other ethnic groups. They united and said we are going to fight together for better wages and conditions.

Bottom line – We need immigration law reform that allows workers to come here with labor rights and a path to citizenship. Just like our grandparents and great-grandparents did.

3) the state of Iowa can and should regulate the safety conditions of these meatpacking factories – and make sure the food comes out healthy to eat too. 

A couple of links about Postville and meatpacking generally-

http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/3744/ice_cold_to_kids/

http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/2741/processing_pain_at_smithfield_foods/

http://www.monthlyreview.org/mrzine/wilson200708.html

http://www.ufcw.org/your_industry/meatpacking_and_poultry/industry_news/agriprocessors.cfm

http://www.alternet.org/story/97842/?page=entire

http://labornotes.org/node/1975
and from the Iowa Independent:

Postville author rips Culver and Judge on Agriprocessors
‘This is akin to foxes guarding the chicken coop’
 By Lynda Waddington 12/3/08 6:44 AM

http://iowaindependent.com/9156/postville-author-rips-culver-and-judge-on-agriprocessors

Time for the Democrats to deliver

December 2, 2008

Goodbye to the Bushies. Good riddance!

Now we have a president-elect who at least pays lip service to the aspirations of the working class. And who also owes a large campaign debt to the organizations of the American working class for his election. At a minimum, we should see a substantial economic stimulus package (aid to states and cities, plus extensive jobs programs), passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, and universal health care (hopefully something that approaches singlepayer, not a health insurance industry scam). Plus an industrial policy to rebuild the auto industry (and American manufacturing in general) and achieve energy independence with renewable fuels. A tall order.

Here in Iowa, workers should also have high expectations of our elected officials. Governor Chet Culver, unfortunately acted like the usual gutless centrist Democrat earlier this year, and caved into the howls of big business over the expansion of public sector collective bargaining rights, vetoing the bill. Despite this setback, Iowa labor worked hard and delivered a stronger Democratic majority in both chambers of the state legislature. It’s time for Chet to redeem himself, and sign into law both an expansion of public sector collective bargaining and fair share/agency shop legislation, once those bills reach his desk. It’s time to show once and for all – is Chet on the side of Iowa working families or on the side of the bosses?

The past few weeks show to anyone who is not blind, deaf and dumb (or bought and paid for) that unregulated laissez-faire capitalism is a disaster. Three decades of privatization, deregulation, “free trade” deals and union-bashing have led to economic collapse. It’s time for the working class to wake up and put America on a new course.

As the P-9 strikers used to say in the 1980s — If not now, when? If not us, who?

Time to fight back.