Earlier this week it was acknowledged by labor officials and Democratic insiders that the EFCA (Employee Free Choice Act), as presently written, wasn’t going to pass. While the bill may be reintroduced in a different form, the crucial “card check” component has been pronounced dead. Although labor wonks across the country were disappointed by the news, most weren’t surprised by it.
Despite all the hoopla and anticipation, skeptics had predicted long ago that this ambitious bill, which would have provided working people with far greater access to labor unions, had virtually no chance of passing. Why? Because it was too explicitly “pro-labor.”
Big Business and the Democratic Party (despite its lip service) simply couldn’t allow legislation this progressive to become law. Not for nothing has Taft-Hartley remained on the books for 62 years.
The question is, what is Labor going to do about it?
Wall Street gave more money to Obama than to any other candidate in the last election. Meanwhile, Labor also supported Obama. That alone sounds quite bizarre, that Wall Street and Labor would be backing the same candidate in an election. It seems rather obvious that one of the two has made a major mistake and is going to come away disappointed. And anyone who's honestly watched the Democrats for the last 20 years knew it was going to be Labor.
Once upon a time, the Democrats were a party that always had less money than the Republicans, but which could rely on armies of volunteers to help win elections. In the late 80's, the Democrats, led by the DLC, changed this and committed themselves to big money instead. Ever since, the Democrats run well financed campaigns full of expensive advisers and lots of TV ads. And ever since then, the Democrats serve the interests of big money once elected.
This EFCA battle is a perfect example. The leadership of the Democratic party was not willing to anger big contributors by supporting a system where businesses aren't as able to win union elections by intimidation. When push comes to shove, the Democrats back big money .... again.
The leaders of today's labor movements clearly are not representing the interests of their members by supporting Wall Street's candidate list in elections. The question is, when will Labor start to support candidates that truly represent the interests of the workers. When that happens, it will be a political earthquake because for the first time since the 1980's the voice of the workers will be heard in elections and thus in government.
Workers probably should not wait for their union leaders to take them in this direction. It has been obvious since at least the middle of the Clinton terms that the Democrats had allied themselves with business, not with labor. Yet, the union leaders consistently manage to back Wall Street's candidates in elections. It seems rather clear that workers are going to need to move on their own to gain a voice in the American political system.
One thing is perfectly clear. The vast majority of American workers have no voice in the system today. That's what continually backing the Democrats has brought them. Nothing. Its said that the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same things over and over and while expecting different results. So, is Labor going to back the Democrats again in 2010? Or, is Labor going to try something different for a change?
PS ... another article on Labor by Dave Lindorff, A Corporate Crime Wave of Labor Law Violations concludes with this call for street actions:
This is no time to be polite with politicians, and no time to limit political action to writing email letters, signing petitions and making phone calls.
This is a time to call out the corporate managers who are treating the labor laws like so much toilet paper—a time for boycotts, for marches, and for sit-ins.
End the American corporate crime wave of labor law violations!
Demand stiff penalties for breaking labor laws!
Support unionized companies and boycott anti-union companies!
Pass the ECFA, as written, with no compromises!
That's the sort of leadership, coming from the bottom, not from the union's plush executive offices, is what holds the real chance for real change.