March 10, 2011 will be remembered as the day that one of the last forms of resistance against corporate fascism in the United States breathed its final breath | A Eulogy For Unions

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Brandon Turbeville

It appears that March 10, 2011 will be remembered as the day that one of the last forms of resistance against corporate fascism in the United States breathed its final breath.
It was not difficult to see coming. Workers’ unions have been dying a very slow death in the United States since at least the 1970s. Truthfully, the beginning of the end for the union goes even farther back than that. Years of battling ravenous corporations, successive union-busting administrations, and even an American public that has been brainwashed into believing that it is the union who is the enemy (and not the corporation who desires to rule over every aspect of their lives), all played a role in the demise of the American workers’ union. Ultimately, it was corruption from within that dealt the biggest blow.
This is almost always the case in any resistance.
Yet, while for years, the Union managed to continue stumbling along, the final death knell was sounded only days ago with the passage of a Wisconsin bill that strips public workers of most of their collective bargaining rights.
But it wasn’t the bill itself that killed the unions. Nor was it the Koch-controlled, reactionary puppet Gov. Walker that is totally at total fault. Not even the Federal government, with its subservience to international bankers and corporations can fully be blamed. Unfortunately, much of the blame lies with the Unions themselves.
To be fair, American labor unions are far weaker now than they have ever been. Thus, their bargaining power has been significantly diminished. According to Webster G. Tarpley, out of the entire US working population, only 9% are union workers. In the private sector, less than 8% are unionized.
Compare this with the fact that, in 1945 when living standards and economic growth were both much greater, around 36% of the workforce was unionized. Since 1970, a number of serious attacks were launched against American workers (and unions in particular) and, as a result, US standards of living have declined by up to two-thirds.
As Tarpley points out, the one bright spot in these statistics is that, currently, around 37% of the public sector workforce are members of unions. This is largely due to the fact that public sector jobs are much more difficult to outsource as compared to the private sector. This is, essentially, their only advantage.
Ever since union leadership began to be gradually bought off by the companies and corporations they were supposed to be fighting, the successive years of anti-union legislation and rhetoric, and a public easily brainwashed by television and charismatic pundits, the American labor movement has been fractured into many different pieces.
Although one could argue that separate unions should not involve themselves in the fights of their counterparts (so long as business owners show the same restraint), an attack made by the government, whether it be Federal or State, is clearly a just reason for coming together under a common cause. It is precisely this solidarity which has been lacking in the labor movement for over 40-50 years.
Like indigenous populations throughout history, allowing oneself to be divided by petty differences and the false belief that if you yourself are left alone, you should just “stay out of it” will always result in your own subjugation. Inevitably, they will come for you once they are finished with your neighbors. At that point, the time to call for unity has passed.
It is for these reasons that the unions have failed the American worker. Unions, ironically, even after merging, have become even more disjointed and almost completely fractured. They exist merely as a formality and act more as an attenuated political third party than a radical defender of worker’s rights.
Indeed, workers themselves have allowed their unions, which are supposed to be a UNION of WORKERS, to become a wing of big business that serves mainly to soak up union dues and put forth the pretense of whatever is passing as workers’ populism at the time. Modern strikes, when they happen, are usually isolated and non-productive.
The American people, after allowing our government to ship American jobs oversees and outside our own borders, have unfortunately made sure that unions now find themselves with their backs against the wall in virtually every bargaining process.
What should have happened in Wisconsin, of course, is entirely different from what did happen. Instead of sitting on the sidelines until it was much too late (but just in time to receive some photo ops and TV time), private sector unions in Wisconsin should have come to the aid of the public sector unions.  They should have realized that their own fate is tied up with that of the public sector workers. This would no doubt have had to happen from the bottom up, as the leaders of these unions understand this completely, but choose to do nothing. After all, such a response would damage their big business connections wouldn’t it?
Immediately, when reactionary fanatic, Scott Walker, announced his attack on public sector workers, Wisconsin private sector unions should have announced their own support in the form of a statewide strike. They should have unequivocally demanded that the right to collective bargaining be restored and respected. While this would not likely be enough to stop such a corporate fascist in his tracks, perhaps a strike in neighboring states would do the trick. A nationwide strike, being the last resort, but absolutely a tactic on the table, would, at the very least, have prevented the chain reaction of State governors attempting to cripple the unions in their own states.
Now, in states such as IndianaSouth CarolinaKansas, and Ohio, as well as other states, all with reactionary puppets in charge and the co-opted Tea Party acting as scabs, there is a nationwide movement in the direction of pro-corporate dominance and an attempt to end the American worker’s union – even as the mere formality as it currently exists.
In addition to the Koch-controlled Tea Party factions who fulfilled their role as what can only be described as scabs, the Wisconsin State Police cannot be ignored due to their assumed role of paid thugs. Not surprisingly, police and firefighters wereexempt from the attack on worker’s rights, largely because the police would be needed to bust the heads of those fighting for their own rights.
As always, the police have embraced this role with gusto as the head of the State Police stating that they would absolutely use force against protesters, once again proving that they have loyalty only to themselves and their brothers wearing badges, not the people they have sworn to protect. This proves the fact that all you have to do to in order to maintain a reliable team of enforcers is to give them privileges that the masses do not receive. This type of mentality is, by no means, unique to Wisconsin. However, it is perhaps the most obvious manifestation of it being discussed currently.
Instead of a nationwide strike where unions, if they did lose the battle, would at least go out fighting, we were graced with an impassioned speech by Michael Moore and suggestions that the labor movement would remember this betrayal come election time.  Of course, the chorus of laughter could almost be heard as far as China, where most of the American jobs are currently located. We will remember this at election time? Really? Why?
Is it seriously being suggested that American workers will shift their support from reactionary Republicans like Walker to Democrats in the next go-round? If so, exactly what would this accomplish? If Americans think they will be able to regain some semblance of collective bargaining rights under a Democratic governor or congress, then they are sadly mistaken.
Remember, Carter and Clinton both played major roles in the destruction not only of the American Union, but of the US economy as a whole. Obama, despite the avid sheep-like support he has received from sellout unions, has become an even bigger union-buster than his predecessor G.W. Bush. Not only did he force the UAW to accept massive wage reductions, but he has launched his own war against the Teacher’s Union as well.
In the end, if there is to be any revolution in this country, it must begin by completely rejecting both of the major parties provided by the system. Placing your hopes in either the Democratic or Republican parties is the same as watching the Redskins play the Cowboys. It doesn’t matter who wins, the NFL (read the owners) always profit.
Unions must abandon party alignments (which are only part of the false left/right paradigm) and begin to assert themselves. Unions must fight for the right of the workers they represent and the workers, being the union, must ultimately force the unions to do this. Workers and their unions must ally with those who support them, but they should not be afraid to make enemies out of those who do not, whether openly or by covert means.
Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Mullins, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University where he earned the Pee Dee Electric Scholar’s Award as an undergraduate. He has had numerous articles published dealing with a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, and civil liberties. He is also the author of Codex Alimentarius – The End of Health Freedom

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