To: Thomas Laney
Cc: Joseph Callahan
I forward this comment on Solidarity just because I disagree with it so much. We are all raised in Solidarity, able to age because first our parents were in birth & survival Solidarity with us, and later our brothers and sisters, our friends and neighbors.
Solidarity is not something invented by unions. (The True Union, simply patterns itself on and defends families and extends Solidarity.) Solidarity is the natural state of the family and friendly neighborhood, Solidarity is what we are all called to by God. And as bad as things have developed in our country and as millions of good people are left in the wayside of unemployment and poverty; and even as I have been retired for 5 years; I will guarantee you that I can walk into my factory any day before it closes (soon because of the rejection of Solidarity by the UAW ) and find one man supporting another. And another. And another.
I can do that because Solidarity is in every man and woman's soul.
The reason Solidarity is not horizontal is that it is countered by selfishness. Solidarity is fragmented and atomized these days because the big labor porkchoppers have joined the bankers and corporations in traitoring away Solidarity for Dog-Eat-Dog and massive unemployment. They have literally spent $billions to separate us, demanding that we compete for work against one another.
What I have learned from speedup and outsourcing fights and picketlines is that whenever Solidarity rises, from the small fights on the job for fair work; to the big fights at P-9, CAT, Flint, USX, Morenci, etc. the big labor dog-eaters mobilize against Solidarity and contain and crush the fighters.
What those lessons mean to me is that we need a new Solidarity Movement that credits our families and God for our basic good nature, that recognizes the need for good work to fulfill our nature and children, and that can win a fight for a true Solidarity Society. All of us have the benefit of the long view of how good that society can be thanks to our parents. Most of us who have ever worked have at least a glimpse of it provided by all those wonderful, little things workers do for each other every day.
Solidarity is not "uninformed". It is beaten down by crooked little elites on the Left & Right. And it will stay down until people rise out of the nonsense boxes these elites have put us in.
Let's hope it will not be down much longer. Let Us Rise!
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, Jan 3, 2009 at 1:21 AM
Subject: Fwd: Worthless
From: Richard Myers
Sent: Fri, 2 Jan 2009 9:39 pm
Subject: Re: Worthless
That caught my eye also Marty,
This is why I have been saying , when GM stated "Bankruptcy was not an option" , the first thing that came to my mind was they would use the government to get even more concessions from the UAW , the best we can hope for at this point is that the president elect can change the provisions in the 'bridge loan '
This is also why I claim 'independent' in regards to politics, I haven't trusted either party for years now, Richard's writings here have also made me aware and sceptical that the government could be involved in America's race to the bottom as far as labor & working persons go , this global crap is getting way out of hand !
Hang Tuff , the 'Class War' is here-- Clubs & pitchforks come t o mind !
Soldiers of Solidarity is named after one of the most important labor principles of all: solidarity. But lately i've begun to realize that solidarity isn't enough.
I've been involved with job actions by mineworkers, packing plant workers, over the road truckers, over the road bus drivers, city bus drivers, machinists, electrical and communications workers, baristas, day laborers, farmworkers, janitors, immigrant workers, electricians, and probably half a dozen groups that i don't recall. Many of these struggles had one thing in common: insufficient solidarity.
What we've been witnessing is uninformed solidarity. Ineffective solidarity. And, solidarity in crisis, rather than solidarity as a visceral, systemic reaction by all the labor movement.
In other words, we (the working people) don't know enough, and aren't motivated enough, to come together with sufficient strength to make a significant difference.
Let us consider not just what is happening to autoworkers, but also, what might have been.
What we're seeing is an awakening. A gradual and growing understanding of the nightmare that is the lot of working people in this country when they're under duress. What's happening to autoworkers is a real horrorshow.
But considered on an individual basis, it is no worse than the pain endured by communications workers when their factories were closed in the early 'eighties, or the Greyhound bus drivers when they lost a bitter strike nearly two decades ago. The mine workers have seen many of their union locals crushed, and many packing plant workers can't get safe working conditions even when they have a union. Meanwhile, sweatshop working conditions are proliferating, even in the inner city near where i live.
Capitalism wins against groups of working people precisely because we're so isolated. We scream when our own group is attacked, but when groups of workers are picked off one by one, there is never enough outrage, never a sustained outcry, never enough to make a difference.
Given what's happening lately in the auto industry, what might have made a difference? How might the UAW have prepared for this, in a way that could avoid the great comedown?
Let us imagine that the UAW was led by brilliant labor leaders who were able to predict the ravaging effects of globalization decades earlier. (In fact, there are labor analysts who were this observant; just none of them in leadership positions...)
What might these fellows have done differently? They could have put much greater resources into organizing, building solidarity, helping groups of workers everywhere to join the fight to improve their own wages, hours, and working conditions.
There have been labor leaders who have done this before. The Western Federation of Miners in Cripple Creek organized hotel workers, laundry workers, railway workers, carpenters, typographers, clerks, cooks, waiters, wagon drivers, and mattress makers. Their organization was crushed by bayonet and gatling gun in 1903-04 when they attempted to extend their philosophy of class-conscious industrial unionism to mill workers in surrounding communities.
A similar philos ophy held sway in Goldfield, Nevada. The union sought to organize every trade in the community, to build solidarity and raise worker consciousness. Same result, the union was driven out by bayonets. Apparently, business leaders aren't comfortable with the idea of wall to wall union.
But these were localized, somewhat regional examples of the idea that all workers should join unions. They weren't backed by powerful unions, and the promise of solidarity by entire communities of workers was never allowed to reach fruition.
Now, let us consider if the UAW had been forward-looking, wise, and daring. Suppose they'd appreciated the need to organize our society in groups that could be called upon for solidarity when autoworkers came under the gun?
That would have meant expending enormous resources. It would have meant that a significant portion of the high pay won by the UAW would need to be diverted to this cause. And the explanation would have been, "we're building solidarity in other groups of workers, so when the auto workers are under attack, the truck drivers will feel loyalty and refuse to haul scab auto parts. The port workers won't handle scab vehicles. The janitors won't clean buildings opera ted with scab labor. The national guard won't turn out against us, because it would go against their own by-laws..."
And many autoworkers would have said, are you joking? The UAW is already the strongest union around. The U.S. auto industry is one of the most lucrative industries on the planet. Our dues is already too high, and the dire events that you're predicting will never come about. We'll vote in leadership that recognizes exactly what we want: high wages and benefits for our own crowd, and forget all this money spent supporting "outside groups".
Disagree with me, if you wish. But consider this: the very anger, bewilderment, and sense of betrayal that i see in many autoworkers today reminds me exactly of the bus drivers, the mine workers, the communications workers who have been crushed before. Over and over i get the sense that groups of workers imagine, it can't (or won't) happen here. And then it does.
I knew two decades ago that all autoworkers were eventually going to be under the gun, even before Roger And Me confirmed the model of destruction. How did i know this? Because of my experiences watching it happen to so many other groups. And because i've rea d quite a number of books about labor history, all of which affirm certain characteristics of the worker/owner relationship in a capitalist economy.
So, i think what is needed is solidarity that is informed by a sense of history, by an understanding of economics, and that is driven by class conciousness. It must revive some of the old principles held deeply by workers who developed their consciousness in the crucible of decades-long, extremely difficult labor struggles. We can clamour about solidarity all we want, but until we're ready to proclaim with heartfelt conviction that an injury to one is an injury to all, they'll continue to pick us off, one group at a time.