Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Laborless Left?

I can begin to imagine a progressive coalition that doesn't have organized labor, as we know it, at its core. But I don't want to imagine one that doesn't have those concerns at its heart.”

-Mark Schmidt, The American Prospect

A Progressive Movement Without Labor

When the hubris disease strikes, it will make the Swine-flu look like a mild case of indigestion, as “progressives” excuse Democratic leaders for throwing a monkey wrench at organized labor.

In A Laborless Left, this American Prospect article by Mark Schmidt ponders the following question: Can you envision a vibrant Liberal movement without labor? Schmidt answers “We might have to envision it” and explains why:

At a time when workers in the private sector are more vulnerable than ever, organized labor represents only 7.6 percent of them. Labor's best hope of reversing that trend, the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), doesn't have enough support to pass in its original form, which includes the "card check" provision allowing a majority of employees to form a union without the current gauntlet of obstacles employers put in their way.”

Doesn't have enough support? How'd that happen? Where are all of our elected Democrats to support labor? Note that Schmidt says “we might have to envision” a vibrant Liberal movement without labor unions. Why “might” we? Isn't it the job of Republicans to quash organized labor? Isn't the current Democratic majority supposed to be the Party of labor?

The answer depends on whose labor is being supported, and in this case the only Democratic labor being supported are the individual Congress members in the form of backroom deals and lobbyist money. Forget the middle class American worker, as their job is to be fleeced by corporate welfare queens via legalized labor arbitrage and imported cheap labor abuses. To corporate management, American middle class workers don't need unions; they just need smiley faced corporate, neo-feudal frat boys with uber guidelines to dictate to them from spreadsheets solutions to execute labor conditions and wages. After all, the U.S. is sliding into third world status (courtesy said feudal frat boys) and it is the divine responsibility of our corporations to wheedle in oh-so-gently this neo-feudal slave lord labor edict to finally finish off what's left of organized labor in this country.

The Laborless Left globo-corporate mission statement is to reign supreme over the U.S. workforce. Period. It will be accomplished through the delivery of rules and regulations that decides what is fair and balanced and globally equitable, not locally. With no interfering body of united local workers formerly known as labor unions to have any ultimate bargaining power in labor outcomes, who would have thought that our Democratic leaders (and their elitist, fawning minions) could finally be bought off to snuff their base?

What flavor of Kool-Aid have the Left's progressive movement Pooh-bahs been passing out? Schmidt points out what a Laborless Left might look like here:

{But} it's also dangerous. A political coalition that doesn't need Joe the -- fake -- Plumber (John McCain's mascot of the white working class) can also afford to ignore the real Joes, Josés, and Josephines of the working middle class, the ones who earn $16 an hour, not $250,000 a year. It can afford to be unconcerned about the collapse of manufacturing jobs, casually reassuring us that more education is the answer to all economic woes. A party of professionals and young voters risks becoming a party that overlooks the core economic crisis--not the recession but the 40-year crisis--that is wiping out the American dream for millions of workers and communities that are never going to become meccas for foodies and Web designers.”

Participatory structure? Schmidt cites the Dear Leaderism Moveon.org as one of a few prog organizations that could replace traditional labor unions with ostensibly a kinder, more genteel form of bargaining power with what he refers to as a “participatory structure.” Hmm. So how would that work? Joe the (real) Plumber doesn't like what management is doing and is given a five minute sushi and sake hearing with the brass to think about it or hit the road with no formal redress? Moveon.org's internet campaigns have only succeeded in mobilizing their own elitist, ideologically driven mutual admiration society rather than uniting the vast group of middle class voters in a common ground of economic support.

Ha! Moveon.org has not ever addressed once the economic damage from U.S. corporate welfare sponsored job outsourcing/insourcing which has caused the demise of American labor practices in the form of lost jobs and plummeting wages. Moveon.org has in fact, ignored the abusive H-1B and visa programs in support of their corporate welfare sponsors. The author does, however, offer one possibly viable alternative by suggesting that that labor unions could be replaced with “more fluid, transactional means of politically empowering working people, like the AFL-CIO's Working America affiliate.” The AFL-CIO is a good organization, but it remains to be seen how far they could go the distance to support the labor rights of American workers without the existence of formal union representation.

Since the Right has historically owned the podium for anti-labor aficionados, one would shudder to see what 'political empowerment' for working people will look like once a corporate welfare enabled, Laborless Left ushers in the new establishment rules to replace the principles of organized labor that the Democrats (before they sold out to corporate welfare queens) once owned.

Laborless Left? Can corporate sponsored political organizations play the role of labor unions? As long as Democrats perceive themselves the winners of what yours truly described here regarding James Carville's declaration of victory in “the culture wars”, Schmidt nonetheless entertains the idea that its day will come. He at least reminds us that somehow, progs may have a hard time pulling this thing off without trying to somehow embrace or at least feign a sense of morality when it comes to American middle class, non-elite workers here:

“The rest of the progressive world needs to feel a sense of moral obligation about questions like the future of American manufacturing and the working middle class.”

Indeed. All hail the middle class worker wealth transfer up to the burgeoning neo-frat boy corporate state, where a legion of tattooed “Trust Me, I'm a Progressive Democrat” acolytes shall be your guide.

In the meantime, at least we have the EEOC to file discrimination lawsuits against corporate bodies that seem hellbent on displacing American middle class workers.


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