Fletcher, labor activists, say Vote for Obama and organize

By Bill Fletcher, Jr., Carl Davidson

 The 2012 Elections Have Little To Do With Obama’s Record … Which Is Why We Are Voting For Him

August 9, 2012  |

Let’s cut to the chase. The November 2012 elections will be unlike anything that any of us can remember.  It is not just that this will be a close election.  It is also not just that the direction of Congress hangs in the balance.   Rather, this will be one of the most polarized and critical elections in recent history.

Unfortunately what too few leftists and progressives have been prepared to accept is that the polarization is to a great extent centered on a revenge-seeking white supremacy; on race and the racial implications of the moves to the right in the US political system. It is also focused on a re-subjugation of women, harsh burdens on youth and the elderly, increased war dangers, and reaction all along the line for labor and the working class. No one on the left with any good sense should remain indifferent or stand idly by in the critical need to defeat Republicans this year.

U.S. Presidential elections are not what progressives want them to be

A large segment  of what we will call the ‘progressive forces’ in US politics approach US elections generally, and Presidential elections in particular, as if: (1) we have more power on the ground than we actually possess, and (2) the elections are about expressing our political outrage at the system. Both get us off on the wrong foot.

The US electoral system is among the most undemocratic on the planet. Continue reading

Where is the Beef ? An open letter to Dan La Botz on DSA and the Democrats

Dear Dan,

What gives?

David Duhalde

As a member of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), I am puzzled and disheartened by your criticisms of our organization in your article “Occupy the Democratic Party? No Way!”  This article, first published on New Politics, has gone viral on other blogs.  While we can speculate why it is so popular, certainly one reason can be your strength as a writer and another is the respect you command on the radical left.  Your arguments hold weight, so I believe it is important to engage you when you equate DSA’s activism with “gatekeeping” for the Democratic Party.  I know this to be false, as  I have been a DSA activist for nearly a decade and come out of electoral politics.

Obviously, the Democrats have shifted far to the right since the 1970s. You noted correctly that Nixon governed to the left of Barack Obama on domestic economic policies, though that had to do with the power of social movements and not any kindness on his part. I also agree that if the Occupy movement folds its efforts into the Democratic Party (which it probably won’t), all we’ve done so far might be for naught. I also know that getting an institutional left staff job does not necessarily make one an influential socialist, activist or even an effective do-gooder. Many DSAers, especially the younger activists in the organization, share these sentiments. Continue reading

DSA Holds Convention in Washington

DSA at Occupy Wall Street

Democratic Socialists (DSA)  Hold Convention in Washington-

Responding to the Economic Crisis: Beyond the Washington Consensus.

“Occupy Wall Street and the Struggle for a Democratic Society-“

A plenary session at 1:30 PM  on Friday  will kick off  national convention of DSA, the Democratic Socialists of America to be held from on Nov. 11 through Nov. 13 at the Sheraton Premiere at Tysons Corner located at 8661 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, VA.

DSA, the  U.S. affiliate of the Socialist International, is the largest socialist political organization in the country with over 7000 members and active locals in more 40 U.S. cities and college campuses. DSA members reside in all 50 states.  Continue reading

It is a problem of leadership. Really ? A response to Shaw

Duane Campbell

by Duane Campbell

While I enjoy, and often learn from Randy Shaw’s pieces on Talking Union, his Labor Day analysis below  is light and over simplified. First he claims that there is a lack of prospects for change in Labor. Then he summarizes how he feels younger people see labor, without evidence . I thank Randy for making his statements and opening a debate.  Let the debate begin.

Randy criticizes labor leaders in general for their hanging on to their leadership positions and not working for change and renewal. Fine. I agree about some leaders, but not all.  See, for example the essay below (and the video) by Leo Gerard of the USW.  Not all leaders are failing .  It is important to be specific rather than blame all .   To understand this criticism of some leaders  you must recognize the role of the 54 independent unions in the AFL-CIO federation and those out of the federation. They are independent. They each have their own leadership. It is a loose federation. So far, members have chosen to keep it that way. There are reasons why some unions choose to be independent. Just look at the Carpenters and how they have joined and left various federations. This highly independent nature was a part of the conflict that established Change to Win. Notice that the CTW has not been particularly successful this year.

So, if you wanted to end the role of a old, white, entrenched leadership, you would probably need to reform the nature of the AFL-CIO federation. This is not particularly a case of lack of leadership. Who do you expect to change this? Much more of this issue is dealt with in the book, Solidarity Divided: The Crisis of Organized Labor and a new path Toward Social Justice by Bill Fletcher and Fernando Gapasin. Continue reading

Grijalva: I will not support it

When a crisis faces our nation, and decisions have to be made, we look to our elected officials to provide the guidance and direction that will help us persevere.  In the face of this manufactured debt ceiling crisis, many Members of Congress have failed to lead and are willing to substantially weaken many of the programs that make our nation great.

I will not support the emerging debt deal.

I will have no part of a deal that cuts Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to appease the farthest reaches of the right wing of the Republican Party.  It is unconscionable to put these programs on the chopping block and ignore the voices and beliefs of the millions of Americans who trust us to lead while continuing to give handouts to the ultra wealthy and the largest corporations.  There is no human decency in that.

Rather than fly the standard of the working Americans who voted them into office, some Members of Congress are content to raise the white flag and call it “bipartisanship” or a “grand bargain”.  Many elected officials yearn to be leaders, but this debt deal shows that too many of them settle for being politicians. Continue reading

Liberals talk about what labor should do.

by Duane Campbell

Liberals discuss labor.  Decide labor is dead. And that “progressives” are an organized force.

Kevin Drum: In Mother Jones. Why the Democratic Party has abandoned the middle class in favor of the rich?

http://www.alternet.org/rights/151108/why_the_democratic_party_has_abandoned_the_middle_class_in_favor_of_the_rich/?page=entire

Robert Cruickshank. On Daily Kos. Responds to the Drum piece.  Several hundred responses.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/05/29/980386/-Want-to-save-the-middle-class-Unite-the-left-and-labor#comments

Both of these essays describe what the authors believe to be the history of labor in the recent era.  Kevin Drum argues that labor is dead.

In my own view, both of these seem to be looking at labor from the outside, relying upon news reports and third hand opinions. Fundamentally, for example, their analysis treats labor as a single, coherent entity rather than the complex combination of unions and movements. See also prior post by Harold Meyerson, Labor’s Hail Mary Pass.

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Labor’s Hail Mary Pass

By Harold Meyerson

This is a maddening time for anyone concerned about the lives of working-class Americans. The frustration and anger that suffused AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s declaration last week that labor would distance itself from the Democratic Party was both clear and widely noted. Not so widely noted has been a shift in the organizing strategy of two of labor’s leading institutions — Trumka’s AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union — that reflects a belief that the American labor movement may be on the verge of extinction and must radically change its game.

It took a multitude of Democratic sins and failures to push Trumka to denounce, if not exactly renounce,the political party that has been labor’s home at least since the New Deal. In a speech at the National Press Club last Friday, Trumka said that Republicans were wielding a “wrecking ball” against the rights and interests of working Americans. But Democrats, he added, were “simply standing aside” as the Republicans moved in for the kill.

The primary source of labor’s frustration has been the consistent inability of the Democrats to strengthen the legislation that once allowed workers to join unions without fear of employer reprisals. American business has poked so many holes in the 1935 National Labor Relations Act that it now affords workers no protections at all. Beginning with Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, every time the Democrats have held the White House and strong majorities in both houses of Congress, bills that strengthened workers’ rights to unionize have commanded substantial Democratic support — but never quite enough to win a Senate supermajority. And during that time, the unionized share of the private-sector workforce has dwindled from roughly 30 percent to less than 7 percent.
Continue reading