Friday, June 13, 2008

Labor and the elections

The unity and independence that is developing in the labor movement around the 2008 elections is something to behold. And it’s not only the left that is noticing these new developments.

Look what they are crying about in the corporate rightwing blogosphere. The National Journal Magazine in their June 14th online edition sounds the alarm: “As pundits forecast a greater Democratic majority in Congress and a White House up for grabs, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is launching a multimillion-dollar "Workforce Freedom Initiative" to fight an anticipated resurgence of organized labor.”

They note that their worst fear is the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) and it’s improved chances if Barack Obama is elected with new Democratic majorities in Congress. After also citing their fears of pending and enacted state laws that “restrict employers from countering union organizing drives,” they go on to sound the alarm on union backed efforts at reregulation and renewed efforts to protect workers pensions and health and safety.

Then they add,
“The latest initiative is on top of the chamber's (Chamber of Commerce’s) work with the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, a combined effort of many national and state business and conservative groups which has also recently launched an eight-figure campaign against the Employee Free Choice Act in key states. That effort includes polling and television advertising.”

What They Really Fear

While the EFCA is their most visible target, the “resurgence of organized labor” is what they really fear. What makes them crazy is that labor, in large part, is driving the agenda for the 2008 elections, on healthcare, on pro-corporate, anti-labor trade deals, on the economic melt down, and even on the war – linking it to the economy and supporting veterans with real benefits.

Corporate and rightwing interests can plainly see that labor is building a broad united front against their candidate, John McCain, and they don’t like it. Especially that labor is doing it in union halls and central labor council offices, on their own turf and independent of the Democratic party. And while the viable candidates are mostly in the Democratic party, labor is no longer just giving money to candidates, but rather spending money in their own efforts including creating an “army of shopstewards” to work in their workplaces and neighborhoods. These efforts create a lasting independent apparatus for labor that can continue to push a labor political agenda far beyond the elections. That scares the National Journal Magazine and Chamber of Commerce crowd s**tless!

Expected passage of the EFCA will only accelerate the “resurgence” of labor geometrically. The folks on the other side of the class barricades also know history. They know that the last labor and people’s upsurge of this magnitude in our country led to the victory of industrial unionism, the CIO and the New Deal. They have reason to be scared.

Also posted to the Labor UpFront Blog
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