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Date: Thu, 10 Oct 1996 15:44:24 -0500
From: "L-Soft list server at MIZZOU1 (1.8b)" <LISTSERV@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu>
Subject: File: "DATABASE OUTPUT"

--> Database ACTIV-L, 10008 hits.

> print 09958
>>> Item number 9958, dated 96/10/06 01:43:38 -- ALL
Date: Sun, 6 Oct 1996 01:43:38 GMT
Reply-To: Rich Winkel <rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu>
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
From: Rich Winkel <rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu>
Organization: PACH
Subject: 'New' AFL-CIO Looks Like Old

/** headlines: 140.0 **/
** Topic: 'New' AFL-CIO Looks Like Old **
** Written 8:08 AM Oct 3, 1996 by newsdesk in cdp:headlines **

The 'New' AFL-CIO still looks like the old

By B.B., in The People, Vol. 6, no. 7
October 1996

"Craft autonomy, plus acceptance of the wages system, produced the monstrosity of the job trust, and the job trust turned the arms of the working class against itself."

: *CRAFT UNIONISM VS. INDUSTRIAL UNIONISM was a pamphlet published by the Socialist Labor Party of Great Britain in the 1910s. It has been out of print for many years.

With the triumphant coronation of John Sweeney, and his ticket of "New Voices," to the ruling hierarchy of the AFL-CIO, a sweeping transformation from complacency, stagnation, decline and restoration of militancy to the labor movement was to have been launched. To update workers on the progress of this effort reveals simultaneously that capitalist unionism is still the same old perambulating mass of contradictions hell-bent on knocking itself to pieces. It is unfit to serve in either defense of workers' interests or as an instrument of emancipation from wage slavery--much less as the framework for the governing structure of a new society. In short, the AFL-CIO is nothing of what unionism must be to protect and advance workers' interests.

Three major strikes have occurred since the ascent of the "New Voices." One was the UAW strike at Caterpillar, where 80 percent of the membership rejected the proposed contract while the union hierarchy capitulated. Called "the most crushing defeat in decades" by labor reporter John Lippert, THE PEOPLE summarized the debacle accordingly: "The precedent set by the outcome of the strike--capitulation on all fronts by one of the nation's largest unions--bodes ill for workers in every industry."

In Decatur, Ill., the lockout at the A.E. Staley plant was another bouquet tossed to the capitalist class by Brother Sweeney. Feeble company concessions rejected by the local union were gleefully accepted by the International, which strong-armed a ratification vote and obsequiously delivered the sellout to Staley. Three hundred ninety workers out of a previous force of 740 were tossed into the streets.

Likewise, the Detroit newspaper strike went from bad to worse, as local union bureaucrats piously refrained from interfering with scab labor, while dutifully bowing to the courts and the cops.

Staughton Lynd, writing in the summer issue of NEW POLITICS, referred to Sweeney's "class-collaborationist rhetoric" when the AFL-CIO chieftain announced to the National Press Club that, "We can no longer afford the luxury of pretending that productivity, quality and competitiveness are not our business." The fact is that capitulation to labor-saving technology has always been the practice of the job-trust "labor union." The practice has a long and ignoble line of labor fakers behind it, including, among others, such labor "icons" as John L. Lewis, who built a career on red baiting and swapping labor-displacing coal-boring mechanization for "organizing rights" with coal capitalists.

This has always been the "game plan," and the AFL-CIO's "New Voices" general council made it plain that it still is the plan when it echoed Sweeney's press club statement by chiming in that "unions and employers, through collective bargaining, are forging strong labor-management partnerships dedicated to achieving world-class standards of productivity and efficiency." Union hierarch Linda Chavez-Thompson, executive vice president, confirmed, "We want to negotiate better. Sometimes the emphasis has been on money when it should have been on training. If there is new technology we shouldn't dig our heels in." This tends to confirm again the role of capitalist unionism as the agency of wholesale submission of labor to the ever more intense exploitation and job loss. "New Voices"? Baloney!

With their ears to the ground, corporate fops and retainers monitor the labor merchandisers and carefully report the slightest indication of militancy. Thus Ed Lawler, a management professor at University of Southern California's business school, announced that the unions "seem to be working the same old issues, just with new vigor. To have significant growth and a turnaround they have to come up with a new definition of what the union movement is all about." For Lawler, this means bald-faced class collaboration, such as in the case of General Motors' Saturn plant. He wants unadorned company unions.

Andy Kramer, an attorney for Bridgestone-Firestone, declared, "Clearly, the leadership of the federation, as well as some of the individual unions, is much more aggressive." Yes, indeed, rhetorical flourishes are thick around federation headquarters as union hierarchs parry and thrust at phantom opponents. Thus, Mr. Kramer admits, "I'm not sure any of this gets them new members. It gets them publicity, but they still have to prove themselves relevant to those they want to organize." Bravo! Bravo!

Relevance to the working class is just the rub, but not on terms that Lawler, Kramer, Chavez-Thompson or fakerdom perceive as being "relevant." Indeed, they all occupy the same squalid perspective: denial of the class struggle; denial of the exploitation of labor at the point of production; total ignorance of capitalist economics, and a careerist view that embodies the rapacious individualism pervasive in capitalist society.

Unlike the corporate lawyers and academic flunkies, the labor fakers must posture as militant champions of the exploited and oppressed working class. Organizationally, they must preserve and extend the "strategy" of splitting the union movement by craft divisions, by ethnic divisions and within each productively integrated industry, while singing "Solidarity Forever." With increasing rank-and-file anger over job cuts, benefit curtailments, intensified exploitation and longer work for less pay, posturing militancy while capitulating to the inevitable tendencies of capitalism for greater profits is fakerdom's only rationale, and its total commitment.

Relevance to the working class can only mean one thing: Socialist Industrial Unionism--one big union--organized as an integral body across entire industries. Relevance to working-class interests can only mean a union organized to take, hold and operate the nation's industries and to dispossess the plundering capitalist class. It can only mean a union that is prepared to claim the stolen wealth of a hundred generations past for the benefit of all of society and for all future generations. Any other union formation is consigned to deceit and contradiction and must be cast aside.

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