Union bureaucrats will hold us back

December 7, 2010

REGARDING LEE Sustar's "Obama puts the freeze on workers": The author ends the article ends by quoting AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and then saying:

That's the right sentiment. But the obvious question is whether and when organized labor will face the reality that there's a bipartisan drive towards austerity--and organize to resist it, following the example of workers in Greece, France and Portugal.

Because it's clear that unless working people draw a line, the attacks will continue--and they'll be carried out by Republicans and Democrats alike.

This seems to conflate labor officialdom with working people in general, both here and in Europe. You seem to be expecting the high-ranking labor officials who aren't doing anything except supporting Democrats right now to at some point start doing something different, and you imply that such officials in Greece, France and Portugal are doing something other than supporting the Greek, French and Portuguese equivalents of the Democrats. But in fact they're not and they won't.

The resistance in Europe is coming from rank-and-file workers (both those in unions and non-unionized) and students--not from labor officials, who unfortunately are doing a lot to undermine that resistance. (Yes, they've called a number of short-term strikes, but it's the workers who have pushed for something more, while their "leaders" have resisted.)

And it will have to come from the rank and file here. It's important to remember that social change comes from the self-organization of the working class and oppressed generally.

To be sure, belonging to a union can facilitate that organization, but that doesn't mean union bureaucrats are on the side of the workers they represent or that they will do very much constructive for workers, either here or anywhere else in the world.
Jeff Melton, from the Internet

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