Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
sigh, here I go again ...

There is plenty of blame to go around.  

I hold no brief for the Democratic Party.  NAFTA has been a disaster and their support for the off-shoring of blue collar jobs, that started in the mid-60s BTW.

Simultaneously, Meany and his band of merry men made it perfectly clear they were more interested in melding with Nixon, the GOP, and the Right Wing of the Democratic Party than they were with us DFH pinko commies.  

The Unions brought the working class to the GOP.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 12:43:26 AM EST
George Meany, president of the AFL, 1952-1955 (apex of Cold War), champion of skilled labor.

A more gruesome conclusion to 80 years of systematic domestication of unskilled labor than the merger in 1955 can not be found, can it?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 09:35:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The IWW and the United Farm Workers successfully organized unskilled labor but they didn't do it using the AFL 'handbook,' as it were.

US unionism is craft-oriented, closed shop, run in little fiefdoms, by the leadership for their nephews.  They even screw their own members: dual wage system and the recent Spin-Offs the UAW bought into.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 11:10:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, the IWW and UFW and CIO successfully organized unskilled labor... not because they didn't use the AFL handbook, because the AFL wasn't interested in migrant ("migratory") farm, sharecroppers, and gang laborers. It was also a blatantly racist organization. Gompers recruitment campaigns to integrate membership didn't appear until Debs kicked his ass.

Vol II of Foner's History of the Labor Movement isn't titled From the Founding of the A.F.ofL. to the Emergence of American Imperialism for no reason. Here is an excerpt that foreshadows the alliance of latter-day AFL-CIO leadership, rank 'n' file culture and reactionary conservatives. Mind you, this period is Republican Reconstruction era, and the Democratic Party leadership moonlighted with the Klan.

The praise of Winn's slanderous article is not surprising. Most of the top A.F.ofL leaders were themselves masters of racial slanders. Gompers who had already used the most vicious epithets in fanning race hatred against Chinese and other Oriental workers in the early years of the A.F.ofL [barony of the railroad, 1870-1914], employed racial epithets which revealed contempt for the Negro people....

Foreigners, said Gompers and other A.F.ofL, themselves mainly foreign-born, were at best difficult to organize. But the immigrants who entered the country in the decade 1880-1890, when the immigration from southern and eastern Europe first outran the "the old immigration" from northern and western Europe, were not only foreigners but a different kind of foreigners. The A.F.ofL leaders characterized the "old" immigrans as "the sturdy, intelligent and liberty-loving races of Northern and Western Europe," and the "new" immigrants as the "servile and degraded hordes of Southern and Eastern Europe, with their crime and disease-breeding adjuncts of poverty, filth, and slavish willingness to work for almosth nothing and to live on less."

The racist attitude toward the "new" immigrants was reflected in the campaign waged by the A.F.ofL leaders to restrict or cut off entirely immigration from southern and eastern Europe. In supporting a literacy test for immigrants, Gompers declared that it "will exclude hardly any natives of Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, France or Scandinavia. ...During the months that the issue [Lodge-Corliss bill] was being debated in the affiliated unions prior to their vote, the A.F.ofL leadership joined with the "Immigration Restriction League," an employer-sponsored organization, to distribute the League's literature to members of the Federation. [1955: 359-363]

Lewis emerged from this culture to carve out an industrial "base" of power, not unlike Andy Stern (SEIU) break from the AFL-CIO with service employees --unskilled, skilled, and "professional" minority demographic. Schlesinger develops an ambiguous portrait of Lewis's function in Democratic Party to deliver CIO votes --and mediate "company unions" sanctioned by the NIRA-- which belongs verso this cliché which ends Foner's Vol II.

Just as British imperialists were able to blunt the anti-imperialist sentiments of organized labor in England by corrupting the skilled workers, giving them a share in the spoils of imperialism, so American imperialists succeeded in achieving this in the United States. Out of the surplus profits derived from imperialism, monopoly campitalism int eh United States could afford to pay the highly-skilled workers a bit more above the average wage in order to reconcile them to imperialism, to develoop among this strata of the working class a subtle sense of superiority, and destroy their solidarity with their fellow-workers and  their consciousness of class.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 01:13:07 PM EST
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