Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor Day 2006

132 Labor Day, 2006

What’s missing from Labor Day 2006? Organized labor. There is no such thing. The AFL CIO committed suicide earlier this year. And it’s not just that the Teamsters withdrew. They do that now and then.

The unions are thrashing around looking for ways to increase their numbers. Odd organizations are tying to organize things that just don’t relate. Sometimes, they succeeed.

Take the United Auto Workers. They don’t represent so many auto workers any more. They have zero presence at the American factories owned by Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, Nissan, Mitsubishi or Mazda.

They DO, however, represent writers and editors at the weekly “Village Voice”newspaper of New York, which just summarily fired about 20 percent of its staff -- including a few guys who’d been there since the 1960s.

Fine contract that must be.

At least the poor schleps at GM, Ford and Daimler-Chrysler get a decent buck.

They also represent workers at some colleges.

Then there’s the Communications Workers of America, which was the phone company union when there was only one phone company to speak of (or through.)

CWA absorbed the technicians union at NBC and ABC, the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians. Both networks have been shedding jobs for a decade.

And it “owns” the Newspaper Guild, another first rate outfit.

Fine contract those are.

They’re tearing their hair, these leaders, and wondering “where did we go wrong?”

Here’s where.

1. When you struck over money you lost even if you won.

2. When you gave up or allowed yourself to be forced to give up the right to shut the plant down when you struck, you lost. You’re useless.

3. You forgot how to be scary.

You never strike over bucks. Only about work rules, pensions, insurance, security.

If they can run the plant or the paper or the school or the network while you’re on the picket line, why bother trying to settle? If you can’t close ‘em down, you lose.

You’re recruiting tactics are 19th century. No American worker today believes himself to be a member of a peasantry or a proletariat. You’ve got to sell them on the idea that unionizing is the only way to ride herd on the corporate bozos. It’s positively un-American, the way things are going today.

Could Wal-Mart execs go home with huge checks while much of their workforce gets welfare?

You need to get back to your roots. Tough with the recruits, tougher still with the bosses. If you don’t get into a few faces, you’re not going to have any faces to get into.

Forget the shirt and tie.

And for godsake, forget the smile.

Happy Labor Day.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

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