Monday, July 25, 2005

Labor Blogging: "building the new society within the shell of the old"

These words come right out of the 1905 preamble at the founding of the Industrial Workers of the World.
It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism. The army of production must be organized, not only for everyday struggle with capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown. By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.
Labor's been stuck on the everyday struggle -often with other unions instead of management- or Democratic Party Politics and would do well building a little bit of the new society.

George Bush's ownership society ideas offer far more innovation than anything coming from the crowd of Democratic Party politicos speaking today and tomorrow at Navy Pier: Guests will include Sen. Barack Obama, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, Former U.S. Senator John Edwards, Julian Bond, Senator Ted Kennedy, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rep. Peter King (by video), Sen. Arlen Specter (by video), Senator Harry Reid, .... These names are not a list of builders of anything but their own careers. They haven't had a new idea, much less a radical idea, in their life. (Ok, verdict still out on Barack but he's done way too much talking about his supposed similarities with Lincoln for my taste, and not much substance to date).

There are lots of services Unions can offer workers besides a strike including managing ownership of their own assets and capital via ownership society ideas. Problem is building as opposed to tearing down can be hard work as we saw when the Unions abandoned Washburne Trade School,
In 1975, state Sen. Richard Newhouse persuaded the Illinois State Board of Education to cut off funds until school officials met a federal goal for minority enrollment. The move did little to stop the union exodus. Throughout the 1970s, apprentice programs such as those for plumbers, iron workers, cement masons and glaziers relocated.

In 1979, Washburne met federal enrollment standards and the funds were restored. But eight unions had left and the construction industry was mired in a recession, with unemployment reaching 22.3 percent by 1982.

The controversy continued after the 1980 federal decree to desegregate the public schools. A Chicago Board of Education demand in 1986 that enrollment mirror the city's population prompted the carpenters, pipe fitters and electricians unions to leave. Thomas Nayder, then-president of the Chicago Building Trades Council, was quoted as saying: "I get the feeling that they (the unions) think, 'Who needs all this hassle?'"
Sometimes fighting for Social Justice a hassle. You have to fight Islamic fascists in Iraq and Afghanistan. You have to tackle some hard educational in Chicago. A little clarity about who your friends and enemies are helps a whole lot. Bush is no enemy of labor. He's a radical and innovative guy. Take him up on the solutions and break the Democrats hold.

No comments: