The Haunted House of Labor From The WarZone

From The WarZone
Oct. 2009                                   Scab City USA - Decatur, IL                    Last Issue
 
Trojan Horses

 
Life has a way of repeating history in times of strife and turmoil as if it were an attempt to teach even the brightest of mankind that we are among the dumbest of Nature�s creatures; void of intelligent thought, absent of sound reasoning, and incapable of sound choice.  Nothing could make that more clear than our national elections and the pitiful microcosm, the AFL-CIO dog and pony show Labor�s hacks erroneously refer to as elections. It matters not which example we choose to examine, the results are the same and the impact on ordinary working people are just as disastrous. How sad that the overwhelming majority of Americans, working people, are left entirely out of the great illusion we call democracy.  Left out by the two party corporate systems and the systemic corruption of labor�s thugs who control the AFL-CIO.  This magnificent illusion could not be carried out without the aid and financial backing of two of America�s most ardent enemies; the Corporate Media and Corporate America.
            Our electoral process with two corporate parties, the house of labor, the media and the corporation are Trojan Horses that exist in our midst to create the greatest flea-flicker in the history of mankind; the illusion of democracy. The Taliban is not our greatest threat as a sovereign nation. It is the economic terrorism inflicted by those four horses, the transfer of wealth at an exponential rate and the theft of the world�s resources that is forcing working Americans, the elderly, and our children deeper into debt and poverty, which in turn, robs us of any means to fight back.

 

Obamarama
The last presidential election may have been the greatest �street theatre� in the history of this once great nation. The election of the first
 
African American did not begin when the candidates declared their candidacy. It began in
the few years prior in the homes, parties and meetings with America�s wealthiest elite, financiers and Wall Street movers and shakers. It began when Obama guaranteed the powerbrokers that he would not break the rules and do anything to change the system they have controlled for generations. It began when Barrack Obama sold the will of the majority of Americans for the most coveted prize, the Oval Office.
In an article by Paul Street titled, �The Empire�s New Clothes� the rise to power and the funding of Obama�s campaign is chronicled with dead accuracy.  In October of 2003 Vernon Jordan, well known power broker and corporate board member who chaired Bill Clinton�s campaign, placed calls to roughly twenty of his friends and invited them to a fundraiser at his home. �That event�, noted by Harper�s, Ken Silverstein, �marked his entry into a well established Washington ritual-the- gauntlet of fundraising parties and meet-and-greets through which potential stars are vetted by fixers, donors, and lobbyists.�  According to Paul Street, �U.S. business and political establishments still make sure that nobody who questions dominant domestic and imperial hierarchies and doctrines can make a serious { viable} run for higher office- the presidency, above all. It does this by denying campaign funding[absolutely essential to success in an age of super expensive, media driven campaigns] and favorable media treatment[without which a successful campaign is unimaginable at the current stage of corporate media consolidation and power] to candidates who step beyond the narrow boundaries of elite opinion.�
�Anyone who thinks he could have risen to power without prior and ongoing ruling class approval is living in a dream world.
�The good news for Washington and Wall Street insiders was that Obama�s �star quality� would not be directed against the elite segments of the business class. The interesting black legislator was �someone the rich and powerful could work with�.  �According to Chicago Tribune reporter David Mendell, Obama now cultivated the support of the privileged few by �advocating fiscal restraint� and �calling for pay-as �you- go government� and �extolling the merits of free trade and charter schools.� Some of the more troubling meetings came between Obama and top corporate lawyers like Gregory Craig, former special counsel to the White House and Mike Williams, legislative director of the Bond Market Association.  Not exactly lawyers who favor ordinary working people let alone organized labor. They were impressed by the fact Obama was not a racial polarizer.
We all remember the question early in Obama�s campaign, �is he black enough?�  The fact is Obama is not black at all.  He is the elitist Harvard graduate that many savvy people suspected early on. He represents the elite of this nation and his choice for his White House staff brings that picture into focus. His staff is filled with former Clinton insiders but most troubling is Rahm Emmanuel, Chief of Staff and dearly loved by the Chamber of Commerce.  That alone should have been a red flag to organized labor. As well, Obama�s open endorsement of so-called free trade agreements, which has been key in destroying US manufacturing jobs, and charter schools which are a glowing threat to public education and teachers unions, should have convinced labor to save their money and manpower. The selection at treasury added insult to injury. Obama was clearly paying his dues. So far, Obama has not made one �change� on behalf of average Americans but corporate America and the elite have fared pretty well. 
It was amazing to watch the media put on the kid gloves for Obama�s campaign. He danced, ducked and weaved around every serious issue and no-one challenged.  When asked a question he had no intention of answering, he would lift his face toward the heavens, flash a toothy grin and do his little version of �The Last Cheaters Waltz.� It was reminiscent of media during the 9-11 disaster and the rape of our constitution by the Bush clan. Obama was never forced to provide credible answers. The media simply carried out their role dictated by the advertizing dollars they get from their corporate masters.
 Obama was the perfect choice for the elite.  He was African American, he campaigned on hope, social change, and he brought the masses into the political process.  I can still see the tears of those who wanted to believe he was different when the news of his election spread like wildfire.  I was astonished by how blindly most Americans bought the rhetoric. I voted for him solely because the other choice was so much worse or was it?  At least with McCain and Palin, it would be obvious corporate America was running the White House.  There is no way Obama cannot know how evil and damaging his charade is to our beloved nation and its people.
The love affair is fading and folks are catching on.  He has failed to produce any results and his rhetoric sucking up to the insurance and medical industries is exposing the real Obama.  Judging from the rhetoric, his next legislative action will be to restrict medical malpractice suits, denying the victims of malpractice the right to seek credible remedy.  Never mind the fact  more people die each year from medical malpractice than automobile accidents and many times that number are disfigured and permanently injured.
The health care bill just out of the Senate Finance Committee is a disaster and leaves the blood-suckers in control.  It will drive up health care costs and keeps the profit motive in tact.
Obama was a good investment for the corporate swine that bought his election. He may have been an expensive whore, but he is their whore. Among his first paybacks, was the huge bailout of some of America�s wealthiest corporations and financial institutions.
 After choosing working people�s nemesis as �Auto Czar�, he bailed out General Motors and Chrysler with billions more but he wasn�t that generous with United Auto Workers. After years of concessions that included tiered wages that forced younger auto workers to work for half of wages paid non-union workers at Toyota, he demanded more concessions from ordinary workers but never balked at the huge perks and bonuses the auto bosses got, or bankers or insurance executives.  Obama was directly responsible for destroying the futures, retirements, and standard of living of American auto workers. How much more will it take for the American people to see through the Obama ruse, the two-party corporate system and take our struggle to the streets of America?
 
Public Enemy Number 2
 
Every day tens of millions of Americans invite public enemy number two into their homes and workplaces.  Nothing stifles democracy more than the half-truths, omissions, and mis-directions of the corporate media whether in print or on the air. The local editor here in Decatur explained it very well, �our job is to shape public opinion.�  Sounds innocent enough but what he is admitting is that his job is make the public see events his way. He has rejected numerous letters to the editor from me because they were critical of his corporate masters who advertize in his worthless rag. To put that issue into perspective, imagine that all newspapers and media outlets think the same way; because they do. They see their job as a tool to protect the system and if any reporter sees it any different the editors will make sure it never gets aired or goes to print. When an issue arises that�s really important to most Americans, they turn their cameras on Paris Hilton, run stories about the few who survived the economic downturn; and ignore the issues that affect the lives of most of us.
During the Battle of Seattle, the WTO protests a few years ago, there was plenty of evidence that police agencies engaged in unlawful activity including smashing windows and blaming demonstrators.  Federal agents and Seattle police violated the rights of demonstrators and carried out a wave of violence; but it didn�t happen.  Not one media outlet investigated.  The cowardly bastards from CNN, ABC, CBS, Fox [the un-news network] refused to report on government out of control.  The single voice of the people of the United States was the Independent Media Center, a small but growing network of activists dedicated to the truth and protecting our rights.  In spite of the fact many of the peaceful demonstrators were seriously beaten and injured, no major network reported on it.  Most Americans would have been shocked and appalled, but that was not the public opinion the media wanted to shape.
The voting scandal in Florida was exposed by a reporter tied to the BBC and when the American media could no longer ignore it, they downplayed it, and refused to investigate serious allegations on one of the most important crimes of the century. Democracy was literally hijacked in a presidential election, but the victor was the one they wanted; the one chosen by their corporate masters.
A little more than a year ago as protesters organized for demonstrations against Monsanto Corporation, St Louis Police agencies carried out a series of �preemptive arrests� on local organizers and held them until the Monsanto conference was over.  In spite of the constitution, the city of St Louis protected their corporate masters.  To most Americans, it did not happen because every major network refused to run the story.  It is not good for public opinion to criticize government, especially when it is corporate government.
The war in Iraq would not have happened if we had responsible journalism, a free press that was not corporate controlled. Not one major news outlet had the courage to question the invasion of Iraq after the 911 disaster, nor did 99% of our legislators. While Bush and Cheney went berserk with power, deceived the public
and plotted with the oil cartel, the US media obeyed their corporate masters and spun the public opinion. Not one major newscaster had the testicle fortitude to tell the truth to the American people. They would have joined the unemployment line after network executives killed the story.
Another example of shaping public opinion occurred during the bailout of GM and Chrysler.  The erroneous figure of more than 70$ per hour for UAW auto workers was thrown out by the media and the Obama administration.  Both knew it was not true but bashing these union workers was important to make sure the general public had no sympathy for them. The real figure was about 48$ per hour with all the benefits included for older workers and much less for younger ones.  Even Lou Dobbs, CNN�s champion of the working class, held fast to the 70$ figure and he too knew it was not true, but CNN has to contribute to the union bashing.  They were not as diligent in exposing executive perks and bonuses. The only real difference between Dobbs and Rush Limbaugh is about 20 pounds and Dobbs doesn�t do drugs.    Every body got sold on the 70$ figure except UAW members; but a lie told often enough becomes the truth. There are some UAW members who make so little they are eligible for government assistance programs.  Dobbs may have a different street corner than Bill O�Reilly, but he is a corporate hooker just the same. You gotta love it when Wolf Blitzer announces, �CNN, the most trusted name in news�.
The media has an overwhelming presence in our lives. We have invited them in unaware of their real agenda. How sad that we know more about J-Lo, Anna Nichole Smith and Brittany that we do about things that are really important to us, our democracy, and our nation. These masters of misdirection and deception are denying us an opportunity for real liberty and fulfillment. It is interesting how many rightwing talk shows and columns there are compared to those that represent the will of the majority of Americans.
 
The Haunted House of Labor
 
Never in the history of the American labor movement has the house of labor been fuller of corruption than now. It is that corruption that brought our precious union to its knees and facing collapse.  But it�s not the theft of funds, though there�s plenty of that, it is the theft of democracy, the right to dissent, and the right of representation that is being stolen. Just weeks ago, the AFL-CIO changed presidents with a simple passing of the briefcase.  Efforts by members to force an open election were thwarted by the former Secretary Treasurer, Richard Trumka, who is now the president.  Trumka controlled the so-called election process but refused to allow rank and file candidates to run for the AFL-CIO Executive Council in spite of the constitution. The control process is a mirror image of our national elections, those who have power control it all and it is exactly the same in all of the affiliated unions that make up the federation. It is how that control is used that is most damning!
Once the power is achieved, by hook or crook, it is always focused downward to crush rank and file dissent, to increase personal wealth for the top few, and for the benefit of the employing class. Most so-called labor leaders see their number one function as keeping their members in line for the employers they have under contract. The fight for better wages, benefits, and working conditions is NOT on the agenda. We must cooperate, participate with employers [capitulate] and help them beat us over the back. It is the misuse of that power that has brought labor to its knees and near extinction. That power has robbed union memberships of any decision-making and any hope of fighting back. Without a vibrant, militant, union movement, there is no hope for working Americans to restore our economy, to re-claim our jobs and restore the American dream.
Nothing could be more damaging than simply passing the briefcase to Richard Trumka.  According to the Labor Educator [Harry Kelber] under the Sweeney/Trumka leadership, the AFL-CI0 assets shrank from 66 million in 2000 to minus 2.3 million in 2008.  AFL-CIO liabilities in 2008 was more than $90.7 million before the multi-millions spent on 2008 elections helping elect a president who just bailed out Wall Street and bashed the United Auto Workers. Not surprising, in the past four years Trumka quietly increased his own salary 74,000 dollars or 44% from $165,000 to $238,975. While millions of workers were losing their jobs, homes and hope, and while the federation was facing huge losses in finances and membership, Trumka lined his pockets with the dues money of those workers. If it sounds a lot like corporate America; it is! Labor bureaucrats see the treasuries of the AFL-CIO and the affiliated international unions as their own personal cash cows with lavish retirements, health care plans generous expense accounts and they would destroy any opposition that threatens the troughs they wallow in, just like corporate CEOs. Trumka will retire on 60% of the top salary he earns in the AFL-CIO.
 Not bad for a lawyer who left the United Mineworkers in 1995 flat broke and hemorrhaging membership. [All statistics provided by Harry Kelber, AFL-CIO reporter].
Trumka, and many of the affiliated union presidents, are great at militant and fiery speeches, but its all bullshit and their actions stretch the limits of hypocrisy. In the mid-nineties here in Decatur IL, [dubbed the Warzone] four thousand families were forced on strike or locked-out at Caterpillar, Firestone, and AE Staley. The three year struggle became the most militant struggle in decades but was ignored by Lane Kirkland, AFL-CIO President. Decatur workers descended on Bal Harbour Fla. and the ACL-CIO to challenge Kirkland�s lackluster performance.  After that event and with the Sweeney/Trumka team challenging for the leadership of the AFL-CIO, the Staley workers crafted a grassroots strategy to indict Kirkland�s lame leadership. Months prior to the election, Kirkland stepped down and handed the reins to Tom Donahue, then Sec/Treasurer. Decaturworkers from all three unions were there in force at the 1995 AFL-CIO convention in New York when the �New Voice� of Sweeney and Trumka were elected. Decatur workers sat down with the new leadership and laid out a series of requests for assistance and the AFL-CIO promised to deliver. Within weeks after the convention, we knew the �new voice� had developed laryngitis and our struggles were being undermined by our international unions. The militancy the Sweeney/Trumka team promise disappeared as well and they never delivered on one single promise. Without local involvement, Sweeney and Wayne Glen, President of the UPIU,[United Paperworkers International Union] the parent of the Staley workers local, flew to London to meet with the CEO of Tate&Lyle, the parent of AE Staley and cut a deal that devastated the Staley workers. Most of the workers at Staley refused to return under the horrible conditions accepted by Sweeney and Glenn and the scabs who stole their jobs were welcomed into the UPIU �in solidarity�
Decatur workers responded with an �accountability campaign�, picketing Trumka at the University of Illinois a few months later and a rousing picket Of Sweeney at a political rally at the labor temple in Madison Wisconsin. Sweeney met with Decatur workers in a closed session in Madison and promised them an answer on why they broke their promises. That answer never came but feeling heat, Trumka flew Fr. Martin Mangan, the humble but militant priest arrested at the gates of Staley, to Washington to enlist his help in silencing Decatur workers. Weeks later, Trumka and Mike Spatz, religious co-coordinator for the AFL-CIO flew toDecatur to meet with angry workers for a hostile meeting in St. James rectory, Mangan�s parish. Decatur workers were treated to the �Trumka Two-step� as he danced and dodged questions about the betrayal. Over and over, when asked about their broken promises, Trumka responded with, �The AFL-CIO cannot render assistance without permission from the affiliated International union.� The UPIU who paid the per capita to the AFL-CIO pulled the plug and sold us out. Fr. Mangan was so angered he referred to AFL-CIO as �lying son of a bitches� right there in the basement of his rectory.
The following years faired no better as struggle after struggle was lost without a fight by top leaders of labor. Every major organizing drive was lost as well and memberships plummeted but Sweeney and Trumka could not regain their voices. The Teamster election scandal rocked the Sweeny team and many of us believe it was the fear of indictment that induced that glowing silence.  Then the Union Labor Life Insurance Company [ULLICO] scandal surfaced where our illustrious leaders, in an insider trading scheme, lined their pockets instead of allowing the profits to lower the cost of insurance for union members and their families. Some leaders made millions overnight.
A split in the AFL-CIO signaled the fierce infighting when Andy Stern �Service Employees International Union [SEIU], the Carpenters, Teamsters, the Hotel workers, and others formed the Change to Win Coalition and left the AFL-CIO. The primary issue, if you listen to the corporate media, was supposedly organizing. Once again the forces that shape our opinions went to work to fleece the public.  The real issues were power and who had it, but as well, the section of the AFL-CIO constitution that forbids unions from raiding one another. The
 
term �organizing� was a little over the top, but to keep members from rebelling, what�s a little deceit among friends? Internal letters we were privy to between John Sweeney and Doug �Cash� McCarron, the Carpenter president, tell a different story.  McCarron has since made several attempts to raid other unions, but that didn�t happen because the media didn�t cover it.
 All of the Change to win Coalition left the AFL-CIO without a vote of their members.  Most used the delegate system, delegates who are often employees of the international union; again, democracy denied. The term Change to Win sounds impressive, but For Stern, McCarron and others it means change all of the rights of workers, all the work rules, and change all the gains of workers to favor the employers. The split in the AFL-CIO boils down to, who can sell out ordinary workers the quickest.  Any member, who dares stand up to these hacks, will be punished. From being denied the right to work and starved out, to being brought up on phony charges and removed from membership.  We have a saying in the skilled trades unions, �piss off your BA [business agent] and see the USA�; meaning you will have to travel to other locations to find work.
This is the real legacy of Trumka leadership and the other shills who control the international unions. Our precious union that led ordinary workers from corporate induced poverty and tyranny has been hijacked by pawns of the capitalist system. The sacrifice of those that bled and died in workplaces, and in the streets of America for the rights of workers, is literally being pissed on those who control organized labor for the employing class.
            I have met thousands of good and dedicated rank and file trade unionist who truly believe in �Solidarity�, �An injury to one is an injury to all�, and other fundamental union values that lift up fellow workers. I believe in the union as much today as I did 43 years ago, when I invited the union into my life, but I am deeply troubled by its destruction, not by the employing class, but those who control it from within.

             

 
 
Corporation �Public Enemy Number 1�
 
Nothing shapes society and the lives of working people more than the corporate thieves who rule every aspect of our lives. Whether it is America or any other country around the world, corporations rule with iron fists. Some countries however, have strong labor movements who have meaningful labor protections, a role in government, but not America. In America, you cannot separate the corporation and government because corporations have total control over government; they own it. Literally every branch of government at all levels, local, state, and federal, are controlled by the corporate elite. This is not a conspiracy theory, it is reality about some of the oldest emotions of man; greed, lust for power, and dominance over the masses. We call it capitalism. It does not matter which political party is in control.
We invite corporations into our lives and our communities because we need jobs, taxable income to fund their government, and we do so without protecting society.  Often we pay them to come with tax abatements and infrastructure costs, �free� land [we paid for it], and some times we take the property of other citizens.  When I say �we�, of course it is really their government that makes the decision. That system, totally corrupt, robs our community of funding for schools, services and puts an even greater burden on the working class.  It increases the burden on small local business that won�t pull up stakes and move on when the tax advantages run out. When the costs of doing business isn�t as low as they want, they can still bring in illegal immigrant labor and shift the burden of medical care and education to us.
Take Wal-mart for example. Local government will invest millions in infrastructure changes to accommodate traffic changes, millions in tax abatements, and literally pay Wal-mart to force local retailers out of business and their workers out of jobs.
 
 
 
 
Wal-mart will pay such low wages 80% of their employees will be eligible for public assistance. If they try to form a union [a legal right] Wal-mart will close the store and move. When they get into trouble for sexual harassment, discrimination or exposed for using illegal immigrants to clean their stores, the bouncing low prices ball will become a commercial featuring employees doing �Good Works�. A high profile donation to local charities can be counted on. Then there is the question about the small manufacturing business they forced to move offshore to meet their price demands. Of course, when 91 of your production facilities are inChina�s prisons, you can compete.
Corporate America has a free hand to bash and control workers and our communities as well. They can pollute without fear, poison thousands of people like in Bhopal, kill workers on the job through criminal negligence, blow up communities with industrial accidents and their government will make the liability disappear. They can spy on you in and out of the workplace, attain personal information, decide which doctor and hospital you can go to and even decide which activities you can engage in on your own time. They decide who gets to be President of the United States, who gets elected to Congress and even who sits on the Supreme Court. They get to decide who comes into this country and take our jobs. They make the decisions on whether we are free to assemble, to protest, and speak out. It is their police that club, gas and shoot picketers and protestors. They hire private security firms to break the law and intimidate workers. They control it all. They are the beast the framers of our constitution feared whey they drafted �Charter Rights� that gave states the right to charter corporations and revoke the charter when they are not acting in the public interests. But since they own the government, those rights will never be utilized no matter how corrupt a corporation is.
If you doubt the seriousness of their control, answer these questions. Why is it when a worker steals from his employer it s a felony crime and he or she goes to prison? Why is it when an employer steals wages from an employee, it is a labor violation with no penalty. How can they break the law and kill workers and it is a labor violation, but if you and I negligently kill someone, it is a felony crime and we go to prison?  How can they evade taxes or steal tax abatements and it will be settled for a small percentage, but you or I go to prison? How can they bring in illegal aliens to take our jobs but if we trafficked in illegal aliens, we would go to prison.  Why does the INS raid factories and arrest immigrant workers while the bosses go free?
Consider the awesome power the American corporation has, what power is left to American workers.  Absolutely none! For working Americans, the National Labor Relations Act was the joke government gave workers to end the violence and production losses during the sit-down strikes of the thirties. The key word is �Act� because it is just that. It is the pretense that workers have rights which is not true.  The Act provides little or no penalty to employers and is subject to whatever political forces control the Whitehouse and the Department of Labor [DOL].   A good example is the tenure of Bush�s Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao, wife of Mitch McConnell, a fiercely anti-labor Republican. Chao reversed labor decisions that took years to achieve. But more to the point, the DOL has engaged in a stalling campaign for more than 50 years, taking as long as 12 years from the date a complaint is filed till it is resolved. What would that mean to you if you were illegally discharged? As well, remedies provided by the DOL are miniscule at best.
Originally, the Act was allegedly passed to protect the rights of workers, but they don�t even pretend that is the purpose today.  We need to do away with the Act go back to sit-down strikes and mass demonstrations. Put the power of ordinary Americans into shaping the greatness our beloved America has the potential to achieve.
We have allowed Corporate America to create wars, undermine sovereign nations and commit atrocities against our fellow man. The attempted CIA overthrow of the Venezuelan government is a perfect example of corporate America at work. The sanctions against the Cuban people are another. How long will we as a nation, allow corporate greed to rule our foreign policy?
The Corporation is the evil that stands between us as a people, a nation, and true democracy. Have we described four Trojan Horses or the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?
 
The Freightliner Five
 
We regret to tell you that the freightliner dispute has come to an end with only two of the five bargaining members being returned to work by the Arbitration Association.  This is a great victory for Freightliner and the UAW but a horrible loss for the UAW rank and file. Freightliner was able; with false testimony from UAW backed members, to secure the discharge of three of the militant and courageous UAW members most unions would be glad to have. Freightliner is now moving more production to Mexico and non-union suppliers to Freightliner are following suit.  Apparently labor is never cheap enough to satisfy Freightliner�s greed and thirst for control.  Congratulations the UAW clowns in Detroit for another successful betrayal of the rank and file.

 
 
 
 Do to funding shortages and time constraints; this will be the final edition of the WarZone.  Thanks to all those who had faith in us and assisted our efforts with generous donations to the foundation and the workers we sought to help. We will continue to post online and write for other publications. We will continue to assist workers in struggle.
 
 We are available at:
 
Email: mgriffwzef@comcast.net
 
or 
 
 Mike Griffin
675 E Hillshire Rd.
 DecaturIL 62521
 Ph 217-428-6372