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As The Crisis Deepens in Business Unionism

By Steve Zeltzer

    IT IS IRONIC THAT ON the same week that the AFL-CIO was breaking up  
and both wings of the split were arguing about the need to organize new  
workers, the Hearst owned San Francisco Chronicle, represented by both  
the CWA-Newspaper Guild Media Workers and IBT 853 Teamster drivers, had  
taken or were taking major concessions. These union officials were  
telling their members they needed to give up union classifications,  
take cuts in vacations and wages and even agree to cross the picket  
lines of other unions, even unions at The Chronicle, if they were to  

    In the same week as well, James Hoffa Jr., president of the IBT at  
the Change To Win grouping was telling the press, "Striking workers, no  
matter what union they belong to, can always count on the Teamsters for  
support and assistance. We will never waver as defenders of Americašs  
working families. Let me be clear, our coalition will not allow  
corporate America to pit one union against another to the detriment of  
our members or their families."

    The present epidemic of "concession bargaining" from the airlines to  
the auto industry however, was not even an issue - either at the  
AFL-CIO convention or at the press conferences of  "Change To Win".  
Instead, the focus was on organizing the unorganized. The split also 
took place during the same week that 15 labor-supported Democrats from 
around the country voted with Bush to pass the CAFTA agreement.  Some 
of these same AFL-CIO leaders, like IAFF firefighters General President 
Harold Schaitberger, had only weeks before raised hundreds of thousands 
of dollars for these very politicians, only to be kicked in the face. 
Yet despite the brazen contempt for the trade unions on this issue of 
CAFTA, both the AFL-CIO and the Change To Win coalition refused to say 
they would not only not support these pro-CAFTA politicians but that 
they would run independent labor candidates against them. Finally, 
right in Chicago where this convention was taking place, a two-year 
strike continues at the Congress Hotel by the Unite-HERE union hotel 
workers. If anything shows the political inability of the labor 
movement to mobilize its members and shut down these union busters, 
the continuing Congress Hotel strike shows the reality. Despite having 
hundreds of thousands of union members in Chicago, the AFL-CIO, 
including both wings fighting for control, have been unable to break
 the back of this union buster in their own backyard.

Lack of Democracy?

    It was also a strange twist in the break-up of the AFL-CIO, that both  
factions now charge that the other is "undemocratic". The "Change To  
Win" faction led by the SEIU, Teamsters, UFCW, UBC, Unite-HERE, UFWA,  
LIUNA and the AFL-CIO leadership now primarily led by AFSCME and the  
CWA both charge that the other did not want a democratic debate about  
what ails the US labor movement. These accusations are strange indeed  
coming from unions that do not even allow their rank and file to elect  
their international presidents.  No international union within the  
AFL-CIO has ever proposed or even suggested that the president and top  
officers of the AFL-CIO should themselves be directly elected by the  
rank and file of those international unions - yet they now complain  
about the lack of democracy.

   In fact, at the last SEIU convention, President Andy Stern had  
personally prevented a resolution from SEIU Local 509 for the direct  
election of the president from even coming to the convention floor.  
John Wilhelm and other leaders of "Change to Win" declared that the  
debate was over in the AFL-CIO and that it would have been pointless to  
be on the floor of the convention. When asked if the rank and file of  
his and other unions were aware of the debate, he claimed that the  
Unite-HERE members had an extensive discussion about the issues and his  
membership supported the Unite-HERE leadership in leaving the AFL-CIO.

   The corporate transformation of US unions is systemic. In nearly all  
US unions, business agents and other full time officials are appointed  
and the rank and file membership pays for a centralized operation in  
which rank and file power is limited and suppressed. Only ILWU Local 10  
in San Francisco has a two year limit in office with yearly elections  
for its officers. This would be a revolution within both wings of the  
AFL-CIO and would help break up the bureaucratic monopoly that  
presently exists in most union locals and internationals.

   The real face of the "democratic" AFL-CIO was exposed however in the  
efforts of long time 91-year-old labor journalist Harry Kelber  
(www.laboreducator.org) to run for the AFL-CIO executive board. Under  
the constitution of the AFL-CIO, a rank and file member from the  
AFL-CIO can run for office but he must be nominated from a delegate at  
the floor. Harry was able to get some labor council officers to  
nominate him, but he received a letter from national CWA Secretary  
Treasurer Barbara Esterling that they did not have him as a registered  
member. Prepared as usual, Harry had a letter from his local stating  
that he was paid up through December 2005 and he had cancelled checks  
to show for it.

    When this reporter at the press conference questioned Trumka, he said  
that the CWA had told him that Kelber was not eligible because the CWA  
did not have him as a member. They later relented and allowed Kelber to  
speak at the end of the convention for 3 minutes if he withdrew his  
nomination for the executive board. The whole point by Trumka Company  
was to prevent any real debate or even statements by the executive  
board candidates about where they stood - and Harry was the gumming up  
the works.

  At a previous Executive Council meeting at the Drake Hotel in Chicago,  
Sweeney and Trumka had forced Kelber to move to another hotel and  
charged he was a "security risk". The fear by these "leaders" of Harry  
Kelber shows everything you need to know about what workers in this  
country are dealing with. It is also telling that when John Sweeney  
came to the presidency he rattled off threats that he would block the  
bridges of the cities if that's what it took to organize; yet in this  
divisive split in the AFL-CIO no such threats against capitalist  
America are even being issued. As labor leader and UBC millwright Mike  
Griffin has said, the only blockade that Sweeney would lead of a bridge  
would be if his limousine broke down on a bridge.

   Behind the rhetoric, accusations and counter-accusations by the  
AFL-CIO and the "Change to Win" faction is the fact that neither  
grouping has been able to articulate a serious strategy or plan to deal  
with the near complete deregulation of the economy supported by the  
Democrats, the growing privatization drive and the increasing ability  
of international capital to outsource not only most industrial jobs but  
high tech and professional jobs like X-Ray techs, architects and the  
growing list of service industry jobs.

   One of the glaring examples is the issue of national healthcare.  
Neither grouping has clearly called for single payer national  
healthcare that would eliminate the insurance companies and the control  
by the drug companies of the US healthcare system. Instead they propose  
piecemeal changes to a bankrupt medical system through pressure on the  
corporate-controlled Congress. Hundreds of thousands of workers are now  
having to forego wage increases in order to pay for continuing  
healthcare coverage yet no plan was presented or discussed to unite the  
entire working class for national healthcare.

Causes of the Split

    One of the most immediate and significant causes of the split is the  
failure of the AFL-CIO's plan to place Democrats in the White House and  
Congress in the elections and then to get them to vote against CAFTA  
and other anti-labor policies. After spending more than $200 million on  
Kerry and the Democrats they have nothing to show for it. Andy Stern  
even hinted early on, that a defeat of Kerry and the Democrats in the  
2004 elections might be a good thing for labor in shaking up the  
AFL-CIO bureaucracy. He had probably already decided that it was time  
to get out of the AFL-CIO and Kerry's loss would help push more unions  
towards his position. It was left to Jessie Jackson to tell the  
remaining delegates at the AFL-CIO convention that they cannot let the  
Democratic Leadership Council control the Democratic Party.

   The failure of any union within either the AFL-CIO or the Change to  
Win grouping to raise the need for a democratic political party of  
labor again shows that underneath the veneer this is still business  
unionism and the pro-capitalist politics of Gomperism. The policies of  
deregulation, privatization and free trade have been implemented not  
only by Republicans but union supported Democrats. The SEIU has also 
argued that the failure to get more Democrats elected means that more 
money should go into organizing to build support for  the unionization 
of Wal-Mart and other major non-union operations.

   Yet the SEIU has played no significant role in supporting any  
organizing drive outside of public workers. When workers in the San  
Francisco Bay Area picketed the non-union construction of a Wal-Mart in  
Oakland, no SEIU staff or stewards were on the line. If the SEIU,  
UNITE-HERE, UFCW mobilize their members nationally to organize together  
and use their power to target national union busters this will be a  
first. At the same time this was possible to do within the AFL-CIO - to  
blame the AFL-CIO for the failure to do so does not hold water.

   The split of the AFL-CIO also now means that plans for "industrial  
type" organizing will only involve those unions within one or another  
faction and not any united plan. This sectarian approach makes a united  
organizing campaign of the entire working class increasingly unlikely.  
Even with open union busting now being the order of the day in the  
U.S.A., there was very little talk of taking on the union busters and  
government head on to stop it. At a conference of the Labor Action  
Coalition (www.laboraction.org) the Sunday before the convention, part  
of the discussion centered around the lessons of the 1934 general  
strike in Minneapolis and the general strike in San Francisco. One of  
the lessons of those struggles is that in order to be successful the  
working class had to shut down the cities in mass working class action  
that challenged not only corporate power but also the power of the  

   Not one union or representative from either grouping even hinted that  
this was the kind of action that was required in order to go on the  
offensive. While Stern talked about the importance of this historic  
split he refused to point out that the massive union organizing drives  
of the 1930šs and the split between John L. Lewis and AFL president  
Green was not over simply whether there should be industrial organizing  
but whether this organizing would directly challenge capitalist rule  
for union recognition. When Stern was questioned at Mondayšs press  
conference about whether the AFL-CIO was prepared to move to the mass  
mobilizations that took place in the 1930's he was quick to quash any  
such notion. "It is a global and not a local economy, and wešre not so  
unwise as to fail to recognize that this is not the 1930's anymore."

   In Los Angeles after winning unionization of janitors through mass  
marches and mobilizations, Sweeney and his supporters crushed a rank  
and file opposition that wanted to continue the fight on the job. Their  
business union strategy meant that the fight against the bosses should  
not continue on the shop floor once the workers had won a contract.  
Sweeney put the local in trusteeship and helped destroy a rank and file  
opposition called the Multi-Racial Alliance that had been a leading  
force in organizing the local in the first place and had won all  
positions on the Executive Board.

PR Unionism

   The idea of Stern and many who support him is that the way the  
organized labor movement will survive is through PR gimmicks. In a Jan  
30, 2005 article  by Matt Balin in the NY Times, the writer talks about  
the "feel" of the SEIU:

	"In some respects, the S.E.I.U. now feels very much like a Fortune  
500  Company. In the lobby of its headquarters, a flat-screen TV plays  
an endless video of smiling members along with inspirational quotes  
from Stern, as if he were Jack Welch or Bill Gates. The union sold more  
than $1 million worth of purple merchandise through its gift catalog  
last year, including watches, sports bras, temporary tattoos and its  
very own line of jeans. (The catalog itself features poetry from  
members and their children paying tribute to the union, along with  
recipes like Andy Stern's Chocolate Cake with Peanut-Butter Frosting.

	"Among his (Stern's) friends and allies he counts at least two  
billionaires: the financier George Soros and the philanthropist Eli  
Broad, who is talking with Stern about ideas to reform Los Angeles  
schools. Stern was one of the founding members of America Coming  
Together, the largest private get-out-the-vote effort ever assembled.  
His top political aide, Anna Burger, who is the S.E.I.U.'s secretary  
treasurer, recently took a seat on the board of the Democracy Alliance,  
a network of wealthy liberal donors. How Stern wields this influence --  
and his union's money -- can have a real impact on the direction of the  

	Stern, like his predecessor Sweeney when he was president of the 
SEIU, has based his vision on "labor-management collaboration" deals. 
The union has worked with corporations like Kaiser to stop workers' 
power on the job and he has merged local after local into statewide  
organizations in which centralized bureaucrats run the union top down  
like the corporations they mimic. In California, they have worked with  
nursing home bosses to stop homecare patients from suing over bad care  
and they have signed contracts with Kaiser call-center workers to  
provide financial bonuses if they turn patients away from doctors.

New Proposals?

	One of the reasons that these AFL-CIO bureaucrats are so infuriated  
by this new formation, besides the competition, is that their programs  
are very similar. In fact, the AFL-CIO formally accepted many of the  
proposals of the "Change To Win" grouping. What was put forward by both  
groupings, was new organizational schemes that organizing could be done  
using business unionist structures and the present reliance by both  
camps on labor-management collaboration. IBT president Hoffa again and  
again mentioned that he wanted his $10 million back from the AFL-CIO  
but there was no specific plan about what to do with this additional  
money. He and Stern promised that $5 million of it would go into the  
organization of a new federation, which might include the Carpenters  
and NEA. This new federation would also represent a significant threat  
to the AFL-CIO if it included the UFCW and UNITE-HERE. No plans  
however, were laid out by either side for serious political education  
of the rank and file about the nature of the capitalist economy, the  
history of labor and a labor media strategy to challenge the anti-labor  
corporate media.

	Neither the Sweeney nor the Stern grouping had any idea or plans 
to develop a labor media strategy. When a reporter from a capitalist  
newspaper asked Richard Trumka at a press conference how the unions  
planned to get their message out, Trumka declared that that would be up  
to the reporters at the meeting. When John Wilhelm of the Unite-HERE  
union was asked about plans for a labor media strategy, he said "We  
haven't formulated such a strategy" but that the best voices should be  
the rank and file. The question is how to get those voices out when the  
media is controlled by the same union busters  and the robber barons  
that run America. Even the Wall Street Journal noted this failure of a  
new vision on 7/28/05 when they wrote "What John Sweeney and Andrew  
Stern have put forth for the new vision of the labor movement is the  
difference between Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi, but the labor movement is  
tired of soft drinks." says a healthcare worker."

	Another battle brewing in both camps is the anger by workers of  
color, particularly Black workers who have seen increasing racist  
attacks on the job and in the community but who note the failure of the  
trade unions to openly fight these attacks. Throughout the country,  
racist discrimination still takes place at many union operations such  
as UPS and DHL and in the hotel industry, yet the unions have refused  
to go on the offensive against these attacks. Even the issue of  
"hanging nooses" being put up at construction sites, hospitals and  
shops was a non-issue at the AFL-CIO.

Positive Effects of Breakup

	The split has however already had some positive effects. The AFL-CIO,  
while spending millions on Democratic Party hacks, has refused to  
provide serious funds to the labor councils throughout the country or  
to truly independent labor media and labor cultural work. Local council  
delegates demand to know how the Internationals that run the AFL-CIO  
would prevent possible bankruptcies and collapse of these central and  
state labor bodies. The Sweeney leadership proposed to push the  
Internationals to pay for all their members to join local and state  
councils and pay per capita for all their members but this would still  
leave a large gap in states like California and in large cities like  
Chicago where the SEIU have hundreds of thousands of members. They are  
now planning to order the removal of all SEIU and IBT officials from  
central labor councils and state feds around the country. How this will  
"help" them in their new "organizing" drives is highly debatable. Some  
labor council delegates at the convention sought to begin the  
construction of an independent network not run by the top officials of  
the AFL-CIO.

Exclusion of Non-AFL-CIO Unions In Labor Councils and State Federations

	In the UK, the history of the Trades Councils was an independent  
formation that later led to the formation of the Trades Union Congress.  
The TUC in the last five years has sought to shut down the independence  
of the Trades Councils. In the US most regional union activity is  
organized and supported by the trades councils and if they refused to  
remove the unions that have left the AFL-CIO from their councils it  
would be a test of the ability of the top AFL-CIO bureaucrats to keep  
control. At present, some Carpenters locals and even some NEA and UTU  
locals have been able to continue to be members of the Madison,  
Wisconsin labor council but the Sweeney leadership with the support of  
AFSCME and the CWA now say that they will remove all non-AFL-CIO  

	These unions however have generally never involved all their possible  
members in becoming delegates or participating in the labor councils.  
Instead this was left to the paid business agents and other staff. If  
these AFL-CIO councils are to survive they will have to actually get  
their members involved and participating in these councils. Workers  
should fight for elected delegates from all locals instead of appointed  
delegates. They should call on the labor councils to reject the orders  
from the AFL-CIO tops to purge the councils. The growing debate among 
trade unionists in the US about where labor is going is also an important 
and historic opportunity to examine the roots of the crisis of corporate 
unionism that dominates labor in the US.

	At the same time, the break-up of the AFL-CIO will make it  
increasingly difficult to silence activists and labor militants who are  
calling for a strategy based on independent mobilizing and organization  
of working people. If the internationals in the AFL-CIO are not able to  
maintain these labor councils and state bodies, and the Change to Win  
grouping actually builds a competing federation throughout the country,  
they could seriously challenge the power of the AFL-CIO and its very  
survival. The ability of the UNITE-HERE and the UFCW to defend  
themselves when they leave the AFL-CIO will also depend on whether the  
SEIU, Teamsters, UFCW and LIUNA are prepared to mobilize their members  
on the picket lines when these workers are forced out on strike or  
locked out. This will be another test on the streets for Stern and  

	Politically, the result of the split will also lead to stronger  
"left" positions of both factions. Following the split the AFL-CIO  
passed a resolution for the rapid withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. 
On Monday evening  at a meeting of the US Labor Against The War, 
Gene Bruskin, one of the key organizers and an official with the  
national AFL-CIO, announced that the AFL-CIO  leadership was seeking to 
prevent a discussion of the resolutions by preventing a debate until the  
closing day of the convention. This would have certainly killed any  
chance of getting the resolution passed. It also showed the contempt  
the national leaderships of the unions had toward democracy. Unions  
including AFSCME, CWA and others representing millions of workers had  
voted to call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq and now the leadership  
was planning to kill any debate or action. This reporter pointed this  
out and called for a press release by USLAW. While this was not done,  
apparently CWA Vice President Larry Cohen, who will be taking over the  
CWA in August 2005 from Morton Bahr, convinced Sweeney and company that  
they better allow the debate or face a bitter backlash. The Sweeney  
leadership relented and agreed to an amendment calling for the "rapid"  
withdrawal of US troops. At the same time the resolution called on  
other countries to train troops to run Iraq.

	The split of the AFL-CIO concretely means that the monolith positions  
and control of the bureaucracy has been weakened. The danger, which  
they clearly saw, was that the very people they were seeking to keep  
around them might start arguing to join the rebellion. Also, USLAW had  
brought two Iraqi unionists to the convention who argued that the US  
occupation was contributing to sectarianism and terrorism and that the  
Iraqi workers had to solve the problem of the terrorists themselves.

	Additionally during Jesse Jackson's speech, the strongest response  
came when he called for the US to withdraw from Iraq. Jackson received  
a standing ovation. When the resolution came up at the convention, the  
spotlight and cameras were all trained on the two Iraqi unionists,  
showing that there was leadership support for the resolution. AFT  
International Affairs Director David N. Dorn in fact complained that 
USLAW had brought only Iraqi unionists to the US who were opposed to 
the US occupation and for immediate withdrawal. At the same time, USLAW, 
in their victory statement, declared "The AFL-CIO has a proud history of 
solidarity with worker movements around the world in their opposition to 
tyranny." This played into the hands of those National Endowment for 
Democracy (NED) supporters within the AFL-CIO  fighting to stop the 
exposure of  the open collaboration by the AFL-CIO international 
operations with the CIA and US multi-nationals. It also covered up the 
bloody hands of Sweeney and those in the AFL-CIO who have done the 
bidding of the US government in its international operations.

AFL-CIO Continues To Support Imperial Interventions Through NED

	The  resolution challenging the collaboration of the AFL-CIO with 
the US State Department did not fare so well. It was called the 
"Building Unity and Trust Among Workers Worldwide" resolution. This 
resolution, backed by the California AFL-CIO and many labor councils 
around the country, called for an opening of the books of the 
international activities of the AFL-CIO, including its record in Chile 
and most recently Venezuela. It did not call for the ending of 
government funding of the Solidarity Center but only an examination of 
its role. The AFL-CIO "Solidarity Center" takes over $31 million a year 
from the NED and was actively involved in seeking to overthrow the 
government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

	Unlike the anti-war resolution, the AFL-CIO Executive Council  
supported a resolution that openly supported taking US funds. "The  
Solidarity Center will continue to use public funding to support the  
building of free and independent unions."  It then went on to defend  
the CIA-orchestrated intervention in Venezuela. "In Venezuela, the  
Solidarity Center's programs reflect the AFL-CIO's statement of support  
for the Chavez government's socially progressive domestic programs and  
its objection to Chavez's infringement of freedom of association. Since  
1999, the Solidarity Center's programs in Venezuela have focused  
exclusively on collective bargaining, freedom of association and  
workers' rights in relation to trade. In response to a demand on the  
Confederacion de Trabajadores Veneazolano (CTV) by President Chavez,  
the Solidarity Center supported programs focused on the democratization  
and direct election process in Venezuelan unions. Funding for these  
programs has been rigidly managed and controlled and has included  
support for both non-CTV and pro-Chavez labor organizations."

	Imagine the howls from these "labor leaders" if the Venezuelan  
government was funding efforts to democratize the AFL-CIO and the US  
trade unions. But as long as the US government is funding this it's ok  
according to those who run the "Solidarity Center". This support for  
the Solidarity Center was pushed by the chair of the convention, Gerald  
W. McEntee of AFSCME, now the leading union of the AFL-CIO. After  
lining up 5 speakers in favor of the AFL-CIO collaboration with the  
Solidarity Center, McEntee asked "Did I hear someone call for the  
question?"  He then got one of his supporters to say yes and they shut  
down the debate without one speaker opposed to the executive council  
resolution. So much for "democracy" at the convention. The chair of
the AFL-CIO's International Affairs Committee is  William Lucy.
Lucy is also the   secretary treasurer of AFSCME and  chair of the 
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. He was also a major labor supporter 
of Mary Francis Barry during the Pacifica Radio and attempted 
liquidation by the Barry cabal. Despite the fact that this corporate 
power grab was aimed not only at the listeners but also the unions at 
Pacifica, Lucy supported the union busting by Barry. The fact that 
Lucy is now backing the AFL-CIO ioperations in Venezuela needs to be 
raised by trade unionists in AFSCME and the CBTU. Who does he represent?

   There was also no debate about the continuing support of the AFL-CIO  
for the purchase of Israeli bonds and support for the Histadrut and the  
apartheid wall being built in part with US tax dollars. A rank and file  
labor conference which took place days before the convention  
(www.laborforpalestine.org) heard reports on the legalized state  
discrimination against Palestinian workers and how the AFL-CIO has  
collaborated with the supporters of Zionism to silence trade unionists  
who are critical of Israel. Recently the Association of University of  
Wisconsin Professionals (TAUWP) which is affiliated with the AFT passed  
a resolution calling for the divestment by Wisconsin of all companies  
that provide the Israeli Army with weapons, equipment, and supporting  
systems. This however never saw the light of day at the convention. The  
conference committed to launch a national campaign to take these  
initiatives into the entire labor movement and to begin an education  
campaign around these issues.

Shift To the Left?

   It is likely however, that with the SEIU,  a leading force in the  
"Change To Win" grouping and AFSCME, a leading force in the AFL-CIO,  
there will be a significant shift to the left in these federation's  
formal "positions". Whether this leads to any action will be up to  
those militants and activists in these unions and federations. The  
possible move by the California Nurses Association to join the AFL-CIO  
will also shift this federation to the left. The C.N.A. has been the  
most aggressive union in going after California Governor Schwarzenneger  
and in educating their members about the class nature of the US  
healthcare system. It is also engaged in a national campaign to  
organize nurses throughout the country and recently won 1700 nurses at  
Cook County in Chicago against a more conservative nurses association.

   The need to organize better and to be more successful will also now  
pressure these groupings into action for their survival. Many members  
of AFL-CIO unions are angry at the failure of the AFL-CIO and their  
internationals to take on the bosses and in the past they have been  
locked into staying with the AFL-CIO. This new situation will  
potentially offer these workers the opportunity to leave and go with  
more militant unions. If this takes place there will be tremendous  
pressure on some unions to become more militant or lose great numbers  
of their members.

   This is also a fear among some union activists of both camps that  
instead of organizing the millions of unorganized workers in the US,  
the SEIU, AFSCME, Carpenters and other unions will launch massive raids  
to poach the members of other unions. One of the most active unions in  
such practices is the UBC carpenters, whose president is Doug McCarron.  
McCarron has sent letters to the Sheetmetal Workers and Ironworkers  
that he will no longer be bound by any agreements not to raid. He has  
spent $19 million on a Las Vegas training center that is training not  
only carpenters but electricians, sheetmetal workers and iron workers.  
His plan is to offer contractors a multi-purpose union with a much  
lower pay scale than the rest of the skilled trades. McCarron has  
centralized the Carpenter's district councils with hand picked  
candidates and has forced concessions on carpenters even when  
construction was booming. His scheme to undercut the other skilled  
trades is creating tremendous anger in the building trades and Stern's  
effort to get the UBC to join this new "Change To Win" coalition will  
further drive these unions apart.

  But this could have the opposite effect. The fear that workers can  
more easily throw out corrupt business unionists who have pushed  
concession contracts with two tiers and wage cuts may pragmatically  
force these unions to become more militant in defense of their members.  
If this takes place it could have a significant effect in changing the  
face of organized labor in the US which to this point has been  
virtually compliant with the needs of capitalist America. While Stern  
threatened the Democrats that he might support Republicans (he gave  
$500,000 to the Republicans Governors Organization in the last election  
cycle) if he did not get his way, there was no indication that this new  
federation would begin to run independent labor candidates against the  
capitalist politicians.

   This is one of the enduring characteristics of post World War II US  
business trade unionism. While the capitalists openly seek to create a  
union-free environment and fire over 20,000 workers a year who are  
simply trying to organize, the US trade unions continue to support the  
same capitalist politicians and political economic system that makes  
working people the victims. This great chasm is growing as the systemic  
attack on the working class picks up speed and leaves a trail of  
destroyed unions and workers and their families in its wake.

   A few members of the Labor Action Coalition (www.laboraction.org)  
picketing in front of the convention, highlighted their belief that the  
choice for the unions is to either fight corporate America or die. This  
is something that has yet to happen on the ground floor of the class  

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