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Sun Mar 16, 2014, 09:06 AM

America’s Working Class Has No Lobby

by DAVID MACARAY

It’s a broad generalization, and reeks of cynicism, but it’s true: Many (most?) good things get done not as the result of being conspicuously seen as the “right” thing to do, but as the result of pressure being applied to get them done. Conversely, in the absence of pressure being applied, the “right” thing often doesn’t get done. In other words, it’s more about “muscle” than “morals.”

Take the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, for example, one of the harshest anti-immigration measures in U.S. history. After a significant number of Chinese workers had emigrated to the U.S., lured here by the California Gold Rush (1848-1854), and later, by jobs on large works programs, such as the Transcontinental Railroad, America decided it didn’t want any more of them. We had enough Chinamen.

While the reasons for passing the Exclusion Act were a mixed bag of xenophobia, racism, and economic worries, what is most revealing is how simple it was to get this remarkable legislation passed. It was easy. Basically, some people got together and decided no more Chinese should enter the country, and then went out and passed a law to make it so. And the reason it was so easy was because there was no meaningful resistance.

The 1882 Exclusion Act was supposed to stay in effect for ten years. But in 1892, it was extended for ten additional years, and in 1902, it was made permanent. Incredibly, that law stayed on the books until 1943, when it was repealed by the Magnuson Act. And what precipitated its repeal in 1943? Following Pearl Harbor, the Chinese had become the good Asians, and the “Japs” had become the bad Asians.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/14/americas-working-class-has-no-lobby-2/

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Arrow 24 replies Author Time Post
Reply America’s Working Class Has No Lobby (Original post)
Jefferson23 Mar 2014 OP
Gman Mar 2014 #1
Hoppy Mar 2014 #3
olegramps Mar 2014 #5
Gman Mar 2014 #8
Gman Mar 2014 #9
Hoppy Mar 2014 #14
yurbud Mar 2014 #17
WoodyM90 Mar 2014 #11
Hoppy Mar 2014 #15
whathehell Mar 2014 #24
Thinkingabout Mar 2014 #2
Jackpine Radical Mar 2014 #4
Jefferson23 Mar 2014 #7
cantbeserious Mar 2014 #6
alc Mar 2014 #10
malthaussen Mar 2014 #12
Jackpine Radical Mar 2014 #13
Populist_Prole Mar 2014 #16
struggle4progress Mar 2014 #18
Jefferson23 Mar 2014 #19
struggle4progress Mar 2014 #20
Jefferson23 Mar 2014 #21
Brigid Mar 2014 #22
Doctor_J Mar 2014 #23

Response to Jefferson23 (Original post)

Sun Mar 16, 2014, 09:33 AM

1. Organized labor, the AFL-CIO lobbies for working people

Not just union members. Whatever labor gets all working people get.

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Response to Gman (Reply #1)

Sun Mar 16, 2014, 10:12 AM

3. I disagree.

 

for evidence, I refer to my recent experience applying for a position at a local supermarket. Their workers are represented by an affiliate of AFL-CIO. The union negotiated a starting wage that is .75 higher than the minimum wage. Deduct the union dues and you got shit for wages.

Then the union allows the company to hire only part time workers.

I don't call that representation.

But don't worry. The union still gets its dues every month.

I don't know what a better solution would be except I.W.W. or service employees union.

But AFL-CIO is as useless as my left nut.

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Response to Hoppy (Reply #3)

Sun Mar 16, 2014, 10:29 AM

5. You say a starting wage; what is the schedule for increases?

I have a friend that works for Safeway and he commented that most of these stores are in direct competition with Wal-Mart to stay in business and the unions have had to make serious concessions. The only real hope is that the massive Wal-Mart complex will be unionized and the playing field can be leveled. Wal-Mart is a disaster for the working class. Many of their employees are so under paid that they qualify for food stamps. Their ability to under cut the price on goods is a far more significant factor than some notion that it is the unions fault for low wages.

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Response to olegramps (Reply #5)

Sun Mar 16, 2014, 10:41 AM

8. You make a good point

To an obviously not aware post.

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Response to Hoppy (Reply #3)

Sun Mar 16, 2014, 10:46 AM

9. Thank you for your ignorant opinion

Is that all you look at? What's the top wage? Benefits? Retirement? And what about the MOST IMPORTANT part if a union contract, a "just cause" clause if you get fired for a BS reason? How much is that worth? Those union dues are a pretty good deal.

You're very short sightedness shows you really aren't interested in what the whole package is. In fact it's probably best you don't work there as you'd probably be a scab.

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Response to Gman (Reply #9)

Sun Mar 16, 2014, 03:27 PM

14. Sorry, sweetheart.

 

There are no benefits in this shop, except for full time employees. And they will no longer hire full time employees.

Top wage? $12. per hour. That will go far on no more than 29 hours per week.

Retirement? It called Social Security.

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Response to Hoppy (Reply #14)

Sun Mar 16, 2014, 06:46 PM

17. the full time/part time split is a classic union busting (or at least weakening) trick

Divide workers into two classes, take care of a minority of them, and they won't mind too much if the rest are screwed.

The other way of dividing workers is old vs. "new hires," so workers who have been there a while get raises and benefits but the newbies don't.

Companies get away with this because unions are democratic and those who are activists have usually been around for a while. When faced with losing for everyone or making things better for a few, union negotiators and members will often opt for the latter not realizing they are crippling their ability to form a united front in negotiations in the future.

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Response to Hoppy (Reply #3)

Sun Mar 16, 2014, 11:09 AM

11. .75 above minimum wage is $30.00

per a forty-hour week. Your union dues were $30.00 or more a week?

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Response to WoodyM90 (Reply #11)

Sun Mar 16, 2014, 03:29 PM

15. Let me clarify...

 

N.J. minimum wage is $8.25.

Starting wage is $9.00 (-) union dues, unemployment , F.I.C.A.

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Response to Hoppy (Reply #3)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 08:19 PM

24. A union is as good as its members....n/t

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Response to Jefferson23 (Original post)

Sun Mar 16, 2014, 09:59 AM

2. For many years the unions worked hard, had large numbers and not only lobbied for their members but

also for workers rights in non union members. The GOP has been on a long hard journey to union bust and unfortunately many of the working class has assisted by voting against union organizing and voting for the union busters at every level.

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Response to Jefferson23 (Original post)

Sun Mar 16, 2014, 10:19 AM

4. My public employees union in WI routinely endorsed Toxic Tommy Thompson,

corrupt Republican governor & inventor of Clinton's "Welfare Reform." Their argument was that the endorsement made no real difference because Tommy was gonna win anyway. In return, they got some relatively minor concessions at the bargaining table, even while Tommy was trying to loot the retirement fund. Had they not endorsed him, it's hard telling what they might have unleashed. Maybe Walkerism 20 years early. On the other hand, Tommy couldn't have pulled off a full Walker, and might have faced a successful recall if he had even tried to do that, because it was a different era, an era of divided or majority-Democratic rule in the state Legislature and a more union-friendly time.

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Response to Jackpine Radical (Reply #4)

Sun Mar 16, 2014, 10:40 AM

7. Interesting, the legacy of labor is an eye opener. Thanks for your input. n/t

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Response to Jefferson23 (Original post)

Sun Mar 16, 2014, 10:35 AM

6. Never Has - Never Will

The Oligarchs, Corporations and Banks own and control the politicians that own and control us.

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Response to Jefferson23 (Original post)

Sun Mar 16, 2014, 11:09 AM

10. but we get to elect the people who the lobbyists talk to

And we keep electing people who would rather listen to lobbyists than to us until the next election. The core problem is that we keep electing the party's choice in the primaries. And the party is beholden to lobbyists and the candidate owes their wins in the primary and general election to the party. And the representative's chance of re-election next time is significantly higher if they have party support.

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Response to Jefferson23 (Original post)

Sun Mar 16, 2014, 11:33 AM

12. Pay me half a mil a year...

... and I'll be glad to move to DC and expense lunches with congresscritters in the name of Networking for the Working Class.

-- Mal

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Response to malthaussen (Reply #12)

Sun Mar 16, 2014, 03:01 PM

13. I'll underbid this by 15%.

An incredible bargain!

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Response to Jefferson23 (Original post)

Sun Mar 16, 2014, 03:29 PM

16. We do, but they're marginalized and demonized by demagogues with bigger soapboxes and louder mics

So we do have lobbies and blocs that speak on our behalf, it's just that to all too many, they're tagged as "special interest groups" that support parties or pols that support social issues all too many single issue social conservatives just can't pry themselves away from.

Get "god & guns" out of the thought process and our own lobbys would steamroll the COC, the Kochs, et al flatter 'n a pancake.

Alas, that's a real toughie.

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Response to Jefferson23 (Original post)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 06:23 AM

18. Counterpunch is useless. The anti-chinese laws belong to the same tradition that once gave us

Jim Crow and today gives us Juan Crow laws: the strategy is to use racist populism to marginalize a segment of the population as an underclass, a divide-and-conquer gambit that prevents working class solidarity and unified struggle for gains

Where Jim Crow directed the hostility of lowerclass whites towards lumpenproletariat blacks by encouraging racism, the anti-chinese laws directed the hostility of lowerclass whites towards asians by encouraging racism, and Juan Crow directs the hostility of lowerclass whites towards hispanics by encouraging racism. Underclass status of blacks during Jim Crow was enforced by legal restrictions and lynching; underclass status of asians was enforced during the anti-chinese period by legal restrictions and lynching and deportation; nowadays underclass status of hispanics is enforced by the threat of deportation

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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #18)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 08:46 AM

19. Counterpunch is useless? You have a disagreement with this authors portrayal of

the labor system and that culminates as a broad brush on Counterpunch..really?

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Response to Jefferson23 (Reply #19)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 09:03 AM

20. It's a bullshizz site that specializes in bullshizz analysis

I didn't form that opinion from a single article: I formed it from reading articles there over a period of years and finding that again and again my reaction was Wait! What? Hey, this is bullshizz!

The anti-chinese laws deserve some attention, but this article blathers at bit about how easily the laws were passed more than a century ago, then jumps inexplicably to the question of whether modern labor has an effective lobby: it's crap, that doesn't help us understand a damn thing and doesn't help anybody organize

I'm torn between viewing Counterpunch as a gaggle of attention-whores or viewing them as deliberate disruptors

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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #20)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 09:13 AM

21. To each their own..for one, the author did not give me the impression there was any ease in laws

that were passed, not at all. His main objective was to place emphasis on our loss of power in the labor fight, imo.

The OP's at Counterpunch are often not kind to the Obama administration, I take each one on its
own merits.

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Response to Jefferson23 (Original post)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 10:13 AM

22. Sometimes a writer just hits it.

We can talk about what's right for workers until the cows come home, but until workers start coming together and pressuring TPTB as hard as we can, without letting up, we will continue to be no better off than Chinese coolies. Macaray is right -- a higher minimum wage and changes in overtime rules are mere sops, intended to be just enough to keep the torches and pitchforks away.

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Response to Jefferson23 (Original post)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 10:28 AM

23. We're not supposed to need one

 

the government is now so corrupt that it's basically a money-laundering operation for corporations and billionaires.

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