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Huffington Post: Obama Opens the Door, Will Labor Go Through It? [View All]

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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-14-08 05:18 PM
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Huffington Post: Obama Opens the Door, Will Labor Go Through It?
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Bob Ostertag
Posted December 12, 2008 | 09:38 PM (EST)

This week demonstrated for all to see two directions for organized labor in the Obama era. You can support laid off workers occupying the factories of their former employers, or you can focus on cutting backroom deals with corrupt politicians.

I know, it's a tough call. Let's see. At best, the backroom deal route lands you on the front page in a very embarrassing light; at worst, you end up maybe in jail.

Occupying a factories, on the other hand, actually wins real stuff for people who are facing a very hard time. They might not have jobs, but at least they got what they were owed. Hooray! But that is trivial compared with what might be won if labor focused more generally on things like mobilizing workers to occupy factories instead of schmoozing the halls of power.

The plain truth is that the economic policies the Obama administration will actually implement will have far less to do with who gets appointed to what post than with whether there is a movement demanding economic justice from whoever's hand is on the policy lever. On the one hand, the people labor would like to see in positions of power will need pushing just as much as anyone from the other sectors of Obama's coalition. On the other hand, the "centrists" Obama has been naming are particularly vulnerable to being pushed right now. Given the scale of the crisis, they themselves are unsure of what to do, and this uncertainty will open doors for workers that would otherwise be closed. Just as importantly, the forces on the other side of the equation are so weak. Big capital is just as unsure of what to do as the technocrats in the center, and anyway corporate power has so little credibility at the moment it hardly matters what they think. Witness the big three automakers being rebuffed by the Republican minority in the Senate.

The centrist who should be pushed more than anyone is Barack Obama himself. And what is most promising of all, it seems that this view is shared by the President-elect himself. Speaking last Sunday of the factory occupation, Obama said,"When it comes to the situation here in Chicago with the workers who are asking for their benefits and payments they have earned, I think they are absolutely right. What's happening to them is reflective of what's happening across this economy."

Say what? Did we just hear the President-Elect of the United States encouraging workers to occupy factories in defense of their rights?

FULL story at link.

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