Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Monday, May 9, 2011

A new dawn?

First it was the firefighters:

The nation’s main firefighters’ union, long a strong supporter of Democratic candidates, announced on Tuesday that it would indefinitely suspend all contributions to federal candidates out of frustration with Congressional Democrats who, union officials say, have not fought harder against budget cuts and anti-union legislation.

The union, the International Association of Fire Fighters, said it would focus its contributions and energies on state and local races because many legislatures have sought to curtail collective bargaining or otherwise weaken public-sector unions.

Harold A. Schaitberger, the president of the 300,000-member union, said in an interview that he was dismayed with Democrats in Congress for not fighting harder against Republican budget cuts and efforts to weaken unions in more than a dozen state legislatures.

We’re tired that our friends have not been willing to stand up and fight back on our behalf with the same ferocity, the same commitment that our enemies have in trying to destroy our members’ rights,” he said. “Quite frankly, our enemies are trying to kill us as a labor movement and union trying to represent workers and help the middle class.”

Now it's Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, America's largest labor organization:

(President Trumka) It's actually going to be fun. You'll see us giving less to party structure, and more to our own structure. Let's say we give three-fourths of the recorded money to the party structure or to the candidate, what do we have the day after Election Day?

(Interviewer) Promises?


(Interviewer) Handshakes? Smiles?

Maybe. But you won't see that [in 2012]. You'll see more of labor's money put into its own structure right now, and less being set aside for candidates and party structure. What you're about to see is, we're going to do a full-time, around the calendar political program that's going to be mobilizing and educating people 12 months a year, 24 months a cycle, as opposed to doing it till Election Day and dismantling it. We're going to keep people in place, and actually make people pay a price [if they don't keep promises]. We'll start running some of our own, in state races.

I hope that this is the start of a new chapter in American labor history. For decades workers have given of their time and money to help elect Democrats to federal office. Very few of these Democrats have done much for workers in return. Dick Gephardt, Dennis Kucinich, John Conyers, Ted Kennedy, stand out as rare examples of reliable advocates for workers in Washington D.C. Most national Democrats, like Bill Clinton or Barack Obama, have repaid the support of labor by selling out American workers left and right, doing nothing to halt the aggressive union-busting, and outsourcing of good jobs that has devastated the middle class. President Obama's betrayal of teacher unions is particularly troublesome, as he teams up with Bill Gates and other education "reform" advocates who wish to privatize the nation's schools.

While it is probably premature to run a labor candidate for President, it is well past time to turn off the labor money spigot to Democrats who think of workers only as an afterthought, when they are done counting their money from Wall Street.

The biggest danger in this new independence, of course, is that it could make it easier for Republicans to get elected. Yet I would argue that Democrats should stop even trying to match Republicans in campaign spending. A strong voting record, of standing up for workers, is worth far more than slick marketing campaigns on T.V. Nearly half of eligible U.S. voters don't come out for elections. This isn't because Republicans or Democrats aren't spending enough on elections. It's because they're not doing enough to help average Americans between elections.


Underground Politics said...

I hope that them cutting funding to the Dems in congress will wake them up. Because they really need to grow a pair and stand up for the middle class and stop letting the GOP steam roll'em.

Ulysses said...

From your lips to God's ears, Underground!