Regarding yesterday’s Blog, Tom Baines observes that Samuel Gompers, the early American trade union founder of the AF of L [American Federation of Labor], had some involvement in Works Councils. Checking Wikipedia, I see no instant mention of it. Nonetheless, Wikipedia points out that, “Gompers . . . put his faith in the organized economic movement of trade unionism rather than the socialist political movement.”
Since America’s current “Rightist” philosophy claims that almost any socially conscious initiative by labor or government is “Socialistic,” it appears that Conservatives have forgotten – or consciously disallowed – the history of American unions. Although unions too have sometimes imposed blunt methods of asserting leverage for workers, corporate power has, hand-in-hand with government, repeatedly put down working Americans with police and military force. Such concentration of organized violence is rarely available to workers.
At the risk of being dubbed a “Socialist,” I would still take my stand with unions if and when they should confront today’s “Conservative Capitalism,” which rarely attempts even to pretend to help either American poor or workers. Conservatism, as practiced today, tends consistently to side simply with those who have, by whatever means, filled their bank accounts with lots of money.
The issue is not simply about the power of money. It is about unemployed Americans striving to acquire and participate in the management of life-supporting work. It is about the human dignity of American citizens who have been economically rejected by corporate leaders – leaders who have become obscenely wealthy through their conscious marginalization of one in ten American workers. It is about their disloyalty to their fellow American citizens.