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Archive for September 2nd, 2012

Another grim Labour Day. The unions are under attack. The middle class is under attack.

This is no coincidence.

Unions are solidly middle-class institutions. True, their rhetoric may be radical. Labour militants still favour rousing songs from the 1930s, such as “Which Side Are You On.”

But in reality, unions are fundamentally conservative. Most today are not trying to break new ground. Instead, they are attempting to hold on — often desperately — to what they have […]

In Europe, 19th century socialism gave unions a new language — one that talked explicitly of the working class and suggested a brave new future.

With notable exceptions, such as the avowedly revolutionary Industrial Workers of the World, North American labour tended to avoid talk of explicit class conflict. Even today, the language of a Canadian trade union — Brother This and Sister That — owes more to the fraternal lodge than to Karl Marx.

This too should be no surprise. The first North American unions, such as the Knights of Labour, were often modeled on fraternal organizations like the International Order of Odd Fellows and provided similar practical benefits, such as burial insurance.

Labour Day itself grew from an attempt by North American unions to distance themselves from their more radical European cousins, who preferred to celebrate May 1, a day dedicated to the revolutionary struggle against capitalism.

“Labour Day stands for industrial peace,” the American Federation of Labour’s Samuel Gompers wrote in 1910. “Our labour movement has no system to crush. It has nothing to overturn.” […]

The reasons for labour’s decline from the 1970s on are well known. Manufacturing has moved to low-wage countries. Non-manufacturing industries are harder to organize.

Now, recession has emboldened business to destroy those remaining union jobs that do exist, either directly or through so-called right-to-work laws that make organizing tough. Caterpillar Inc.’s shutdown of a unionized locomotive plant in London is a classic example.

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On the 43rd Anniversary of the Al-Fateh Revolution the Green Star and New Resistance asks all of our friends and comrades to not forget the great leader Muamar al Gaddafi, a true hero and martyr for freedom and justice.

 

 

 

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