Saturday, September 10, 2011

On the Waterfront: Jimmy Hoffa is dead. Long live James Jr.!

Unions are the villains in the Right’s narrative about what’s wrong with America. They are painted as lazy, incompetent, violent thugs. This is to distract from criminal enterprises masquerading as the "efficient markets tend to equilibrium" theory and the dismantling of the New Deal ethos.

Fox News
an edited video of James Hoffa Jr.’s Labor Day speech seeming to threaten violence against the Tea Party. They played it over and over again. The edits were obvious (check out the link, which contrasts Fox’s footage with ABC’s unedited film). The actual footage shows Hoffa rousing the troops to vote out the Congressmen who want to eliminate unions. Quoting from the transcript:

”Everybody here’s got to vote. If we go back, and keep the eye on the prize, let’s take these son of a bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong.”

It’s not only the Right that positions unions as thuggish. The International Longshore and Warehouse union shut down the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, joining its fellow union to protest the Port of Longview’s decision to use non-union labor at its new grain terminal.

The Journal of Commerce headlines its story on legitimate strike activity, “ILWU Protest Closes Ports of Seattle, Tacoma”. That’s a relatively objective headline. On the other hand, The New York Times headlines its story, “Union Dispute, Turning Violent, Spreads and Idles Ports.” Its lede focuses on the violence.

The eradication of unions and collective bargaining power would eliminate the already weakened position of labor versus management. Labor unions support the interests of the working and middle class. They are willing to fight for their candidates with blood and treasure. There is no other major source of support for like-minded politicians. The unions convinced white males to vote for Obama in 2008 because they said he promised to back them up. If the unions become toxic, only corporate money will influence politics.

The choice could not be clearer. Republicans want to eliminate public schools, public services, dismantle regulations protecting the safety of air, water, pharmaceuticals, the environment, Social Security, Medicare; indeed halt any government spending except for money released through tax cuts, which goes into the pockets of the rich. There is redistribution of income, all right, but not from the rich to the poor; rather, it’s the other way around. This is piracy, aka privatization.

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