Wednesday, April 22, 2015

TPP And The Labor Wars To Come

As Varys said in the blockbuster series, Game of Thrones, "Men of talent have a part to play in the wars to come," I believe all men and women will have a part to play in the labor wars to come.

President Obama fired a shot across the bow at progressives this past weekend when he was attempting to sell the secretive NAFTA 2.0 Trans-Pacific Partnership(TPP).  Obama claimed, "I agree with Elizabeth(Warren) on a host of issues, but she's wrong about this."  If you're trying to prove someone else is wrong and you are right, it doesn't help if you are purposely keeping the details confidential.  This is why the labor community almost unanimously opposes TPP.

After being hoodwinked on how NAFTA would be great for American workers by the last Democratic president, unions are rightfully wary of being so trusting this time around.  This is probably the most likely single issue to cause a split between the Democratic Party and labor unions, but there are a few other under-the-surface issues as well.

The biggest of these issues is the continued focus of labor unions on political lobbying over direct action.  While unions were able to stick their thumb in the dam for a while to stop the hemorrhage of union density, the Citizens United ruling has made it impossible for unions to compete long-term, which we are already seeing with the anti-union legislation that has passed in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan.  It should be no surprise that the Koch Brothers recently proclaimed Scott Walker as their preferred candidate.

With lobbying no longer a viable long-term solution, the obvious(and possibly only) solution is a return to non-partisan, direct action that was so effective in the early part of the 20th century.  The times are ripe for the return of general strikes, and other forms of mass demonstrations.  Inequality is at an all-time peak.  If the labor movement cannot galvanize now, then perhaps it may be too late, and it will have to die and be reborn.

In Solidarity,

Joseph Riedel