Posted by: Doug Henwood | June 6, 2012

Walker’s victory, un-sugar-coated

Democrats and labor types are coming up with a lot of excuses for Scott Walker’s victory in Wisconsin. Not all are worthless. But the excuse-making impulse should be beaten down with heavy sticks.

Yes, money mattered. Enormous amounts of cash poured in, mainly from right-wing tycoons, to support Walker’s effort to snuff public employee unions. While these sorts of tycoons—outside the Wall Street/Fortune 500 establishment—have long been the funding base for right-wing politics, they seem to have grown in wealth, number, consciousness, and mobilization since their days funding the John Birch Society and the Goldwater movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

But lingering too long on the money explanation is too easy. Several issues must be stared down. One is the horrible mistake of channelling a popular uprising into electoral politics. As I wrote almost a year ago (Wisconsin: game over?):

It’s the same damn story over and over. The state AFL-CIO chooses litigation and electoral politics over popular action, which dissolves everything into mush. Meanwhile, the right is vicious, crafty, and uncompromising. Guess who wins that sort of confrontation?

Please prove me wrong someday, you sad American “left.”

At this point, few things would make me happier to say than I’d been proven wrong. But I wasn’t.

There were several things wrong with the electoral strategy (beyond, that is, the weakness of electoral strategies to begin with). Barrett was an extremely weak candidate who’d already once lost to Walker (though by a slightly narrower margin than this time). Potentially stronger candidates like Russ Feingold refused to run, probably out of fear of these results. And the bar was very high for a recall. Only 19 states have recall provisions, and Walker was just the third governor to face one. Well over half of Wisconsin voters think that recalls should be reserved only for misconduct—and less than a third approve of recalls for any reason other than misconduct (Wisconsin recall: Should there be a recall at all?).

Suppose instead that the unions had supported a popular campaign—media, door knocking, phone calling—to agitate, educate, and organize on the importance of the labor movement to the maintenance of living standards? If they’d made an argument, broadly and repeatedly, that Walker’s agenda was an attack on the wages and benefits of the majority of the population? That it was designed to remove organized opposition to the power of right-wing money in politics? That would have been more fruitful than this major defeat.

 

It is a defeat. It is not, as that idiot Ed Schultz said on MSNBC last night, an opportunity for regroupment. (Didn’t hear it myself, but it was reported by a reliable source on the Twitter.) Because in the wise and deservedly famous words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “When you strike at a king, you must kill him.” When you don’t, you look like a fool if you’re lucky. More likely, you’ll find your head in a noose.

And as much as it hurts to admit this, labor unions just aren’t very popular. In Gallup’s annual poll on confidence in institutions, unions score close to the bottom of the list, barely above big business and HMOs but behind banks. More Americans—42%—would like to see unions have less influence, and just 25% would like to see them have more. Despite a massive financial crisis and a dismal job market, approval of unions is close to an all-time low in the 75 years Gallup has been asking the question. A major reason for this is that twice as many people (68%) think that unions help mostly their members as think they help the broader population (34%). Amazingly, in Wisconsin, while only about 30% of union members voted for Walker, nearly half of those living in union households but not themselves union members voted for him (Union voters ≠ union households). In other words, apparently union members aren’t even able to convince their spouses that the things are worth all that much.

A major reason for the perception that unions mostly help insiders is that it’s true. Though unions sometimes help out in living wage campaigns, they’re too interested in their own wages and benefits and not the needs of the broader working class. Public sector workers rarely make common cause with the consumers of public services, be they schools, health care, or transit.

Since 2000, unions have given over $700 million to Democrats—$45 million of it this year alone (Labor: Long-Term Contribution Trends). What do they have to show for it? Imagine if they’d spent that sort of money, say, lobbying for single-payer day-in, day-out, everywhere.

So what now? Most labor people, including some fairly radical ones, detest Bob Fitch’s analysis of labor’s torpor. By all means, read his book Solidarity for Sale for the full analysis. But a taste of it can be gotten here, from his interview with Michael Yates of Monthly Review. A choice excerpt:

Essentially, the American labor movement consists of 20,000 semi-autonomous local unions. Like feudal vassals, local leaders get their exclusive jurisdiction from a higher level organization and pass on a share of their dues. The ordinary members are like the serfs who pay compulsory dues and come with the territory. The union bosses control jobs—staff jobs or hiring hall jobs—the coin of the political realm. Those who get the jobs—the clients—give back their unconditional loyalty. The politics of loyalty produces, systematically, poles of corruption and apathy. The privileged minority who turn the union into their personal business. And the vast majority who ignore the union as none of their business.

Bob thought that the whole model of American unionism, in which unions were given exclusive rights to bargain over contracts in closed shops, was a major long-term source of weakness. I find it persuasive; many don’t. But whatever you think of that analysis of the past is rapidly becoming irrelevant. Collective bargaining has mostly disappeared in the private sector, and now looks doomed in the public sector. There are something like 23 states with Republican governors and legislative majorities ready to imitate Walker who will be emboldened by his victory. And there are a lot of Dems ready to do a Walker Lite. If they don’t disappear, public sector unions will soon become powerless.

That means that if unions ever want to turn things around—and I’m old-fashioned enough to believe that we’ll never have a better society without a reborn labor movement—they have to learn to operate in this new reality. Which means learning to act politically, to agitate on behalf of the entire working class and not just a privileged subset with membership cards.

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Responses

  1. Bravo!
    -bernard Marszalek

  2. Here is what I posted on facebook last night after Walker was declared the winner:

    “It looks like Scott Walker has beaten back the recall effort in Wisconsin. The MSNBC pundits and liberals in general are blaming the big money that went to Walker. But if this doesn’t show the bankruptcy of the labor union leadership-Democratic Party alliance I don’t know what does. Neither seems to care at all about ordinary working people. They fear them and have disdain for them at the same time. They look to their power and the money that derives from this. Nothing else matters. Look at the dog the Dems ran against Walker. I might add that given all the prescient things about all of this we say in our book, Wisconsin Uprising: Labor Fights Back, it should be a bestseller.”

    A former labor student of mine noted that “We have strategies that work in organizing workers. Labor rarely employs them. The real lesson, as stated by Michael, is that labor can’t rely on Democrats. We can’t rely on our labor leaders much either.”

    I heard that dope Ed Schultz last night babbling about the destruction of democracy by big money. Woe is us, he lamented. Man, it must be nice to be so fucking dumb and get a big paycheck.

  3. Great post, Mr Doug.

  4. Bingo, Michael.

  5. Thank you Mr Tom!

  6. Tom, why the tepid review of Michale Klare in Earth Island Journal? You seemed to get peeved at his “pessimism,” without going into the alternative position you might like to inhabit of believing in this or that salvation. Where all have all the climate change solutionists gone?

  7. I heard on German tv today that 80% of CDU (that’s the German Right wing) said that they would be Democrats if they were Americans. The US Republicans are right of these Germans, the industrialists, financiers, middle class professionals, and Christian conservatives in the country. Reason: they accept that the elite must support a welfare net in order to maintain social harmony. It is not a question of trade unions but of recognizing the concerns of middle class–working people as legitimate and giving them a deliberative voice in the community. That’s the theme Democrats need to pursue. Trade unions are a moribund institution and focusing on defending them is unpopular — in Germany as well as in America.

  8. Walker’s victory was not very resounding, and the Demicraps, pace Fox News do appear to have gained bare control of the Wisconsin Senate. Moreover, it also appears that Walker may be in serious legal trouble. So this is no real occasion for Tea Party torchlight parades. No matter what the bastards say, if the Senate result holds, Walker and the Tea Party can claim no mandate to continue with the most radical aspects of their program, and the change in complexion of the Senate may suffice to blunt or turn around some of the sinister thrust of that program.

    When it comes to Obama’s continuing as president, it really seems that there is little or nothing for the Left to gain or preserve. But to argue that the worst excesses of the current wave of Republican totalitarianism–and let nobody deny the special menace of the Koch brothers and their kind–should therefore be allowed to continue unchecked even where voting Demicrap could check it to some extent seems foolish to me. Little victories like the apparent Senate gain for the Demicraps in Wisconsin do place effective, if limited, obstacles in the way of the Koch brothers and the Kochs’ suckers. They also constitute small but significant defeats for the ultra-reactionary, ultra-corporatist Emanuel/Carville/Obama wing of the Democrats. This has to be of at least a certain tactical value to the authentic Left.

    Why must Marxists–forgive me, “Leftists”–approach these situations in a bourgeois moralistic fashion that dictates absolute ideological purity? Surely it costs little to vote against one’s worst enemies in an election. The time required is not very great. It is perfectly possible to be organizing, supporting, and engaging in popular action during the rest of the time. If you are really behind popular action, you lose nothing by taking an hour or two for a vote that, at worst, only serves to preserve the status quo.

    This seems particularly obvious when we look at the inconsistencies in some alleged Marxist positions, such as Louis Proyect’s controversial support of Syriza when combined with the uncompromising rigidity of his opposition to voting for any Demicrap or supporting currently existing labor unions in the United States.

    I can’t help thinking that leftists who rail against any vote for any Demicrap ever, or who insist on opposing existing labor unions 100% across the board, are actually guilty themselves of a sentimental weakness for the electoral process. To such people, the vote is still somehow precious–its bestowal a kind of sacrament–and not to be granted lightly. But the reality is that the government of the United States and the state and local governments, like the corporations they serve, are almost completely illegitimate. The vote itself, therefore, is of very little value. Shouldn’t this make us less, rather than more, reluctant to waste said vote–or use it to secure any tactical advantage, however temporary, in the rare circumstance where it is likely to make some difference?

    There is also the old concept of infiltration, which apparently is too dirty for our highly moral modern Marxists–but that is another subject altogether.

  9. Well said and said well, Mr, Henwood.

  10. NB: We can all agree that unions have to begin operating in the interests of the workers in general, not of crafts, trades, cliques or other specialized or privileged subgroupings.

    So thank you for that.

  11. @Joe Vaughn:

    True, the Wisconsin Dems were able to regain control of the state Senate, but because the legislative session is already over, and any new special session must be approved by Walker and the other state Assembly (which is overwhelmingly controled by Republicans), the Dems really don’t have much power to override Walker’s decisions. Plus, new elections for the entire Assembly and Senate are due later this year…and with the weakened state of Democrats, I hardly think that they will be able to avoid getting rolled once again.

    The problem with your “lesser evil” argument is that in every instance where a conservative Democrat has run and won on being marginally better than a right-wing Republican, he has only succeeded in greasing the wheels for the next wave of political reaction. That was the case with Jimmy Carter in 1978-79, for Bill Clinton in 2002-2003, and has been the case with Barack Obama in 2008-2009. All of them ran as moderate liberals who would repeal the policies of their Republican predecessors; all of them betrayed their promises and tacked progressively to the Right..and all of them were followed by much more reactionary administrations. Hardly “small,but significant defeats” for the right wing…more like mere stepping stones to the longer term march to victory.

    Voting against one’s enemies is easy enough, but until you happen to build a permanant movement that seeks to actively defend and extend your core interests and defend your own principles, then all you are doing is spinning your wheels on a merry-go-round while your enemies laugh at you and pick your pocket. The Democrats have been proven to be an utter failure as a Left movement, why not just build an alternative rather than continue the same tired dependency??

    I can’t speak for Louis Proyect, but it seems to me like Syriza’s no compromise stand against imposed austerity has been far more successful than any incremental policy has ever been. Or, do you think that Greek citizens should wait patiently for the bankers to give in??

    Anthony

  12. Good points, but why stop at the working class? Why not stand up for all of the 99.99%? The proletariat merely weakens its position by trying to exclude potential allies among the “undeserving” lumpenproletariat below and the “privileged” petty bourgeoisie above. By trying to exclude them, it encourages those classes to cling to the illusion that they have something to gain by siding with the 0.01% or by trying to stay out of the fight altogether. Marx was wrong about the uniqueness of the working class as a revolutionary agent, and it’s time we admitted it.

    The “99% vs. 1%” analysis (shorthand; it’s really more like 99.99% vs. 0.01%, the rest of us versus the oligarchs) is often criticized as superficial because it is a simple binary split, abstracting from other class differences. But all of those differences, consequential as they are, pale into insignificance by comparison with that single deep divide. To the oligarchs, all “privilege” except their own is chump change; its sole purpose is to divide and conquer. I call it Potemkin privilege; it is there to create the illusion of inherent, irreconcilable mutual antagonisms within the 99.99%. It’s time for us to shake off the illusion and see the common enemy.

  13. I think that there are some legitimate reasons for the Wisconsin labor movement to have collapsed in the way that it did, due to the draconian laws imposed on it by the state, but there is no legitimate reason why the national movement couldn’t have stepped it up and helped out with resources. This should have been a central fight taken on by that movement on precisely the grounds that Doug mentioned. These organizations have billions of dollars at their disposal… billions. The fact that they didn’t mobilize these resources for a public campaign in defense of the ability organize is a crime.

  14. [...] Doug Henwood, I’ve just found out about Bob Fitch and his book Solidarity for Sale, which discusses the [...]

  15. So I know that Doug doesn’t live in Wisconsin, and none of the other commenters have identified themselves as being from Wisconsin. But I AM from Wisconsin, and I can tell you — the only reason you think this recall was about labor was because that’s the only thread the national news media picked up on.

    I’m not saying it wasn’t about unions at all — Act 10 definitely was not popular among state workers who belong to unions, and those who are close to someone who works for the state (which is just about everyone in the city of Madison) knows that those cuts really hurt a lot of people.

    Even if you supported the cuts, however, there were many other good reasons to support Walker’s recall. He’s passed a litany of bad environmental legislation, worked to gut public education and BadgerCare (health insurance coverage for low income people, especially children), repeal reproductive rights and pay equity for women. There is evidence that he provided false testimony before Congress and he’s got a $160k criminal investigation fund.

    How much of this did you read about in the popular media? I’m guessing not much, since it took the New York Times until May of this year to dedicate an article that delved into the issue beyond the perfunctory mention of the recall being “sparked by stripping collective bargaining rights from public sector employees”.

    Why was it the case that this was the only thread that got much play? News media are generally short-staffed these days and it didn’t seem like the Wisconsin situation had many implications for national elections at first? People who control the media (and by this I refer to owners, not reporters) were interested in making it into an issue centered on unions, knowing that unions aren’t very popular and having that seem to be the central issue would make it harder to defeat Walker? Pure laziness?

    I don’t know what the reason(s) are, I only know that virtually no one in Madison supported the recall SOLELY because of Act 10 and that most of the people I know who were somehow involved with the recall effort had absolutely no union affiliation. That you believe that union rights were the main reason for the recall just goes to show how much media coverage framed the issue and defined the scope of people’s perceptions about the recall effort.

  16. When I break it down I see that Walker presented a solution to a what many see as a real problem. The unions, Barrett and the Democrats offered no solution and a refusal to acknowledge that there is a genuine fiscal problem.

    On a national level, they also displayed a lack of commitment.

    Providing a solution is so important that a pending John Doe investigation, a self-described “divide and conquer” strategy, volunteers walking door-to-door, the legislature refusing to acknowledge who wrote the mining bill, and a host of other offenses could not stop Walker.

    The unions and Democrats do not understand their opponent’s position and refuse to take any of their complaints as legitimate. This allowed them to present the same candidate, with no additional plan.

    I often think the right is full of low-information extremists, but that’s the same as suggesting the left is full of lazy hippies. It doesn’t really hold true. If the right is ever going to make progress, it needs to make a genuine attempt to understand it’s opponent.

  17. [...] completely agree with Doug Henwood that both Democrats and union leaders are to blame for blowing a major opportunity in Wisconsin; [...]

  18. [...] victory, un-sugar-coatedBob Morris, on Jun 6, 2012, 5:30 pmDoug Henwood reflects on his words a year ago on why Democrats would lose in WisconsinIt’s the same damn story over and [...]

  19. Very well put by Messrs Henwood and Yates. I say this as a former AFSCME member (’97 -’03) who witnessed near-constant political blunders and petty corruption from the national to local level. We’ve returned to craft unionism, and we know how well that worked.

  20. Hmmm. From what I’ve heard, it seems to me that labor did make an effort to present the broad agenda that Doug argues for. And the Dems did do a ton of grassroots work, rather than just inadequately compete in the media air war. Barrett may indeed have been a flawed candidate, though it’s hard to see how Falk would have fared better in rural Wisconsin. Would Feingold have been a better candidate? I doubt it, given his “butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth” style of politics. One problem that comes to mind is that organized labor and the liberal/left have little purchase among workers in small industrial cities across the rural midwest. In any case, labor organizations have become extremely defensive, so that, for example, they have not, except for the nurses, become big advocates of single-payer healthcare for all. The reason: if healthcare no longer is part of the contract, that removes just one more reason for workers to join or support a union.

  21. Thanks for this comment on yesterday’s rout. No doubt labor unions need to fight for something broader than just their members. And I’m also sympathetic to the broad point that labor shouldn’t rely on the Democrats for, well, anything.

    But on this second point, I’m not sure what the compelling alternative was in this particular case. You had a law passed in Wisconsin that was busting the unions — or at least making them “small enough to drown in a bathtub,” to use Grover Norquist’s quip about his hopes for government. With that law on the books, you say you think unions should have foresworn electoral politics and (at least for one example) launched “a popular campaign—media, door knocking, phone calling—to agitate, educate, and organize on the importance of the labor movement to the maintenance of living standards.” To which I ask—ok, but for what purpose? What would this campaign seek to actually achieve in concrete terms? Would it have really been at all “popular,” given your point about how people don’t like labor unions—or would it have been perceived as putting lipstick on a pig? At least as stated here, admittedly in passing, this seems like a remarkably wimpy and unspecific campaign, with no potential victory in sight for the efforts. It would use dramatically dwindling union resources on something that would in no direct way counter the union-busting law.

    Yes, it might have helped indirectly: perhaps in the long term Wisconsinites might like labor unions better. But surely the time-scale would be years for this. And I’m skeptical it would work anyway. My point is that your proposed non-electoral plan essentially cedes public-union-busting as the law of the land for the foreseeable future. And that’s what unions couldn’t, or at least didn’t want to, cede. I think that’s understandable, and even sensible under the circumstances.

    So my question is: can you really imagine some non-electoral plan that would have dealt with the real and urgent structural problems unions in Wisconsin face? Striking is illegal for public employees in Wisconsin, remember, so that’s a higher bar to achieve. Or are you saying that unions should have just accepted the “new normal” of right-to-work on steroids, at least for the time being? (Also keep in mind that Tom Barrett wasn’t labor’s first choice: they encouraged him to stay out of the race, and wanted Kathleen Falk instead, who promised to veto any budget that didn’t overturn the union-busting legislation.)

  22. I have to say, I agree with this analysis. The second that large numbers of union supporters make clear that they are there for all workers in authentic solidarity will be the day that workers start to rethink their poor opinions (rightly held, at the moment, sad to say) regarding the unions.

  23. @Douglas Edwards

    I’m not so sure that I can accept the “99%” logic, because that ignores the basic fact that the “1%” who really reap most of the profits from the current system still are very much dependent on the 30-40% of the mass upper middle class who maintain and police the system and insure its viability to punish or coopt anyone who challenges the system.

    Also…appealing to a universal of “the people” versus “the elite” does have its quality points, but it can be just as easily appropriated by right-wing populists who can turn the “1%” into whatever scapegoat group they can target…whether it be the “slutty” feminists, the “Jews” that allegedly own the media, the “queers”, the “overly educated”, or simply anyone who’s not a fundamentalist White man. (And let’s not forget the increasing fundamentalism and neo-Puritanism of radical feminism, too.)

    I’d much prefer to organize the primary victims of capitalism and economic exploitation and social fascism in a mass Left movement, and then take it from there. Organize the bottom 40%, and then the rest will follow.

  24. @John

    I do agree with you that we simply cannot ignore or eliminate involvement in electoral politics entirely, and that social protest alone simply results in bad street theater and more employment for the cops and Homeland Security forces to kettle and beat them down. How we involve ourselves in electoral politics when the system is totally stacked against even “progressive” change thanks to total right-wing/neoliberal control of the functions and levels of power?? That is the main question. That’s why building autonomous independent local institutions centered on a unabashed radical egalitarian Left agenda is so vital.

  25. [...] * Wisconsin postmortems from Josh Eidelson, Doug Henwood, and LGM, [...]

  26. I’ll read more of this later, but “Well over half of Wisconsin voters think that recalls should be reserved only for misconduct—and less than a third approve of recalls for any reason other than misconduct”
    When was this measured? I noticed web comments expressing this, and thought them oddly numerous. But then I recently heard that this was the slogan of one of the $$$interloping (“foreign insurgents”) brainwashing ads. If the voter attitude was measured only after the ads broadcast, then we can’t know how much the $$$kaching ads influenced disapproval of this recall.
    Also, unless i skimmed wapo link inaccurately or js off hides something, I see an apparent short term mentality in the partisan difference in this attitude.

  27. I’m an IBEW electrician in Arizona. I have worked as a union person and non union. A Journeyman who goes through a 4 year apprentice ship with the Union does much better safer work than a non union apprentice. They have at a minimum 2 nights a week in the classroom. He gets better more rigorous training. The difference in working conditions between union and non union are profound. The total price for Union work versus private is competetive because of the Craftsmanship and you have a better educated work force. Some information about being a Union Journey man electrician. The company that hires you can fire you at any time. The only right you have is to go back to the hall and wait for the next work stint or “call”. The union gives you the right to have a retirement and a fair wage. It doesn’t garantee a job.

  28. And how, exactly, does a *labor union* act on behalf of the entire working class rather than “the privileged few who own a card”, especially now that there is almost no “working class” left? How do they get better conditions or pay for WalMart sales clerks, again? What do they do for secretaries, again? What is it you expect them to do for waiters and waitresses, again, now that they have little influence with anyone *except* their own members?

    What a load of lard.

  29. I can understand your complaint, since the current strategy is working so well. I can’t imaging what I was thinking. That Walmart organizing campaign is kicking ass!

  30. I’m supposed to answer a basic question from someone who didn’t read an article?

  31. Thanks for the needed dose of reality. The Fitch book looks interesting and it would probably serve union leaders well to read it. When I was in a public union, nothing depressed me more than the utter lack of concern for the plight of the non union, low wage worker. Honestly, it should not have surprised me. There are dicks in all walks of life and in a country where we are led to believe that random factors and policy that is increasingly out of our control have little to do with our circumstances in life and that we all may be masters of our destiny unions are a weak vaccine with which to inoculate us from the “I’ve got mine” ethos that pervades our country.
    And I know that I’m asking for the moon to wish that union leadership would show the slightest bit of concern for the foreign victims of our trade agreements.

  32. Someone has marked this article (or maybe LBO?) as “spam or unsafe” on Facebook. I was blocked from linking it. I sent a message to say this was a mistake.

  33. [...] == "undefined"){ addthis_share = [];}Several readers recommended this Doug Henwood piece, which is sort of a leftier-than-thou version of Ezra Klein’s fatalism, arguing that [...]

  34. Just so you know, this link is currently blocked from posting on facebook, and the posts that linked to it previously have been removed. I was able to put the link in the comments but not as a post.

    I’m guessing it’s because the preview photo is a noose.

  35. Apparently FB thinks “files.facebook.com” is spam.

  36. Given that your photo of a noose does not appear with the original quote, and that the noose is much more evocative of the lynching and intimidation of African-Americans than of anything that happened in the middle ages, I suspect it was reported as threatening, not as spam.

  37. Anyway it works now.

  38. [...] in Wisconsin has, understandably, troubled the waters on the left. Everyone from Ezra Klein to Doug Henwood to Josh Eidelson is trying to figure out what it means. I’ve been doing the same, though [...]

  39. The left spent just as much money as the right. The labor union thugs poured in cash and sent their leg breakers out in force to intimidate Conservatives.

    Here’s the thing those who support Big Labor [organized crime] don’t understand. Workers DO NOT want to be forced to pay what amounts to “tribute” to mafia Dons, just so they can have a job.

    38% of union households voted for Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch. Roughly half of those who were forced to pay union dues under the old rules, where government collected them for the union thug bosses, have since stopped paying them.

    Frankly, it’s time for a national Right to Work Law. Unions have a right to exist, but workers also have the right to work without paying a bunch of goons, who get rich off their backs, and use those dues to fund democrats, who only hurt them.

    Unions served their purpose 100 years ago, but now they are nothing more than a racket, and the American worker suffers.

  40. [...] Walker’s victory, un-sugar-coated « LBO News from Doug Henwood. Share this:Share This entry was posted in Recall Walker: Union crushing Right to Work by Unite [...]

  41. I disagree that the Wisconsin movement failed in its objective to oust Walker because labor leaders backed off using general action.

    The Wisconsin movement morphed from unions and their sympathizers demonstrating in the streets to electoral politics because it had to. Electoral politics is the structure by which we organize the rules – the laws – we live by. The failure to oust Walker may be defined as a ‘ideological failure’, but in terms of electoral politics, the movement succeeded in slowing down his right-wing agenda. The two Democratic seats gained in last year’s senate recall elections forced Walker to back off introducing RTW legislation and killed the complete dismantling of environmental protections, among other things.

    Where was the popular resistance to Mitch Daniels when he turned Indiana into a RTW state with a stroke of a pen? Movement vs electoral politics is a bogus argument. One should be seen as a natural progression – a complement – to the other.

    Obama could not have adopted a 99% message and strategy without the Wisconsin movement and OWS. Without channelling our effort and resources into ‘structures of power’ – one of the two political parties – popular movements, demonstrations, accomplish nothing. Labor actions do work, but should only be judciously used in instances where they are sure to affect desired policy goals. In Wisconsin, Walker was prepared for a general labor action, and had backed up his political allies to take on that fight. He welcomed the idea of emulating his hero Ronald Reagan. What he wasn’t prepared for was the electoral politics that resulted in turning the senate and forcing him to be accountable for his policy initiatives.

    The Tea Party understands this. The Right has been very successful in harvesting tax-payor resentment into processes serving to elect representatives, like Walker, who can actually effect the policy changes they seek.

    Rather than deriding the Democratic Party, unionists, Progressives, Conservationists and others opposing the Fascist corporate politics of today’s right should organize, educate and motivate individuals interested in the their ideology to develop political power that can bring pressure on the Party. Enough pressure to exert their political will. And, as we know, the only two swords of political power are money and ballots. Unions have the money to wield political power, but have lost total control of the votes – at least as seen in the Wisconsin recall election. Workers, Conservationists, women’s groups, minorites (African-American, Hispanics, LGBT) may not have a lot of money, but their ideological leaders can control large blocks of votes that will coalesce to exert control at the ballot box.

    No, if you consider the Wisconsin movement a failure, the blame shouldn’t be placed on choosing electoral politics over labor action. Rather, Labor and its political ally, the Democratic Party, need to sit down and figure out why they couldn’t harvest the movement power that began so brilliantly last winter. As a non-unionist, I contend that it began to go horribly wrong when Labor went out, on its own, to push a candidate lacking broad-based support. That, in turn, forced a primary. While Walker was spending wildly to convince the electorate that his policies were working, Labor should have been countering with why collective bargaining was important, why the unions’ right to have a voice in the delivery of public sector services like public education – at the heart of middle-class values and systems – was worthy of a recall election. Instead, it wasted valueable time and political resources that its political ally knew couldn’t win.

    Labor – and the DPW – miscalculated and mismanaged the final steps in the process and messaging of transitioning from ideological movement to political action. Both failed at the chance to coalesce into a broad-based coalition empowered stand up to the motivated and well-funded corporatists and “Finish what we started!” The good news is, we got a lot of activists involved, heightened the political awareness of who is attacking the institutions of middle-class working America, why we must fight. And no one is ready to quit.

  42. I Hope you’re not implying-in the short run- that it might re-unify the labor movement if Established Union Organization just “Take The Hit” –learn it’s complacency and lack of boots on the ground for whatever reason as it’s ”

    wake up call”….perhaps continue to turn the “other cheek” in the face of some very strong Corporate Tactics-probably most effective is it’s ability to afford the Best Union Busting Counsel that Billionaires can buy while the Bankruptcies continue and the Outsourcing goes on! The Union Labor “class” is also somewhat divided internally due to much “backstabbing” and Seniority Move-Ups that the More Mentally Endowed Rank and File resent and fall into disillusionment at their being obligated to “wait their turn”–which-after a prolonged period of patience finally May give them their Opportunity–such is the nature of the word “Equal” when you are working next to your Fellow Journeyman and the years tick by…The truth is, The Company may dangle Promotion in front of it’s work force–but the Candidate loses his real benefits-pension and medical and loses his friendship with the body of former co-workers. The old Divide and Conquer” strategy that Management goes to School to develop is also The Parent of the “Twisted Bias” against adopting any Tecnnique that would jeopardize a Corporate Body of “Good Guys” that make a Company Union far more “preferable” to the new recruit…The Company’s greatest Fear is Local’s “Right To Strike” without being FIRED….But–in the case of Public Employee Unions–that right is not part of their contract…and in may cases…Union workers wages are frozen and even COLA is shaved…it’s almost always the case that any Pay Increase get’s thrown into Medical and Pension Benefits…It’s not nearly as good as it was 30-40 years ago. The Right to negotiate “Take-Away” represents just one more way for Public Employee Politics to use the Employee Workforce as a “POLITCAL FOOTBALL” for “Pikers” to Leverage their own careers….

  43. Perhaps due to the insular perspective taken by the AFL-CIO, etc. little to no effort was made to advance a rationale for the recall. Clearly the signature gatherers aka UNION members were motivated but what was done to educate the public and voters in general? The average citizen has NO clue as to the relevance of unions and the relationship to broader pay scales and benefits. So to echo Michael Yates and Doug the leaderships failure to broaden the arguement for the recall doomed it to failure. As has been made clear by Thomas Frank the general public is all to inclined to vote against it’s own best interests. This sadly includes private union members (especially construction, of which I am a member) who have deluded themselves into believing the current crop of Republicans means them well. http://recallscottwalkersite.com/2012/05/work-negative-consequences-lunch-pail-republicans/

  44. It was actually the union piglets and their Demokrat allies who outspent the Republicans. get your facts straight.

  45. [...] Doug Henwood, editor and publisher of Left Business Observer. Doug’s most recent writing includes, “Walker’s victory, un-sugar-coated.” [...]

  46. [...] Walker’s victory, un-sugar-coated (lbo-news.com) [...]

  47. [...] among the left, but also a lot of useful head-scratching on how it could have come about. In two excellent articles, Doug Henwood pointed out that American unions are losing not just numerically, with ever [...]

  48. I know many people who have an IBEW card which by the way if you went through the apprenticeship you earn or you get it by being tested. If you are a construction linemen you are prohibited from working in a non union shop. There are probably 100 union members who refuse work if it’s non union in Phoenix alone. These union members keep the wages up for others by refusing to work for less than what the local says is journeyman wage. They aren’t working right now. I don’t know about the other unions but I’ve talked to people who went into nonunion shops for the purpose of making that shop union. In a powerplant in Nevada the person was successful. I have friends that work all around the country but only on union jobs. IBEW electrician is better trained and does the work for almost the same price as non union. Union brothers give back to the community more than corporate people. In a prevailing wage job the nonunion workers are paid what a union worker gets irregardless. In this case if there wasn’t a union then the non union guy wouldn’t get that rate.

  49. I completely agree that both Democrats and union leaders are to blame for blowing a major opportunity in Wisconsin; and Gov. Walker’s victory vividly illustrates the weakness of their continual reliance on electoral strategies to the exclusion of all else, as well as the relative ineffectiveness of de-radicalized, bureaucratic labour unions to capitalize on popular movements and agitate on behalf of the entire working class. Purely electoral solutions are limited, and ordinary working-class people looking for truly progressive victories need to stop letting themselves be fooled into funneling all their time, energy, and money into the Democratic Party.

    While the Democratic Party tends to present itself as pro-labour, in reality it’s anything but, as its continual support of neoliberal policies at home and abroad clearly demonstrates. Not to mention its unwillingness to call for, or to support calls for, direct actions like general strikes. It’s high time the left in this country started thinking outside the box of two-party electoral politics and got back to the more ‘radical’ roots of the American labour movement—a time when, in the words of Stanley Aronowitz, “Workers … used to fight for their demands continuously and agree to return to work only when they were met” (http://bit.ly/sQYRgL).

    A “popular campaign … to agitate, educate, and organize on the importance of the labor movement to the maintenance of living standards” and/or for something like single-payer healthcare would’ve been far more useful and effective, in my opinion, than channeling everything into a pointless recall campaign geared towards trying to get an already-defeated Democrat elected into the governor’s seat. /rant

  50. Doug, I found your post very insightful. I think it misses a basic point, however; Governor Walker won because he delivered on his promises. Politicians who do what they say are a rare breed, and the voters rewarded him accordingly. As regards the decline of the public sector union movement, I also think a simple reason explains it – the average middle class taxpayer is sick of paying for ever-increasing union wages and benefits that they themselves do not and never will enjoy. These days, the only people retiring in their 50s are those whose pensions are paid for by taxpayers. That can’t, and won’t last.

  51. It’s very hard for me to believe any sizeable contingency of Unionized workers- both public or private would go into a suicidal entrance and follow an advocate of significant “Take Aways” under the guise of doing their part and being the first line of austerity when both sides know that once the right has been bargained away The Union is not going to hoist it’s leadership on their own petards in front of a Politically feckless and disempowered workforce in the first place….How many times has the Private Sector tried to rub in the face of Union wage earners the fact that their own workforce actually is paid higher rates that the “card carriers?

  52. If, as I think was the case, there was not going to be any way to vote to recall Walker without voting for his Democrat Party opponent, it was wrong for anybody who opposes the Democrats from the left, such as the Greens or non-electoral groups like the ISO, to take part in the recall campaign at al. Of course, not taking part in the campaign doesn’t imply failing to analyze its outcome, both for our own edification and to fight back against the reactionary spin that others are putting on it.

  53. [...] “Walker’s victory, un-sugar-coated“, he writes, “twice as many people (68%) think that unions help mostly their members as [...]

  54. great article, thanks

  55. [...] Walker’s Victory, Un-Sugar-Coated   LBO News from Doug [...]

  56. [...] (typeof(addthis_share) == "undefined"){ addthis_share = [];}Responding mostly to Doug Henwood’s piece (I think), Corey Robin asks the labor-left a hard question: This is a challenge to the [...]

  57. [...] “Walker’s victory, un-sugar-coated“, he writes, “twice as many people (68%) think that [...]

  58. [...] Unions Give Up On Democrats? Posted at 10:45 on June 8, 2012 by Andrew Sullivan Doug Henwood makes the [...]

  59. I find it fascinating how our more recent right-wing trollers are attempting to spin the Wisconsin debacle as the “average middle class taxpayer” getting fed up with all those evil “Union Thugs” making more than they are.

    Right. But corporations and the wealthy and the Religious Right making even more than those unionized workers aren’t a problem??

    I guess that the 30 years of being pounded with Reagan/Bush propaganda combined with the inactivity and near silence of the Democrats while workers and the poor were being savaged realy have had an effect on people.

    The problem isn’t a “failure” of the Left. It’s the LACK of a real Left.

  60. @UncleAndy Sure, they did..if you forget about the milions of $$$ brought in the state by conservative groups like American Crossroads and the Koch Brothers. But, nice try.

  61. And who is going to pay for your union demands? The Wisconsin government was going bankrupt paying for your “living standards”. What every union guy with a Mercedes?

    Look at California, 16 billion in debt. The Labor’s response? More Debt. More Taxes to fuel our retirement packages!!!! Soak the Rich.

    You guys are financial imbecilles.

  62. The 38% of Union households who voted for Walker are likely the T-Party “I Hate Paying These Dues” and seeing no rate increases after Pension and Medical Benefits are put in the bottom line…The Salary increases for The Local and District Reps are a guessing game…Because Working Class has higher representation in things like the Military–and Higher Education is financially out of reach–The “Machismo Pride” of Labor gravitates toward the Party who will give them the greater respect–that being Republican. Libertarians enjoy a Passive Success in this with their non-regulatory stance but Union Shops would certainly disappear in Libertarian Culture…

  63. Spot on, Mr. Henwood. We need a labor MOVEMENT, not a bunch of labor unions! And we need to be smarter than the opposition. The Tea Party turned a social revolt into a political movement. What can we learn from our adversary? For one thing, we know that a lot of these folks are at the bottom of the social ladder. Learning how they became enamored of voting against their own interests is job #1. Turning them around is job 2.

  64. [...] on June 6, 2012.–RA Walker’s victory: Un-sugar coated By Doug Henwood, June 7, 2012 http://lbo-news.com/2012/06/06/walkers-victory-un-sugar-coated/ Democrats and labor types are coming up with a lot of excuses for Scott Walker’s victory in [...]

  65. [...] Henwood, “Walker’s Victory, Un-Sugar Coated,” Left Business Observer News (June 5, 2012) at http://lbo-news.com/2012/06/06/walkers-victory-un-sugar-coated/ (It is, admittedly, unclear, who obtained this polling data or how they attained it and when. [...]

  66. [...] Walker’s victory, un-sugar-coated [...]

  67. NYTimes ” 38% of union households had someone who voted for Walker.
    If you can’t carry 80 or 90% of your own, you are in trouble

    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/06/05/us/politics/wisconsin-recall-exit-polls.html

  68. [...] best not miss. Labor missed. The end. I’ll simply recommend Left Business Observer’s Doug Henwood’s “un-sugar-coated” take on the matter. A year ago, he wrote: It’s the same damn story over and over. The state AFL-CIO chooses [...]

  69. [...] best not miss. Labor missed. The end. I’ll simply recommend Left Business Observer’s Doug Henwood’s « un-sugar-coated » take on the matter. A year ago, he wrote: It’s the same damn story over and over. The state AFL-CIO chooses [...]

  70. @Anthony

    Your assertion that the Wisconsin Senate can exert no restraining influence on Walker in the future, while ingenious, is clearly an instance of special pleading with very little force as an argument. Whatever the little Senate victory may amount to in the long run, it is not a calamity for the democrats or the unions.

    As to “lesser evilism,” my point is that voting in elections or for Democrats sometimes need not involve some calculus of a “lesser evil” because the vote itself is of marginal value and we are interested only in its conceivably useful effects. We are not speaking of good and evil here, but of an hour or two spent voting in an ocean of time that could and should be spent otherwise.

    This seems to have gone over your head. So let me explain:

    You do not have “lesser evilism” (as subscribed to, e.g., by the average Democrat) unless you substantially limit political activity to voting in elections, or regard the outcome of an election as somehow settling the important questions. I advocate voting for some Democrat candidates or positions at some times as a tactical move. That is something very different.

    Clearly, simple as this is, you don’t get the point. Perhaps you find it immoral. Excuse me while I yawn.

    I do not (necessarily) oppose Proyect’s line on Syriza, as you crazily attempt to insinuate, though I haven’t finally made my mind up on it. I said his position was inconsistent and it is.

    It is the inconsistency I object to, not because I find it immoral but because I find it too limiting in practice and because it suggests a weakness in the supposedly Marxist framework of Proyect’s thought. That is perfectly clear in what I wrote–at least it would be to an honest reader of average intelligence.

    It’s I, remember, who am taking the side of participating in some elections when it comes to the United States. You’re the one who’s arguing for revolutionary purism except in foreign countries.

    Considering the many glaring weaknesses in your argument, you presume one hell of a lot when you take the jacked-up tone that you seem to prefer. Try to moderate that in the future.

  71. [...] Read the full editorial at LBO News. .fb_iframe_widget { vertical-align: top !important; margin-left: 16px !important; } Tweet This entry is filed under Occupy and tagged Editorial, Recall, unions, Wisconsin. [...]

  72. Nice try, Joe, but you still miss what I am saying.

    Voting for Democrats merely to stop Republicans has been the chosen tactic for many years by progressives, and all it has done is to allow those elected Democrats to ignore core progressive demands and move the political spectrum that much further rightward. That was how Wisconsin got Barrett as their nominee to begin with.

    The fact remains that local WI unions committed lots of time and resources to a campaign that they thought would be supported across the board….and they were summarily coopted and then abandoned by the national Democratic leadership and the national union leadership, while Walker and the GOTP were able to not only define the terms of the debate, but also ultimately even win over a significant portion of the very workers who were the targets of the offensive.

    And as for the “useful effects” of voting for “centrist” Democrats? If the people you keep electing can only create temporary relief that can easily be revoked in the next election cycle, than what exactly makes it that “useful’ to begin with??

    There is nothing “jacked up” at all about what I am saying. The classic formula of overreliance on electoral politics alone and the Democratic Party has been proven an utter failure. When caught in a deep ditch, stop digging.

    Now…nowhere did I say that tactical voting for individual progressive Democrats was a bad move…you vote your conscience. But, developing an independent Left political foundation that isn’t under the Dems control is still fundamentally vital, whether or not you choose to remain within the Democratic Party or not.

  73. Terrific piece that challenges much conventional thinking.Tthe problem started in Wisconsin with the message and tactic of “give concessions to save collective bargaining.” Similarly, during the healthcare debate, public sector union staff leadership said single-payer didn’t pass the laugh test in DC. Who’s laughing now? The same corporate forces that out-maneuvered labor on healthcare reform, and have turned a popular fight back into the latest media meme (and reality?) about Big Labor’s demise.

  74. I think your attack on the unions, regardless of their relative merit, or their failure to take down Walker is a mistake. A gut feeling, I grant you, but unions, even when they suck are the only thing protecting most workers from their bosses. Straight-up. AND they’re fucking hard to organize, public or private. If you’re going to propose starting from scratch and doing something else, well you know. . . we’d all love to see the plan.

  75. [...] Walker’s victory, un-sugar-coated [...]

  76. You nailed it Khal Spencer. While the ‘Left’ prattles on about the influence of money to buy the election, I believe the influence of money is nothing new, only the it’s (mis)use has become more blatant and thereby bolder. The U.S. was a Plutocracy BEFORE the Citizen’s United decision made the status undeniable.
    A Left independent of the Democrats is long overdue. Witness Progressive Dane in Wisconsin and the Occupy movement in general. The right scored a major victory creating the extreme Right Wing movement to further their agenda. What has the Left done of a comparable nature?

    One outcome of this botched Recall effort should be the realization by Labor that the electoral process was not (historically) what gave them the power to make effective change and should never be the sole avenue for creating the change they seek.

  77. JB pinpoints one of the most grievous and overlooked realities of the so called labor movement. They can’t get their own shit together. When UNIONS vote against themselves there’s little hope of gaining the general publics support. When Wisconsin’s THIRD LARGEST LABOR PAC (http://recallscottwalkersite.com/2012/05/wisconsins-third-largest-union-pac-supports-walker-wtf/) SUPPORTS WALKER the blood is in the water for Labor, with Corporate Sharks closing in for the easy kills. Much has been made about Citizens United and the tsunami of dirty money it has unleashed but the failure in Wisconsin should not be attributed to a lack of money. IMO defeat was the result of the adherence to a losing electoral formula in general and a badly educated Union membership in the specific.

  78. [...] my Friday piece, I recommended that people take in what Doug Henwood had to say about the matter. Here’s how he bottom-lined it: Most labor people, including some fairly radical ones, detest Bob Fitch’s analysis of labor’s [...]

  79. [...] The Horrible Mistake of Channeling Popular Uprising into Electoral Politics. [...]

  80. [...] going to be successful we first have a lot of groundwork to do.  Here’s a suggestion from Doug Henwood: Suppose instead [of the recall] that the unions had supported a popular campaign — media, [...]

  81. Mafia capitalism meets mafia unionism. Hmm. I completely agree that unions can’t operate the way they have been. Somehow, The rank and file have to find a way to keep their leadership from betraying them. That’s critical. And tricky, since the politicization of the rank and file, through which such vigilance may take place, would come from union leaders, normally. Really, The people, union members or not, simply have to care. How do you get people to care? You can’t make them care.

  82. I want to point out a misperception that has been repeated in the mainstream media and that is echoed in Doug’s article here.

    Many have argued that the money issue was not a major factor leading to Walker’s surviving the recall election. Instead, it’s argued, the majority of Wisconsin voters have a serious aversion to recalls in general.

    However, these two things cannot be separated. I seriously doubt that most Wisconsinites had carefully worked-out attitudes about recall elections before this contest got underway two months ago. (In fact, I seem to recall similar polls turning up results more favorable to the idea of recalls back when petitions were still being gathered.)

    However, many of the Republican talking points–expressed in radio, TV, and internet ads but also in talking points by Walker, Fitzgeralds, et al–involved decrying the very idea of recalls as “divisive,” “unnecessary,” suitable only for instances of illegal misconduct on the part of public officials. Ads also hammered home the idea that the recall was a waste of public resources.

    I think such ads and talking points, and the sheer number of times Wisconsin voters were exposed to them (not a day went by when I didn’t see or hear at least ten or twenty, it seemed) explain why the exit polls suddenly revealed this general antipathy to recalls. And it’s important to note that this is one talking point for which the Democrats had no direct answer, perhaps because they weren’t prepared for it. I think if the Democrat ads had emphasized Walker as an example of “bad government” (abusing secrecy, breaking conventions and rules of governance, indulging in patronage etc.) this might have been a somewhat effective counter to the “recalls are pointless” line the GOP was spinning. But I didn’t get that message from most of the Dem ads.

    All this is to say that it’s misleading to separate the issue of supposed antipathy to recalls from the issue of money and huge ad buys. The latter largely produced the former, all the more so because most voters’ opinions on recalls were simply nonexistent before the last few months.

    So I do think money and the advertising it could buy played a big role in Walker’s victory, insofar as a significant number of people likely voted for Walker to voice their newfound objection to recalls as a divisive tactic.

    I don’t know if the outcome would have been different had the GOP and its supporters not advanced this line of argument. There were certainly other factors, and I won’t disagree that the Democrats and organized labor made mistakes. But money did buy a lot of air time that the GOP used to inculcate this antipathy to recalls that many–including Doug–seem to posit as some baseline (that is, somehow non-ideological) attitude among the electorate.

    For what it’s worth I also think this opinion piece above is kind of empty insofar as it doesn’t really posit an _end_ or a goal for this “working class movement” that would supposedly generate better results than electoral politics. That’s not to say long-term ideological movements aren’t welcome, it’s just that if they aren’t simply “lifestylism” they need to have a concrete sense of the benefits they can bring to people.

    As many have pointed out, Wisconsin public-employee unions are being drained of cash as we speak, and soon will be poor enough that they won’t be able to be much of a political factor at all–the best hope of reversing this was to undo the worst aspects of Act 10, which required change at the ballot box. Besides which, “building a movement” (a phrase that gets said a lot, usually by people who have no advice as to tactics) and electoral politics are hardly mutually exclusive, as many have pointed out above.

  83. I agree that an independent Left is the indispensable thing that is lacking. But more importantly, why is it lacking and what can be done about it?

    I seem to recall a fumbled reach-out by the unions and some others in 2010, resulting in a pretty big rally (70 to 100K) around the Reflecting Pool that was dismissed everywhere on the Internet left as too uncool to be worth mentioning. Salon fairly crackled with contempt. There was a much-ballyhooed initiative behind it. The whole thing stumbled on zombie-like for a while and eventually fell apart.

    But at least at that one rally, I found that I could talk to the union people pretty well. Some of the rank and file seemed dazed and herded, but there were plenty of live wires who had something to say and would have said it if anyone from the other left had been there to talk to them. (Probably there would have been a fistfight or two, but that needn’t have spoiled things.) Indeed, the remnant of the SWP were there, as were a few other sectarian Marxist formationa.

    And in spite of myself, I was as moved as I can be nowadays by a Jesse Jackson speech that made Obama’s alleged eloquence look like the narcissistic fraud it is. I talked with a UAW organizer who agreed with me that the unions were making a mistake by limiting their appeal to the membership. Of course their subsequent strategy was insipid and patronizing. And the Socialist Workers Party furled their banners and vanished, leaving no trace.

    But who knows what might have happened if the future Occupiers had appeared at that rally and tried to engage with the union people?

    Instead, tens of thousands of petty-bourgeois moralists joined Jon Stewart’s despicable rally for smugness a few days later and went away too pleased with themselves to agitate for anything. This was the answer to the big Glenn Beck rally that had preceded both the union event and the Jon Stewart debacle.

    Now we are facing another election that at this point is cracked up to be another tea-party triumph–which of course it will be, even if the Democrats win, which at the moment is looking quite impossible.

    It’s clear that Occupy–while far from dead–has no force to contest the specious appeal of the election itself, which is invading the popular consciousness like a laboratory virus along with its freight of astonishing lies.

    I think the Left in 2010 missed an opportunity to pull together a functioning mass movement. Everyone bears a share of the blame–and the union bureaucracies may well be the worst culprits. The fact is that nothing was ready when it needed to be and nothing was quite right. There isn’t even a shell of an organization that could be infiltrated and turned around in the right direction.

    The question is whether there is the time or the will to rectify the error. My sense of it is that once the new order gets going in January, nothing short of defeat and occupation by a foreign military power will change the deadly course of our national self-immolation. There isn’t any limit to how bad this can get–or how long the United States can linger as the Sick Man of North America. Think of Turkey at the end of its empire.

    That is what makes the present situation so urgent–and frankly, also, so devastatingly hopeless from the United Statesian point of view. No wonder the best minds on the left are fixated on Greece, Spain, and Egypt–places where in our lifetimes at least, something might happen.

  84. The great fact is that Labor unions are corrupt and care more for their administrators that they do their members. This si known by almost everyone and THAT is why they are failing. The people are beginning to realize that they can make a difference. Corrupt unions are not the answer for protecting the workers. Altruistic unions would be great but unfortunately they don’t exist.

    When people write articles like yours I often wonder who they are really looking out for, the people or the politicians that have been hurt. The people made their decision and your belief that they made a bad decision just reveals where your loyalties seem to lie, with the corrupt politicians and corrupt unions. Thanks for your article it was crafty

    DP

  85. Apparently Joe Vaughan is the resident Marxist. Organizing for what purpose? Take the total output of the world and spread it equally to everybody in the world?
    I think that has already been tried.

    I especially like the IBEW guy. Experts. Well, I followed up on these experts.
    Four years of apprenticeship. Apparently the only purpose of the apprenticeship was to keep their wages at half of a journeyman’s wages.
    As long as they were wiring 120 volt house outlets they were OK.
    Other than that they were hopeless.

    Pretty much sums up union worth. Keep wages high for a few.
    Actually the only work that I know if that is done by union “craftsmen” are government contracts which have “prevailing wage” laws.

    No private construction uses union labor. (Even though Trump claims he does).

    Good luck.

  86. [...] Henwood, “Walker’s victory, un-sugar-coated,” LBO News, June 6, 2012; Jeffrey M. Jones, “Americans most confident in military, least in [...]

  87. [...] sticks,” Doug Henwood, editor and publisher of the Left Business Observer, says unions should reconsider spending money on elections, [...]

  88. [...] the Wisconsin debacle, Doug Henwood famously asked when unions are going to start rallying around the public good, rather than the narrow interests of their members. Many sympathetic to unions declared “they [...]

  89. Great post.

  90. [...] one by Jeffrey Goldfarb (“On Wisconsin,” June 6, 2012) and the other by Doug Henwood (“Walker’s Victory, Un-Sugar-Coated”). I am in basic agreement with Jeff Goldfarb’s main points, though I have a few of my own to [...]

  91. [...] the river is a major tourist attraction) “Actually, in reality, work is my life…” Walker’s victory, un-sugar-coated A Mind Made Up Sick (And Poor) In Massachusetts: Longer Waits, Less Satisfied Patients How to Lose [...]

  92. [...] Consider how much time, money and hopeful energy we’ve expended over the last decade into occasionally electing ho-hum centrists and the occasional progressive. What else could we have accomplished for each other with that time and effort? Put another way, by economist Doug Henwood, [...]

  93. [...] Walker’s victory, un-sugar-coated http://lbo-news.com/2012/06/06/walkers-victory-un-sugar-coated/ [...]

  94. [...] the most heat was generated over appraisals of the union movement. Chad wrote his piece with a post Doug Henwood published in his Left Business Observer in mind, quite critical of his attack on [...]

  95. [...] Matt Yglesias gives the best possible analysis of Doug Henwood’s compelling new piece about why labor unions are unpopular in [...]

  96. [...] unions, those of us in the non-union majority must find other ways of looking out for ourselves. As Doug Henwood and Sam Gindin said, we need new methods of organizing. We need to experiment. Any lessons learned [...]

  97. [...] unions just like he said he would. This brings us to the major reason for the loss, as summarised here by Doug Henwood: most people just don’t like [...]

  98. You should take a look at what our union, the Transit Union is doing with consumer alliances.

  99. [...] considerable, many, even on the political left acknowledge that this excuse has been overstated. Doug Henwood, a contributor for the Left Business Observer [...]

  100. [...] not taking advantage of the mass anger and willingness to protest shown by the Uprising. Henwood said, Suppose instead [of the recall]that the unions had supported a popular campaign—media, door [...]

  101. [...] these long-term ill effects, and did so within the context of making a broader and, as he put it, “un-sugar-coated” argument: And as much as it hurts to admit this, labor unions just aren’t very popular. In Gallup’s [...]

  102. [...] However, they are far better at identifying the failings of “the establishment left” or the unions than they are at organizing a movement that might transform or challenge [...]

  103. I’d like to – how?

  104. [...] of 2011 Wisconsin uprising. Doug Henwood in a far-reaching critique worth reading zeroed in on the narrowness of unions under the modern system of collective [...]

  105. [...] understand however, is that the American right uses the culture wars to run interference while they absolutely CRUSH in the larger class war. And a lot of liberals–if not most–fight on the side of the [...]

  106. [...] Walker`s victory, un-sugar coated Suppose instead that the unions had supported a popular campaign—media, door knocking, phone calling—to agitate, educate, and organize on the importance of the labor movement to the maintenance of living standards? If they’d made an argument, broadly and repeatedly, that Walker’s agenda was an attack on the wages and benefits of the majority of the population? That it was designed to remove organized opposition to the power of right-wing money in politics? That would have been more fruitful than this major defeat. … And as much as it hurts to admit this, labor unions just aren’t very popular. In Gallup’s annual poll on confidence in institutions, unions score close to the bottom of the list, barely above big business and HMOs but behind banks. More Americans—42%—would like to see unions have less influence, and just 25% would like to see them have more. Despite a massive financial crisis and a dismal job market, approval of unions is close to an all-time low in the 75 years Gallup has been asking the question. A major reason for this is that twice as many people (68%) think that unions help mostly their members as think they help the broader population (34%). … But whatever you think of that analysis of the past is rapidly becoming irrelevant. Collective bargaining has mostly disappeared in the private sector, and now looks doomed in the public sector. There are something like 23 states with Republican governors and legislative majorities ready to imitate Walker who will be emboldened by his victory. And there are a lot of Dems ready to do a Walker Lite. If they don’t disappear, public sector unions will soon become powerless. That means that if unions ever want to turn things around—and I’m old-fashioned enough to believe that we’ll never have a better society without a reborn labor movement—they have to learn to operate in this new reality. Which means learning to act politically, to agitate on behalf of the entire working class and not just a privileged subset with membership cards. Quelle: LBO News from Doug Henwood [...]

  107. [...] See this weblog entry, “Walker's victory, un-sugarcoated,” by Doug Henwood for a concrete analysis. [...]


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