Wednesday, December 08, 2010

We Are All Tom Buffenbarger Now

The night of the Wisconsin primary, which Obama won, Buffenbarger helped kick off Hillary's campaign in Ohio with a volcanic 12-minute speech all about the weakness he'd seen in Obama in Illinois, on pivotal labor fights.

And the wind-down:

Hope? Change? Yes We Can? Give me a break! I've got news for all the latte-drinking, Prius- driving, Birkenstock-wearing, trust fund babies crowding in to hear him speak! This guy won't last a round against the Republican attack machine. He's a poet, not a fighter.

Exactly my sentiment at the time, when my Hillary vote in Michigan was not counted. This barnburner rhetoric by labor leaders brings back my memories as a United Steel Worker on Chicago's Southside during summers in college. But it's not just rhetoric, it's an ironclad promise. The brotherhood was always there for you, pleading the case for more benefits and better work conditions, there was never a misunderstanding about where they stood. Organize. Do you think the banksters weren't organized when they walked into the White House in 2008 and got an $800 billion bailout?

The crushing recession of 1980 closed the mill and white collar types would try to point to the generous pay afforded steelworkers as the cause. Bullshit. That plant would have closed whether workers made $12 dollar/hour or $2/hour. Just like now-- we have a demand depletion recession and jobs are going away in every sector and at every pay-level.

The way to create jobs is to improve workers' conditions worldwide by organizing all labor. The Tea Party has produced commendable anti-establishment rhetoric, empty misguided rhetoric; but what we really need is workers' rights around the world, and John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Sarah Palin, Mittens and the Huckster ain't fighting for that. As long as any industry leaders are allowed to exploit Asian electronics and textile workers and pay them nothing, there will be no jobs here, ever. There is no justice that is not universal justice.

I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth, and I am a citizen of the world. --Eugene V. Debs

We aren't learning this lesson... we have more pain to endure.

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