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Week In Review, April 20, 2004

Twin Cities Transit Strike Ends
After 44 days on the picket line the members of ATU Local 1005 are returning to work in the Twin Cities. The settlement gave back major concessions to the employer—although not quite as much as the company’s "final" pre-strike offer demanded. Several major strike support rallies had been held and donations to the strike fund totaled over $100,000. But a majority of the strikers were convinced they couldn’t do much better by continuing to hold out. The major issue was health care for both active workers and retirees. This has become a familiar refrain, the flash point in most current contract negotiations.

I Concede—We Have Already Lost the Election
Yeah, I know. The parties haven’t even completed their formal nominations. Current polls show Bush and Kerry pretty much neck and neck. So how can I call the winners and losers in a contest still more than six months off?

Well, I think the loser is a safe bet—the working class. No matter what the outcome on the first Tuesday of November we can look forward to continued war, expanding globalization, more privatization, and a bigger load of the tax burden. We will still have the present system of health care being held hostage by private insurance companies. We will be stuck with poor performing K-12 schools and working class kids being priced out of college.

On the other hand, the ruling class establishment can only win. Both lads are from respectable families who taught them the proper values of capitalism. Both are graduates of Yale where both were initiated into the Skull&Bones. Kerry briefly disappointed them thirty-some years ago with his flirtation with the antiwar movement but that’s long forgotten and forgiven. Both are committed to the broad strategic goals of their class.

That doesn’t mean the bosses have no preference, or that there are no divisions among our rulers. As a general rule most prefer the Republicans as being more reliable and straight forward in promoting corporate interests. Democrat administrations are considered more cumbersome, acting out complex charades with union, civil rights, and women’s groups. The Democrats are generally kept in reserve, to be brought in when Republicans become too discredited.

You would think there would be plenty to discredit the Bush administration. Mickey Mouse should be able to beat this President.

But he’s not facing Mickey Mouse—he’s up against John Kerry. Kerry supports the Iraq war—but would fight it smarter. Kerry blasts Bush tax cuts for the rich—while proposing tax cuts for corporations. Kerry supports No Child Left Behind—but would do it better. In essence Kerry says trust me to carry out Bush policies more competently than Bush.

My guess is that if this campaign strategy continues until the election a majority will decide that if they are going to have Bush policies they may as well have Bush.

Now, I’m not one of those who says there is no difference between the two major party standard bearers. Just as there is a difference between a headache and a toothache you can argue one candidate is unbearable while the other is worse. But few with headaches have ever felt like winners because they didn’t have a toothache. Even fewer have ever begged for a headache.

I am conceding the election, accepting that future pain, in whatever form to be determined, is inevitable. I think we need to set our objectives beyond November. We need to figure out how to build a working class political opposition that can fight on the shop floor, in the streets—and ultimately at the ballot box.

On the Site...
We posted one new article on Labor Advocate Online this week, Who Is "Breaking Faith With Millions?"

On the Road Again
There will not be another Week In Review for about a month. I’m hitting the road for two trips.

The first is business and includes:

Joining in the March For Women’s Lives in Washington on April 25

Attending a meeting of the Labor Party Interim National Council in DC April 26

Giving a report about the INC meeting to the Detroit Labor Party chapter on April 28

Informal consultations with Chicago LP members April 29

Attending the annual Meeting the Challenge conference in St Paul May 1 where Labor Party national organizer Mark Dudzic will be speaking about the Just Health Care campaign.

After a couple of days back home we will be leaving on a personal trip to Atlanta.

During this period we will not be posting the Daily Labor News Digest , after Wednesday, April 21, or any other updating of the KC Labor site. We should be back to normal by May 18 and you can expect reports and photos from my journey.

Regards to all,

Bill Onasch
webmaster, kclabor.org