Labor Advocate Online

Week In Review

A Weekly Column by Bill Onasch
May 28, 2006

Our Memorial Day and Theirs
Tomorrow is Memorial Day in the USA. This observance, first organized by the veteran’s organization Grand Army of the Republic, began in 1868, with the name Decoration Day. Initially it was to remember the Union dead from the Civil War by decorating their graves. After the First World War it became a national holiday honoring those Americans killed in action in all wars.

Respecting the memory of those who died following the orders of their superiors is a worthy goal. But the politicians and brass hats, in conjunction with the mass media and the brass dominated vets groups, try to exploit our honoring the dead, using it to glorify the imperial ambitions that sent these brave men and women to their demise—and continue to kill more everyday in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

Nor does this day acknowledge all of the other victims of war. No body is using the occasion to commemorate the vast unknown number of dead Iraqis, Afghans, Vietnamese, or those in many other countries where GIs have been sent over the years to advance the agenda of Corporate America.

Not much will be said about those combat vets who made it back, some with physical wounds, many with psychological and emotional scarring. Funding for many vet programs has been cut; they are often given wrong information about what’s available to them—and now they face a new fear of identity theft because of a VA screw up.

We should remember the fallen—and fight like hell for the living. Support our women and men on the line by bringing them back home to their families who love them and their country who needs them. Remember the fallen—and take care of the needs and rights of our living veterans. That should be the spirit of our Memorial Day.

A Little Bit Of History On This Day
On this day in 1937 more than a thousand strikers, many accompanied by their families, began a peaceful march to the picket line at Republic Steel in Chicago. Hundreds of cops blocked their path and opened fire with revolvers. Four strikers died on the spot, six more succumbed to mortal wounds later. Others were wounded and hundreds—including wives and children—were beaten and/or arrested. Newsreel footage of the carnage was banned from movie theaters. This went down in history as the Memorial Day Massacre.

Nothing Would Be Better
Just a few weeks after the biggest mass political mobilizations in U.S. history, self appointed advocates of immigrant rights were busy getting back to business as usual with the political Establishment. The chants of “No Human Is Illegal” by millions in the streets became reduced to a fight for a “clear path to earned citizenship.” After immigrant masses asserted their dignity, and proved through work stoppages their integral role in the American economy, the advocates accept acknowledging the “crime” of no papers by agreeing the undocumented should pay fines. As the advocates haggle over whether English shall become the “national” language, or merely a “unifying” language, they accept the requirement of English proficiency as a prerequisite for immigrants to remain in this country. While the AFL-CIO has so far remained opposed to new guest worker schemes Change to Win unions, with the closest connections to immigrant workers, are on board for a neo-bracero program.

In the indomitable spirit of lesser evilism the union bureaucrats, clergy, and Hispanic business leaders who are trying to coopt the immigrant rights movement hope to sell the soft-cop Senate bill as the only alternative to the xenophobic hard-cop House legislation.

But as most grass roots activists know in their bones the present uncertainty of status is better than either of these congressional “reforms.” The great principles of human rights and worker solidarity that inspire millions should not be sacrificed in these rotten deals. Undoubtedly immigrant workers will attempt to reassert the leadership of their own rights movement. They—not the pretenders acting in their name—deserve the support of all who not only preach but practice solidarity.

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up Department
Because so many UAW workers have accepted buy-out offers General Motors has already had to hire temporary workers to maintain production. The temps, with the agreement of the union, earn 18 dollars per hour compared to the 27 made by the bought out regular workers.

Meanwhile, at Delphi, the IUE has waived the job protection provisions of their contract at Delphi’s Packard division in Warren, Ohio. Union lawyers are cleverly arguing in bankruptcy court that Delphi doesn’t have to abrogate its union contract to slash jobs.

More details emerged from the court hearing about Delphi’s adjusted plan. They seek to reduce their U.S. blue collar workforce from 33,000 to 6,000. Although also cutting salaried positions by a whopping twenty percent at the end of the day they would still have 9,000 salaried on board—fifty percent more than production workers. That’s because all of the headquarters managerial functions of this global outfit will remain in the USA.

Some People Just Don’t Want to Work
Efforts to pass a local affordable housing ordinance, that would require developers to offer some new units that “middle class” workers could fit in a budget, really got the goat of the mayor of Ft Lauderdale, Florida. Says his honor, “I'm supposed to subsidize some schlock sitting on the sofa and drinking a beer, who won't work more than 40 hours a week?” Elaborating, he continues, “The concept of this ordinance is 'from each according to his ability, to each according to need,' which is the 'Communist Manifesto’.”

Shooting For Thursday
Though our new computer has not yet been delivered we are still optimistic about resuming posting of the Daily Labor News Digest this Thursday, June 1.

That’s all for this week.

Sign Up For the KC Labor List

Past Weeks In Review

We get no–and want no–subsidies, grants, or paid advertising. But we need and appreciate whatever help our supporters can contribute, whether a one-time donation of any amount, or a ten dollar a month sustaining subscription.