Labor Advocate Online

KC Labor Newsletter
Week In Review, September 12, 2004
by Bill Onasch, webmaster, kclabor.org

The Other 9/11
We joined in on the comments about the anniversary of the horrible events of September 11, 2001. But we haven’t forgotten there is another reason to remember this as a date of infamy. September 11, 1973 saw the beginning of the military overthrow of the Allende government in Chile leading to thousands of deaths and a long period of brutal dictatorship.

When I was in school during the Fifties I was taught that socialism was inevitably linked to totalitarianism, that no socialist regime had ever been democratically elected. That was in fact a false assertion even then. Among other examples, a revolutionary socialist regime won elections in 1919 in Hungary–though they were quickly overthrown by a violent capitalist counter-revolution.

But during the Seventies the whole world followed the electoral success of a united front, including Socialists and Communists, in Chile that put Salvador Allende in the Presidential Palace. It was a victory that inspired and raised expectations of working people throughout Latin America–and beyond.

This worker supported government may have had its limitations but it alarmed the Chilean ruling class. It also caused consternation in Washington, already reeling from imminent defeat in Vietnam. The U.S. government worked hand-in-glove with the Chilean brass hats in their bloody coup. CIA agents even helped target American citizens in Chile for murder. (The father of one such American victim, Thomas Hauser, wrote a compelling book, Missing [no longer in print], which Costa-Gavras turned into an impressive 1982 film of the same name starring Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek, winning the Academy Award for best script.)

Getting Real About Health Care
This week brought news about the cost of employer-based health care rising an average of eleven percent. This comes on the heels of a seventeen percent increase in Medicare "B" premiums. And, of course, there are record numbers of Americans that don’t have any health insurance. The Bush and Kerry plans contribute virtually nothing to resolving the health care crisis.

It’s inspiring then to see that leaders of the Ohio State Labor Party have had success in forging a coalition with labor leaders, progressive physicians, and even some state legislators, for a mass petition campaign to make single-payer health care a reality in the Buckeye State. We’ll watch this effort carefully.

Huffing and Puffing On Overtime
We all congratulated ourselves about all those e-mails and faxes we sent leading to the House overturning Bush’s changes in overtime eligibility. But, truth be known, this is mainly an election year stunt. The appropriation bill to which the change is attached will almost certainly not come to a vote before the election recess. Clearly the votes are not there to override a threatened Bush veto but this latest action allows "pro-labor" Republicans as well as Democrats to play to the grandstand. Real hopes for change in the rule are pinned to a Kerry administration restoring the old rules.

Sick Of War
Item–"A factory that manufactures bombs for the U.S. military has suspended production of "bunker buster" penetration bombs after workers at the plant developed anemia, officials said. Officials at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant said that the anemia was likely caused by the employees' increased exposure to the explosive TNT during a heavy production schedule."

Looking For More Comments
First, let me thank all of you who sent kind words of praise for our Labor Day Special. They are much appreciated. Also appreciated was Steve Early’s submission of his article we reprinted. We would welcome any additional commentary on the future course of American labor.

A Good Time Had By All
Good food, good beverage, and spirited discussion rewarded the twenty-some who passed up a last chance to go to the lake to attend the Kansas City Labor Party Labor Day Picnic instead. The next local Labor Party event will be a public meeting to discuss where we are headed after the election. Details will be announced soon.

That’s all for this week.

Regards to all