Labor Advocate Online

Week In Review

A Weekly Column by Bill Onasch
September 4, 2005

Unexpected But Welcome Visitors
Generally the traffic at kclabor.org is relatively slow on Sundays. While we typically get 400 or so unique visits on weekdays we’re lucky to crack 100 most Saturdays and Sundays. I was therefore surprised to learn that by Noon today we already had logged 600 visitors. If this pace were to continue it would break our single day record of just under 1400. That high was reached in January, 2003 when we posted the first article on the web about the founding conference of US Labor Against the War–a piece that was linked widely on other sites.

Upon investigation I discovered that today’s spike was also due to others picking up one of our articles--this time Solidarity Must Be Unconditional, supporting AMFA strikers at Northwest Airlines. In fact, 85 percent of the visitors had been referred by a link on the AMFA Local 33 site in Minneapolis. Five percent each came from links to the same story on Labor Net, and Labor Standard.

It’s not only gratifying to see more visitors to this site. More importantly it shows how a union trying to mobilize both membership and community support in a major struggle has successfully tapped into the great power of the Internet–too long underutilized by the labor movement.

Other Major Picket Line Battles
We’ve posted links on our home and solidarity pages to three other major strike or lockout battles. Two are in Canada:

Nearly 14,000 members of the Telecommunications Workers Union have been locked out by the privatized telephone/Internet company Telus since July 22.

5500 members of the Canadian Media Guild, representing virtually all crafts, have been locked out by the CBC network for three weeks.

And, starting just in time for the Labor Day weekend, more than 18,000 Boeing machinists in Seattle, Portland and Wichita hit the bricks.

Each of these prove to be tough, high profile battles that our side can’t afford to lose. Please check them out and help out where you can.

DoD Closings, Relocations
While mass pressure succeeded in saving ship building and maintenance facilities in New England other plans to close and relocate DoD sites, affecting thousands of workers, are moving ahead. Kansas City is one area being hit hard. Local AFGE leader Kelley Dull is appealing for support in putting pressure on Missouri’s senators. You can contact Kelley for more information, and sample letters, at: imagekc@comcast.net

Labor Party Response to Katrina
New Orleans native Adolph Reed Jr. comments on the political causes of this suffering in Katrina: Nothing Natural About It. The September issue of Labor Party News is also now available online.

Iraqi Unionists Express Solidarity With Katrina Victims
The Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq, representing workers going through Katrina like horrors daily resulting from the war, have issued a statement of solidarity with their fellow workers on our Gulf Coast.

Has It Been A Year Already?
There’s no denying that the situation of the American working class has grown considerably worse since we last celebrated Labor Day.

Despite a massive mobilization of resources–including the expenditure of 400 million dollars–organized labor failed to sell a presidential candidate that many aptly labeled "Bush Lite." After, perhaps unexpectedly, actually receiving the most votes of any candidate last year, Bush brandished a mandate of "political capital"in a take-no-prisoners assault on working people up and down the line. Similar reactionary drives have taken place in a number of states–including Missouri.

Pensions are going down the tubes. Health care is more expensive than ever–and completely out of reach for the greatest number ever. Most contract settlements are marked by major give-backs to the bosses. Some contracts have been abrogated by bankruptcy judges.

Currently we see the most brazenly open effort in decades to break a major union with scabs at Northwest Airlines.

This past July we saw the culmination of an unprincipled split in the AFL-CIO which will further weaken both rival camps.

There have been some victories here and there by unions such as UE, the California Nurses, and the Farm Labor Organizing Committee. US Labor Against the War has made gains in the unions and has also played a positive role in the broader antiwar movement. But these bright spots have been few and far between.

Last year we produced a Labor Day Special, several articles outlining the challenges facing the labor movement. Since then (though we don’t claim cause and effect) there has been a great deal of discussion about these issues. In the upper echelons of the union bureaucracy it must be admitted the discussion didn’t accomplish much good and they are ready to call a halt.

But the cork won’t be easily put back in this bottle. There are too many rank-and-file unionists, unorganized workers, and even some secondary union leaders who think discussion must continue, even expand. More than that, they see discussion ultimately leading to decisions to act.

Neither debate nor action will be easy in this reactionary period. But we have no acceptable alternative so we will continue–sometimes inching ahead, occasionally finding a break where we can bound forward.

At kclabor.org we will do our small part by continuing our feature, Discussion On the Future Of the American Labor Movement; participating in, even sometimes initiating, conferences such as the Future of American Labor event held in Kansas City this past April; publicizing and promoting solidarity with worker struggles everywhere.

I am fortunate to have a support group to get me past any tendencies toward depression when Labor Day rolls around tomorrow–I’ll be with sisters and brothers of the Labor Party at our annual Labor Day get together. We’ll have some good food and beverage and even better exchange of ideas. I hope you have a good holiday, despite all our troubles, as well.

That’s all for this week.

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