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A union activist's call for change

By Nick Egnatz - Posted on 31 December 2010

Kim Scipes’ new book “AFL-CIO’s Secret War against Developing Country Workers” (Lexington Books, 2010) documents the history of AFL-CIO leadership in supporting the U.S. government policy of Empire in the developing world. AFL-CIO leadership, in secret and completely without the consent and support of their rank and file membership, has worked to thwart popular bottom-up organic democracy in the developing world and instead supported elite top-down democracy, friendly to U.S. corporate interests.

Read the rest at


That doesn't deserve to be referred to as democracy, for it clearly is not democracy. "elite top-down" rule is dictatorship, oligarchy, autocracy, et cetera. Actually, I just noticed from the word "autocracy" that "elite top-down" is something that is an ocracy; just not the dem kind, or not the dem kind we normally think of. They [dem]onstrate aut[ocracy] and if we combine those two parts of these two words, then we have democracy; but it's clearly not the kind we usually mean, I think.

Calling it "elite top-down democracy" is fine as long as people [understand] that it means the opposite of the sort of democracy we normally mean. That might be a problem though. Perhaps many Americans still would not realize the word plays due to idolizing Washington and Wall Street, f.e.

Democracy has taken on a new definition; demonstrative autocracy. The elites who like to "play" top-down will surely approve.

It actually makes strong sense, logically speaking. Without predatory capitalism, what would justify the existence of the AFL-CIO? Nothing. Capitalism is the bread and butter of such union leadership.

I had previously read about leadership of some unions secretly making deals with large corporations' executives behind the backs of union workers, but was not previously thinking of this in terms of the fact that these union leaders heavily depend on predatory capitalism and that this will of course lead these union leaders to work for predatory capitalists and hypocritically act vis-a-vis unionized workers. The hypocrisy was understood, but that they'd really work [for] predatory capitalists just hadn't come to mind.

They pretend to truly work for unionized labor and do obtain some gains for these workers, but all while needing to also keep predatory capitalism going. Otherwise, these union leaders would be out of work and their high incomes very quickly. They could of course look for or start real jobs, honestly, but honesty is evidently not something they care about.

The book was a real eye opener for me, as one outside the U.S. labor movement, but committed to social and economic justice. When I first started to read the book I sent out an email promoting it and mentioned that it brought into question the relevance of the U.S. labor movement. A union organizer on my list responded, “Gee, thanks Nick! I guess I’ll just go home and quit my irrelevant attempt at organizing and representing workers! Btw, irrelevant to whom or what?”

I issued an apology because I am sure that most within the U.S. labor movement have the best of intentions and the highest of ideals and that the relevance of their union membership is of paramount importance to them and their families and I certainly meant no disrespect to them. I have no axe to grind with rank and file workers, inside or outside of organized labor. On the other hand, leadership that subverts internal democracy and upholds U.S. Empire is irrelevant to those it leads within Labor. Those outside Labor who have no one representing them in the workplace may actually depend more on organized labor for support than labor’s rank and file membership.

With union membership of private workers now only 7percent, it becomes clear, to me at least, that leadership’s embrace of U.S. Empire, “business unionism” and disregard for internal democracy within labor has created a cancer, that if neglected will result in the complete irrelevance of the U.S. labor movement and the accelerated demise of what little is left of U.S. democracy. There are activists like Kim Scipes within U.S. Labor and they need the support of the rank and file to make Labor more democratic and less imperial. With endless wars raging overseas and the lives of the U.S. working class in tatters, the American people need U.S. labor to assume its rightful position leading the fight for social and economic justice for all.

I agree with all of those three paragraphs and hope that people like the union organizer who wrote to Nick Egnatz will quickly come to realize that he's not saying that everyone involved with unionization is guilty of wrongfulness.

It's a very good article that should be widely read.

The author also says the following.

This discussion is consequential. Please participate by providing your insight and advice

I came across the following bit of news through a link in the home page of Online Journal which the above article led me to check.

"From Dennis Kucinich: My congressional district may be eliminated"
by Dennis Kucinich, Dec. 30, 2010

The article provides the links for the New York Times, Newsweek and Fox News articles, btw.

Dear Friend: The New York Times, Newsweek, and Fox News have all recently headlined stories that I may lose my Congressional seat, not through an election, but through redistricting!

Due to the new census figures, Ohio will lose two seats in Congress. The Ohio Legislature (Republican) will redraw the map with 16 instead of 18 districts for the 2012 Election. Speculation nationally, and more importantly, in Ohio is that my district may be eliminated, absorbed into parts of other districts. Keep in mind, given the early Ohio primary, the filing deadline could be only a year away.

You have helped to make possible my presence in the Congress through seven terms, and carried me through some hotly contested elections. I am very grateful for your continued support. I am also very grateful to the people of Ohio’s 10th District for the privilege of serving.

Yet, in light of the strong chance that my district may be eliminated, my continued presence in Congress, to work for everything we care about, will obviously call for a much different strategy. I will not wait until a new Ohio map is produced to begin this crucial discussion of the consequences of congressional redistricting. I will not wait until the Ohio Legislature produces a new map to start thinking of the options. The question will not be: Who is my opponent? The question will be: Where is my district? Seriously.

We are going to have to prepare for a different kind of election, possibly in a different place because my district may be eliminated. We are going to have to organize in a different way, now. The question will remain: Where?

This discussion is consequential. Please participate by providing your insight and advice

I will be in contact with you.


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