There is a reason why workers sing Solidarity Forever and call each other brother and sister. We are all members of the Working Class, whether we are unionized or not, whether we build buildings or wait tables or stitch garments, teach school or service the homeless. Ultimately, our interests are similar. We could control the direction of this country and of this world. The only way we can be beaten is by being divided and demoralized, which is just what the Mayor who bought his way out of term limits and bought the recent New York City election with his outrageous spending and subversion of democracy has done. He’s not the first to do so, and he won’t be the last.
Almost 40 percent of union workers voted for George Bush in 2004 against their own economic interests because they allowed themselves to be divided by issues like same-sex marriage and abortion. Bloomberg divided us by offering some more than others, better contracts, better benefits, etc.. Selling out and benefiting from others’ losses is not new. Union members have learned this treacherous art from their leaders. The CIO sold out 11 of its most militant unions in 1949 to prove what good Americans unions are. Most of the unions and their leaders in the AFL-CIO have been so busy improving the lives of their voting members that they’ve totally neglected the needs of millions of unorganized workers for decades.
Is it any wonder that now that the unions need to organize the unorganized, much of the working class is alienated from them? Until we begin looking out for all our brothers and sisters, locally, nationally and internationally, organized and unorganized, politicians with sympathies for the wealthy will continue to divide us and exploit us.
Editor, the Unionist (Local 371 SSEU)
Former President, Metro NY Labor Communications Council
Advisory Board Member, Association for Union Democracy