Will This Week’s ‘Blue Wave’ Pay Off for Labor?
Features, Law and Politics, Municipal Government, New York

Will This Week’s ‘Blue Wave’ Pay Off for Labor?

November 9, 2017

By Joe Maniscalco

Brooklyn, NY – November 7’s “tsunami” of Democratic victories around the country may have been better than a gold-plated stick

What do Democratic wins mean for workers?

in the eye foolishly ordered out the Trump Collection of vulgar crap merchandise — but it still remains to be seen if the Wall Street-loving Dems will be any more responsive to organized labor than they have been for the last quarter of a century. 

This week’s welcomed repudiation of toxic Trumpism, followed frustrating, but hardly surprising headlines in October, announcing the Democratic National Committee’s purge of Bernie Sanders supporters, and the appointment of a guy from Georgia to the Finance Committee who made his living, not advocating for the Fight for $15, but trying to kill it.

No matter how uncharacteristic of the neoliberals running the DNC…WTF, right?

Even if they don’t want to say it out loud, Democratic insouciance about organized labor is seriously cheesing off union leaders both here in New York City and across the country. And the anger isn’t limited to those within the House of Labor who, last year, broke ranks and threw their support behind Bernie’s doomed challenge to the Clinton II coronation .

“We’ve got to get Democrats to understand: you get the declining labor movement, you get the elimination of the labor movement — you get the elimination of the Democratic Party,” United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard recently told LaborPress’ Blue Collar Buzz. “To be honest, I’m really ticked off that we don’t hear enough Democratic Party talking heads talking about the way to solve the income inequality in this country is to give the country the right to collectively bargain.”

Last month, the AFL-CIO wrapped up its 28th Annual Constitutional Convention in St. Louis, without featuring a single national political figure and adopting an encouraging resolution declaring, “The time has passed when we can passively settle for the lesser of two evils.”

The ongoing conundrum, as many savvy political observers have already noted, is that organized labor continues to feel hopelessly trapped inside the oligarchically-controlled duopoly that is 21st-century America.

Or as “Listen Liberal” author Thomas Frank also recently told LaborPress’ Blue Collar Buzz, “because Republicans are so hostile to unions, you get this situation where [unions] feel like they have to give everything they’ve got to the Democrats. And every four years, they turn over the treasury to the Democratic Party — and then the Democrats won’t give them the time of day.”

Even though she refused to cross her Wall Street donors and back the Service Employees International Union’s signature policy issue last year — then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton never for a second had to fear her steadfast opposition to a nationwide $15-an-hour wage might cost her the powerful union’s support. In 2016, just mouthing the words “$12-an-hour” was enough to keep the union’s collective fingers crossed that Clinton, upon attaining the Oval Office, might do more.

“I have no idea [when Clinton might support a $15 an hour federal minimum wage],” 1199 SEIU President George Gresham told LaborPress in April, 2016. “What I do know, is that she is interested in doing it, and it begins with that.”

That sort of wishful thinking, as we all know now, ultimately fell flat underneath the massive weight of Donald Trump’s greed-fed, pussy-grabbing girth.

Fed up steelworkers told Gerard what was going to happen ahead of last year’s election.

“We’ve got members who have literally said to me during the election campaign and after, ‘We’ve been voting Democrat all our lives and look — we don’t have anything to show for it,'” Gerard told LaborPress’ Blue Collar Buzz. “‘We might as well take a chance on this guy [Trump]. He can’t be any worse.’”

If that wasn’t ominous enough, another member of Gerard’s union also told him, “Leo, you keep asking us to vote for someone who sleeps with the guy [Bill Clinton] who screwed us with NAFTA.”

Despite being in free-fall just prior to last Tuesday’s elections, the Democratic National Committee shows little sign that it will attempt to reconnect with the working-class voters they first jettisoned in favor of the corporate elite beginning in the 1990s under the Bill Clinton administration.

“They have to fear that the left wing of the party will walk away before the Democrats start doing something for people like us,” Frank told LaborPress’ Blue Collar Buzz.

In addition to last Tuesday’s big gubernatorial wins in Virginia and New Jersey, the success of more progressive-looking candidates appearing further down the ballot — a self-described Socialist and trans women among them — might be an indication that the DNC is going to have to change its ways one way or another.

And despite former DNC chief Donna Brazile’s recent admission that her organization colluded with the Clinton campaign to beat Bernie Sanders in the primaries last year, some — including Frank — see the Vermont socialist’s run as proof positive that the Democratic Party can, in fact, be remade.

“Look at what that guy was able to do in the Democratic Primaries last year,” Frank told LaborPress’ Blue Collar Buzz. “That shows you that the Democratic Party can be changed.”

November 9, 2017

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