From the Labor Commission of the CPUSA, updates, information, news, analysis, and organizing materials in solidarity with workers of the world.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
By Scott Marshall
There he was on Christmas Eve on the TV news. Arizona Senator John Kyl, pumped with anger, calling the just passed Senate health care reform bill "a massive, very bad assault on liberty." You got to ask, whose liberty is he so concerned about? The insurance companies "liberty" to gouge us, cut benefits, exclude those who might really need coverage, and tell us in the middle of treatment that our policy won't cover any more medical care?
You hear these rightwing characters and their tea bagger friends throwing around terms like "liberty, freedom, and special interests" and you got to wonder.
But of course it's a class thing and these Wall Street stooges understand it very well. For them liberty means deregulation, tax breaks and bail outs for the banks and the rich. Freedom means no Employee Free Choice Act that might give workers a real voice at work and limit arbitrary corporate power. And special interests are unions, civil right organizations, immigrant rights organizations, women's organizations, environmental organizations, and any other mass people's organizations that might interfere with capital's maximum ability to exploit and dictate. Democracy just seems to bring out millions of these pesky types of taxpayers.
But what really struck me about Kyl's ringing cry of liberty was how these rightwing Republicans today always seem to quote Ronald Reagan and not Abraham Lincoln. I mean if you're going to boom out ringing rhetorical flourishes, why not quote in the spirit of the greatest Republican of them all. Ronald Reagan went from acting for GE to action on behalf of GE. Lincoln actually did something about liberty and freedom.
But when you think about the health care debate and then you think about my favorite Lincoln quote, you know why Lincoln just doesn't fit the Republican agenda today. Abraham Lincoln said:
"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."
In today's popular discourse Lincoln might have substituted "Main Street" for labor and "Wall Street" for capital - but you get the point. If Kyl and his ilk were saying it today they would just reverse "labor" and "capital" in the quote.
And what do these "extremist in defense of (corporate) liberty" have to say about "certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” today. It sure seems to me that any reasonable interpretation of an unalienable right to life would include the right to health care.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
by Scott Marshall
East Chicago, In. - Local 1010 of the United Steelworkers Union (USW) is proud of its militant history. It is also proud of its newly renovated union hall. Hundreds of 1010 members and other USW members from the surrounding area attended a spirited and festive rededication meeting this past Friday.
The ceremony featured the unveiling of a large and stunning black granite slab on the beautifully redecorated auditorium wall. It is etched with a scene from the Memorial Day Massacre of 1937 at Republic Steel in South Chicago and features the names of the ten union supporters who were gunned down by Chicago police as they peacefully marched to the plant gate to picket. The rededication renamed the 1010 union hall, "Memorial Hall," in their honor. Four of those killed were members of local 1010.
Local 1010 president, Tom Hargrove, set a tone of pride in labor militancy and partisanship for the meeting in his welcome. "We started our meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance. How many corporations do that? Not many, if at all. The corporations are global now and their only allegiance is to money." Hargrove also recalled a long history of progressive action by the local, like fighting Jim Crow segregation in East Chicago in the 1940's when he city was pushing for even greater racial discrimination against African Americans.
Featured speaker, Leo Gerard, international president of the USW, used the opportunity to blast the big banks and financial institutions for plundering the world and ruining the economy. He called for an all out labor led fight for jobs and rebuilding the manufacturing sector of the US economy. Gerard hailed the fighting spirit of the Memorial Day ten and local 1010 as needed for the fight today. (see video below)
Ed Sadlowski, former district director of the Chicago and Gary region of the USW, spoke of the many challenges facing the labor movement today. And to thunderous applause he warned that as we make the fight for health care reform, labor rights and other labor programs, the rightwing, anti-labor crowd will start to call it all socialistic. "Well I hope it is," Sadlowski said, "there is nothing wrong with democratic socialism. That's the direction we really have to go in."