Saturday, August 27, 2011

Adversity Equals Opportunity

The old cliche, “In all adversity there is a window of opportunity,” has never been more relevant than today. We are in a good position for the corporations and G.O.P. have shown their hands. Will we repeat the past and miss our opportunities again?

You would think that if you were in a poker game and all the players’ showed their hands except for you that you could win if you stayed in the game; but history has shown that in the past labor has folded and left the game. Now, folding if your hand is not strong at the time is a good play sometimes, but to leave the game is not good poker if you know what their hands are every time.

We know what their hands show for they have shown them in Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, Minnesota, Michigan, and many other states. This isn’t the first time unions became complacent and failed to see what was going on around them. One has only to look back in history at the missed opportunities.

Examples of missed opportunities include, the AFL-CIO’s plan to make all cities unionized. Los Angeles County Federation of Labor was the only area to follow through on the plan and it worked out great for its members. Then there was the Alameda Corridor organizing drive to make all workers within this corridor union members; the effort went so far as to teach English to the workers, but the effort failed in 1999 because this organization could not get the support of labor unions. Lastly, there was the Charleston Dock Workers Local 1422 when five union members were arrested on trumped up charges and unions nationwide stood behind these brothers and won a court fight, but unions failed to take advantage of this opportunity and to this day no one seems to know why. Google these incidents and become familiar with them. We’re supposed to learn from our failures, not repeat them.

We now have in the adversity of Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, etc., a very large window of opportunity to engage our working families, both union and nonunion to fight for our very survival. Most states and counties have a tool: federations of labor councils. This might be the time to work on the union city campaigns. A good sign is that in Shasta County, the 5 County Labor Council has seen more people attending its meetings lately, and I am looking forward to our Labor Day picnic this year. Check out your area’s labor council and get involved.

We cannot afford to miss this labor opportunity brought on by the corporations and the G.O.P. This is our time and we must put aside what differences we may have between us and concentrate on who our real enemy is, and remember we are fighting for food, housing, medical care, pensions and our very freedom to organize.

This is not the first time we’ve had this fight for our right to organize, our right for a decent wage or even working conditions. Let us not forget the struggles of our brothers and sisters in the fight for basic human rights and working conditions. If we do the work, why should we not reap some of the rewards? If you follow the postings on this site by David Prosten and Mark G. Warne in the “Today in Labor History,” you’ll see that today’s attack on workers is a repeat of what others fought and died for in years past.