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Are Labor Unions Anti-Communist?

November 4, 2009


Bookworm expands on Kathy Shaidle’s post today:

One of my favorite books, and one I highly recommend, is Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism. The title is self-explanatory, so I won’t belabor what you’ll find when you read it. I mention it here because I believe it was in that book that I read that, from the 1950s through the 1970s, one of the staunchest anti-Communist forces in America was  . . . wait for it . . . the AFL-CIO!*  Yup, under the leadership of George Meany, big labor was enormously hostile to Communism.  This was not just a symbolic thing.  The AFL-CIO’s political and economic heft meant that it could affect America’s political and economic approach to the Soviet Union.  For that reason, the AFL-CIO contributed largely to the Soviet Union’s downfall — and the freeing of a significant part of the world as a result.

MediaMatters, a Leftist media watchdog, wants to assure us that unions are still anti-Communist.  MediaMatters has therefore mounted a full frontal attack against Glenn Beck, who in turn is contending the SEIU president Andy Stern is not only Obama’s best buddy, but is also a communist.  The problem as Beck sees it and as Kathy Shaidle explains, is that Andy Stern likes to go around quoting communist slogans as his guiding principles.  In a recent interview, he announced that “workers of the world unite, it’s not just a slogan anymore.  It’s the way we’re going to have to do our work.”

Stern hastened to add in a subsequent interview that he thinks it’s just great that communism is dead.  It’s certainly nice of Stern to say that, but his conclusory statement about communism’s death hasn’t assuaged anyone’s worry that he, like Anita Dunn, who quotes Mao with the best of them, looks for moral and practical guidance to some pretty rotten people with really bad ideas.

You and I aren’t simplistic or naive.  We know that even bad people have good ideas.  Indeed, to be a high functioning bad person, you have to have some good ideas or otherwise you won’t sell your overall ideology.  Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin were all effective managers, and Mussolini did get those trains to run on time.

Read the whole thing.

  1. David Forsmark permalink
    November 4, 2009 5:23 pm

    Part of the difference was that back then the AFL-CIO was still largely a union of private sector employees, despite their someone socialistic view of economics, they wanted to be more like, say, the UK, not the USSR. The SEIU is almost totally a government workers union, and they are so completely removed from the realities of the economic system that they have gone completely over to the hard Left.

    • November 5, 2009 8:33 am

      I have been a voting delegate to approximately seven past statewide assemblies of the California Faculty Association (an affiliate of the SEIU) and to many state council meetings of the California Teachers Association. The SEIU represents many members in the private sector, such as hotel workers. Many of America’s most important labor laws were passed in the 1950’s when very few employees were members of public sector labor unions and when there were anti-communist Democrats, such as Robert Kennedy.

      The problem today is that labor unions are paying each other millions of dollars each year in affiliation dues. There is little or no Federal Government oversight for much of this money because the financial disclosure rules for public sector unions are weaker than for private sector unions. I do not know why it is legal for public sector labor unions to be affiliates of private sector labor unions.

      At CFA statewide assemblies, I liked to refer to myself as the only out-of-the-closet Republican in the room. At CTA state councils, I was a member of a small group of Republican teachers.

      There are many communists, socialists, and progressives in the CFA and in the CTA. Some of them are willing to admit openly their ideologies. In other cases, it is obvious from the Lunatic Left proposals made in committees or before the entire assembly or council. My favorite example of a Lunatic Left proposal was that all professors should receive the same salaries because all knowledge is valuable!

  2. Michael van der Galien permalink
    November 5, 2009 2:01 am

    I think David is right-on. These people are so completely disconnected from reality -and often have little to no knowledge of the past – that they almost automatically veer over to the hard Left. They don’t live in the real world, but in one of (radical) books and fancy ideologies that sound great, to them at least, in theory.

  3. chuckie2u permalink
    November 5, 2009 6:06 am

    What does one expect from Government employees. Their world is Government controlled and not motivated by production,profit and loss,cash flow or down turns in the economy. The Federal Government is one of the largest employers in America and is a good example of the workings of a SOCIALIST Economy. I agree with David. They are completely disconnected to the true WORKERS of the World.

  4. Michael van der Galien permalink
    November 5, 2009 7:03 am

    chuckie2u: that’s a problem the free market and privatization could fix.

  5. Prudent Man, CFA permalink
    November 5, 2009 7:08 am

    Our colleges and university teach collectivism and a modicum of capitalism, usually in perjorative form. Both, to me, take their corruption to a level of self-destruction.

    What academics do not teach, nor does Wall Street, the Business Roundtable, CFR, and others, with the exception of the Chamber of Commerce, promote and teach the values of Free Enterprise. When workers are taught Free Enterprise they have a better understanding that they have a job in order to work and produce. Obviously, government and labor unions do not want educated workers as those workers would quickly determine these parasites are superfluous.

    As capitalism is but a part of Free Enterprise it was a favorite of Karl Marx’s pejoratives when he emphasized its excesses. When well-meaning but shallow pundits such as Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh, and others fall into the capitalism trap I cringe. Does anyone know of a “capitalist” who doesn’t want to own a monopoly? That is why we have laws to protect Free Enterprise.

    I appreciate that the Chamber of Commerce is now referring to our Free Enterprise System as our economic engine and not Crony Capitalism. I would like to see the pundits get the message.

    Free Enterprise, with its economic and political Freedoms, built the U.S. not Capitalism. If you stuff that into the mouths of the collectivist economic academics we may someday have a society who understands productivity is more important than the excessive consumption any idiot can do.

    I was fortunate enough to graduate from University with the help of the G.I. Bill when we got an education and not just a degree, and that degree was an indication of more than just matriculation. We are experiencing today what happens when the greedy, corrupt academic class depreciates our educational system.

    It’s Free Enterprise Stupid!!

    • The Inquisitor permalink
      November 5, 2009 8:47 am

      “Does anyone know of a “capitalist” who doesn’t want to own a monopoly? That is why we have laws to protect Free Enterprise.”

      Well, yes. Some years ago General Motors recognized that the corporation was too integrated. The solution was to make their operating units self-sufficient. They had to stand on their own. That is, a highly integrated — read monopolized — corporation concluded that it was in their interest to decentralize.

      When “monopolies” (Economists no longer try to define monopoly; it’s too elusive a concept.) get too big they face the same problems of a socialist society; they loose the ability to price their products rationally.

      There is no disconnect between free enterprise and capitalism. “Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which property is privately owned.” Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

  6. John Davidson permalink
    November 5, 2009 7:20 am

    The idea of forcing people to contribute to a radical organization that once stood for the good of the worker, but diverted its attention to themselves intent on remaining in power at the expense of those who financed them in the first place is quite remarkable a feat.

  7. bob permalink
    November 5, 2009 3:59 pm

    I’ve been thinking about “card check”, having been in the Teamster’s for 30 years. Consider this: the ability to organize a company by card signing might be acceptable if any local union could be decertified by the same process. There is more than one reason for declining private sector membership. The one reason most noted for that decline being corporate resistance to union certification. Another major reason for the decline, less publicized, is that 30% or more of the membership dislike leftward political alignment or the cost of representation. Unions aren’t anti- communist. They’re dedicated to internal politics, dues collection, and aggrandizement of power.

  8. November 5, 2009 4:24 pm

    The CIO was infamously commie-dominated. It was the AFL that was anti-Communist. Fortunately, the AFL’s view prevailed, but that was in large part as a form of protectionism for American workers against cheaper labor from countries impoverished by Communist rule. Harry Bridges, of the SF longshoreman’s union, was also a secret Communist, and his union refused to prohibit Communist members.

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