On this “Labor Day” weekend we are reminded of the terrible state of the union movement in the USA. Under the pro-capitalist leadership of the AFL-CIO since the anti-communist witch-hunts led by Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy back in the ’50s drove the commies out of the unions, the percentage of the US working class holding union cards has steadily dwindled.
Today’s AFL-CIO “leadership” regales the membership with the lie that “the interests of labor and capital are one and the same”. Look at point one in the following AFL-CIO handout:
It wasn’t always this way. In the late 19th and the early years of the 20th century US workers and their union leaders understood that the interests of capital and labor were directly COUNTERPOSED and IRRECONCILABLE. Union leadership in those days was full of anarchists, socialists and (after 1917) Communists inspired by the Bolshevik Russian Revolution. Though the top AFL-CIO leaders like Sam Gompers were hidebound pro-capitalist quislings, many of the local unions had more left-leaning leaders who taught that the working class could expect nothing but a knife in the back from the capitalist class – and their media outlets, which in the early days of the union movement before radio and television meant just one thing: the newspapers. And so, in order for the truth about the union movement to be broadcast to the masses, the socialist parties and later on the AFL-CIO itself began publishing newspapers telling the workers’ side of the story. From union and socialist and anarchist strongholds like the lumber and mining unions in the Pacific Northwest to the shores of the Atlantic, union newspapers were created. Where once the US produced perhaps dozens of daily socialist, anarchist and trade-unionist newspapers none are in existence today. Outside of the important revolutionary socialist papers that struggle to obtain the support of the slavish, pro-capitalist US working class of today (and can only publish weekly or biweekly or monthly as a result) the US has not a single pro-union daily newspaper! What is wrong with this country and its working class? Here is a selection of papers we ran across today as we checked out the archives at Newspapers.com:
The Knights of Labor, Richmond, Virginia, 1886: “That is the Most Perfect Government in Which An Injury To One Is the Concern Of All.”
The Knights of Labor were originally organized as a secret society at a time when union organizing was punished as a “conspiracy” of labor against the “rightful rulers” of the USA. Having just emerged from secrecy in 1886 during the rapid rise of the “Eight-Hour Day” movement, the K of L were driven back underground in the wake of the vicious anti-union attacks led by the US capitalist class and their press in revenge for the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago that took place in May of 1886.
Mt. Vernon, Illinois “Progressive Farmer” of the Farmer’s Mutual Benefit Association (FMBA), 1895
Elwood, Indiana “Daily Labor Record”, 1896
Louisville, Kentucky and New Albany and Jeffersonville Indiana’s “Ohio Valley Worker”, 1904: “The Official Paper of the Federated Trades Council of Louisville, Trades and Labor Council of New Albany, Central Labor Union of Jeffersonville.”
Greensboro, North Carolina “Labor News”, 1908: “Organ of the State Federation of Labor. Endorsed by Greensboro Trades Council. Motto: Organization, Education And Elevation.”
Everett, Washington “Washington Socialist”, 1914: “Workers Of The World, Unite! You Have Nothing To Lose But Your Chains. You Have A World To Win.”
Decatur, Illinois “Labor World”, 1915: “The Paper That Won’t Be Muzzled… Endorsed By The Trades And Labor Assembly”
Everett, Washington “Northwest Worker”, 1917: “Official Organ of the Socialist Party of Snohomish and Stevens Counties… Spokesman for the Only Useful Class in Society – The Working Class”
Cincinnati, Ohio “Labor Advocate”, 1917: “A Paper Without A Muzzle For All Who Toil… Property and Official Organ of the Building Trades Council of Cincinnati and Vicinity… Independent… Non-Partisan”
Duluth and Superior, Minnesota “Labor World”, 1918: “For Social Justice, Economic Reform, And Political Progress”
Wilmington, North Carolina “Union Labor Record”, 1918: “The Medium of Organized Labor and Guardian of the Workingman’s Interest. Endorsed by the North Carolina State Federation of Labor.”
Everett, Washington “Labor Journal”, 1922: “Official Paper Everett Central Labor Council… Published In The Interest Of Organized Labor”
The AFL-CIO unions today publish not newspapers but newsletters for their membership only, featuring self-aggrandizing pabulum about how great the local piecards are… and of course the death notices… and large displays of US flags everywhere – along with attacks on the Republicans and lists of “friends of Labor” Democrats to vote for in the upcoming elections. No wonder the AFL-CIO is going down the tubes with this pathetic, pro-capitalist leadership! If we want to see the union membership rise again like it did in the 1930s, we need to kick out the pro-capitalist labor fakers and replace them with a revolutionary Trotskyist class-struggle leadership that fights not just for “a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work” but for workers socialist revolution in the USA and around the world! There will not be any dancing in the streets after WWIII, sisters and brothers.
Workers of the World, Unite! Capitalism Must Die So The Working Class May Live!