Labor Reform Movement: July 13, 2012

Millions Who Played by the Employers’ Rules
Became Victims, Not Partners to Share Gains

By Harry Kelber

President Obama is fond of sharing his crowd-pleasing comments at almost every fund-raiser. At some point, he tells his friendly audience: “Work hard and play by the rules” and you will achieve your Dream.

This mantra is also used by Republican as well as by Democratic politicians and by people from all walks of life who consider themselves successful and, as examples, for less fortunate people to follow.

I think that with some 23 million people looking for full-time jobs, this is a great time to launch a massive union organizing campaign. Yet there is no sign that the current AFL-CIO leadership is even contemplating such action. Here is what AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka had to say to a convention meeting of La Raza, the Spanish-speaking Organization:

“All of us share the American Dream. The idea that if we work hard and play by the rules, we can look forward to a secure retirement in our old age, and that we can offer our children a chance at a better life.” That hardly squares with the real world, where millions of people are struggling just to survive.

Why Hasn’t the AFL-CIO Tried to Change the Rules of the Game?

Does everyone believe that major changes will happen spontaneously? Is the AFL-CIO preparing to make it happen? Does even Trumka himself believe that in his lifetime, America will be transformed by the sheer magic of his words? Is this the kind of leadership that will gain us respect and influence in Washington and around the country?

Trumka’s “vision” does not give even a hint how he’s going to find “decent” jobs for 23 million people who are looking for full-time work. Why hasn’t he come up with a plan to organize the unorganized and root out corruption within the Federation?

Consider this: American workers are regarded as the most productive in the world. So how did we lose six million manufacturing jobs from 1998 to 2009?

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American Labor Reformers will be looking for answers. How about becoming a Labor Reformer? Help us make the AFL-CIO an organization we can all be proud of.

This article is also posted on our two web sites: and on www.laborsvoiceforchange.