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Forum Post: What is the purpose of the AFL-CIO?

Posted 10 years ago on April 16, 2012, 3:14 p.m. EST by Demian (497) from San Francisco, CA
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Every election year the AFL-CIO donates millions of dollars to get the Democrats elected and every year that they are successful at getting them elected the Democrats turn around and kick them right in the teeth.

What ever happened to the Employee free choice act? Where was Obama when Walker suspended collective bargaining in Wisconsin? Didn't Obama make the claim that during his presidency that if the rights of workers were ever threatened he would join them in the picket line? He hasn't done anything to help the American worker. He seems to be passing freetrade agreements which will harm workers of the countries involved. Didn't he make a campaign promise to renegotiate Nafta? Now he's passed this new trade agreement with columbia. How much longer can the Union rank and file take this lying down?

How much did they spend on the Democrats last election cycle 400,000,000$? What did they get for it?

At some point I think that activists on the left are going to have to realize that the Union bosses in the AFL-CIO are not there to protect workers. They are the minions of the corporate democratic party. Their purpose is to funnel votes from the working class to the Democrats and nothing else. Please understand that I am not against Unions, in fact I would like to see the Unions in this country grow and attain real political power once more. I just fail to see how supporting the Democrats is supposed to help. So what is the purpose of the AFL-CIO?



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[-] 1 points by alexrai (851) 10 years ago

Well I half agree with you; its more like the lesser of two evils. There is a difference between Walker and Obama, in that at least Obama isn't actively trying to destroy unions. He just isn't doing anything to help them.

It's probably the difference between a bullet in the head, and being slowly roasted on a bon fire, but there is a bit of a difference. Not sure if its worth 400,000,000... and the end result with be the same given enough time... but anyway.

I disagree on your poor take on the union organizations though. I know a lot of union executives through my work, and they do care about their members a lot, and they work a hell of a lot more than their private industry counter parts, and make a hell of a lot less money.

They are also very smart people, but most don't have MBAs or law degrees. I hate to say it but it makes a difference in the business world.

You know what the biggest problem is? The legal climate is so anti-union there is only so hard they can push before they wind up like the air-traffic controllers in the 1980s and their members are up shit creek in the unemployment line.

That's the reality. They can not afford to be militant, and so they compromise, and let companies get away with shit that would have been unthinkable before Regan came around.

People forget about how bad life was before unions came around, before the labor movement... but we are heading back to the 1800s in terms of worker rights, and maybe it will take 50% unemployment and a 7 day work week before people wake the hell up.

[-] 0 points by JIFFYSQUID92 (-994) from Portland, OR 10 years ago

What is the purpose of the various Chambers of Commerce? Citizens United? ALEC? the various RW Super PACS?? To promote the continuous (reliably undisturbed) acquisition (extraction) of ever more wealth from the world's 99% and redistribute it to the greed-addled Rich and Corporate in the 1%!

Organized labor and the AFL-CIO promote the welfare of Working Americans and provide a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the secret flood of funds in the Rich and Corporate war chest.

This audacious crime that preserves and promotes such an unfair advantage of a few in the 1% over the many in the 99% can only be remedied by the complete removal of all Republicons in all government who work the 1% to uphold this crime on Americans.

Register and Vote! Register and Vote! "We the 1%" NOT What They Wrote!!

[-] 0 points by XenuLives (1645) from Charlotte, NC 10 years ago

I would love to see a powerful Labor Party get started in this country. We need more political parties in general.

[-] 2 points by Demian (497) from San Francisco, CA 10 years ago

Thats what I'm talking about. Some of the people on this forum don't seem to care about any change to the system. They just care about getting Democrats elected much like the union bosses. They seem to be under the delusion that the Democrats can be reformed but I just don't see it that way. I mean you could make the argument that its wise to vote for democrats to keep the supreme court liberal but I don't believe that. First off I don't trust Obamas judgement to appoint a left leaning judge because he isn't left leaning himself. He has been serving the 1% just as enthusiastically as the last president. He has gone back on several of his campaign promises and has been a steadfast enemy of civil liberties. Why would you trust a man like this?

[-] 0 points by shoozTroll (17632) 10 years ago

You have what is perhaps the narrowest view of unions I've ever seen.

Have you considered joining one or forming one?

How about some facts on what corporations spend to get (R)epelican'ts elected? Coupled with how badly they treat workers.

[-] 1 points by Demian (497) from San Francisco, CA 10 years ago

I'm a member of the local 510 here in SF and when I graduate college I intend to join the National Nurses United. We all know how bad the corporations are, nobody here that has an inclination towards the left would dispute this. What about the institutions that are supposed to protect the working class? Are they legitimate or are they apart of the corporate power structure? This is my question.

[-] 2 points by JadedGem (895) 10 years ago

I have no idea if they are legitimate, I've never had a union job. I was told at one job that uttering the word "union" would get me fired. The factory had sister union factory in the north and we had higher quotas at low wages so we could pay the union workers in the founder's home town good. They wanted to hire lots of people out of temp agencies and never offer them a position with even meager benefits, they would fire everyone from one temp agency and they would have to go to another temp agency to get sent right back. Even southerners think that's tacky. Not many were real sad when they headed off to Mexico.

[-] 1 points by Demian (497) from San Francisco, CA 10 years ago

The Union that I work out of is a lot better than that. It's very democratic and I enjoy working for them, it really feels like they are looking out for you. I had never had a Union job either until I moved out of the south and I immediately noticed the difference between a union work place and a non union work place. I noticed that there was a lot less back stabbing the workers are more unified and they look out for one another more.

[-] 2 points by JadedGem (895) 10 years ago

I favor unions because I've seen and worked for people who are dead set against them. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, so to speak.

[-] 1 points by Demian (497) from San Francisco, CA 10 years ago

I think unions are a good thing as long as they aren't co-opted and as long as there is a lot of participation on the shop floor as to how they are run.

[-] 1 points by JadedGem (895) 10 years ago

I see that company's products in Loews and won't buy them either. I could blame those Union workers for operating in the red and necessitating the company resort to gross exploitative practices to cover their expense. I don't though. Not all the companies against Unions have a Union factory somewhere to support at our expense.

[-] 1 points by Demian (497) from San Francisco, CA 10 years ago

The idea of democratically run unions is something I support but not all unions are run that way. Unions are like any other institution some are really good and look out for their members and some are really corrupt and looking out for the union bosses salary. Thats what is unfortunate about some of the criticisms that come out of the right about unions, in some cases they are correct.

[-] 1 points by JadedGem (895) 10 years ago

Down here people died, got unions, and had their Union leaders bought off. They were throwing money away when they paid their Union dues.

[-] 0 points by Demian (497) from San Francisco, CA 10 years ago

Which is why I like the co-op model even better.

[-] 1 points by JadedGem (895) 10 years ago

Me too! If you actually own a piece, it gives you more say so than any Union can. Also I don't like the way retirement money is invested. I think it too much of an opportunity to move things around so the pension funds end up the biggest looser.

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 10 years ago

Go on strike and find out............:)

Or are you just being disingenuous?

You just have to understand how badly the (R)epelican'ts are screwing us in the states to get a handle on it.

[-] 1 points by Demian (497) from San Francisco, CA 10 years ago

I understand very well what the Republicans want but what do the Democrats and the institutions that serve the Democrats want? They pay lip service to the Unions but they never do anything to help them. It seem to me that you are the one that is being disingenuous. Why would you support an organization that helps get a political party elected that is waging a war on them? Its true that the Republicans wage war on them as well but at least they are honest about it. What I think we need in the Labor movement is independence from the Democrats. Why couldn't they spend 400,00,000$ to run their own candidates? Or use that money to set up co-operatives to bring more people under the wing of the union?

[-] 1 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 10 years ago

You have an extremely short political memory. It is the historically Democrats who made the unions possible. It is the republicans who never-endingly seek to destroy them.

Unions are outspent 4 to 1 in terms of campaign contributions. They represent, currently, only about 11% of the workers in the country. Their running directly for office would be a failure from the get-go in the world of real politics. And it would pose some real ethical and legal problems as well.

As to setting up cooperatives, I have no idea what you're talking about. It might be a good idea or not, but the way you present it, it is merely a vague notion with no form. What is really needed is to increase inion membership to at least the 30% it was in the 1950s and early 60s. But, having organized workplaces for the union for 20 years, I know how incredibly difficult that is. Things have to be pretty dire most cases for a worker to face the wrath of their bosses. Most people are too afraid to try, and I don't blame them. Not too many are enthusiastic about getting beaten and having contracts put out on their lives, walking in fear of a bullet in the back of their head for years on end. (And no, I am not exaggerating, but speaking from my own experiences).

Unions used to have real power in this country, and wielded it for the sake of workers through the Democratic party. That is no longer the case. The entire country has shifted rightward, including the Democratic Party. What is called moderate today is what we used to see as reactionary right when I was young. That is not the fault of any one party, but the population as a whole. It was helped by the left abandoning the Democratic party after the Chicago Democratic Convention in 1968, handing over power to the right on a silver platter. Since then the right has never relinquished it, and has used it to spin essentially unopposed propaganda for the last 40 years, manipulating the public to such an extent that even rank and file workers oppose unions. (It is also due, in no small part, to the push-back that resulted from the Civil Rights victories and the anti-war movement. Racists and war mongers worked very hard to regain power, and they largely succeeded.)

It is no wonder workers have little voice in either party today.

[-] 0 points by Demian (497) from San Francisco, CA 10 years ago

Why would you continue to support them then? i am unconcerned with the history of the democratic party with the unions. Any loyalty that the party had to unions has long since evaporated. How long can Trumka support Obama when he is openly hostile to the to the interests of the working class? It's very true that corporations outspend the unions. They spend that money to buy democrats just like republicans. So why would you have anything to do with the party when they don't care about you? Its obvious that they care more about wall street and their corporate donors than they do about the working class. Its like some sort of battered wife syndrome. You keep voting for Democrats and then they belt you in the mouth and in four years you run right back into their arms.

As far as the co-ops http://www.usw.org/our_union/co-ops





I just can't get my head around why people don't want to fight. Why would you lay there and keep getting kicked in the ass by the democrats? If they want your vote they should have to earn it through there actions not by pretending to be the lesser of two evils.

[-] 1 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 10 years ago

OK, I understand what you mean about the co-ops, now. Thank or the links.

Co-ops might work eventually, but they will take even longer to create in real numbers than unionizing current places of employment.

As to my laying there are getting kicked by the Democrats what is your alternative? Revolution that will not occur for another hundred years? Making sure, by not supporting Democrats, that Republicans - who are not simply ineffective or indifferent to unions, but actually work for their destruction - win office?

In fact, I don't buy for one second you contention that the Democrats are not supporting the unions and are "belting them in the mouth". They continue to support legislation, introduced repeatedly, like card signing laws that would, in fact, make it far easier for a workplace to unionize. Your contention is false.

Second, what makes you think people don't want to fight? People are fighting all around the country, every single day. They may be doing so more locally, and far more quietly than you, but that doesn't mean they aren't putting their jobs and well-being on the line all over, every day. Ever been beaten for organizing a shop to join a union? I have. Ever had to get the FBI and Interpol involved in your life because a business owner put a contract out on it for organizing fellow workers? I have. Ever lost all your income because of your organizing activity? I have, more times than I can count. Ever been harassed, daily, hourly, minute by minute, on a job because you were helping co-workers join the union? I have the scars to prove it. And I did it for 20 years.

And I personally know many others who have done the same and more. And most of my closest friends spent their entire lives working within the system to help the homeless, the mentally ill, and the drug addicts.

What have you done that you are so superior?

Your black and white characterizations are divorced from the real world as are your false choices.

[-] 0 points by shoozTroll (17632) 10 years ago

Oh, the Dems are trying to fight the (R)s in the States involved.

It's not an easy job with the forces arrayed against them. "Right" down to their well established, well endowed and powerful PR machine.

Where are you getting this 400 million figure?

[-] 0 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 10 years ago

You're a shill for the establishment.

Get off our site.

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 10 years ago

And you're a troll..what of it?

[-] 0 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 10 years ago

You, Shooz are the troll. And you constant Pro Dem bullshit is all the real agents of change and thinkers need to see to know that any real change that comes will not be because of something you did.

Now go back to sleep. We will let you know when its safe to leave the comfort of the establishment.

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 10 years ago

I'm not so much pro Dem, as I am I'm Anti-(R)epelican't.

I also hate teabaggers. All for a very good reason.

I've been fighting the establishment for about 45 years now.

I even won a few times, when in direct confrontation.

There's a lot more, but it's very personal and I won't talk about it here.

I've pointed out to you the threads you've started in the past and refuse to admit what you said.

You're either a troll, very young, or very confused politically.

I've also pointed out to you numerous ways the (R)epelican't activity in the states is making a huge negative difference.

Curious, that you never comment in those threads. Only the ones where you can inject your echo chamber.

You never compromise that position either, not a bit

[-] 1 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 10 years ago

If you have been active for 45 years then I applaud you for being active. If only 10% of the country was, we wouldnt have the problems we have right now.

You will get no arguement from me on " numerous ways the (R)epelican't activity in the states is making a huge negative difference"....I think that much is obvious. Goes without saying.

If you want to see me bash the Republicans, then you have to come and see the RNC in Tampa. I will be posting our stuff on here afterwards. Should be quite entertaining, given the hypocrisy of it all.

I dont find it necessary to get into threads where we all jerk each other off on shit that we agree. I see people go 10-15 tabs deep, just patting each other on the back about shit thats obvious.

I dont come to chat rooms to find people that agree with me. I come to find people who are still clinging to their parties, and try to get them to step into unconventional thinking territory (for them anyways).

If you have been at it for 45 years and are still loyal to one of these two monstrous, bomb dropping beings, then you probably will always be.

Can I ask you what the DEm party would have to do in order for you to say fuck it, Im going with a third party, or am going to support this indie guy? How many nations need to get bombed? How much bullshit legislation needs to passed? They just shot down the oil subsidy thing and the Buffet rule in the Senate. What needs to happen in order for you to say fuck it, Im going indie?

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 10 years ago

What you have to understand is that the bombing won't stop no matter who gets elected. It wouldn't really matter, if it was Mr. P.

The Generals aren't done yet. As much as I hate war, that is a moot point. The Patriot Act Makes it even harder, and if you think WallStreet and the "private" investors are going to give that up easy. Think again.........and again.

Once a military action of this magnitude is started the fourth branch of government comes into play, and it includes the "industrial establishment", all the way back to WallStreet.

Still feel good about your IRA? .

Remember how everybody is supposed to HATE Carter?

Well, he got stuck with the bill for Viet Nam, and OPEC reacted to the amount of fuel we were no longer purchasing.

They are playing economic, and political roulette to see who gets stuck with the bill for this "military action".

WallStreet doesn't want that to happen either. They still haven't figured out who really owns what in the derivatives markets.

Just follow the money, and there it is, on WallStreets all over the World.

If you want to go indie, because you think it will help?

More power to you. I'm not going to tell you who to vote for. You have that right and it's private one.

I will only plead with you, not to vote for a (R)epelican't, nor any indie that plans on caucusing with them.

Take a hard look at the States, and know that there are still very real differences, and they matter more than ever.

It is still, as much as I hate to admit it, a two party system, and that's not going change any time soon.

Keep your eye on the real money.


'Cause that's where it comes from, and it's where it really goes.

[-] 1 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 10 years ago

Im about as liberal as they get when it comes to social stuff, so I can promise you I wont vote for any R.

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 10 years ago

Then know this about your "non liberal" side.

It's the one that profits from the military actions.

Through the wonders of investments and investment banking, where war is just another way to maximize profits.

I'm only pointing this out because you have been perfectly unclear about that "non social" stuff.

[-] 1 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 10 years ago

Ok, then I guess I should clear a few things up.

Im all for gov investing in science. My girlfriend of 4 yrs works in an alternative energy lab @ USF, while going to grad school there. Great stuff.

Im obviously anti war. I realize its been going on since the beginning of time, but I will not endorse it. Just like I would never condone murder or rape.

I would scrap the Dept of Ed, and just let the teachers teach. I would take the saved money and dump it directly into the schools, trying to cut class size in half. Florida pays their teachers like shit, so possibly if we could get them a raise, it would be nice.

Im all for public education. We definitely dont want that going in the hands of for profits.

I think the EPA, the SEC and the other regulatory agencies have all been bought out. I would scrap them all, and get a fresh start.

I would certainly shrink the gov wherever needed. I realize that would mean layoffs of jobs, but in order to protect the entire nation, we need to get the spending under control (I think the war thing would cure most of it).

SS- I think it is fine. I personally wish I could invest the money myself, but like from my "Income Gap" post, Im not sure society has the discipline to invest theirs.

Healthcare- either go single payer, or get the gov out 100%. Anything in between is a disaster.

Safety nets- I do think safety nets are good, but I do think they have gotten pretty "normal" these days, which I dont think is good for the entire nation as far as being a country that can work its way out of problems. Lots of abuse. Maybe an audit at every county level of just who needs it and who doesnt?

Well, Im rambling, but thats where I stand on most of that stuff.

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 10 years ago

See. that wasn't so hard.

I could argue some of that to help you refine your view, but it's getting late.

At least I'm beginning to think you might be well meaning......:)

Thanks for helping out in Tampa.

[-] 1 points by craigdangit (326) 10 years ago

He didn't answer your question.

Like a beaten spouse, back to the partisan stuff on payday.