Gaius Publius: Progressives Ask Why So Many Unions Seem Anti-Progressive

By , a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Cfdtrade. Follow him on Twitter , and . GP article archive . Originally published at

 A South Boston anti-busing protest in the 1970s ()

As a new Democratic insurgency has risen over the last year, unions have clung tightly to the old guard.
— Aida Chávez & Ryan Grim,

The modern progressive movement is far and away a very good friend of labor. The labor movement, on the other hand, seems far less a friend of progressives.

This varies from union to union, of course, and also within unions. There are many pro-progressive unions and union members. National Nurses United, for example, strongly Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary, and unions with many pro-Sanders members endorsed Clinton because their leaders unilaterally chose to do so.

Yet it seems that in the aggregate, organized labor has an anti-progressive tilt. That’s not the news though, just an observation. The news is that, for the first time in a while, progressives are noticing this fact, wondering in public what it might mean, and quietly asking each other what they should do about it.

My own comment: sure took a while. This problem has been obvious for quite a long time. But let’s stick to the facts for today, look at the questions and leave the answers for later.

First, Aida Chávez and Ryan Grim raise an at The Intercept (see headline below). Note that not only is the underlying story — the union behavior — interesting, but also that this question is being asked at all:

Carpenters, Steamfitters, and Other Trade Unions Coalesced Around Notorious Ferguson Prosecutor. Why?

St. Louis County, Missouri, labor unions spent heavily in an effort to re-elect prosecutor Bob McCulloch, who was ousted on Tuesday by criminal justice reformer Wesley Bell, campaign finance reports reveal.

It’s common for police unions to support prosecutors, but the labor groups who backed McCulloch came from the trade union movement: steamfitters, carpenters, electrical workers, and others with no obvious connection to the criminal justice system. Their support came in the form of both endorsements and campaign funds. The unions pumped in at least $25,000 of the $237,000 McCulloch raised during the campaign, arguing that his longtime support of organized labor deserved loyalty.

It’s not just the Bob McCulloch whom many unions support; this is “an emerging pattern” (emphasis added):

As a new Democratic insurgency has risen over the last year, unions have clung tightly to the old guard. In New York, they sided with Rep. Joe Crowley over Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and with Gov. Andrew Cuomo over Cynthia Nixon, even walking out of the Working Families Party on his orders. (In Missouri, the WFP supported Bell.) And the union backing is not limited to incumbents. Unions were firmly behind Gretchen Whitmer, who defeated Abdul El-Sayed in Michigan’s gubernatorial primary, for instance, and with Brad Ashford, a conservative Democrat who lost to insurgent Kara Eastman in an Omaha, Nebraska, congressional primary.

Next, let’s turn to the climate front. Among of progressives like Robert Reich by the United Mine Workers Twitter account, we find this response to progressive critics of the DNC’s recent of taking money from fossil fuel companies:

Your message to coal miners, refinery workers, O&G production workers, fossil fuel utility workers & families is “we hate your industry so it’s OK to refuse industry $$.” Can’t then say say “oh, YOUR money is OK. But we still hate your industry.”

— United Mine Workers (@MineWorkers)

Let’s break this down. The DNC wants to keep ing at the fossil fuel company trough. Progressives object to that and campaign to stop it. The UMW objects to progressive pushback and says to progressives, in effect:

  • You hate the industry we love.
  • You don’t want industry money.
  • So you shouldn’t want our money either.

As a statement of “we just don’t like you,” this seems pretty clear, and not that far from a conversation that goes like this:

“Spare some change? I’m on your side.”
“But we don’t like you.”
“Let me explain why you should.”
“I guess you weren’t listening. We don’t like you.”
“Of course I was listening. Spare some change?”

The three unions most opposed to oil and gas pipeline protests are the Operating Engineers (heavy equipment operators), Pipefitters and Laborers (LiUNA), whose president interestingly called those protestors “.”

It’s true that take these stands, and one could argue in defense of those that do that they’re just protecting jobs. But is that really all that’s going on? Or is it also true that, when it comes to progressives and their values, they’re just opposed on principle?

I’ll close with two more thoughts. As Chávez and Grim point out, police unions naturally support prosecutors and the “criminal justice system.” But is there not also a racial component to their support for obvious racists like like Bob McCullogh? If so, what values do these unions and those like them represent — true criminal justice, or something else? After all, actual justice would look like … justice.

Second, as noted above, the leadership of most large unions despite Sanders’ lifelong and consistent support for workers and unions. As Elizabeth Bruenig in 2015, “So why are the very unions that give Sanders money hesitant to lend him their endorsements?”

Again that question, which brings us back to the question posed at the beginning: Why would unions that have nothing to do with criminal justice support a like Bob McCulloch? Corrupt Joe Crowley? Powerful, corrupt Andrew Cuomo? Brad Ashford? And so many similar others?

These aren’t answers, only questions, but questions in need of asking.

As you ponder them consider both aspects of this issue. The problem isn’t simply why so many unions oppose progressives. It’s also, what should progressives, in their unbending support for unions, do about it? After all, if a progressive transformation of the nation is not just desirable but critical to our survival, how should those working forthat transformation deal with those working against it?

More pointedly, should anti-progressive unions be treated as allies, simply because they’re unions?

One more thing to watch as national problems grow worse, the need for solutions grows urgent, and progressives, or at least a few of them, take a brand new look at an old and seemingly unsolvable dilemma.

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80 comments

  1. PlutoniumKun

    I don’t think you can ever see Unions as allies for broader progressive aims. While grassroots Union activists are usually quite left wing, in my experience most regular Union members see Unions as a club to protect their interests in their particular jobs. I’ve met many active Union people who are by any standards right wing and reactionary in many of their beliefs. Its no different from avowed free market advocates joining trade associations to minimise competition.

    1. Disturbed Voter

      Correct. But also history. The Wobblies were suppressed, labor-socialism was suppressed from 1920 until today. The Establishment was willing, and did, kill union organizers. A truce occurred under FDR, that if the unions gave up Bolshevism, the government would grant them toleration, if not support. And so it went until Ronald Reagan.

    2. vlade

      Indeed. Unions are, first and foremost, a special-interest group. They are not “naturally” progressive or not. They are naturally (well, at least the ones well run) protecting interests of their members, against all comers. It could have been seen very well in the UK with say RMT (especially under Bob Crow), which had zero problem taking public hostage, even though a substantial part of the public that uses Tube in London is on much worse contracts than their members, and if unable to work may suffer financial hardship.

    3. Livius Drusus

      Yeah there are a lot of conservative union members. This is something that I think people on the left sometimes miss when they see unions as consisting of radical members who are being screwed over by right-wing union officials. That might be a comforting narrative but it romanticizes workers too much. In my experience union officials and activists tend to be more left-wing than the membership. I know plenty of union members who complain about their unions giving money to the Democrats and they are not saying this because they are angry left-wingers upset over neoliberal Democrats, they are attacking the Dems from the right!

      This is why I am not a believer in rank-and-file unionism as an answer to the problems of unions. Even when union members are not conservative most of them see the union more as a professional organization that protects their interests rather than as part of a broader progressive social movement. I have noticed that there is little solidarity between members of different unions. My father was a member of the Laborers’ union and he hates teachers’ unions, for example. He is a hardcore conservative Republican and always complained about his union supporting Democrats. I guarantee that there were and are a lot of union members like him. I also notice that many union members don’t think that low-wage workers like fast-food and retail employees deserve to unionize because they are “burger flippers” or whatever. So much for solidarity.

      I don’t want to sound like I hate unions or union members. Far from it I am very pro-union and think that unions get too much guff from both the right and the left. I have come to the conclusion that the problem is probably cultural. Americans are simply more individualistic and less solidaristic than Europeans. Unlike the post-war European center-right than was dominated by Christian Democrats who were influenced by the pro-union tenets of Catholic Social Teaching, the American right has traditionally been anti-labor, particularly in the South which is another American peculiarity that hurts American unions. Even the New Deal Democrats had an anti-union wing consisting of Southern Democrats who supported Taft–Hartley, for example. America labor law is also very pro-employer compared to other countries. The result is that American unions are timid, weaker and more conservative than their counterparts in other countries.

  2. upstater

    The article is incorrect stating that the Working Families Party endorsed Andrew Cuomo over Cynthia Nixon. It endorsed Nixon back in April:

  3. Darius

    Unions today tend to be in preservation mode, not organizing mode. This leads to a conservative outlook, unfortunately.

    1. Letsbefrank

      Darius, that is a very good point. As a UAW executive officer I can tell your our organizational staff is very thin. Our platform however is very progressive and that stems from our past and tradition from Walter Ruther who marched side by side with Martin Luther King Jr. At Strike events. Unfortunately many of our members do not share these view and don’t vote in their best interests.

      The UAW will tend to endorse the Democratic candidate they believe will win the primary. This is another form of self preservation, as backing the “loser” can have repercussions. I find this unfortunate as I backed Bernie Sanders because of his years of Union support. Reality however is what it is.

    2. redleg

      Exactly. Most rank and file members of the union I am in are willing to concede almost anything to keep their jobs. It is disappointing and counterproductive.

      1. BridgetownBeast

        The cooling effect of provisions of the Taft Hartley act and the nasty activities of the House Unamerican Activities committee hampered this. Unions striking in sympathy or working in concert with other unions could face arrest or sanction by the government, to say nothing of outright murder at the hands of police, scabs and hired goons.

        It is because so many unions respect the so-called rule of law that they have been corralled, all for the sake of not seeming like a bunch of soviet sympathizers. Laws written to split the cooperative power of labor serve only to diminish the power of labor. Unions are fighting a losing battle so long as they stick to this script. I can’t hate rank and file union members for fearing the communist witch hunt, but it’s particularly infuriating to me to see trade unions working in solidarity with police unions; the cops have no reservations on cracking down on tradesmen when the shoe is on the other foot.

  4. Carolinian

    Previous commenters here have pointed out that unions, in the US at least, were purged of their more leftist and ideological elements back during the McCarthy period. They also tend to be a kind of sub elite within the working class. An auto worker making $40 per hour with a relatively secure job may not have much in common with a struggling minimum wage retail worker and may even fear a Sanders message of greater equality. Of course that may change given the neoliberal assault on those high paying, secure jobs. But it’s not as though Sanders represents a party they can join other than the Dems who now are obsessed with identity politics. Sanders’ message seems aimed at the middle class and unorganized labor. The folks at WSWS, which represents that purged ideological element and spends much of its time criticizing current union management, are not a big Bernie fans at all.

    1. Enquiring Mind

      Keep an eye on entertainment industry labor trends to see a subset of the issues. There are many unions/guilds that have conflicting goals, with the producers against various types of editors, and others like directors, crafts and such in between for the episodic conflicts. In theory, there are many progressive members throughout the Hollywood constellation, at least based on headlines. In practice, they still need to eat and to get enough project hours to maintain healthcare access, so positions are fluid.

      1. sd

        Also keep in mind that the leadership (Matt Loeb) has a different agenda than the members. IATSE members were furious that Loeb endorsed Clinton over Sanders.

        There’s also a good chance that the current contract will not be ratified by the members. Why? Because the abuse from the producers has really escalated in the last three years and members are just f*cking sick of it.

        Long hours, where a day starts at 12 hours and 14 is considered normal
        Turn around = not enough time to get home, sleep, and go back to work the next day
        Understaffing = expecting one person to do the work of two
        Doubling up on the schedule = see above
        Pay = refusing to pay coordinators $20/hour but the CEO takes home $65 million
        Travel = months on the road as work just chases the tax incentives

        The list goes on and on.

    2. John Wright

      The UAW also has different wage classes within itself.

      This could translate to different political outlooks within the union.

      From

      “Following the 2007 National Agreement, the base starting wage was lowered to about $15 per hour. A second-tier wage of $14.50 an hour, which applies only to newly hired workers, is lower than the average wage in non-union auto companies in the Deep South.”

      I do not see how unions can do much flexing of any “progressive” muscles, even if so inclined, if labor (to judge from stagnant wages in the USA, not from the official unemployment rate) is in good supply.

  5. Jeff N

    At least here in Chicago at the local level, unions back the dem candidate with the best chance of winning (e.g. Rahm over Garcia)… probably in fear that they get passed over for construction jobs, as revenge

    1. Livius Drusus

      This is a good point. Most unions seem to try to pick the most likely winner of a race out of fear that if they back the wrong politician they will get punished later on. It is a sign that unions are weak and no longer have the influence they used to have. Politicians used to court unions now it seems to be the other way around.

  6. Ellen Shaffer

    Is (some) unions’ support for a racist DA in Missouri really equivalent to & consistent with support for mainstream Dems vs. progressives, a fundamental fight going on across the country? These issues deserve careful analysis, beyond random potshots.

  7. Webstir

    Ok, I may take an online beating for this comment, but here goes.

    I think we’re straight up dealing with a case of negative political bias — in general.
    I’m a very rural progressive. Though, now an attorney, my roots are blue collar for most of my life. I spent almost a decade commercial fishing from St. Paul Island, AK., to San Pedro, CA. I’ve spent a long time as a wildland firefighter. I’ve done home construction contracting. All this to say that, to this day in my small rural town, I’ve rubbed shoulders with the working class and know their attitudes intimately. My clients today are 90% blue collar salt of the earth folks.

    One quote explains the negative political bias that underlies Union support for non-progressive candidates:
    “The only thing worse than a knee-jerk liberal is a knee-pad conservative.”

    It’s a male ego thing. Progressive’s have been so successfully painted by the media as flower sniffing snowflakes that blue collar workers negatively identify politically with the candidates. So many of my clients voted for Trump for this reason. Because they could not stomach voting for “her.” Negative political bias. Simple. I’ve been saying for a long time now that progressive’s need to shed this image and get tough. That needs to be the hallmark that separates progressive’s from the mainstream liberals. Liberals roll over. Progressive’s (family blogging) FIGHT!

    1. PKMKII

      That meshes with what I’ve observed, that the “hardhat” union members tend to be more conservative/reactionary, while the retail/service/office unions, especially in the public sector, tend to have more progressive members. It would make sense that the former would have more of a cult of (sometimes toxic) masculinity surrounding it: “Safe spaces? Construction sites aren’t safe spaces!”

      Of course, this runs into the Schrodinger’s Leftist problem, wherein leftists are depicted simultaneously as limp-wristed, easily offended snowflakes and as being dangerous, violent radicals. How can they “toughen up” without getting dismissed as too extreme?

      1. Webstir

        In contrast to mainstream liberals, all we need to do to show our fight is to not turn and run as soon as the actual fight begins. As Ian intimates, there is no dodging the tar and feathering that will come from the opposition. But at least those on the fence can be assured they’re not dealing with hypocrites.

      2. John k

        Bernie consistently rails against billionaires and for m4a, higher wages etc. these are big fights with big oppo, maybe part of the appeal that packs stadiums. Hadn’t hear union members dont like him regardless of what leaders say or do.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Bernie has been ( and may still be) against purely open borders and unrestrained illegal immigration. Union-member-type people may well be aware of that.

          Progressives support open borders and unrestrained illegal immigration. Working class citizens consider that aimed against their own working class survival. Some of Digby’s posts could give one an idea of why illegal immigrationist progressives are so very hateful to survival-threatened working-class people.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            The progressive community itself seems to be dividing over illegal immigrationism. The “NaCap” progressives- if one will – are considering pragmatic labor-shortage-creating reasons for restricting mass illegal immigration.

            The Digby progressives continue supporting mass illegal immigration for emotional feel-good reasons and for pragmatic interest reasons . . . a pragmatic interest in having a bottomless supply of cheap nannies, cheap yard-workers, etc.

            1. Webstir

              This progressive supports banning all immigration world wide.

              Please allow me to explain:
              We lose a part of ourselves when we leave our place. We ARE our place. I was born and have lived close to 50 years now within 100 miles of my childhood home. THIS is my country. The rest of the U.S. a foreign land. A part of me would die if I were ever forced to leave, and I would fight to death to preserve it.

              That said, the world will never get better until we all feel a similar connection to the land. I think Thoreau and Aldo Leopold would agree.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                I can’t relate. I went to 9 different schools. I’d be much happier in Sydney if I could have been able to resettle. Probably Montreal too but I need to solve my orthopedic issues to live in a place with serious snow, and that’e even assuming I could emigrate.

                More generally, a lot of people feel alienated where they grew up. Single women are not welcome in most places in the US, including suburbs of major cities. Americans are very intolerant, including along class lines.

              2. vlade

                Uh. So you’d stop all those who associate their ‘childhood’ (or even later) places of growing up with abuse, persecution etc. etc. emigrating because “they would lose a part of themselves”. Any chance of thinking that’s _exactly_ what they want?

                Prescribing what people should feel is a best prescription on the way to hell.

                You feel the way you feel. Ok, so you’d not emigrate – but you will not, because that’s how you feel.

                I’ll give you a different story. Gypsies (or, under wider-word, Travellers) moved all the time. It’s WHO THEY ARE (or I’d say, were, unfortunately).

                People like you tried to force them to settle in 19th and 20th century Europe, leading to total destruction of their culture in places, in loss of identity, of inability to act in the culture that was forced upon them.

                If you think the racism in the US is bad, go to Central/Eastern Europe and look at Gypsies/Roma. Pretty much no Roma that looks like Roma can ever hope to achieve anything there – no matter his or her skills and abilities (there were single digits exceptions I know of, singers). Conditions that they often live in are closer to a third-world slums than anything you’d expect to find in an European country (see for example )

                1. Webstir

                  In reply to both yourself and Yves:
                  You’re conflating place with people. The place has never done a thing to hurt an individual. Therefore, it is incumbent upon those who depend upon place to defend it from those who would make a hell on earth of the place. As long as people run from, rather than confront their tormenters, the cycle will continue.

                  I’m not saying it’s nice. I’m saying it’s the way the world is. We’re animals. Remove a species from the habitat it’s adapted to and it dies. We’re no different. To have no connection to place is to give no value to place. You can’t give it value because you don’t know it intimately enough. You’ll always be a visitor whose presence is a drag upon the original inhabitants.

                  The gypsy analogy is actually telling. While constantly on the move, they are on the move in the same habitat. They don’t range beyond their place. They know the LAND intimately. My place, my land, is the Northern Rocky Mountains. I know it intimately and have traveled widely within it. I can tell you everything about it.

                  Now, thought experiment. What happens when, say, Canada invades the N. Rockies and seeks to impose it’s rule upon my land. My choices are fight or run. If I run … what happens? Not only do I lose and leave a part of me behind because my knowledge developed over the years no longer applies to my place, but I also deprive my place of the value of my intimate knowledge and the problem solving ability that comes with that knowledge.

                  We see this dynamic play out over, and over, and over again. But only the best among us have recognized the importance. As I said: Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, Muir, Everett Ruess, Wendell Berry, to name a few.

                  We’re a nation that’s lost it’s soul, because we’re a nation that has forgotten the importance of our connection to place.

                  Yves, perhaps looking at your present existential malaise in this light could return psychological dividends.

                  1. Yves Smith Post author

                    I do not believe at all in your views regarding places. Places are places. Most people want to escape where they grew up as part of the process of individuating. I very much like the ocean but I never grew up near one.

                    My discomfort is a result of being a social misfit (smart outspoken women are not well tolerated anywhere in America), being upset at the level of open corruption and predatory behavior in society and being in despair at the way humans are destroying life on this planet. None of these would be improved by having stayed in any of the dying small towns I lived in while growing up.

                    If you aren’t upset, IMHO you are not paying attention.

                  2. vlade

                    You have some really convoluted views. You’re denying basically all the human race, with the exception of Africans.

                    You know, all of the emigrated from Africa – and moved places.

                    We are species that adapts its habitat to its needs. That’s why we live all over the planet. Yes, we adapt to places – but we can, and do, move. Most of the population of of North America moved there within the last few centuries.
                    Most of the population of Australia did in even less time .
                    ALL of the population of New Zealand are recent arrivals – Maori got to New Zealand maybe 800 years ago if we’re generous – less time than any of the European nations are in their boundaries (except Spain if we look at reconquista).

                    “They don’t range beyond their place”. They did. It’s much harder now, but they did. Not all, not all the time, but they did. That is, unless you define “ranging” in very wide terms.

                    Also, unless your definition of place becomes immensely wide, you’re denying whole nomadic nations – like good ole Mongols who ranged from Japan to Western Europe. And happily resettled when it suited them.

                    Humans are, first and foremost, social animals. They loyalty is not to the place – but to their group. Which may, or may not be defined by the place.

                    But that is the reason why Germans, and Russians and Irish died in American Civil War, even if they immigrated there relatively recenly – and had no connection to the place.

                    But they already had connection to the society there, and wanted to show, the society, not the place – the place doesn’t give a toss – that they belong to them.

                    I’m not denying that there are people who find and need a very close connections to places. My wife is such.

                    But you’re denying a large part of humanity by saying they are all such, and if they don’t know it, you’d force them to do it.

                    That to me is plain evil.

  8. perpetualWAR

    My question is why are unions supporting Democrats in general? I moved to the red part of a blue state and this is what I see: the rich areas of my new red city post Democrat yard signs. Yet, the poor areas, most likely the workin’ stiffs, post Republican yard signs. When did the Democrats become the party of the 1%?

    1. Whoa Molly!

      > “When did the D become the party of the 1%?”

      That pretty much says it all.

      Plus the naked contempt for the “Deplorables”

    2. redleg

      The Dems don’t offer policies beneficial to the working class, the GOP offers scapegoats which are the next best thing.

    3. Whoa Molly!

      The Democratic Party has become Gentrified.

      Gentrified neighborhoods find ways to keep out the riffraff, and protect property values.

      Same thing with gentrified D’s.

    4. Lambert Strether

      > When did the Democrats become the party of the 1%?

      In the mid-90s, after the neoliberal turn in the mid-70s, with the rise of the Clinton dynasty, the DLC, etc. See Thomas Frank, Listen Liberal for where we are now.

      1. pretzelattack

        or jfk’s tax cuts in the early 60’s, something emulated by reagan 20 years later, though comparisons were derided by both parties at various times.

        1. gnat

          this is an important point. people forget that kennedy, never a new dealer, lowered the top tax rate from 91% to 70%, giving the rich the extra cash to put into the think tanks and setting a standard. reagan then slashed that 70% in half and here we are.

      2. Knute Rife

        In the 1992 presidential race, Perot kept warning that NAFTA would be a train wreck for US blue collar jobs. Clinton/Gore kept saying, “No, no, we’re all going to work at desks now, and all the desks will rise with the tide.” That worked out real well.

  9. Luke

    I don’t see why this is so hard to understand, that many people who belong to unions would oppose Democrat Party (and even farther left) agendas. Outside of governmental and teacher unions, most of them are both male and white. Most of them didn’t go to college and get leftist indoctrination there, and many are likely to have unpleasant memories of the even more ham-handed leftist agenda forceing they likely suffered through in middle and high school if they attended public school. (The statewide-mandated WEEKS of “homosexuals are just wonderful people, here’s exactly what they do, they’re better than you and me, and, HEY, maybe you’re one too!” that CA and MA have in ELEMENTARY school now isn’t making points with most parents, even if they’re agnostic.)

    Anyone who keeps up on the news knows what’s going on in Venezuela and South Africa, and knows that leftists want that for America, too. After enough encounters with affirmative action, leftists constantly publicly peeing all over the Constitution, Section 8 giving should-be-in-jail fecund idlers free housing in their neighborhoods (while the leftists keep trying to take away the firearms they’d use to defend their wife and children from those types), advocating taxes going ever higher, advocating every possible step ASAP towards bringing in the Third World to go on welfare/take their jobs/turn their neighborhoods into Malmo-style banilues, criminalizing their religion, tearing the door off little girl’s bathrooms and letting pervy men in dresses come loiter and gawk in there, etc., etc., well, enough is enough. The Democrats are viewed as no better at arresting and jailing the financial fraudsters and Silicon Valley hustlers that are impoverishing and F’ing with Joe Sixpack than the Republicans. Nonleftists increasingly see themselves as having nowhere else to run, with their backs up against the wall. Why is it any surprise that to the extent that any native-born union member who sees himself as anything short of utterly government-teat-reliant would oppose the leftist agenda?

    I have long thought that if America had a major political party that was comparable to Golden Dawn, Alternative For Germany, Sweden Democrats, the Italian League, U.K. Independence Party, etc., that it’d take off like a rocket. President Trump (often affectionately and ironically referred to in Alt-Right circles as TGE, or “The God-Emperor”) appears to be making real progress towards converting the Republican Party to just that. As Vox Day predicted years ago, as Imperial Conversion (turning the U.S. into a cross between Brazil/Cuba/Somalia, the obvious leftist goal for America) became more and more obvious, exactly this was going to happen — if not by Trump, then by someone. The Fourth Turning always produces its Grey Champion — and if he’s not murdered, Trump is apparently going to be it this time.

    1. KYrocky

      Definitely not complicated. Mostly male and white, and I would add: Fox-ified. The penetration of the lies of the right-wing media has been going on for more than a generation. Union members do not exist in a vacuum, and it is likely that for many their friends, families, and religious relations rely this right-wing messaging as the basis of their beliefs and opinions.

      The actions of the union leadership are most likely in line with these political beliefs of their membership. My wife is in the teachers union, and even there a significant, and growing, number of members are opposed to the existence of the union itself and the dues they are forced to pay.

      1. perpetualWAR

        My sister is a union member. She told the union leadership that she did not appreciate their endorsement of Clinton. She said to them, “Bernie is the candidate that has supported the workers for his entire legislative history. He was the one on the union picket lines. When has Clinton ever joined the union members picket lines? I’ll tell you: never. I resent being told to vote for Clinton. I resent having my union dues supporting that kind of endorsement.”

        The union rep she spoke with told her that he voted Bernie as well.

    2. False Solace

      > Anyone who keeps up on the news knows what’s going on in Venezuela and South Africa, and knows that leftists want that for America, too.

      > tearing the door off little girl’s bathrooms and letting pervy men in dresses come loiter and gawk in there

      > As Vox Day predicted years ago

      > etc.

      > etc.

      Uh huh. Entire comment is basically a right-wing talk radio Bingo card.

      Our oppressors want us to be angry at anyone but them. And they’re extremely effective at cultivating that anger.

      Be angry at people with no money and no power. Really, really angry.

      Because that’s a great way to change absolutely nothing.

      1. jrs

        yea, I was inclined to sympathize because I experienced cloyingly liberal (and liberal is the accurate term) teachers growing up as well, and with that direct experience I can sympathize. Afterall: they were annoying as heck! But when it got to the U.S. will become Venezuela the rant just got too ridiculous to take seriously anymore and my eyes glazed over …

        And anyway those teachers were long ago, and a small relatively small insignificant part of life. I’m a leftist as an Adult BECAUSE I’ve Worked. That is I have seen the capitalist workplace, and seen the labor market selling the only thing a worker has to sell in the losing side of the power dynamic.

      2. Mark Gisleson

        How can anyone be taken seriously when they quote Vox Day? I used to link to his very funny gaming review columns in the Pioneer Press. Then others showed me his political writings and I stopped linking. You can’t read much Vox Day without realizing he’s an eliminationist. Not just right wing, he’s pro-violence right wing and anti everyone who doesn’t look like him.

        1. jrs

          wait there is a Vox that isn’t (which is pretty bad in it’s own way, neoliberalish, but Vox.com is sometimes credible at the most basic level ..)

          Well I did not know that …

      3. pretzelattack

        exactly. what a bunch of family blog. all we need is golden dawn for america, yeah that’s the answer.

    3. JBird

      Dude wtf? Weird, whacked and dishonest caricatures like this merely gives more power to our mutual ruling Overlords. If such do exist, they are a small minority. I see similar goofiness in left/liberal sites that do the same.

    4. Barlow

      Being that I worked in a trade union for several years I’ll comment on what I notice (though I come from a different country, your neighbour, I want to note some comparisons.)

      First of all it’s worth mentioning. Where I worked in Canada, nearly all of my coworkers were (that I’d gained any sort of political advice or a hint of political interest from) were Right-leaning. Once I had a boss, who was intent on never letting a Liberal take office, lambast me for not voting and trying to tell me how much it mattered. A lot of works held the same tone, and perspective of life, but there were subgroups of us as well. Some who weren’t even primarily Canadian. Some who were Muslim, where, during the shift while all of us had to trod off to work, these guys would lay out a blanket on the ground and kneel down on it for however long they needed on certain days which certainly ticked a few guys off. “They get paid to pray? I wish I’d get paid to masturbate.” Some resentment, though we all mostly got along since we were “brothers first” in lame military sort of way. I say lame, because they didn’t do a great job of looking out for and helping one another, but more so covering for each other. Maybe more similar to prisoners in a prison.

      “Most of them didn’t go to college” – This is certainly true. We leaned right, without a post-secondary education.

      “and get leftist indoctrination there” – That doesn’t make sense up here. While yes, I was probably the only slightly-left (retrospectively noted per my mentality; never voted or even cared about politics/news until recently) worker there, I too didn’t go to college, nor did I get “indoctrinated”. We call it education.

      “leftist agenda forceing” – sounds weird up here. Yeah, we have people with differing views, values, needs and interests, but I’ve never actually heard anyone say anything like this in real life. My school was a Religious School that attempted to incorporate both its own Christian Values, its understanding of Science and its respect for all world religions to be included in its curriculum. Not too bad, I mean, looking back, I’d prefer less Religion in my mix and more fun classes like Forensic Science or something but hey, I suppose these religious courses had some value with what they taught me. My point is though, I haven’t heard of/seen any education curriculum that revolve around homosexuality or sex all that much (Though I’m sure they exist). Hell, all I learned about sex in school was what a condom was for and what the penis/vagina do and their parts. And like most teens of my age at the time, spent half their lives on the internet watching porn and by time they were teaching us in grade 7-8, we already knew that shit – we were instead stumbling across Trannies/homos/goatse. laughing or recoiling, some curious, some interested – we learned about it our own way, through the internet (point is, they get it no matter if it’s taught or not, it’s whether they understand it or not and whether what they’re learning is TRUE or FALSE about the subject – hence, it should be taught in school considering how dangerous false ideas can be especially in this realm – eg, Homosexuality = AIDS, remember that BS? I do.). Would I be upset if they had taught us more instead of us trying to figure it all out on our own ending up sometimes pretty confused and often insulting/deriding those that didn’t fit the pictures we’d come to understand as normal. (Hence the actual point of these “non-improvements” of the curriculum you mention but attempt to suggest they do more harm than good). Hell, I was raised in a Catholic environment and I ended up left… but regardless of few to no “leftist agenda forceing” up here, most of us ended up leaning to the Right.

      “Anyone who keeps up on the news knows what’s going on in Venezuela and South Africa, and knows that leftists want that for America, too.” Anyone who keeps up with REAL news (because I tend to now, and I DON’T see that) would never see anything like that unless it’s what they wanted to see. Fringe news, yeah definitely it’s there all the time. Are we going to argue now over what real news is? Whatever is going on in Venezuela or South Africa is hella lot different than anything going on in America. That’s like comparing black to blue. Yeah, they both start with BL- and are color (some might argue black isn’t a color) and then the distinctions become quite obvious, even if not entirely clear. A lot of “news” in this world should be called Entertainment because they behave and run their business in a manner similar to an issue of Cosmo. Targeting specific people, preying on their fears and insecurities and giving them a bunch of nonsense advice, etc. In the end, they earn money for the views so that’s what matters to them. They tripe they spew, they don’t care about that… but some do, and some will continue paying them to hear it so that makes them happy. This is what’s fucked up about our world more than a lot of things… because it reminds me trolling sort of – or how kids can jokingly make some stuff up to tease a kid who ends up believing it and the rest of them continue to convince the kid it’s true for years. They all get inside laughs off it (add in money in the case of these businesses). Who’s who though in this game? Fair question.

      FIREARMS – Now we’re really going off the rails. That’s not even an issue up here for anyone… seemingly we’re all better off for it. This is the reason I (and probably others) primarily believe your country’s gun issues are simply because guns exist. Everywhere else in the world does better without them overall. An analogy I like to use is: You cage a bunch of monkeys together for a long period of time in crappy conditions, it’s expected that bad things are going to happen. So what do you do? Do you let them just sort it out their own way? Probably easiest though non-resolving, and some might tear limbs and kill each other brutally. Do you perhaps improve their living conditions to reduce that likelihood they’ll go apeshit on one another? Yeah it might still happen, but even if it drops from (made up numbers here) 40% of the time to 30% of the time, it’s an improvement. Or do you throw in there a bunch of dangerous tools for them to play with, so that the monkeys can “defend themselves”. While some certainly would use it for self defense, obviously others would use it for aggression and more than likely, death rates would actually RISE. Well, according to world statistics, that’s the general consensus here. — So in AMERICA specifically – Americans get this odd idea that guns are important. Rest of us are trying to figure out exactly how each one of you got this idea brainwashed in your head. Regardless, it doesn’t seem like those who care about guns care about anything who doesn’t like guns have to say – so it’s hard to reason with them. Seemingly has nothing to do with Trade Unions leaning Right.

      Well refuting each of your points would end up as a really long post so let’s keep going.

      “advocating taxes going ever higher” Yup, but only on those who can afford it. Afford = you have crap tons of money sitting in bank that you earn interest off of but technically have no real use for except for perhaps enlarging that pile of money/acquiring more personal ownership of the world/love buying expensive toys. Union workers I with definitely loved their toys. So much, they always seemed to be in debt. I couldn’t understand it. Guys making over $100,000 a year complaining that they NEEDED the work so that they could pay off this/that. IMO, they needed to relax on their spending. They probably could’ve spent half as much time working, making less money and still living a decent life – like me. Funny too, as you correctly point out, they complained about taxes. “Your taxes are important to the stability of your life, your new fucking carpet every year isn’t.” Whereas I’ve learned not to trust their opinions and consider them devious others continue to believe that “Rich people who make a lot of money, KNOW what they’re talking about when it comes to money. That’s why I trust them.” It sounds like it makes sense at a glance… then they argue with scientists and suddenly it’s no longer a meritocracy and it’s back being just about their own money. Funny. This does seem to make them lean right though, because they seem to actually believe what a Conservative will tell them regarding economics.

      “bringing in the Third World to go on welfare/take their jobs/turn their neighborhoods into Malmo-style banilues” Welfare isn’t much of an issue in any country is it? I hear people whine about it a lot like it is, but I’ve never seen much to convince me that it’s actually more of a bane than it is a boon. Job loss to immigrants can sometimes be an issue. I don’t know what that last thing you said is, and I can’t understand if that’s a cool fun thing or not? Anyway, we had a bunch of Jamaicans with families back home that’d be working alongside us. You see, they were welders. Welders are pretty valuable. Our Union provides FREE welding training to ALL members. So “WHY ARE WE GIVING THE JAMAICANS THESE JOBS?” Want to know why? Because no one took the training. You literally could go, whenever you wanted, any time of the workweek ALL YEAR ROUND to several different locations around the province and yes… we were short staffed on nearly every job since most members didn’t hold any welding certificates. Funny, huh? What’s even more ironic, is that welders were treated like kings. If you were a good welder, you can be assured that whoever’s hired you doesn’t give a fuck about what you do on that site, as long as you do the welding when they need it. These guys often sat around in the rest areas just smoking/chatting having a good time while the mechanics did all the heavy lifting. The welders were just as qualified and trained, but nah, “We da weldas, we only weld” and they’d get away with it BECAUSE THERE WERE SO FEW OF THEM!? They made more money as well. All these reasons, and us lazy jackass natives said “Nah”. We still leaned right despite immigration not being an issue.

      “criminalizing their religion” – Doesn’t happen up here? Remember what I mentioned about Muslims? Still, people are right leaning.

      I’m not going to touch the bathroom one simply because it’s actually a topic I don’t know much about, especially in regards to my Country.

      Finally yeah, I don’t think anyone I met in my time with the Union had any sort of faith in any political party truly. It was the policies that seemed to benefit them the most that they cared about. It’s been mostly talked about like “Expect everything a politician to tell you a lie. But hope it isn’t.” So while I agree that you made a few decent points that instead a lot of it didn’t need to be lumped in there because I’m not sure how much it’s entirely related. There may be some OVERLAP, but it’s weird clumping it all up like that. Granted we are 2 not-so-different-but-still-different countries, and I think that despite our differences that the similarities are more revealing.

      The last paragraph. Well, I’m not too sure what you think is good about any of that, why, or how even. It may be taking off like a rocket like you suggest, however I can’t imagine it’s fate being any better than the Challenger’s.

      1. JBird

        Rest of us are trying to figure out exactly how each one of you got this idea brainwashed in your head.

        Much of what is said here is virtue signaling, propaganda, and tribal identification. The facts, truthfulness or accuracy aren’t important. Take an idea, theory, thing, whatever and make it a moral, even existential issue which is then deemed good/bad or better good/evil, life/death. It is the use of these things to label us good, them evil and us must destroy evil.

        Guns=Evil therefor Gun Rights/Owners=Evil Republicans/Conservatives=Gun Owners=Evil.

        Everything becomes a morality tale of good and evil with each side choosing the opposite as their good.

        Nuance, negotiation, debating, even just talking is therefor not needed, or is stupid, or even wrong.Does one talk to Evil or does one destroy it? Donate and vote, and don’t forget to donate to me, the Good Guy, who is fighting Our Evil Doers. And please donate generously.

        It rather sucks to see how easily we all are manipulated.

  10. Webstir

    Well shoot, Gaius. The answer is in the links today:

    Here’s the money quote:

    “Primary, productive sectors are thus the material basis for Nationalism in the US today, and the secondary, support sectors for Technocracy. Farmers, oil drillers, coal miners, frackers, blue collar management, land developers, and businesses and professionals serving those sectors, especially labor-oriented small businesses and construction — these folks voted for Trump, they support Republicans, and they are Nationalists.”

    The playing field has changed. We’re still analyzing from a traditional liberal/conservative context that Mr. Dobbs doesn’t seem to think exists anymore.

    1. Enquiring Mind

      A secondary explanation is in another Dobbs article quote:

      …a result of the neoliberal realignment which followed a major crisis in 1971–1973.

      Understanding and learning from that major crisis seems to have been memory-holed. Wheel reinvention with multiple purity tests isn’t a very productive support sector.

    2. John k

      It can change back.
      Dems stopped fighting for real material benefits decades ago. Progressives are leading the charge to reverse that, granted to do so means taking over the dem party, naturally the donor recipients realize there would be no place for them and resist tooth and nail.
      Can they deny Bernie the nom? I think not, but Clinton’s won’t let go without a fight. And are willing to burn a lot of dollars to win.

  11. Denis Drew

    Whatever union members’ core political ideology (or lack of) …

    … once we have 50-75% labor union density in the USA we will have satisfied all our progressive ideology ipso facto: the poor will no longer be poor and the government will be phoning us (the unions) up to ask us what we need.

    New way to get USA unionized (if not exactly “organized”) — pioneered by Republicans (!):

    Even if we made union busting a mandatory five year federal felony and hired tens of thousands of enforcement agents (impossible itself; the FBI doesn’t have tens of thousands), millions of business owners would just laugh (at this stage in US labor history): “What are you going to do, lock us all up?” Ho Ho Ho.

    Any kind of broad union organizing across this labor market culture that has grown so resistant to all strains of organizing activity for decades is gone forever.

    Repub proposed “protection” of workers’ freedom — in the congressional hopper now:
    H.R.2723 — Employee Rights Act — 115th Congress (2017-2018) — from summary
    “require union recertification after a turnover in the workforce exceeding 50% of the bargaining unit;”

    Read more about it:

    Dem should-be-proposed “real” protection of workers’ freedom — to go into congressional hopper when blue wave comes in:
    H.R. “1234” (?) Comprehensive Employee Rights Act (?)
    116th Congress (2019-2020) (?) — from summary:
    “require union cert/recert election in every private (non-gov) workplace — one, three or five year cycles; local plurality rules”

    Repub bill seems less radical than ours because it covers so few workplaces, reflecting private union density down to (an almost terminal) 7%. Adding 93% of workplaces seems the big deal that it is. Maybe some Dem pres candidate should run on it as: The Big Deal. :-)

    Even is we have to wait for a blue Senate, starting to work on this HR bill will bring would be union workers back into the Dem fold, insuring it’s eventual passage.

    Win-win-win.

    1. False Solace

      I don’t see any need to wait for a blue Senate. Republicans are perfectly willing to destroy unions right now.

      Unless this comment is suggesting that a “blue wave” will do anything for labor. Really? Doug Jones is going to vote for “employee rights”?

      Democrats represent employers. Everything else is branding.

  12. Pat

    I would bet that a large number of members of unions that backed Cuomo won’t be voting for him in the primary. Most know his current stand is just further positioning to run as an anti-Trump in the Presidential primary. That said I spent years arguing with individual teamsters that their policies were going to undermine themselves in the long run.

    1. Big River Bandido

      To take your comment and generalize more: one of my unions (the AFT) is one referred to in the post in which the national “leadership” issued a Clinton endorsement unilaterally, without so much as even bothering to consult the members. Curiously, members don’t really have a say in who our national union leaders are.

      If that union is anything like any of the others, I’d expect to see a great disconnect between union leaders and the rank and file. This, too, is not news.

      1. Freethinker

        Union leadership elections are usually accomplished indirectly via votes of elected delegates. Given the low participation of rank and file members in any union activity – even fun ones – this election system has merit.

        But union endorsement decisions are unnecessarily limited to high-level leadership. My union, the Amer Fed of Gov’t Employees (AFGE) provided partial cover for the leadership’s hasty endorsement of Clinton by citing a poll it had conducted of either union members or federal employees who had affirmed partisanship to the pollster. In releasing the results, leadership declared that Clinton was preferred 2:1 by those who said the would only vote Democrat. The choices of the 25% of respondents who had declared no interest in voting along a party line, were excluded from the published results.

        Coincidentally, I now am attending the AFGE National Convention as a local delegate. Delegates (Leadership) largely embrace the values of the professional class. RussiaRussiaRussia and Trump impeachment sentiments have found their way into a resolution up for adoption. The said resolution reads, in part…

        Whereas, Donald Trump is guilty of numerous crimes and misdemeanors and direct violations of the constitution, therefore, impeachment is required, and

        Whereas, Donald Trump has failed to protect the United States election process and ignored clear evidence, [sic] that a foreign government, Russia, has and will interfere with U.S. elections, and

        Whereas, Donald Trump pardoned convicted felon, Joe Arpaio, and in so doing committed a racist act that constitutes an abuse of Presidential pardon authority, and

        Whereas, Donald Trump violated the first amendment of the constitution by attacking the free press and repeatedly labelling the press as enemies of the people…

  13. mark ó dochartaigh

    With notable exceptions like the IWW, CIO, and Knights of Labor hasn’t race usually been a dividing issue (an issue used to divide us by corporate overlords) in American labor unions? And isn’t the only answer possible the education of the workforce? Until workers are educated that the only real leverage that we have is our numbers (not some ephemeral backroom “alliance” with some powerful politician, oligarch, or captain of industry; we won’t be able to effectively leverage our numbers against those who profit by redistributing the wealth that we produce before we get our paycheck. Workers must always and everywhere remind each other and ourselves that every straw, black or white, broken from the bundle makes our bundle of straw easier to break. To me education seems the only answer. Maybe that is why the oiligarchs are so keen to control our education from charter “schools” to randian “economic” departments. Seems kind of “pie in the sky” now, but we have to start the fight from where we stand now.

  14. Iguanabowtie

    ‘Why would unions that have nothing to do with criminal justice support… Corrupt Joe Crowley? Powerful, corrupt Andrew Cuomo?’

    Well, vanilla quid-pro-quo corruption for one. Ideological capture of union leadership is an underappreciated aspect; do you organize over steak or cold pizza? Add in fear of reprisal (hard to miss that many successful establishment centrists are famously vengeful) and its not hard to see how unions can become captive constituencies.

  15. Brooklin Bridge

    Unions, like democracy, is just too good an idea not to extend every possible effort to corrupt.

  16. John

    Union membership peaked in 1954 at 35 percent, dropping in 2013 to 11 percent. The losers have Stockholm syndrome in relation to the victors of the class war. Divide (deunionize) is a totally effective strategy. The oligarchs have reduced the working class to casual day laborers in a gig economy. The remaining union workers, mostly public sector, want to suck up and kick down to preserve their very precarious existence. Suck up, kick down, America, it’s just that kind of town.

  17. David in Santa Cruz

    I’ve been at the table when labor endorsements were made.

    Term limits, the constant campaign, and the never-ending money-grab have corrupted politics in this country. “Reward your friends and punish your enemies” is a now life-and-death struggle, and unions weakened weakened by globalized capitalism need to back winners.

    Sometimes they get it wrong.

  18. Tomonthebeach

    We Americans love guns perhaps because we like shooting ourselves in the foot. Unions are a good example.

    As Harald Eia pointed out recently, unions thrive in socialist democracies; not under neoliberal capitalist democracies. The 5 countries with the most buzillionaires (individual wealth>$30M) are all socialist democracies. The US is a distant 13th in buzillionaires – although likely top 3 in .001-perecentionaires.

    I worked 7 years in a unionized federal agency, the FAA. I could not but notice that union officers were too often elected for being rabble rousers; not for their savvy in dealing with management who had lawyers and Ivy-league negotiators. The unions were often lambs to the slaughter, and in my opinion, got bragging-rights deals; not necessarily the best deals for their members.

    To win over groups like unions, you need to offer concrete plans like safety nets to support and retrain works whose job become obsolete or off-shored, tax companies who offshore to pay for those safety nets services, institute free medical care, stuff like that. As long as DNC remains addicted to WS money, unions will rightly be skeptical of their politicians.

  19. Huey Long

    Labor endorses legacy dem candidates because those legacy dems let them do as they please and shield them from prosecution.

    This is the Bob Fitch theory of why labor is in a barren marriage to the dems, and as a card carrying lifelong union member I wholeheartedly agree.

    Also, most union members I know in the forner AFL unions are fairly conservative. If progressives really want our support, they need make us a priority and not who gets to go to what bathroom or which pronoun we’re going to use to address folks with. Those issues were all over the news during the tail end of the Obama administration, and a lot of political capital got expended on them that could have been spent on us instead.

    My advice to progressives is if you want our votes, come to our meetings, pickets, rallies, parades, picnics, etc. and get to know us. Come find out for yourself why we want to halt immigration, or what the current state of OSHA enforcement is like. Win over the membership and the leadership will follow, because none of them want to get voted out of their $200k/yr jobs (business agent salary in my local).

  20. Gaius Publius

    The percentage of valuable information — and important-to-consider answers to my piece’s questions — is very high in this tread. Reading and pondering carefully.

    The first-person stories are especially helpful. Thanks, all!

    GP

  21. PKMKII

    My two cents: Part of the problem as I see it with the way progressives approach employment, and ergo unions, in the industry they want to upend (fossil fuels, prisons, mining, logging, construction to a lesser extent) is that the plans to upend are straight-forward and immediate, but the plans to address the fallout are either not addressed or get attached to abstract, idealistic, down the road programs. If you’re going to, say, ban the fracking industry tomorrow, you can’t tell the people working in it, well we’re going to implement a jobs guarantee at some point that will get you a job to replace the one that was just eliminated. A program to keep those workers employed and earning a paycheck has to be part of the package, not an afterthough.

    Also, while I’m not making a “demographics is destiny” argument, I do think a certain amount of this is because union membership has been dwindling, there’s an over-representation of older workers in union who’ve been grandfathered through, no pun intended. Plus, older folks seem to be active in unions generally. We may see some shifts in attitudes once the later boomers have all retired.

  22. Big Tap

    I believe that some Unions may have to be more Conservative in the future to survive. I expect with the recent Supreme Court decision, that some union employees can now stop paying dues/fees to the Union if they wish, will have an impact on future endorsements. Always heard in the past that 20 to 25 percent of Union workers are Republican. They probably don’t like in general that their fees are being used to donate to Democratic candidates. They may stop paying the Union any more money unless they get what they want which are not Progressive or Democratic candidate endorsements. Unions can’t afford to lose recourses and may have to make adjustments while also keeping Liberal/Progressive members happy to keep the Republican and Independent cash flowing.

  23. Code Name D

    Some amazing points and observations being made here. So, all of this begs the question, what is the wisdom of having the unions feature so prominently in progressive reform strategies? The typical progressive response to cooperate maleficence is stronger unions, and rebuilding union power to better represent the workers they are supposed to represent.

    DSA argues for far more aggressive reforms, such as forcing corporations to seat worker representatives directly into the board of executives. Or even worker co-ops, where the workers own the corporation outright.

    Another idea I have argued for in the past is rethinking jurisdictional boundaries for union shops be fare more inclusive. When calling for a strike, it is the workers of the venders and sub-contractors that honor the picket line. This way, even non-union shop will have some bargaining power by appealing to the larger collective union.

    At the very least, its worth reconsidering the union’s role into politics.

  24. Adam1

    IMHO it boils down primarily to two problems. A) self-serving behavior at the top of many unions to keep the status quo going because THEY benefit (who cares about the actual union members?). B) most union members have jobs that are under attack day and night and have been that way for years if not decades. Research has shown that when people are afraid of losing something they tend to take conservative stances. Telling coal mining union members we need to stop using coal without offering them more than the promise of job training is not the way to get win them over to a progressive agenda. A winning progressive agenda needs to have a vision of a better life for the people they want to champion the agenda, not just the people selling the agenda.

  25. Heraclitus

    Regarding the ‘racist’ Bob McCullough:

    The CNN legal analyst, a former prosecutor, said that given the facts of the Michael Brown case, he would not even have convened a Grand Jury.

    1. Oregoncharles

      so it’s perfectly legal for police to murder people because they’re angry. Nice to know.

      And I’m afraid you’re right: the laws have been rigged so much in favor of the cops that it often IS perfectly legal – or at least unprosecutable.

      I would add that I thought the “facts” in that case had a large portion of fiction.

  26. Eureka Springs

    Funny, ha ha! How the lack of a democratic process, thus representation, seems to be one of, if not the major failings of Unions too.

    And for all the pearl-clutching about their waning power… isn’t it amazing what the power of police unions are able to do to this very day.

    We need general strikes… lots of them.

    And who the heck hears of a union endorsement and makes a decision based on that? It doesn’t take more IQ than a three watt flicker bulb to know a Democrat is not in workers best interest.

  27. Scylla

    Well-kinda late in the thread but here is my take:

    I really do not think this is that hard- Union workers have turned away from so-called “progressives” because progressives have been blatantly complicit in destroying the quality of life of the working class, and then on top of that the working class get to see these same “progressives” declare the working class deplorable. I mean seriously-have you not seen the Democratic pundit class when they discuss the lower classes in America? They turn red in the face and the spittle flies from their lips-their disdain is visceral. How on earth can you not expect the working class to respond negatively to that? Tell me I am backward, hateful, worthless and that my condition is my own fault (when I can clearly see you doing everything in your power to undermine my life) and I will reject you too. What the hell have “progressives” done to deserve votes from union members or anyone outside the class of rich family blog that they serve? The answer is nothing. When you have two parties to choose from, who both work against you, but one has open disdain for you, while the other is at least friendly to your face, who do you think will get the few votes that are actually cast?
    Now I will say that we are starting to see a few candidates who actually back policies that will help the working class. As they gain power, you WILL see them gain the support of the working class if the working class actually sees these people working to advance working class interests.

  28. bruce wilder

    I think the psychology of socio-economic class plays a big part in the ambivalence that pervades the relationship between progressive activist of whatever flavor and union member / working class wage slave.

    There is a big ‘ol dollop of condescension and a simple lack of empathic understanding in the attitudes of many leftists, who may be college-educated professionals. As the song says,
    Last night I heard this politician
    Talking ’bout his brand new mission
    Liked his plans, but they came undone when he got around with God and guns

    Being a dependent member of an organization or social group entails a kind of insecurity that can profoundly affect political attitudes. Membership must have its privileges and loyalty must be a virtue rewarded and being the good and private soldier at the base of hierarchy entails to a degree, the political attitudes of an authoritarian follower. Many leftish from the professional classes despise and pity aspects of the authoritarian followers’ outlook, not least susceptibility to demagogic appeals.

    If the left ‘s ideals do not permit effective efforts to compete with right-wing demagogues and con-men for the leadership of the working classes, the aspiration of the left to take power and to govern is not just meaningless, it is doomed.

  29. Freethinker

    In this posting, Gaius Publius raises several questions. Let me offer some food for thought.

    As to the question of why so many unions oppose progressives, the definition of “so many unions” leaves the reader with the impression that the writer wishes to imply that the few citations made are evidence of “so many unions.” The question also assumes that “progressives” agree on the same set of values. The question also suggests that when union leaders espouse a racist or nonenvironmentally respectful value, these leaders likely oppose all other progressive beliefs.

    The author also asks what progressives, in their unending support for unions, do about opposition. I have no evidence that progressives share an unending support for unions. In my experience, and as evidenced by plentiful anti-union animus comments made by some of the NC Commentariat, while most progressives may be supportive of labor rights, not all support unions. Additionally, organizations form coalitions around shared goals, not identical worldviews. Hence, the success of single-payer advocates who have gathered great support from the conservative trade unions.

    Lastly, Gaius asks how progressives should deal with those in opposition. I suggest that a progressive or progressives encountering opposition deal with opponents strategically, particularly as progressives rarely compromise a majority within most groups for which affiliation is based on other shared interests.

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