By Pancho Valdez
"When the working class unites, there will a lot of jobless labor leaders"
Eugene Debs a founding member of the Industrial Workers of the World, socialist and presidential candidate knew from experience the betrayal of business unionism. Business unionism is supported by labor "leaders" who are paid six figured incomes, who mistakenly believe that the interests of capitalism and labor are identical and who go out of their way to to avoid doing anything controversial like speak out against war, giving workers a true voice in their unions or who support the idea of a general strike, like what was needed last year in Wisconsin.
To clarify what I am saying let's look at the recent situation in Wisconsin. Last year many public workers such as nurses, firefighters, school teachers, librarians, and others were pushing for a general strike in opposition to Governor Scott Walker's blatantly anti-labor legislation and his corrupt ties to the fascist minded Koch brothers, Charles G. and David H. Instead of utilizing the general strike, public worker union leaders defused the situation and began the ill fated recall campaign against Walker. While they were successful in obtaining more than enough signatures for the recall, workers depended on the Democratic Party for support and learned the hard way of why depending on politicians and corporate funded political parties is not a wise decision. The Democrats went through the motion of running Tom Barrett against Walker. Critics in Wisconsin cite the poor participation of the democratic leadership and the failure of President Obama to travel to Wisconsin and lend support to the recall campaign. The moral of the story is is NEVER trust politicians to fight our battles. There support can be good, usually when forced to do it. To put all our eggs in one basket proved disastrous.
Closely connected to the organzing campaign of hospitality workers is the effort of local taxi drivers, pedicab drivers, riverbarge and horse carriage drivers to organize as well. What makes this drive unique is that some in this targeted areas are considered to be independent contractors while others are considered to be traditional employees. Whether or not a significant number are willing to unite and fight for better pay and working conditions, remains to be seen.
-Pancho Valdez is a veteran of 47 years of civil rights, labor and peace activism. He can be reached at 210-422-8000 or