But, once more, these millionaire labor leaders and wealthy politicians like Elizabeth Warren who they team up with, are only creating an illusion of movement building and struggle.
In fact, well over half the union contracts in this country at the present time are poverty wage contracts when compared to actual cost-of-living factors which Trumka and these politicians refuse to compare with wages.
Will we see local committees capable of taking on employers and the politicians these employers bribe being organized in communities across the country capable of advancing raising wages to real living wages in line with the actual cost-of-living? No we won't be seeing this because how do you organize a struggle for something when you don't even dare advance the idea that wages should enable working class families an income which would enable them to live above the poverty line.
In fact, to get working class votes which they required in order to win, Democrats promised a Minimum Wage that is not a poverty wage claiming no working class families should be forced to endure poverty but--- this was while these Dumb Donkeys were campaigning to get elected.
After they were elected, including with super-majorities in many states including here in Minnesota, they used the levers of government to assure employers of highly profitable poverty wages--- and, low and behold, Richard Trumka and his millionaire labor chums cheered these Democrats on and praised them for "raising the Minimum Wage"--- wages which are at present more poverty wages and will amount to even less when they go into effect than what the poverty Minimum Wage is now when compared to what these wages will buy in terms of goods and services.
These millionaire labor leaders have forced concession contract after concession contract down the throats of the workers whose high dues pay their big fat salaries... can we expect such labor leaders to lead any kind of movements now to "raise wages?"
These labor leaders won't even enforce the terms of their existing contracts in the workplace when it comes to job security, health and safety; they won't even struggle around very legitimate grievances that arise in the workplace.
At least 23 members of the AFL-CIO's Executive Committee have called me names because I have insisted that organized labor should lead a struggle to repeal "At-will Employment" legislation in place in every single state with one state having a few restrictions. But, as it stands, union and non-union workers face very Draconian and severe employer enforcement of "At-will Employment" laws which are the primary obstacle to union organizing in this country. It wasn't until I explained this to Leo Gerard in a public exchange on the FireDogLake website that he understood what was at stake; and then his response was to call me filthy names.
We can examine in workplace after workplace all over the country what happens to workers who get involved in struggles to improve their workplace environment and defend the rights of union contract language and what we find is these crooked and corrupt millionaire labor leaders and their state and local cronies harassing and intimidating and even threatening these workers right along with the bosses--- this is shameful and disgusting. From Tootsie Roll to Ford Motor Company to Cleveland Cliffs we see what happens to workers who dare to struggle for what is right and just and how these workers get hounded and harassed and discriminated against by both management and the corrupt union leaders who work in cahoots with the bosses to make the lives of these workers a living hell.
We find language inserted into union by-laws and union constitutions in order to circumvent democracy and thwart rank-and-file participation in the unions to make it easier for these crooked and corrupt union leaders to keep themselves in office through manipulation and control not unlike the way Wall Street and big-money interests controls the Democratic Party--- which, except for the hypocrisy, is no different than the way Wall Street maintains control of the Republican Party.
If we now come forward and suggest that the AFL-CIO should finance "Raise Our Wages" campaigns in every city and community across the country in a way that will bring millions of workers into the streets to enforce our demand for real living, non-poverty, wages we will find our selves harassed and intimidated and even threatened by these millionaire labor leaders and their cronies... if you don't believe me, just ask any worker who has initiated struggle around winning a grievance in their place of employment about how they have been treated.
Ask any worker who has been unjustly fired by an employer, what the union has done to protect their right to their job and their livelihood.
Once again we will see Trumka and company holding these phony "Summits" and press conferences without backing up their militant sounding rhetoric with movement building--- instead, what they intend is to push workers into the arms of the Democratic Party who will give the working class, instead of pay raises, nothing but one more royal shafting. This is the nature of class collaboration trade unions in the age of Wall Street enforced neo-liberalism in the era of capitalism in its most barbaric imperialist stage where these union "leaders" kiss up to management and their bribed politicians instead of working with the rank-and-file from whom they extract dues to pay their big fat salaries.
Richard Trumka and the members of the AFL-CIO's Executive Council know almost every corporate CEO on a first name basis--- how many members of the rank-and-file do they know as well?
Does the AFL-CIO have an agenda intended to "raise wages" or do they have an agenda to elect and re-elect a bunch of worthless Democrats?
If you doubt what I say, I suggest you go to your next union meeting and suggest that your local initiate a "raise our wages" campaign--- to raise wages through collective bargaining and through legislation; chances are your union "leaders" are preparing for another round of a "concession contract negotiations" and will sit on their hands as Democrats shove more poverty wages down the throats of the unorganized.
Have you noticed that instead of the wages of the unorganized going up to meet the higher wages of organized workers just the opposite is going on in this country? Wages of organized union workers are going down to the level of the unorganized... and so are working conditions and benefits.
Think about this:
How can wages of the unorganized go up in relation to actual cost-of-living when the wages of organized workers are going down in relation to the actual cost-of-living?
The Minimum Wage needs to be legislatively tied to actual cost-of-living.
In contract discussions; the discussion about wages needs to be centered around the relationship of wages to actual "cost-of-living."
It is up to rank-and-file workers to bring this kind of discussion into the workplace.
Once we initiate a massive discussion about the relationship of wages to the actual and real "cost-of-living" we will be on our way to winning real wage increases... but, not until this discussion is brought out into the proverbial "public square."
Raising wages agenda has been rolled out at this AFL-CIO summit
But, is it real?
Raising wages agenda rolled out at AFL-CIO summit
Speaking to the hundreds of union members and allies gathered for the AFL-CIO National Summit on Raising Wages, the federation's president, Richard Trumka, declared that it will involve accountability for all office holders and candidates, coming down to a basic question: "Are you satisfied with an America where the vast majority works harder and harder for less and less, or do you propose to build an America where we the people, share in the wealth we create? This is the single standard by which we will judge leadership."
The gathering here today was another indication that labor's old style of simple transactional politics is dead.
"Not one of us can go it alone," Trumka declared. "We must unify on our common ground, raise the bar, then go out there and raise it even higher."
If the summit here is any indication the progressive movement may be witnessing cooperation and collaboration on an unprecedented scale - realizing, in effect, many of the goals laid out at the AFL-CIO's 2013 convention - aiming to unite the labor movement with many allies who share its goals.
"We hoped for exactly what we've seen today," Trumka declared. "People who share our vision of a better America coming together and getting things done.
At the summit here today there were union organizers, social media activists and religious leaders engaging in robust talks with one another in the hallways. Professional economists shared breakfast at tables with field organizers from local unions and other organizations, discussing proposals on how best to raise wages. Business leaders chatted with workers about how to overhaul a system that results in unreasonable schedules for millions of workers.
David Borris, owner of Hel's Kitchen Catering in Chicago, explained why, from the point of view of a business owner, higher wages were important. "If one person gets paid $10 million, he explained, it is not as useful to small business as 100 people getting paid $100,000 each. It's the same money getting paid out but the guy with the $10 million is more likely to stash it offshore while the 100 with the $100,00 each will spend it in the community, growing our business' It's also a matter that treating workers with respect leaves them with something to spend at a theater or in a restaurant."
The "roundtable discussion" on the morning agenda was also unique as "roundtables" at conferences go. In addition to the businessman talking about how higher wages will grow his profits there were people from many movements participating. A Walmart worker debated with a think tank president and the mayor of Boston, himself a member of the Laborer's union, picked up some pointers from a Fight for 15 activist.
Trumka singled out what he said were two subjects people don't automatically think about as work and wages issues: immigration and race.
"Let me put it plainly," he declared. "Our Raising Wages campaign can only be complete when there is justice for America's immigrants and people of color. We must have a pathway to citizenship for all immigrants, and we must be a country of dignity for all people, regardless of race or ethnicity. Justice at work and justice in our community are intertwined, and both must advance for either to grow."
Conference participants, rejecting the notion that the wage gap is "just the way things are" and that nothing can really be done about it hammered out a plan of action.
The AFL-CIO announced that in 2015, for example, it, along with community partners, will hold Raising Wages summits in the first four presidential primary states - Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. "And we're not waiting around," Trumka declared: "The first state summit will be in Iowa this spring. Each summit will bring together diverse voices, just as we did today, to lay out the entire Raising Wages platform and establish state-based standards of accountability."
Although the starting point for the agenda is a living wage for all workers and the availability of collective bargaining rights for all workers it goes on from there to become a comprehensive economic agenda that includes:
- Trade policies that lift incomes in America and around the world rather that pit workers against one another.
- Strong labor laws that give all workers the opportunity to bargain for higher wages without fear of losing their jobs.
- Stricter controls on Wall Street's financial speculation. "It means treating Wall Street like it is part of America, not above America," Trumka declared.
- Allowing workers to demand and win fair work schedules, paid sick leave and overtime checks.
- Ending all tax benefits for companies that move jobs offshore.
Photo: Sen. Elizabeth Warren. | Jose Luis Magana/AP