American Labor Movement

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Posted by pancho from ( on Saturday, January 18, 2003 at 10:57AM :

Forget the Wild West, which barely lasted a few years and was the figment of the imagination of some Eastern hack writers for the most part.

If you want real adventure, midnight raids, gun fights, pitched battles, mob violence, lynchings, kangaroo courts, heros male and female...children as about the Labor Movement in America.

It's too big of a subject to handle here but that's where the real American spirit was at its best...the battle between the common people and the wealthy barons who imposed their will on a nation of people dreaming of another kind of life entirely.

The Union movement...the agitators, strikes, lock-outs, the private police forces like Pinkerton that went on to become the first city police.

And of course the international element, a time when the workers of the world almost refused to go to war...understanding that they had more in common with each other than with their bossess, for whose benefit wars are fought.

Same now...the family struggling to survive in America has more in common with an Iraqi family than it does with Donald Trump or Cheney...who act a lot more like Saddam than any American family trying to get by on $15,000 a year or living in poverty on the streets.

I've always believed that the Feds encouraged the Mob to take over the unions, looked the other way, as long as the leadership behaved. Unions had the potential of transforming Capitalism and they couldn't be defeated...not without ruining Capital. The Mobs only ideals were to skim profits and strong-arm businesses to guarantee labor's cooperation. Eventually they became unpopular with the rank and file...much to its loss. Today the word "union" strikes a negative chord, thanks in part to the slime attached to the name by the Mob...when in reality it was unions that created the middle class in America and made this country strong and prosperous.

IBM was famous for avoiding unions by giving its employees more than any union was asking...but it couldn't last because Capitalism is about exploitation and sooner or later ther worker has to get it in the shorts.

The best way to ruin a union was from the Mob got a hold of the funds and maintained its hold through intimidation and violence.

Clean and honest unions would have tamed the corporate beast...and even though union men and women want jobs and benefits, they could also understand the needs of their children and families, and would in the long run have been far more respectful of the environment than the owners have been.

Anyway...the Labor Movement was the real Wild West.

-- pancho
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