The Audacity of Saul Alinsky

Related story: "Getting to know Barack: Meet Saul Alinsky"
Related Saul Alinsky stories: hereBarack Obama stories: here

IBD Series: The Audacity Of Socialism: Barack Obama claims he worked for a "small group of churches" as a community organizer. In fact, he was hired by a radical Alinskyite group, and Saul Alinsky's own son has outed him.

Buried last month in the Boston Globe's letters to the editor was a three-paragraph letter congratulating Obama for putting on a great show at the Democratic National Convention.

That open-stadium rally in Denver, with it's packed crowd and perfectly timed chanting of key phrases, "had all the elements of the perfectly organized event, Saul Alinsky-style," opined the letter-writer. The reference was to the hard-boiled Chicago socialist and father of radical community organizing.

"Barack Obama's training in Chicago by the great community organizers is showing its effectiveness," the author continued. "When executed meticulously and thoughtfully, it is a powerful strategy for initiating change and making it really happen. Obama learned his lesson well. "I am proud to see that my father's model for organizing is being applied successfully beyond local community organizing to affect the Democratic campaign in 2008," the author said. "It is a fine tribute to Saul Alinsky as we approach his 100th birthday."

The person who signed the letter, Lee David Alinsky, a longtime public TV producer in the Boston area, is indeed the son of the late radical. Alinsky no doubt felt compelled to make the tribute on behalf of Obama because Obama refuses to even acknowledge his Alinsky training in public.

He is quick to say that the community organizing he did in Chicago was "the best education I ever had, better than anything I got at Harvard Law School." But he never tells us who educated him, not even in the two memoirs he's written. He also fails to disclose who hired him. Obama claimed in the recent national service forum at Columbia University that he worked for "churches" while organizing on the South Side of Chicago.

Talk about putting lipstick on a pig. Obama in fact worked for a subsidiary of the radical Gamaliel Foundation, a Chicago-based Alinsky group, and he was paid by the radical Woods Fund, which supports Gamaliel. Gamaliel's Web site and history page make plain that it evolved from the Alinsky school of organizing. Its training methods acknowledge an "agitational" style of organizing.

Obama also fails to disclose that he himself became a trainer of community organizers for the radical Gamaliel network. He also won't disclose that he contributed to a Chicago forum called "After Alinsky," where he argued for a "systematic approach" to community organizing and more "power" to bring about social change.

Serving on Gamaliel's board of directors is John McKnight, who wrote a letter of recommendation for Obama to Harvard. McKnight is a noted "student of Alinsky" and former ACLU director who now teaches at Northwestern University.

McKnight also sits on the board of the National People's Action, or NPA, a particularly thuggish group of Alinskyite agitators who sing the following ditty when picketing the homes of business and government leaders: "Who's on your hit list, NPA? Who's on your hit list of today? Take no prisoner, take no names. Kick 'em in the ass when they play their games."

Some community organizers are well-meaning and harmless. But not the ones Obama threw in with. They intimidate and agitate for more government home loans, more government job programs, a ban on police profiling, more benefits for illegal aliens, felon voting rights, minimum wage hikes, "environmental justice" and so on.

What they do is not harmless. What they demand is not noble. But Obama wants to give them more money and power, and organize them on a "large scale." He can run from his radical organizing record, but he can't hide.


Barack's hopes rest on ACORN

More ACORN stories: hereSaul Alinsky stories: here

The Danger of Vote Fraud in the 2008 Election

The most provocative line in the Democratic national platform adopted in Denver is: "We oppose laws that require identification in order to vote or register to vote." Since it's routine to show an ID in order to board a plane and do dozens of other very ordinary things, what's the big deal about showing an ID to exercise the most important privilege of citizenship?

That question is answered in the new book by John Fund called "Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy". Honest elections absolutely depend on preventing the stuffing of the ballot box by people who are not eligible to vote.

Among those who are not eligible to vote are those who are dead, who are not residents of the precincts where they vote, who are registered to vote in another state, who are underage and especially those who are not citizens. Votes cast by any of those can cancel out your vote and, in close elections, decide the winner.

Fund describes how easy it is for unscrupulous politicians to buy voter impersonators with a little cash and get them to cast illegal votes. The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals explained "the extreme difficulty of apprehending a voter impersonator. He enters the polling place, gives a name that is not his own, votes and leaves. If later it is discovered that the name he gave is that of a dead person, no one at the polling place will remember the face of the person who gave that name."

The Democrats have hysterically fought against voter ID laws in Congress, in state legislatures and in the courts, taking what they thought was their best case, the Indiana law, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. They lost there because they ran into liberal Justice John Paul Stevens, who, hailing from Chicago, was acquainted with many "flagrant examples" of election fraud going back to Mayor Richard Daley's shenanigans that swung Illinois to John F. Kennedy in 1960.

The National Voter Registration Act (known as the Motor Voter Law), the very first law signed by President Bill Clinton, imposed fraud-friendly rules on the states by requiring them to offer registration to anyone who applies for a driver's license, to offer mail-in registration with no identification needed, and to make it very difficult to purge dead and moved-away voters from registration rolls. The voter rolls in many U.S. cities now contain more names than the U.S. Census lists as residents over age 18.

The Motor Voter Law, according to Fund, "has fueled an explosion of phantom voters." In the four years since passage, nearly 26 million names were added to the voter rolls nationwide. One investigation in Indiana showed that hundreds of thousands of names were people who had died, moved away or gone to prison.

Missouri Secretary of State Matt Blunt's report on the 2000 election showed how the Motor Voter Law facilitated fraud in one district. He reported that votes were illegally cast by 14 who were dead, 68 who voted twice, 79 who were registered from vacant lots, 62 who were federal felons, 52 who were state felons and an undetermined number who were registered from drop-sites where multiple fake names were registered to one person.

Fund's book makes fascinating reading because of his descriptions of many specific examples of vote fraud that actually determined the outcome of elections. Fund describes in detail some of the more outrageous examples of recent vote fraud in Chicago, Indiana, St. Louis, Seattle, Milwaukee, Mississippi and Georgia.

Fund believes that the biggest opportunity for vote fraud this year is the registration tactics of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). ACORN is a classic Saul Alinsky-style community-organizing group, and it has received hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars as well as corporate donations.

It's no surprise that ACORN is closely associated with Barack Obama. Right after graduating from the Harvard Law school, Obama was recruited by ACORN to run a successful voter registration drive for an ACORN affiliate, Project Vote.

ACORN claims that, along with Project Vote, it registered 1.15 million new voters in 2004 and deployed 4,000 get-out-the-vote workers on Election Day.

The job of handling legitimate voters is tremendously complicated by phony registrations and by the tactic of filing new registrations on the last possible day when there is not adequate time to verify them.

In 2008, Obama was a major supporter of a Democratic housing bill that provided $200 million to community groups (such as ACORN) that are counseling homeowners facing foreclosure. ACORN is pledging to spend $35 million this year registering persons who will vote.

With the 2008 elections as close as they are predicted to be, Obama's best chance to win is to flood new names on the registration rolls who may or may not be eligible voters. It is more important than ever that voter ID be used in order to make sure that ballot boxes are not stuffed by voter impersonators.


Barack hot for organized labor bailout

Related story: "Public opinion survey on card-check"
More EFCA stories: here

A minor problem: Workers actually prefer secret ballot union elections

John McCain and Barack Obama differ on many things, but no difference is starker than on the one proposal that will rise or fall depending on who next occupies the White House.

Touted by organized labor and reviled by business, the Employee Free Choice Act is likely to be among the first pieces of legislation the new Congress will approve next year. Obama has pledged to sign the bill into law, while McCain has vowed to veto it as President George W. Bush promised to do earlier this year.

The measure would make it much easier to form unions at the workplace, and both sides of the debate agree it could add millions of workers to union rolls while boosting wages and benefits. Its passage would go a long way toward reviving the labor movement, while its defeat would be a victory for many businesses.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are already being spent on the measure, including TV ads by anti-union groups that depict union thugs using an actor from ''The Sopranos.''

Advocates, chiefly Democrats and unions, say it would restore workers' voices on the job and expand the middle class. St. Louis labor leaders anticipate being able to add to their rolls thousands of hotel and restaurant workers, nurses, gambling-boat employees and small-business workers.

''It's going to make all the difference in the world,'' said Bob Soutier, president of the St. Louis Labor Council, which represents 175,000 workers. ''I think the impact in St. Louis would be more than elsewhere because there's more exposure to unions.''

In Illinois, which has 1 million union members, the legislation could lead to 10,000 new members a year for the next five years, says Bob Bruno, director of labor education programs at the University of Illinois.

Opponents, mostly Republicans and business groups, counter that the act would raise prices, reduce employer flexibility and drive corporations overseas. Small companies would take an especially sharp hit, they say.

''It's one of the biggest threats to small business that we've seen in a long time,'' said Brad Jones, Missouri director of the National Federation of Independent Business, which represents 9,000 small firms in the state. ''If you're going to subject union salaries, union benefits and union dues on companies whose profit margins right now are absolutely razor thin, you're definitely going to put some of those guys out of business.''

McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, has promised to veto what he calls an ''abysmal" piece of legislation. Obama, his Democratic rival, is a co-sponsor of the bill.

Opponents focus on a provision of the bill that would eliminate the requirement for a secret ballot when workers decide on whether to form a union. Instead, if more than half the workers at a job site signed cards asking for a union, they would have one.

''We must protect this right to ensure workers are able to privately cast their vote on whether or not to organize - free of intimidation and coercion from union representatives, employers and other employees,'' said McCain spokeswoman Wendy Riemann. ''This legislation is designed to facilitate union organization.''

Obama has said he believes the bill would ''make the process of organizing less vulnerable to employer lawbreaking ... I am convinced that millions of Americans would join a union if given a fair opportunity.''

Backers add that workers would still have the option of a secret ballot, while at present only employers have both options.

Last year, the House passed the bill, 241-185. The Senate also passed it, but by only a 51-48 margin, meaning the bill couldn't survive a filibuster, nor could supporters have overridden Bush's promised veto.

Labor leaders say that a pick-up of a few Senate seats by Democrats, combined with some legislative maneuvering on the bill, would mean everything will come down to who is president.


Andy Stern's corruption drags down Dems

More SEIU stories: hereAndy Stern stories: here

SEIU's fascistic response to internal critics spells disaster for U.S. leftists

Just as the US presidential election hits the home stretch, internal strife at one of the country's largest labor unions appears to be diverting its focus from electing Barack Obama.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and its 2 million members helped Obama defeat Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. Its ground operation and bulging political war chest are crucial to Democratic Party hopes in November, both in the presidential election and congressional races. But a recent corruption scandal and an ongoing internal dispute that threatens to blow up in the coming weeks could undermine the union's political influence at the worst possible time.

"If SEIU didn't have to deal with this distraction, it would be able to do more to influence the election," Dan Clawson, a labor scholar and professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, told the Guardian. "California [where nearly all of SEIU's recent turmoil has taken place] is not where they should be."

But according to several sources within SEIU, the union will be devoting resources to the Golden State this fall, even though the state is widely expected to remain a Democratic stronghold. The sources contend that the organization is preparing to deploy hundreds of its staffers to the region to take control of a local union affiliate and to deal with any potential fallout. At least some of those staffers, the sources say, would have been devoting their time and energy to the election campaign if not for SEIU's internal troubles.

Last month the union's international office was forced to "trustee," or take over, its largest California affiliate after the Los Angeles Times ran a series of articles exposing alleged corruption by its leader, Tyrone Freeman. Then, in late August, SEIU announced it was initiating a process to assume control of its second-largest California local, the Oakland-based United Healthcare Workers–West (UHW). For months, SEIU president Andy Stern has feuded with UHW head Sal Rosselli over Stern's push to consolidate local union chapters into larger and more centralized units [see "A less perfect union," 4/9/08, and "The SEIU strikes back," 4/16/08].

Stern and the international have charged Rosselli and other UHW officials with misappropriating millions of dollars. In late July, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by SEIU covering these same charges. Now SEIU has scheduled its own hearings on the matter to decide whether to clean out UHW's leadership. The hearings are set for Sept. 26-27 at the San Mateo County Event Center. A separate lawsuit challenging UHW leadership brought by individual UHW members is also moving forward. Rosselli and his supporters strongly deny the allegations of financial misconduct. They claim the upcoming trusteeship hearings are simply Stern's latest attempt to stifle dissent within the union.

"It's a kangaroo court," Rosselli told us. "It's a purely political move to silence our members. And it's a huge distraction."

SEIU's turmoil is not welcome news to progressives. Federal election records show that the union's political arm has dropped more than $10 million into Obama's candidacy, as well as millions more for other left-wing candidates and causes. Beyond monetary support, Democrats are counting on SEIU organizers to hit the ground across the country, especially in hotly contested states like Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Colorado, and Missouri. But because of the feud, a good number of those foot soldiers could be spending this autumn in safely blue California instead.

If the hearing officer hired by SEIU allows the union to take over UHW, another labor scholar, who spoke to the Guardian on condition of anonymity, said, "It's hard to see how [SEIU] would do it without bringing in a significant number of people." He explained that in the event of a trusteeship, some or all of the staff may need to be replaced. The union also might have to contend with a large number of extremely disgruntled people in its 150,000-member affiliate.

Officials at UHW told us that members are planning "massive" demonstrations at the two-day hearings in late September. And the upheaval could easily drag on through the rest of the campaign season if the trusteeship moves forward. Rosselli predicts there will be "major resistance" from his rank and file. He would not elaborate on what that resistance would consist of, but a resolution passed at a recent UHW leadership conference struck a decidedly militant tone: "UHW will fight to keep our members united in one statewide healthcare workers union and will use all available means."

Rosselli told us that resisting SEIU's trusteeship would "dramatically" curtail his local's political activities. During the primary season, he added, UHW dispatched teams of organizers to Iowa, New Hampshire, and other critical states. But for the general election, they will be staying home. "We're in a civil war," Rosselli said. "We need everyone here to defend against Stern's dictatorship."

The Guardian has learned that Obama and other progressive candidates may not just be losing valuable campaigners from UHW. Several UHW sources said they expect SEIU to send large numbers of union organizers to the Bay Area in the wake of the hearings — and two management-level sources from the international's staff confirmed those suspicions to us.

The first source, who asked not to be identified, told the Guardian that numerous colleagues at the organization have been approached by "senior international staff, attempting to recruit them and other organizers to come to California ... to implement the [possible] trusteeship." The source added that people within the organization believe the union is planning to send "hundreds" of people.

A second management-level source at the international, who also requested anonymity, told us that they have personally assigned several organizers to campaign work only to see those staffers reassigned to the UHW matter by international higher-ups. The second source reiterated the first source's contention that the union is looking to send "hundreds" of what the source termed "troops" to Northern California to replace any UHW staff who quit or are expelled, and to quell any uprising by disgruntled UHW members.

"This has been deemed an imperative at the top levels of the union," the second source continued. "People have been told [the] numbers of people they need to assign [to the UHW feud] and been told to look over their staff lists to see who they can assign."

Michelle Ringuette, a spokesperson for the international in Washington DC, told us that "no one is being pulled off of political work" to deal with the UHW situation. While she wouldn't deny that some organizers who might otherwise be involved in lower-level political activities "like get out the vote operations" might be sent to California if needed, she denied that staffers who specialize in politics would be diverted or that hundreds of staffers would be involved. Get out the vote efforts such as phone banks and door-knocking are often performed by union workers on behalf of Democratic candidates — and they can be decisive in a close election.

"Of course this [the trusteeship hearing] is unfortunate timing," Ringuette said. "But ... we don't believe this is going to affect out advocacy for Barack Obama. That is our top national priority."

But a third employee of the international we spoke with rejected Ringuette's description of a division of labor within the union's organizers. The longtime employee, who also asked not to be identified for fear of retribution, told the Guardian that a small number of international staffers may specialize exclusively in political activism, but virtually all organizers would be working on the fall campaign in a normal election year.

"If they're sending organizers to California [to deal with UHW], they're definitely moving them away from battleground states. California is not considered a battleground state."

Our other two sources at the international echoed the third source's characterizations.

In a strongly worded letter to Stern dated Sept. 9, UHW's secretary treasurer Joan Emslie stated that the trusteeship hearings "can only distract" SEIU from political activism and "hinder our ability to put the greatest possible efforts into this critical national election." The letter ended by requesting that the trusteeship hearings be postponed until "a date no earlier than Nov. 10," one week after the presidential election. As of press time, the international has not rescheduled the hearings.

Obama campaign officials we contacted declined to comment on what one called "an internal union matter." But some labor observers were willing to voice their displeasure with the timing of the dispute. Professor Nelson Lichtenstein, director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy at UC Santa Barbara called the trusteeship hearings "a huge mistake." With the upcoming election, Lichtenstein went on, "the consequences could be enormous. What's the rush?"


Trumka: Whatever it takes

More Richard Trumka stories: here

D.C. Dems shamed into starting SEIU probe

More SEIU stories: hereembezzlement stories: here

Will Andy Stern take the Fifth Amendment?

Responding to Republican charges of foot-dragging, the Democratic chairman of the House labor panel said Tuesday that it is pursuing its inquiry into a spending scandal at the Service Employees International Union but taking care not to interfere with a criminal investigation.

The Education and Labor Committee's top-ranked Republican, Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), suggested last week that the congressional examination of an SEIU local in Los Angeles had stalled because the union is a key ally of the Democratic Party.

On Tuesday, the committee chairman, Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez), said in a letter to McKeon that the inquiry is continuing, although the panel would "avoid interfering with the efforts of federal law enforcement officials."

Miller opened the inquiry last month, after The Times disclosed that the Los Angeles local and a related charity have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to relatives and a friend of the chapter's president.

The Times also reported that the local spent similar sums last year on a Four Seasons Resorts golf tournament, restaurants such as Morton's steakhouse, a Beverly Hills cigar lounge and a Hollywood talent agency.

The revelations have prompted the local's president, Tyrone Freeman, and two other SEIU officials to step aside from their posts. The federal criminal investigation involves several agencies, including the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles, people familiar with the probe say.

Miller and his staff have declined to answer questions about the congressional inquiry, including when the panel would hold hearings. Congress is set to adjourn Sept. 26.

In Tuesday's letter, Miller said the committee routinely defers to criminal investigations without derailing its own inquiries. He cited a 2007 letter from McKeon in which the Republican urged the committee not to compromise a federal investigation of a mine disaster.

Attempts to reach spokespersons for Miller and McKeon were unsuccessful Tuesday.

The SEIU gave about $10,000 to Miller's campaign during the last annual reporting period, according to the Open Secrets website on political contributions.


Striking Teamsters replaced

Related Teamsters-Waste Management stories: here
Related story: "The 28 labor-states" • strike stories: here

Picket line fails to shut down labor-state employer

According to the US-based Waste Business Journal, Waste Management officials said a ten-hour meeting on Saturday under the supervision of a federal mediator with representatives of Teamsters Local 200 failed to produce an agreement to end the current strike in the Milwaukee area. Union representatives refused Waste Management's request to withdraw from the Teamster's failing Central States Pension Fund despite their acknowledgement the Fund is posting record losses.

According to spokesperson Bill Plunkett, "The company is extremely disappointed the Teamsters failed to consider pension fund alternatives that would protect their members' retirement security. Union officials appear more concerned about saving a sinking pension fund than protecting the pensions of Waste Management employees."

The meeting ended with union representatives inexplicably seeking a September 5 meeting in Chicago. The company is working with the federal mediator in an attempt to schedule a future meeting in Milwaukee where the company, the mediator and union are located.

The security of Waste Management worker retirement benefits, currently controlled by the Teamsters-managed multi-employer Central States Pension Fund, remains the key issue for the company, Waste Management officials said.

The company is seeking to withdraw from the Central States Pension Fund, which is currently in "critical status" due to investment losses and reductions of workers paying into the fund. Waste Management has offered the Teamsters alternative proposals that would secure and protect Waste Management employees' retirements.

Waste Management is prepared to protect its employees' retirement by withdrawing from the pension fund, making them whole to date, and putting them in another mutually-agreed upon retirement vehicle going forward.

The Central States Pension Fund has told the federal government that it is in "critical status." The fund started 2008 with a $12 billion shortfall. It has lost $3 billion more in the first six months of this year.

Over 60 percent of every dollar Waste Management pays into the pension fund goes to current expenses instead of being used to pay for the future retirement of Waste Management employees. The Company wishes 100 percent of its contributions to its employees' retirement to go to its employees.

Meanwhile, Waste Management said a team of employee drivers and others brought in after the Teamsters' walkout began Tuesday completed about 90 percent of the past week's residential waste and recycling routes by Saturday. The company advised customers residing in more rural areas that it would collect their waste on their next collection day.

The company noted that because of the Labor Day holiday Monday, all residential waste collection would be delayed one day next week.


Barack, ACORN, Fannie Mae and Motor Voter

More ACORN stories: hereBarack Obama stories: here

Gov't corruption casts pall over fair elections

M. Simon traces the funds Fannie Mae pumped into vote fraud specialists ACORN, and explains how that organization pressed for the grant of mortgages to unqualified buyers, leading to the subprime mortgage mess and Fannie Mae collapse.

He also links the organization to Chicago politician and "post-partisan" nominee for President, Barack Obama:
ACORN is a former legal client of Senator Obama's, as the Sun-Times reported in 2006:

In 1995, former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar refused to implement the federal "Motor Voter" law, which Republicans argued could invite fraud and which some Republicans feared could swell the ranks of Democratic voters.

The law mandated people be allowed to register to vote in government offices such as driver's license renewal centers.

Obama sued on behalf of ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. The League of Women Voters and other public-interest groups joined in.

"He and his client were the ones who filed the original case -- they blazed the trail," said Paul Mollica, who represented the League.
- Clarice Fledman


Bad employer: Oregon Education Association

Related story: "The 28 labor-states" * More strike stories: here

Workers go out on strike v. union over benefit cuts

Employees who help the Oregon Education Association file grievances and negotiate new contracts are on strike against the union they represent. The OEA Professional Staff Organization, with 42 members, is upset about a proposed rollback in benefits and accuses the OEA, Oregon's largest teachers' union, of unfair labor practices

Their 2-year contract expired in July. In mid-August, the OEA presented the union with a "last-best offer" that included an annual 4% cost-of-living pay raise but fewer medical and retirement benefits.

The union also claims the OEA tried to strong-arm it into agreeing to terms before negotiations and refused to provide medical insurance information the union needed to craft a counter-proposal.

BethAnne Darby, OEA director of public relations, says no information was withheld from the bargaining team. The OEA has about 48,000 members.


Ugly forced-labor unionism on display

More union-dues stories: here

Are Todd and Sarah Palin victims of union misconduct?

It so happens that Republican vice-presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin's husband, Todd Palin -- a member of the United Steelworkers (USW) union -- is funding efforts to defeat and even smear his wife.

National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix has informed Mr. Palin by open letter that he does have the right to cut off "forced" union dues being spent by the USW to defeat the Republican ticket of Sen. John McCain and Mrs. Palin.

"While I'm sure you're excited by your wife's candidacy for high office, you may be discouraged to learn that the union dues you pay are already being used to defeat her," writes Mr. Mix, reminding the candidate's husband that when his USW bosses endorsed Democratic Sen. Barack Obama in June they pledged to support his campaign with funds collected from union members.

"In fact, at the USW's 2008 convention, union officials adopted a resolution 'vowing to play a key role in electing Obama,' thus pledging workers' dues to the effort to defeat your wife's candidacy," he adds.

"Moreover, a top USW official whose paycheck you help fund is viciously ridiculing your wife's candidacy on the Steelworkers' Web site, calling Governor Palin's selection 'cynical' and claiming that by choosing your wife 'McCain has clearly shown he lacks the judgment to be president.'"

Mr. Mix says Alaska does not have a right to work law, but under the Supreme Court precedent "Communications Workers v. Beck," employees are able to stop paying forced union dues unrelated to collective bargaining, such as union electioneering.


Hans Kaiser, vice president of campaign and public affairs for the Washington-based political opinion research firm Moore Information, is likening Republican vice-presidential nominee Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to Fraulein Maria of "Sound of Music" fame.

"How do Democrats solve a problem like Sarah?" says Mr. Kaiser, who recalls Baron Georg Ritter von Trapp's emotional plea: "You've brought music back into the house. I'd forgotten. Fraulein, I want you to stay. I ask you to stay more than you know."

To paraphrase von Trapp, Mr. Kaiser says Mrs. Palin "has brought confidence back into the Republican house, something the GOP seemed to have forgotten over the last several years."


Stan Welli of Aurora, Ill., writes: "One of the vice president's duties is to preside over the U.S. Senate. He (or she) may vote to break a tie. It's fascinating to visualize the organizational and personal dynamics of a body over which Sarah Palin would preside.

"This would be a Senate having Harry Reid as the likely majority leader. And it would include such familiar names as Joseph Biden, Robert 'I'm old enough to be your grandfather' Byrd, Hillary Clinton, Christopher Dodd, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and Barack Obama. 'The Senate will be in order and there will be no more moose jokes!'"


Roberta McCain, 96-year-old mother of Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, never ceases to amaze, if not outpace those she encounters on the campaign trail.

Including ladies in attendance for the recent Republican Women's Federal Forum luncheon at the Capitol Hill Club (the McCain family town house until the early 1950s), among them Carly Fiorina, businesswoman and McCain economic adviser; Franki Roberts, wife of Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts; Susan Allen, wife of former Virginia Sen. George Allen; Joanne Kemp, wife of former New York congressman Jack Kemp; LaDonna Curzon, Republican activist; and Sally Atwater, widow of the late Republican political strategist Lee Atwater (the couple's daughter, Ashley Atwater, led the Pledge of Allegiance).

Mrs. Fiorina, former chairman of the board and CEO of Hewlett-Packard, told the crowd that she just returned from Paris, where Mrs. McCain is admired by young and old alike. After all, when she traveled to France two years ago at the age of 94, accompanied by her identical-twin sister Rowena Willis, she tried to rent a car, but was informed she was too old.

So what did the elderly Mrs. McCain do?

She purchased a car, the story was told, and when the twins' French holiday drew to a close, Mrs. McCain sold it.


The University of Mississippi is gearing up to host the first presidential debate of 2008.

Foreign policy and national security issues will be the focus of the much-anticipated showdown between Republican Sen. John McCain and Democrat Sen. Barack Obama, after which a good many of the country's undecided voters are expected to lineup behind one of the two major-party candidates.

Meanwhile, Washington-based reporters who won't be on the Oxford, Miss., campus for the Sept. 26 debate are being invited into the National Press Club to watch the political action unfold.

Says press club organizers: "Our new jumbo TV screens will show every frown, eye-roll and smirk -- not that we expect any, of course!"


What do Barack Obama and Jack Kemp have in common?

They both attended Occidental College, a small liberal arts school in Los Angeles, which the Republican Mr. Kemp once noted you "can't get out of without learning something."

Ditto for Mr. Obama, the Democratic nominee for president, who says during his two years at Occidental he grew up "after a long hibernation," learning the values of "hard work, honesty, empathy and compassion."

In his commencement speech this past May at Wesleyan University, Mr. Obama said the Occidental community first possessed him "with this crazy idea that I was going to work at the grassroots level to bring about change."

And it was at Occidental, the school recalls in a summary of Mr. Obama's formative years, that the presidential candidate stopped being called "Barry" and became Barack.


Reader John Hambel writes: "With all the comments about how poorly [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi's book is selling, I periodically check Amazon.com to check her ranking. Not only is her book currently [Tuesday] in 58,629th place, Amazon helpfully tells us that 'others' that are popular in her category is ... Karl Marx!"


Union operatives dog opponents

Crooked SEIU resembles California train wreck

Related story: "The 28 labor-states"

Golden State gov't blended with jumbo militant union

The carnage in Chatsworth was a vivid reminder of how the phrase "train wreck" entered the lexicon as an ultimate expression of catastrophe. The twisted remains of box cars and locomotives were a once-frequent sight. Over time, we have learned from these disasters and have reduced collisions to anomalies that grab headlines exactly because they are so rare.

While the country understandably gawked at the Metrolink tragedy, the other Los Angeles "train wreck" keeps chugging along - crooked elections. I'm using the vernacular here since I can't prove Mark Ridley-Thomas is actually for sale. However, anyone with two nostrils can smell the stench of whoredom dripping off one of L.A.'s great statesman, the state senator from SEIU.

For the first time in 12 years, a seat is open on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, and the Service Employees International Union is champing at the bit to grab that seat and vote itself a bigger slice of your pie. After all, the public-employee unions pretty much wrote their own ticket with the city, but L.A.'s cash well is tapped out.

The unions see a potential gusher in Los Angeles County government. They've tapped Ridley-Thomas to drill, drill, drill! He is the union's own personal Halliburton.

The seat up for grabs is currently held by another legendary L.A. leader, Yvonne Brathwaite Burke - you know her, you love her - the supervisor who represents one of the poorest districts in the city, yet lives
in a Brentwood mansion with a tennis court. You almost have to admire Ridley-Thomas. Burke, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and company have lowered the ethics bar to earthworm levels, and somehow Ridley-Thomas has still managed to limbo under it.

The unions are stuffing millions into the pocket of "Sen. SEIU." If Ridley-Thomas wins a seat on the Board of Supervisors, he has the potential to cost the taxpayers of the county uncountable millions.

You almost have to admire the brazenness. The union/Ridley-Thomas ticket isn't pulling a backroom deal. The cash grab is taking place in full view of everyone.

Despite multiple investigations into the union leadership, including several with the potential for jail time, Ridley-Thomas is unapologetic and rounding that bend, chug, chug, chugging toward victory. The only thing standing in his way is City Councilman Bernard Parks. Yikes!

While the country is going through a credit crisis after a decade-long spending bender, you have to hand it to Los Angeles politicians. They're strictly cash and carry - no dealer financing, no easy terms necessary. In Los Angeles, our politicians are pay to play all the way, which leaves the homeowner and garden-variety taxpayer stiffed again.

Unions are important parts of a diverse economy. I belong to one or two. But when unions and developers become kingmakers, the taxpayers are left voiceless, yet on the hook for all the deals they didn't make.

We're living in a state so financially mismanaged that a budget has just been crafted by borrowing from future lottery earnings. While we mourn the victims of the Chatsworth train wreck, let's not ignore the political train wreck we've got on our hands - and the real-world consequences that result.

We learn from each railroad accident how to make train-travel safer. Undoubtedly, new safety measures will be added to Metrolink at the terrible cost of 25 lives. We should also be able to learn to run a clean and safe local election that puts the interest of the public ahead of the lobbyists. Our passive acceptance of business as usual has Los Angeles hurdling off the rails.

- Doug McIntyre hosts the "McIntyre in the Morning" program on Talk Radio 790 KABC, weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m.


SEIU furious at gov't bargaining tactic

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Militant union to take names, exact political retribution

The possibility of strike by county workers moved one step closer Tuesday as the Tulare County Board of Supervisors imposed a contract on the union. The board voted four-to-one to end negotiations and impose contract with the Service Employees International Union, SEIU, that includes a 2.75 percent raise, increased contributions to employee benefit plans and a one-time bonus of $500.

The county and the union have been at an impasse since Aug. 13. The union has already voted to authorize a strike. “Our members quite rightly are not going to put up with that kind of a response,” said Kristy Sermersheim, president of SEIU Local 521.


Denver Post rolls out anti-choice campaign

Related story: "The 28 labor-states" • More worker-choice stories: here

Reliable pro-union news organ advocates for forced-labor unionism

Amendment 47 backers raised $205,000 during the latest campaign finance reporting period and added a prominent supporter. Meanwhile another pro-business group disclosed that it has purchased $1.9 million in commercial air time to fight four union-backed November ballot measures.

Frederic C. Hamilton, a Denver oilman whose name adorns the Daniel Libeskind-designed wing of the Denver Art Museum, contributed $25,000 to support Amendment 47, the so-called right-to-work measure seeking to ban forced union membership fees in Colorado.

Arlington, Va.-based Free Enterprise Alliance, the issue-advocacy arm of the Associated Builders and Contractors, gave $180,000 to back the measure, according to secretary of state filings. The Amendment 47 group has raised $776,000.

The political issues committee of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce received $604,000, taking its total raised to $2.2 million.

The committee, which takes no position on Amendment 47, spent $1.9 million on a media buy to attack four union-backed measures.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 union has purchased $4.6 million in air time to promote two of those union measures and fight Amendment 47.

UFCW Local 7 is backing Amendment 56, which would force businesses with 20 or more employees to provide health-care coverage, and Amendment 57, which would allow injured employees to seek damages outside the workers' compensation system.

The other union measures are Amendment 53, which would hold executives criminally liable under state law for corporate wrongdoing, and Amendment 55, which would require businesses to have "just cause" for firing workers.

A coalition of unions pushing Amendment 53 and 55 raised $255,500, taking its total to nearly $3.4 million.


Dem Governor schemes against workers

Related story: "The 28 labor-states" • More worker-choice stories: here

Union bigs will do whatever it takes to kill worker-choice

Gov. Bill Ritter convened a high-level meeting Tuesday night to help negotiate a possible deal to have labor groups drop four contentious measures from November's ballot, sources told the Rocky Mountain News.

In exchange for the withdrawal of the proposed amendments, business leaders would provide campaign money to help defeat a trio of anti-union proposals, including a controversial "right-to-work" measure, Amendment 47.

Talks ended without an immediate resolution or deal after the 90-minute meeting at the Governor's Mansion.

Ritter spokesman Evan Dreyer confirmed the meeting took place, but declined to provide details about the negotiations.

"There are many people who are working on this issue and they are going to keep working on this issue," Dreyer said after the meeting ended.

Among the attendees: Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce President Joe Blake, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 President Ernest Duran Jr., and Jess Knox, director of a labor coalition called Protect Colorado's Future.

The strategy shift follows months of unsuccessful attempts by labor leaders to use the initiatives as leverage to get right-to- work supporters to pull their amendment from the crowded ballot.

The latest talks centered on providing an incentive for Protect Colorado's Future and the United Food and Commercial Workers to withdraw their ballot proposals, all of which business leaders fear could potentially drive companies away from Colorado.

Among the most disputed: a requirement that employers pay the bulk of health care premiums for workers and their families.

The meeting follows a gathering U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar helped orchestrate Sunday in which many of the same officials, business executives and labor representatives discussed ways to defuse the coming battle at the ballot box.

Salazar, Hickenlooper and other leaders met Sunday at the Wheat Ridge offices of the United Food and Commercials Workers Local 7, while Gov. Bill Ritter participated via telephone, sources told the Rocky.

A spokesman for Salazar confirmed the nature and timing of the meeting, held a day after he and U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter attended a rally at the UFCW to kick off the union's campaign against the right-to-work measure.

Dreyer declined to comment directly about the Sunday meeting, but confirmed there have been a number of conversations in recent weeks involving business, labor and elected leaders.

"The governor is very involved in these discussions and he remains hopeful that we can reach a place where all of these measures come off the ballot," Dreyer said Tuesday morning.

Amendment 47 would outlaw mandatory union dues for workers covered by collective bargaining contracts.

Labor groups fired back with four competing ballot measures, all of which business leaders fear could dampen business interest in Colorado.

So far, right-to-work proponents have said they have no plans to pull their measure from the ballot by the early October deadline.

Backers of the labor measures, however, have indicated a willingness to drop their proposals if right-to-work supporters withdraw their measure.


Out-of-state union cash colors Colorado ballot

Related story: "The 28 labor-states" • More worker-choice stories: here

Centennial State is Ground Zero for organized labor in '08

More than $6 million flowed into the campaigns for and against the state ballot measures during the past two weeks, and not a dime was from oil and gas companies. Almost all of the money came from fewer than a dozen donors, ranging from unions to casinos to auto dealers, campaign-finance filings show.

In all, the campaigns for the 18 statewide ballot measures took in about $6.1 million between Aug. 28 and Sept. 10. It brings the total donated so far to more than $38 million, almost triple the previous record of $14 million collected by ballot campaigns in 2004.

Most of the recent money has been spent on television and radio ads, the filings show.

"It's the most expensive election in the state's history," said Dan Hopkins, spokesman for Coloradans for a Stable Economy. The group is fighting a measure to eliminate a tax credit on the state's severance tax.

The group, backed by energy companies, has collected the most money overall, $10 million, but raised nothing during the last two weeks.

The supporters of the measure, A Smarter Colorado, took in about $438,000 during the two weeks, thanks to $250,000 from Connecticut hedge fund owner Paul Tudor Jones.

Jones, one of the richest men in the U.S., is known for correctly picking market downturns. George Merritt, spokesman for A Smarter Colorado, said Jones is involved in education and environmental issues as a philanthropist.

Top donors to state ballot issues

The following nine contributors accounted for almost 90 percent of the $6.1 million collected by the campaigns for and against the 18 statewide issues on the November ballot:

* United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 7: $3.2 million to Coloradans for Middle Class Relief, which opposes the "right to work" Amendment 47.

* Metro Denver Auto Dealers Association: $500,000 to Coloradans for Responsible Reform, which opposes several pro-labor ballot measures.

* Isle of Capris casino in Black Hawk: $441,354 to Coloradans for Community Colleges, which is backing a measure to increase betting limits.

* Paul Tudor Jones, a Connecticut hedge fund manager: $250,000 to A Smarter Colorado, which backs Amendment 58 to eliminate a tax credit against the state severance tax.

* National Education Association: $250,000 to SAFE Colorado, which backs Amendment 59 to set aside state surplus funds for education.

* Denver Foundation: $220,000 to SAFE Colorado.

* Free Enterprise Alliance in Virginia: $180,000 to A Better Colorado, which backs Amendment 47.

* AFL-CIO: $100,000 to Protect Colorado's Future, which opposes Amendment 47.

* Colorado Education Association: $100,000 to Protect Colorado's Future.


Socialism is not scary

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Barack will fit in just fine with emerging anti-capitalist world leaders

Hugo Chávez's mission to create a Venezuela free from capitalist views continues to be a threat to the United States. Before we can sit and argue this topic, let's consider the history behind the ongoing rivalry between Bush and Chávez.

President Bush, as a majority of college students, professors and the nation may agree, has not been a successful leader. He led the nation to war that a majority of citizens disagreed with. He manipulated situations through instilling our fear of terrorism to encourage the creation of the Patriot Act, an act that enabled the government to take control of its citizens, and is now looking for an easy escape out of the White House.

His decisions, along with buddy Vice President Dick Cheney, led to his declining popularity and showed his incompetence as the all mighty Commander and Chief of the United States.

President Hugo Chávez has been in power since 1998 and is currently running for re-election under the banner of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, the party he created. Under a new constitution, Chávez wants to eliminate capitalist ideals in Venezuela and has plans to redistribute lands to the poor.

How is that a danger to the United States government? The question lingers without a concrete answer. Washington tells us that history is repeating once more from Fidel Castro's era into power. The citizens are made to believe Chavez is another vicious communist dictator.

But is he really a threat or does President Chávez simply want what is best for his people? Chávez was not born into wealth like President Bush and he considers human exploitation by the elite a wrongful disease spread by capitalism, as he has mentioned in interviews to multiple Venezuelan newspapers.

Apparently, President Bush's greed for oil led which him to war with Iraq was insufficient. In 2002 there was a coup, which the Central Intelligence Agency knew about but did not prevent, in Venezuela to remove Chávez from power that was a complete failure.

Whether or not Bush and the CIA were integral in developing the scheme is irrelevant; the U.S. government was not able to topple Chavez, which is all that matters to them anyway.

That fueled his hatred towards Bush, who he considers "el diablo," the devil. Chávez on the other hand did the unexpected; fought off the CIA and kept control of his homeland who wants him there. Chávez's population has grown over the years and his followers are in large numbers from the low working class.

- Vanessa Guerrero


Dems, Labor headed for divorce

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FDR Era coalition may finally prove inert

The Great Depression marked the greatest crisis U.S. capitalism had faced since the Civil War. Political and business leaders worried that the country was ripe for upheaval--perhaps even for revolution. "I say to you, gentlemen, advisedly, that if something is not done and starvation is going to continue, the doors to revolt in this country are going to be thrown open," an American Federation of Labor (AFL) official told Congress in 1932. Powerful movements of industrial workers grew up over the next few years, culminating in the formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in 1935 and a massive strike wave in 1936 and 1937.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt had not taken office in 1933 with the intention of championing workers' rights or of creating a welfare state. For much of his campaign against President Herbert Hoover, he attacked Hoover for "reckless" spending and pledged to balance the budget by cutting federal spending by 25 percent. The 1932 Democratic platform affirmed the call for a balanced budget, a 25 percent cut in the federal spending, and a call for the states to follow suit. In words familiar to free-market capitalists, it also called for "the removal of government from all fields of private enterprise except where necessary to develop public works and natural resources in the common interest." What is perhaps more amazing is the fact that the platform said nothing about labor issues and did not even include the word "union."

By encouraging business collusion through the National Recovery Act (NRA), Roosevelt's first tentative steps toward addressing the crisis in the economy bore a number of similarities to initiatives the discredited Hoover administration had taken. Historians John Braeman, Robert H. Bremner, and David Brody argue that the idea of a sharp break in the attitude to business between the Hoover administration and the Roosevelt administration is "exaggerated" because the "shift was not from laissez-faire to a managed economy, but rather from one attempt at management, that through informal business-government cooperation, to another more formal and coercive attempt."

But circumstances forced Roosevelt's hand. As discussed in chapter 2, the inclusion of Clause 7a in the NRA had the unintended consequence (at least from the government's point of view) of spurring an explosion of union organizing. "There was a virtual uprising of workers for union membership" the American Federation of Labor executive council reported to the AFL's 1934 convention. "[W]orkers held mass meetings and sent word they wanted to be organized." Unions organized hundreds of locals within weeks. Existing unions tripled, quadrupled, or quintupled in size. New unions seemed be created overnight. Between 1933 and 1937, the number of workers who were union members jumped from 2.7 million to more than 7 million. Driving these numbers upward was a quantitative and qualitative leap in the class struggle, as the number of strikes--a large number of them demanding union recognition against employers who refused to follow Clause 7a's recognition of collective bargaining--jumped from 1,856 in 1934 to a peak of 4,740 in 1937, with the number of strikers involved leaping from 1.12 million to 1.86 million in the same period. Many of these strikes, especially the three 1934 general strikes in Toledo, San Francisco and Minneapolis, took on a near-insurrectionary character. Between 1934 and 1936, 88 workers were killed on the picket line.

Roosevelt responded to the pressure of the rising class struggle by legalizing collective bargaining rights for workers who were using the strike weapon to demand them. But he didn't do so enthusiastically. Liberal Democratic Senator Robert Wagner introduced what became the National Labor Relations Act in 1934. The bill aimed to create a permanent labor relations machinery that would make union recognition and labor relations a matter regulated by the government instead of one fought out on the shop floor between workers and bosses. Industry opposition to the bill made FDR withhold his support, causing Wagner's bill to stall in Congress. But the 1934 strike wave "confirmed Senator Wagner in his conviction that the nation needed a new labor policy." Wagner reintroduced the bill, which won overwhelming support in Congress in 1935. David M. Kennedy describes Roosevelt's reaction to the Wagner Act:

Roosevelt only belatedly threw his support behind it in 1935, and then largely because he saw it as a way to increase workers' consuming power, as well as a means to suppress the repeated labor disturbances that, as the act claimed, were "burdening and obstructing commerce." Small wonder, then, that the administration found itself bamboozled and irritated by the labor eruptions of Roosevelt's first term and that it moved only hesitantly and ineffectively to channel the accelerating momentum of labor militancy.

To be sure, the Roosevelt administration often found itself at odds with the rabidly anti-union corporate class during this tumultuous period. These New Deal haters rallied around the American Liberty League, founded in 1934 to organize capitalists against the New Deal. The League was the brainchild of conservative Democrats, including Al Smith and John W. Davis (the 1928 and 1924 Democratic candidates for president, respectively) and John Jacob Raskob (insurance mogul and former Democratic National Committee member), before it inducted Republican capitalists like the DuPonts. The Liberty League, "devoted to defeating Roosevelt, trade unions, liberal Democrats in Congress, 'communism' and assorted social welfare causes" backed Republican Alf Landon for president in 1936. In the heat of the 1936 campaign, Liberty League spokesperson Jouett Shouse charged "the New Deal represents the attempt in America to set up a totalitarian government, one which recognizes no sphere of individual or business life as immune from governmental authority and which submerges the welfare of the individual to that of the government."

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BUT HOWEVER much animosity corporate leaders expressed against Roosevelt, his pro–working-class legislation served a larger purpose in salvaging the capitalist system during this enormous crisis by ensuring that the system would not be forced to concede more than was absolutely necessary to contain the class struggle. A remade Democratic Party was the vehicle Roosevelt used to absorb the rising labor movement within the confines of the existing political establishment. Socialist Dan Labotz explained FDR's calculations:

Roosevelt realized that if he was to succeed in reforming and reconstructing American capitalism, he would have to broaden the social base of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party that had elected him in 1932 had been based on the corrupt political machines of big cities like Chicago and New York, on the white votes of the Solid South, on the American Federation of Labor, and on financiers like Bernard Baruch who reportedly "owned" 60 congressmen whose campaigns he had financed. That base was simply too narrow to deal with the upheavals in the industrial cities of the Great Lakes region and among the farmers of the Midwest.

By supporting the creation of Social Security and of the National Labor Relations Act in 1935, Roosevelt laid the groundwork for capturing the labor movement vote for the Democrats in the 1936 election and beyond. Roosevelt's legacy has meant that many generations later, millions of working Americans still regard the Democrats as the party that speaks to working-class interests. Ever since the Great Depression, organized labor has provided crucial financial and organizational support for Democratic candidates, however little labor receives in return.

Roosevelt's capture of the labor movement wasn't a one-way proposition. He had willing collaborators among labor leaders whose vision for organized labor offered them a "seat at the table" alongside the nation's policymakers. Even before the formation of the CIO, Sidney Hillman of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers was "a labor statesman in waiting, waiting for a movement to represent and a regime to accept that representation," according to his biographer. This observation doesn't take away from the initiative and courage that top CIO leaders like Hillman and John L. Lewis of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) exhibited when launching the CIO. But it does make clear what they, or at least what New Deal loyalists like Hillman, ultimately wanted from the industrial union movement. Rather than seeing it as a means by which workers could organize an independent voice to win their demands, they saw it as a means to give labor leverage in the halls of power.

The leadership of the CIO was "connected by a thousand threads to a newly emergent managerial and political elite, an elite which in collaboration with the CIO would foster a permanent change not only in the national political economy but in the internal political chemistry of the Democratic Party and in the prevailing politics of production in basic industry," commented labor historian Stephen Fraser. It wasn't long before these leaders' commitment to remain credible in the halls of power rendered them opponents to rank-and-file initiatives. Roosevelt shrewdly used his power to cement the loyalty of the trade union officialdom to the New Deal and to the Democratic Party. Mine workers' leader Lewis, who later broke with Roosevelt, complained about the difficulty of organizing a labor-based opposition to the administration:

[FDR] has been carefully selecting my key lieutenants and appointing them to honorary posts in various of his multitudinous, grandiose commissions. He has his lackeys fawning upon and wining and dining many of my people...In a quiet, confidential way he approaches one of my lieutenants, weans his loyalty away, overpowers him with the dazzling glory of the White House, and appoints him to a federal post under such circumstances that his prime loyalty shall be to the President and only a secondary, residual one to the working-class movement from which he came...

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RANK-AND-file union activists--especially those on the front lines of the class struggle--were far less loyal to the Democrats or even to Roosevelt. By 1933, pressure began to mount among unionists for the creation of labor's own party to end unions' collaboration with both Democrats and Republicans. Calls for a labor party reflected a newly confident working class's desire to fight on its own. But they also reflected a response to the strikebreaking tactics that unionists had faced under even the most liberal, pro–New Deal Democratic Party state and local governments. In 1935 alone, 20 states' militias, the majority of them called up under Democratic governors, were turned against strikers in 73 disputes.

There is no question that the creation of a mass labor or social-democratic party would have marked a great step forward for the American working class--toward political action independent of the capitalist parties. Several state-level labor federations experimented with support for "farmer-labor" parties in this period. In Washington and Oregon, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, modeled on a similar organization in Canada that was the organizing center for what eventually became the New Democratic Party, won state and congressional seats in this period. In Minnesota the Farmer-Labor Party won the governorship and five House seats. In Wisconsin the Progressive Party, with the backing of the Socialist Party, played a significant role in politics in that state. And 21 percent of those questioned in a 1937 Gallup poll agreed that a labor party should be formed. This pro-labor-party sentiment threatened Roosevelt's plan to incorporate the labor movement into the New Deal coalition by channeling class struggle into the New Deal labor-relations machinery.

CIO leaders Lewis and Hillman made a priority of garnering CIO support for Roosevelt in the 1936 election. But in order to do so, CIO leaders had to squelch pro-labor-party sentiment among CIO members. This meant sabotaging unionists' own initiatives independent of the Democrats. When the newly formed United Auto Workers voted in 1936 to support the creation of a national farmer-labor-party, CIO leaders threatened to remove funding for organizing the rest of the auto industry if the UAW didn't rescind the vote and back Roosevelt. The delegates capitulated at this crucial turning point. Sharon Smith notes:

CIO leaders faced a serious dilemma: having promised to deliver union support for Roosevelt, they now faced the possibility of a mutiny within the ranks of one of the fastest-growing unions in a key industry. That the UAW delegates had already voted, however, did not stop CIO leaders from taking quick action to ensure the union's support for Roosevelt.

In places where strong-arm tactics like these didn't work, CIO leaders used more devious methods to win workers' votes for Roosevelt. In New York Hillman backed the formation of the "American Labor Party" to provide a more palatable ballot line for socialists in New York labor circles, who voted for this "labor" party--that in fact channeled votes to Roosevelt. In 1936 the CIO created Labor's Nonpartisan League (LNPL), which worked to provide FDR with money and votes for the 1936 election.

Union leaders thus plowed the CIO's resources into Roosevelt's and other New Deal Democrats' re-election campaigns, solidifying the alliance between labor and the Democrats. Though there were subsequent demands for the formation of a labor party, the 1936 election and its immediate aftermath represented a watershed for Roosevelt--squandering the tremendous opportunity for political independence from capitalist politicians that existed for the labor movement.

In forming CIO-PAC (Political Action Committee) in 1943, the CIO ratified its refusal to form a labor party. CIO-PAC functioned as one of many competing interest groups within the Democratic Party in pledging money to Democratic candidates. One historian explained the political rationale behind CIO-PAC: "In launching the new Political Action Committee, the CIO leadership specifically rejected any 'ultraliberal party in the name of the working man.' Instead, they sought to discipline the unruly left wing by channeling its energy into a firmly controlled political action group that could function safely within the two-party system."

The CIO's hybrid nature as both a trade union organizing center and a recruiting sergeant for the New Deal Democratic coalition limited its historic potential. Socialist historian Art Preis summed up the CIO's legacy this way:

The history of the CIO was to constantly appear as an admixture of two elements. On the one hand, mass organization of the industrial workers was to lead to titanic strike battles, most often initiated by the militant ranks despite the leadership. On the other, the workers were to be cheated of many gains they might have won because of the intervention of the government, which had the backing of the CIO leadership themselves. Unwilling to "embarrass" the Democratic administration...the CIO leaders kept one arm of the CIO--its political arm--tied behind its back.

Thus the Depression-era labor movement failed to achieve some important goals. First, the U.S. labor movement, unlike those in other industrial countries, did not develop its own political party, however radical its members were on the industrial front. Second, it failed to organize large sections of the working class in the South and the West, which remained conservative, anti-union strongholds. Both of these shortcomings had damaging, long-term impacts on the labor movement. And both of them are directly attributable to CIO leaders' failure to break with the Democratic Party at this critical juncture in U.S. history.

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