Labor: a special interest?

The labor movement today is under attack by the monopoly corporations as a greedy “special interest” bunch. The attack starts in the White House and fills every media form every day. It increases in intensity as the 2004 elections draw ever closer.

There is only one way by which labor can defeat this attack, and that is by saying right up front: We are indeed a special interest group – we subscribe to and support the special interests of common people. We want for the American people what AFL President Samuel Gompers called for many decades ago:

“What does labor want?

“We want more schools, houses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge. In fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better nature.”

For that, he and labor were accused of being a greedy selfish, special interest group.

What Gompers said is today what the AFL-CIO and all of labor are fighting for.

Corporate America has only one – yes, just one – reason to exist. Its only reason for being is to make maximum profits for its owners.

Corporate America will do anything, bar nothing, to extract those maximum profits. And it has – and it does. When the corporations say more, more, more, they are truly the greedy special interest. They yell “stop thief” but they are the thieves.

The history of corporate American growth has two very specific and defined features: covering up the crass, greedy, murderous things they do, and controlling the state apparatus, that is, the government. George W. Bush, his cabinet and agency heads, all carry the corporate message. Giant corporations own and control practically every media outlet: TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, and their web sites. They own the TV anchorpeople and big name reporters whose paychecks they control.

Just what is it that is so important about this corporate one-two punch? Especially in these times?

Corporate America is stealing America, just as they are trying to steal the whole world. Because of their control, stolen though it is, they have looted the national treasury, our health care system, environment, resources, jobs and safety net.

They do all of this, they say, because “it’s good for the country.” They wage propaganda war at every twist and turn. When anything goes wrong it’s not their fault they say. It’s someone else’s fault, like environmentalists, affirmative action, or single mothers “who have too many children.” The biggest and heaviest ideological blows are fired at workers and their unions. It’s those “greedy, demanding unions,” they say.

Now that the 2004 national elections are drawing near, corporate America is opening up the propaganda floodgates to try to block labor from playing an effective role in the elections. How? Just as they have done since Gompers’ speech, by labeling labor as “a greedy special interest” bunch who only think about themselves. They are out to divide labor within its own ranks and split it from its natural allies. Who are these allies? All people who work and produce goods and services, the racially and nationally oppressed, all those who fight racism, who seek peace and justice.

The outcome of the 2004 elections will determine labor’s future for a long time to come. Labor and its allies cannot tolerate four more years of the Bush/monopoly-corporate policy of destroying U.S. industrial might and reducing the working people to an unskilled minimum wage mass.

The trade union movement across the board needs a united front against this destructive process. Its first line of defense must be to defeat the lies of the monopoly corporations and their monopoly media. Labor has to win the ideological battle in order to win the election.

Labor stands for more of “the good things” for the mass of the people. What’s good for labor is good for America. The working people built America. The working people are America.

Pat Barile is a member of the National Board of the Communist Party USA. He can be reached at pww@pww.org