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Response to Hortensis (Reply #80)

Fri Jan 11, 2019, 06:08 PM

85. Back in the '70s early-mid my mother was marginally involved with her union local.

Some people got involved who were much further left than the local union bosses and friends.

There was a bit of a power struggle. My mother became a SWP member and we received this newspaper-like thing for a while. I considered it fringy. But they said things she liked.

That lasted for a year. After they said things she liked, they continued with things that she didn't like, and by then had moved into some positions of authority in the union and were lobbying politicians and pushing for policies that the union membership didn't much want--they were using the existing power structure for their own agenda. The union local was basically shattered as a result. Most of the workers couldn't stand those who had assumed some responsibility, but most of the workers had a completely hands-off approach to the union. Union elections had a really small turnout, which is why the SWP folk could win some offices--that, and not saying much of what they actually stood for. By the time the membership figured out what was going on and were able to get rid of the troublemakers there'd been some really contentious meetings between the union and the employer, the union had called for a series of strikes that the membership voted down by a huge margin, and the company basically said it had no negotiating partner. The union/SWP folk continued, though, to politic with legislators as though they really did have the backing of the membership. They spoke for 20,000 workers, most of whom disliked them intensely and most of whom the union/SWP folk had contempt for (although they expressed solidarity--the poor dears who worked in the plant, well, they just didn't know their *real* interests ... and other false consciousness BS).

A loud minority supported the SWP/union folk. And, of course, that loud minority was convinced they were both right and really deserved both power and the loyalty of the workers. They were fools, often under 35.

They didn't want to take the work of establishing their own structure, earn their own credibility and respect. They wanted to use, for their own purposes, the institution that other people built. Often without the approval of the other people. And in so doing weakened the institution--in this case the union local, and as they did so they squandered the political capital the union had built up.

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LineLineLineLineLineReply Back in the '70s early-mid my mother was marginally involved with her union local.
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