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Solidarity

by ManfromMiddletown Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 12:26:12 PM EST

This is going to be short, because I'm going to have to get on the road for my trip before things turn really bad.

Solidarity is a something that isn't nearly as in style as it was some time ago.  There was a time in the US and Europe when workers had songs that told them that together they were strong.  In Europe it was the Internationale.  In the United States, the song that said it all was Solidarity Forever by Pete Seeger.

Solidarity forever!
Solidarity forever!
Solidarity forever!
For the union makes us strong

When the union's inspiration
through the workers' blood shall run,
There can be no power greater
anywhere beneath the sun.
Yet what force on earth is weaker
than the feeble strength of one?
But the union makes us strong.

.....

In our hands is placed a power
greater than their hoarded gold;
Greater than the might of armies,
magnified a thousand-fold.
We can bring to birth a new world
from the ashes of the old
For the Union makes us strong.


Althought solidarity seems to have gone out of style, Manchester's satanic mills seem to have found a new home in the Middle Kingdom and all those other portions of the earth where workers are repressed. I don't need to tell you that now, even in the "advanced capitalist" states, the human rights of working people are under assault from the forces of neo-liberalism.  

Man and Earth have been made to have no greater meaning than the money they can make for the market.  Humanity loses its soul, and we fail to see that the Earth is not for us alone, but for all those who will come.

I have two (short) proposals for international labor solidarity that I think could go a long way to bringing together working people across borders.

Something akin to the JakeS's strike screw is needed to coordinate strike funds across borders and industrial sectors.

One of the more terrifying aspect of going on strike is that you're suddenly in a position where you don't know how you're going to pay for you mortgage or food for your kids. When my brother in law went out on strike this fall, my sister and her family were scare td they might lose their house.  I've got two cousins who've been out at International Harvester for over two months.

If it wasn't for them having built up savings, they could very easily be forced from their homes because they stood up and went on strike.

I think that there needs to be a seperate effort to attend to the families of those on strike.  Direct aid to striking workers would create legal and PR problems in many countries.  But imagine reading stories about the company trying to block groups from helping families feed their kids.  It makes management look like real bastards if they try to do it.

And if workers aren't trying to figure out how they're going to feed their kids, then they're going to be a lot lessed stressed out.  And they're going to be able to hold out longer to get a better contract.

Better yet, in the US (and I presume other countries) donations to this type of organization would be tax-deductible.  

Organized as an international charity, this could provide an important way in which workers in the global North could show support for their brothers and sisters in the global South. And I think that it would be relatively easy to get started, and could make effective use of the internet.

 

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Oh you don't get me I'm part of the union
You don't get me I'm part of the union
You don't get me I'm part of the union
Till the day I die, till the day I die.

Of course, the sad part is, this refrain was co-opted for an advertisement for the insurance behemoth, Norwich Union...

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 03:02:34 PM EST
Of course, the full lyrics of the song give some clue to the overreach of the unions in 70s Britain and the primal collectivism of the chorus can be frightening as well as inspiring.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 03:05:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that there needs to be a separate effort to attend to the families of those on strike.  

These organizations used to exist in the US.  After the unions decided to "kick out the Reds" they evaporated.

Yet another result of 'AFL-itis' in the US labor movement.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 04:44:43 PM EST
Organized as an international charity, this could provide an important way in which workers in the global North could show support for their brothers and sisters in the global South.

Your idea is excellent.  But you may need to label it something other than "charity", lest you be accused of supporting feudalism.

For myself, I happen to believe that charity and solidarity are two sides of the same coin.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 at 11:59:56 PM EST
I suppose that mutual aid society is a winner, but that probably makes its legal status somewhat different.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 at 08:37:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Call it an Insurance Company.  Insurance gets all kinds of breaks on their investment income.  Organize as an LLP and Bob's your uncle.

(Does anyone still say that?)

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Dec 18th, 2007 at 10:58:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I do. I have also passed on to my daughters my home town expression "Looks a bit black over Bill's mother's", where Bill's mother always lives in the indicated direction of rain clouds.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Dec 18th, 2007 at 11:29:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who does`nt

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2007 at 11:37:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Am I right that the most recent image in that video is from the British coal miners' strike of the early 80s?

An international strike fund in whatever form is an excellent idea, btw.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Tue Dec 18th, 2007 at 08:38:18 AM EST
In an ideal world, we could get a law passed that prohibited foreclosing the house of, or evicting, anyone involved in a strike or other labor dispute. As a sop to the banks, you could perhaps allow the interest rates on what is not paid to be doubled. So if a striker misses three months of $1,200 mortgage payments, $3,600 would have double interest rate applied to it for the remainder of the mortgage. (Hmmm - kind of creates a perverse incentive for banks to support strikes. How interesting!) And it sure would be interesting to watch the conservatives and corporatists go ballistic in howling, head-exploding rage.

Of course, with organized labor well under 20% of the population, and the manufacturing workforce at just over 20%, this is nothing but a dream. But why can't some progressive legislators slip in provisions like this the way the U.S. Congress slips in earmarks in those huge omnibus authorization bills?

by NBBooks on Tue Dec 25th, 2007 at 12:40:17 PM EST


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