Sweeney Speaks Up About the Elections

In a post-election statement, AFL-CIO president John J. Sweeny said organized labor did its job, but workers were let down by the Democratic Party that didn’t have “a plan to strengthen the economy….[T]he Democrats,” he complained, “needed to be crystal clear about what they stand for, and to present an alternative vision to the country that creates excitement among disenfranchised voters and inspires hope.”

What Sweeney didn’t offer was an explanation as to why the Democrats didn’t promise the nation’s workers that they would end joblessness, make sure that the elderly have secure retirement years, and that no American would ever again be without medical care. Surely, such a program would create excitement and inspire hope, along the lines that Sweeney says he would like to see.

Sweeney, who has lobbied on Capitol Hill for decades and knows, only too well, the extent of corporate dominance of both major parties, didn’t lash out at corporate America’s famously Tweedle-dum, Tweedle-dee political scam. In fact, he propped the scam up, when he said that today’s labor unions “run an issues-driven program and look at where officials and candidates stand on issues without regard to party label. We support pro-working family Republicans wherever we can.”

Nevertheless, Sweeney said that organized labor wasn’t going to wait for either party, and the AFL-CIO “is going to lead an economic, working families agenda. We’re going to drive a program of legislation and politics that’s rooted in what matters most to working people. Good jobs. Health care. Retirement security.”

   But he didn’t say what the AFL-CIO was going to do that’s different from what they have been doing. For example, Sweeney didn’t say that organized labor was going to stop rewarding the so-called “friends of labor,” a policy that has led workers to the present political dead-end. Nor did he even level the threat of forming a labor party, as unions sometimes did, even when George Meany ruled atop organized labor. Nor did Sweeney say that labor would return to its winning 1930’s strategies of fighting back at the point of production and mobilizing millions of workers in the streets, actions that forced the corporate politicians of that time to enact most of the social legislation that constitutes much of what left of society’s “safety-net.”   

Sweeney and Co. will not even mention resistance at the point of production to speed-up and “downsizing.” There will be no “street-heat” of the 1930’s variety. Under Sweeney and Co. there will be no move toward political independence; instead Sweeney will continue the labor officialdom’s political partnership with the Democrats, the equivalent of electing a superintendent to be the shop steward and the front office boss to be the business agent

In short, workers can expect from Sweeney more of the “same-old, same-old,” no matter what guise it’s dressed in.

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