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Outline  Labor & Politics  Democratic Class Struggle  To party or not…  AFL, CIO  Why the ‘rules of the game” matter  AFL-CIO COPE  Labor Politics.

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Presentation on theme: "Outline  Labor & Politics  Democratic Class Struggle  To party or not…  AFL, CIO  Why the ‘rules of the game” matter  AFL-CIO COPE  Labor Politics."— Presentation transcript:

1 Outline  Labor & Politics  Democratic Class Struggle  To party or not…  AFL, CIO  Why the ‘rules of the game” matter  AFL-CIO COPE  Labor Politics Today  Returns  News of this class News of this class

2 Capitalist economy…but within a Democracy  Capitalism  “capital and economic resources form the basis of power, and such resources tend to be more or less unequally distributed among social classes and interest groups” (Korpi 1989: 312 not assigned)  Democratic Politics  “…the principal power resources are the right to vote and the right to organize collective action.”  These rights are tied to citizenship and are equally distributed

3 Labor & Politics…  Unions develop a political strategy to address concerns of workers as employees and as citizens  As Employees  Unemployment insurance, disability, prevailing wage laws, safety regulations, maximum hours, minimum wage, right to organize, etc.  As Citizens  Affordable housing, access to health care, public schools, social security, etc.  See next slide and quote form the CIO

4 More than just bread & butter…  …workers and Labor Union members have many problems affecting their lives in addition to wages, hours and working conditions, and related matters involving the employer. These are the wide range of the citizen in the community. The CIO Council becomes the voice of the Labor movement about housing, public and personal health, child care, education, public and private welfare, city and community planning, recreating, and a large number of things which are the concern of the worker as citizen where he lives.  Ted Silvey, CIO Leader, 1948

5 Labor & Politics…  Logic of “organizing politics” is similar to the logic of “organizing labor”  Individual working class voters, like individual workers, have little power  Individual workers improved their lives by uniting to form unions  Question becomes, can unions improve the lives of their members by supporting parties committed to uniting individual working class voters behind a common program?

6 A Labor Party?  Most unions around planet said “Of course” and engage in a Democratic Class Struggle-  strategy aimed at advancing the interests of the working class through electoral activity and government policy.  Democracy is a game of numbers  Working class keeps growing  A “no brainer”…just do the math  Unions around the planet form their own labo,r socialist, or social democratic parties  And a lot of people voted for them…

7 Vote Percentage for Labor, Socialist or Social Democratic Parties Austria France Germany Norway Britain Sweden

8 Labor Governments  Democratic Class Struggle  strategy aimed at advancing the interests of the working class through electoral activity and government policy.  Democratically elected socialist parties now govern around the world  Expand welfare state and push decommodification of life Free health care, free child care, free college, old age pensions etc.

9 American Exceptionalism  “American workers in the 19 th century engaged in economic conflicts with their employers as fierce as any known to the industrial world; yet in their political behavior they consistently failed to exhibit a class consciousness. Why was militancy in the factory so rarely translated into the politics of class?- David Montgomery, Yale University  Unlike unions around the planet, unions in the US did not form their own successful labor party.  Referred to as “American Exceptionalism”  Raises interesting questions as to why?

10 Explaining American Exceptionalism  Early suffrage for white men  Allegiance to other parties before unions formed  Divided Working Class  Native vs. Immigrant  Black vs. White  Ideology of Individualism  Firmly entrenched two party system  I believe this is the key one…more in a moment…

11 AFL & Political Action  AFL President Samuel Gompers argued against forming a labor party  Too divisive  Right to vote preceded unionization…so worker have pre-existing loyalties  Laws that were passed often overturned by courts  Politics seemed futile  Unions should focus Concentrate on Collective Bargaining & Business Unionism  Voluntarism opposition to government relief and welfare legislation and stressing the need for workers to depend on their own economic strength (Zieger 2002:62)  If do politics…practice a pragmatic politics  “Reward your friends and punish your enemies”

12 American Exceptionalism  National AFL limited political action and said no to building its own political party “…party politics whether democratic, republican, socialistic, prohibition or any other, should have no place in the convention of the AFL.” AFL resolution, 1895

13 City Central Labor Councils Often Made Different Political Choices  Union support for labor and socialist parties was widespread  These parties were often very successful  By 1912 the American Socialist Party had elected 1,200 local officials  Mayors or Other Major Municipal Officers New York City Birmingham, Alabama Winslow, Arkansas Coeur d’Alene, Idaho Flint, Michigan Minneapolis, Minnesota Rockaway, NJ Schenectady, NY Milwaukee, WI

14 State Level Labor/Socialist Party Success…  California  Idaho  Illinois  Kansas  Massachusetts  Minnesota  Montana  Nevada  New Mexico  New York  North Dakota  Oklahoma  Pennsylvania  Rhode Island  Utah  Vermont  Washington  Wisconsin

15 But Almost No National Success…  A Congressman here and there (NY, WI)…but no real national presence in Congress?  Interesting, given that the vote share of the American labor and socialist parties was similar to that won by the British Labor Party during the early 20 th century (Mark 1989) …  Interesting Puzzle… Why do Labor Parties become major parties in Europe...while Labor Parties in the US have some success, but then wither away..  Must consider how the Rules of Political Competition work against minor parties in the US…let’s explore…

16 American Exceptionalism & The Political System  Single Member Winner Take All Districts  “First past the post”  If the vote in Congressional District #1 was:  40% Republican Party  38% Democratic Party  22% Labor Party  Who goes to Congress?  Republican

17 “American Exceptionalism”  If the vote in every Congressional District in America was the same as the one on the last slide:  40% Republican Party  38% Democratic Party  22% Labor Party  What is the make-up of Congress?

18 “American Exceptionalism”  Republicans receive 100% of the seats in Congress, despite the fact that they only received 40% of the vote  Preferences of 60% of the electorate would not be represented in the government  Strange System…few other countries have these rules  Post Communist regimes (Russia, Poland, Hungary etc) opt for different model…Iraq and Afghanistan create different model

19 European Labor Politics  In a Proportional Representation system:  40% Republican Party  38% Democratic Party  22% Labor Party  What would the make up of Congress be?  Proportionate to vote…  40% Republican  38% Democrat  22% Labor Party  More opinions represented in government…  Labor party would be minority…but would have power

20 “Choices”  Single Member Winner Take All Rules…  If in the last election, the vote in every Congressional District in America was  40% Republican Party  38% Democratic Party  22% Labor Party  Your party received 0 seats, and the party most hostile to unions won 100% of the seats  If you’re a union leader …where do you put your political capacity in the next election?  Proportional Representation Rules  If in the last election, the vote in every Congressional District in America was  40% Republican Party  38% Democratic Party  22% Labor Party  Your party received 22% of the seats, and ruled in coalition with the Democrats  If you’re a union leader …where do you put your political capacity in the next election?

21 Labor and the Democrats  SMWTA system results in 2 party system  “Monopoly of the Opposition”  Backers of third party faces tough choice Mount symbolic campaigns based on principle Stay out of politics Back the party closest to her ideas  Logic Has Led Unions to Ally With Party that is Least Hostile To The Labor Movement…the Democrats

22 A Wrinkle worth watching…  Working Families Party  Political Party in New York State founded by UAW, Teamsters, Laborers, Communication Workers and community groups 30% of budget comes from unions  Why would they choose to create a third party in NY?  Some states have laws that change the logic of the SMWTA districts…called “Fusion”  Fusion  “electoral support of a single set of candidates by two or more parties.” (Argesinger)  Widespread in US during 19 th century, but then outlawed in most states  Powerful American Labor Party in NY during 1940s

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24 Unions in NY: 2010  Working Families Party  Political Party in New York State founded by UAW, Teamsters, Laborers, Communication Workers and community groups 30% of budget comes from unions  “In the State Comptroller race, Democratic/Working Families candidate Tom DiNapoli beat Republican Harry Wilson by roughly 100,000 votes.  Since DiNapoli received well over 140,000 of his votes on the Working Families Party line, he would not have won without the support of WFP voters.”  How does this give labor more power?

25 Fusion  Fusion makes the union vote visible  It doesn’t got swallowed/lost in the overall Democratic tallly  Unions have a credible threat of exit…better pay attention to our interests and demands or we’ll take our 4% elsewhere  If it is a local race in an area where unions are strong, they might run their own candidate

26 Fusion is Not the Norm  1955: AFL and CIO merge to form the AFL-CIO  Political Strategy:  “…policy of supporting worthy candidates regardless…of party affiliation…We seek neither to capture any organization nor will we submit our identity to any group in any manner.” AFL-CIO, 1955

27 Labor as an Interest Group  Lacking its own party, organized labor becomes an interest group  an organization that attempts to influence elected officials to consider their aims when deciding on legislation.  Unions Advance their Political Interests via PACs and COPEs  Political Action Committee  organized for the purpose of raising & spending money to elect & defeat candidates.  Union members must authorize that money be taken from their paycheck for the PAC  Committee on Political Education (COPE)  Coordinates Political Lobbying, Coordinates Registration, Education, Get out the Vote  Unions can use dues money for these purposes

28 Regulating Union Politics  Supreme Court (CWA v. Beck, 1988) allows union members to opt out of funding political activities by requesting a refund of the portion of their dues used for such purposes  Republicans Have Fought for “Paycheck Protection”  At present, workers must opt out…  Paycheck protection would reverse it so workers had to opt in…  Unions point out that that stockholders are not required to authorize corporate lobbying and political action

29 Interest Groups Compared: 2010  Business-Labor Split in PAC & Individual Donations to Candidates & Parties  “The broadest classification of political donors separates them into business, labor, or ideological interests. Whatever slice you look at, business interests dominate, with an overall advantage over organized labor of about 15-to-1.  Even among PACs - the favored means of delivering funds by labor unions - business has a more than 3-to-1 fundraising advantage. In soft money, the ratio is nearly 17-to-1.”  Center For Responsive Politics: Campaign Contributions, 2010 Center For Responsive Politics: Campaign Contributions, 2010  Lobbying Expenditures Compare  Top Sectors Top Sectors  Top Spenders Top Spenders  Democratic Party Contributions Democratic Party Contributions

30 Labor Usually Outgunned  Research Finds Even More So on its Own Issues  1976 Labor Law Reform: Democratic Prez, Democratic House and Senate  Faster elections; $ penalties for refusal to bargain, stronger penalties for ULP  2009 EFCA Labor Law Reform Democratic Prez, Democratic House and Senate  What happened?  Massive employer offensive  Senate Filibuster kills bill Handful of Democratic Senators align with Republicans

31 Doing Labor Politics…COPE  Unions forbidden from giving union dues to political candidates  $ Raised via voluntary contributions to PAC (Political Action Committee)  Monetarily, can not compete with corporate America  1. Why does Chaison suggest candidates seek union endorsements?

32 Doing Labor Politics…COPE  Unions forbidden from giving union dues to political candidates  $ Raised via voluntary contributions to PAC (Political Action Committee)  Monetarily, can not compete with corporate America  Labor counters money with “in-kind” donation of materials & “people power”

33  2. Chaison describes union members as “foot soldiers” of the Democratic Party. What does he mean by this? Please provide at least one concrete example of things (besides voting) that union members do for the party. 

34 AFL-CIO Political Action  Since 1995, well over $100 million spent by AFL-CIO on improving labor’s political operation  Advertising and Mailings  New emphasis on creating local political machines &“Member to Member Outreach”  Phone Banking  Home Visits  Workplace Visits

35 Grass Roots Capacity  New Voices: Build Grass Roots Capacity  “…revolutionary notion of the new labor movement politics is that we are going to talk to our members. What we find is that miraculously when we talk to our members, they vote our way”  Steven Rosenthal, AFL-CIO Political Director

36 Labor’s Problem…  The AFL-CIO’s “ Problem”  40% of union members are not registered  40% are registered but won’t vote  40% of union voters will vote Republican

37 Eimer on Politics  3. Eimer suggests that organized labor has decided to change the content or substance of its political outreach. Briefly explain how labor has altered the type of political information it provides to members.

38 Changing Strategy…  From Marching Orders to Issues  Members are intelligent  Provide quality information  Voting Records  Issue Comparisons  Trust that member will do the right thing

39 Eimer and Politics  6. Eimer suggests that the labor movement has altered the “way it delivers information to its members.” Briefly summarize the changes that labor has made.

40 Process Continues…  “In what the federation claims was the “largest mobilization in history,” 225,000 union members volunteered to staff phone banks, distribute literature, knock on doors, and engage in the otherwise unglamorous work of electoral mobilization. By election night, more than 90 percent of union members reported receiving information from their unions. In the end, this outreach helped deliver 61 percent of the labor vote to Kerry. Not bad, considering that only 48 percent of the general public voted that way.”  Eimer, 2005

41 Long Term Project…  “This is a building process, and there is no going back. You win some and you lose some, but the bottom line is that you are moving the ball down the field a little at the time”  Steven Rosenthal, AFL-CIO Political Director, 1999  So 10 years later has there been improvement?

42 53% of General Public Voted for Obama but 60% of Union members Did: But no change in the 60/40 “problem”

43 2010 Congressional Races

44 Future  Political Reaction of Public Sector Unions to Continued Attempts to Roll Back Rights and Benefits  WI Recall Elections as Interesting Thing to Keep an Eye On

45 Future  Political Reaction of Public Sector Unions to Continued Attempts to Roll Back Rights and Benefits  WI Recall Elections as Interesting Thing to Keep an Eye On  Lobbying Efforts Geared Toward Labor Law Reform  EFCA etc.  2012 Presidential and Congressional Races  Will be a massive labor and business mobilization

46 Next…  What now for American unions…


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