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In Navel-Gaze or Thumb-Suck?

July 23, 2005

Bürokratzeitung III

Loyal readers, ReverseVoteSwap.org's favorite magazine for labor tops gossip, One Day Longer, has made it to an astonishing third issue! Truly, these are the days of miracle and wonder!

In the last issue we saw ODL take on the big debate in the AFL-CIO. Now, only days before the AFL-CIO's National Convention, the crisis has become both more dire and less principled--a combination of traits that is, perhaps, only attainable by the unique genius of American labor bureaucrats. Yesterday's New Unity Partnership is today's Change to Win Coalition, which blends some of the more progressive-minded unions with others that are more oriented to, ah, Family values. The newest ODL profiles the CtWC, and we have special sneak peek below!


We have to confess to being pretty confused when we saw the cover; to our knowledge, no actual grassroots worker has anything to do with the CtWC or this whole kerfuffle generally. Then we realized, of course, that ODL wasn't speaking about grassroots workers, but grassroots bureaucrats. ODL sat down with a few small-fry labor fakers-and-shakers: Thurston St. Windsor III, Assistant Deputy Political Director of the SEIU; Anthony "Tony da Wop" Giopazlianocomo, Business Agent for Teamsters Local 777 in New Jersey; and Robert Robert Roberts, President of United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local W in Idaho. We excerpt from the interview.

Could each of you describe, in your own words, what the Change to Win Coalition is all about?

Thurston St. Windsor III: That's an excellent question; this is a critical discourse to problematize. We have to ask: what is the project of the labor movement--I prefer the term "subaltern conjectural multitude"--in the post-industrial society? Can this multitude deconstruct, or, better yet, subvert, the hegemonic power relations? If we lack the proper orientation, we'll simply wind up regressing through an infinite series of demoralized Weltanschauung. I frankly don't think John Sweeny has any answer for this.

Robert Robert Roberts: I could put it in three words: jobs, jobs, jobs, stupid! Workers need jobs, and my union is for anyone who makes jobs. Why is the AFL spending money on Democrats when Bush is creating jobs? Drilling things, shooting things, these are things that create jobs.

"Tony da Wop": Hey, when you get the muscle, you start your own family. That's how it's done.

One of the original New Unity Partnership demands was to reorganize unions along core industry lines. Doesn't the Teamsters model violate this?

TdW: We're proud of our union, which spans all sectors of the legitimate business world. Do YOU have a problem with that?

Well, um...

TSW III: Could I intervene? I really think this disjunction resolves itself, inasmuch as what the Teamsters have realized is that the modes of industrial technê are not quite so monadic as originally conceived by the pre-post-structuralists.

TdW: Yeah, good one, Poindexter. I like this fuckin' kid.

RRR: Look, I think there's one industry everyone in labor should be in, and that's the supporting people who create jobs industry. Why isn't the AFL giving massive support to Bush's proposals for Mars exploration? You'd need a lot of carpenters to send a man to Mars, probably. Labor really lacks vision.

SEIU gave tens of million to the Democrats in 2004, while the Carpenters had Bush speak at their convention. How can the CtWC remain politically coherent with these kinds of divisions?

RRR: Two words: pro-jobs. I think that says it all. The Carpenters will support anyone who's giving us jobs!

Isn't that kind of like saying Jesus should have backed the Romans because they ran the crucifix trade?

RRR: Look, Jesus was a fine carpenter and an interesting guy, but I don't think there's any evidence he would have made a very effective trade union leader.

...OK, final question: how do you respond to those who accuse you of needlessly dividing the labor movement?

TSW III: You know, when I was a member of the Wand & Cumberbun Society at Harvard, we used to start each meeting by declaring, "Poiêsis Über Praxis!" I think that's something today's labor movement should really take to heart.

TdW: Sweeny's been the don for a long time. I give him respect. But when your guy can't get business done anymore, well, sometimes you've got to push a button on a guy. People take it personal, of course. But it's not personal; it's strictly business.

RRR: It's business unionism.

Posted by convener at July 23, 2005 05:00 PM