Does Labor Have Any Real Friends?

March 19th, 2012

Published on Dissident Voice, by David Macaray, March 16, 2012.

Despite well-meaning attempts at mitigating or sugar-coating it, organized labor has always known, deep-down, that the only true friend it had was labor itself.  Yes, the Democrats have thrown a few crumbs its way, and yes, academics have eloquently given voice to the Movement, and yes, non-union workers have grudgingly recognized organized labor’s historical contributions.  But when it comes to the down-and-dirty battles, working people realize that no one can be relied upon except other working people.   

An actor I know, a long-time SAG member with an impressive list of credits, once told me:  “Scratch a Hollywood liberal, and you’ll find a union hater.”  Having swum in the Hollywood tank for more than 30 years, he is convinced that the affluent, progressive-minded denizens of Malibu and the West Side (often stereotyped as “knee-jerk liberals”) not only don’t respect or admire organized labor, they actually root for it to fail.

For whatever reason—whether it’s the perception that labor’s too big for its britches, or it’s those nagging memories of newsreel footage showing union thugs doing the perp walk, or it’s simply the stark realization that America’s working class (the “French fries and gravy crowd,” as management used to call it) isn’t “romantic” or exciting enough to embrace—it’s hard to find liberals willing to celebrate organized labor.  In fact, they seem far more likely to want to defy it … //

… It’s bad enough when “pro-labor” Democrats blow smoke and give lame excuses, but when an outfit with the acknowledged creds of Pacifica suddenly turns on the union, you realize how quickly things can change.  You realize how screwed you are.  And you realize how true that observation is:  Working people can’t trust anyone but other working people. (full text).

(David Macaray, a Los Angeles playwright and author (It’s Never Been Easy: Essays on Modern Labor), was a former union rep. He can be reached here. Read other articles by David).


Over 500 Students and Staff Protest Suspension of Student, on Dissident Voice, by Defend Education, March 17, 2012. The Campaign to Defend Education can be reached here.

Occupy’s Growing Pains, Reflections of an Insider, on Dissident Voice, by Shepherd Bliss, March 16, 2012.
Shepherd Bliss’ website.

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