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"A ferment is bubbling up in US society. It is a ferment partly born of the
crisis of the US capitalist class, who has largely lost control over its
presidency; a ferment born of the out-of-control attacks of the racist and
fascist lunatics; a ferment born of desperation on the part of sections of
the working class. That ferment was most recently visible in the massive
counter-demonstrations against the fascists, first in Boston and then in
San Francisco and Berkeley.

Beneath the Surface
It’s important to bear in mind that process when we survey the state of
affairs of the unions this Labor Day. That’s because what we see, if viewed
in isolation, can be pretty depressing. Nevertheless, in order to see
things clearly, and in order to be able to play a role in producing the
necessary changes, we have to be brutally clear headed about this state of

And what a year it’s been since Labor Day 2016! Who would have expected
that in a year from then we’d be living under a Trump presidency, complete
with a revived fascist movement? Not one that is about to become a mass
force, but one that is a serious threat nevertheless.

Nissan Defeat
One of the most prominent events for the unions was the defeat of the UAW
organizing drive at the Nissan auto plant in Canton, Mississippi. There,
the leadership followed the pattern set through their failed organizing
drive in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 2014. In that instance, they reportedly
signed a “neutrality agreement” which committing the union to helping VW
“maintain and where possible enhance the const advantages and other
competitive advantages.” In other words, the UAW was going to help VW keep
the wages low. You couldn’t have a better example of the labor/management
collaboration strategy – a strategy that is driving the unions and the
working class in general right over a cliff. Having learned absolutely
nothing from that defeat, the UAW leadership took a similar approach in the
case of the recent Nissan organizing drive.

Evidently they were unable to obtain such a “neutrality agreement” so what
they did was pitch the organizing drive as a continuation of the civil
rights movement of the 1960s (since most of the workers at the plant are
black) instead of a fight for better wages, benefits and working
conditions. Meanwhile, they put forward the slogan “Pro Nissan; pro union”.
(See photos.) The message of this slogan is that the union is not an
organization through which workers can fight the employer for better wages
and conditions. How could anything different be posed, though, since the
top pay for more recently hired workers under the UAW’s two-tier agreement
at other plants in the North is around $20 per hour, which is below the
wage for Nissan workers in Canton!"
"No one is going to give you the education you need to overthrow them."
Asata Shakur
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