The Role Of Labor: To Either Advance Capitalism Or To Promote Alternatives

Posted on Friday, April 15 at 12:25 by Anonymous
If the goal is to over time create a predominantly non-capitalistic Economy", where workers together with consumers, members of a community, own and control a productive co-operative enterprise or asset, and where each member of the co-op has one vote irrespective of the quantity of capital invested....then unless present day union leadership accept that goal and get on with that task...they are indeed hinderances to the expansion of democracy within the economic sphere...and in my opinion, most of them are blocking and hindering that developing, seeking instead to maintain the tension/antagonism between Capital and Labor. To go beyond this tension/contradiction, rather than bargin for wages, benefits, is it not time for Labor to bargin for actually 'ownership' rights, and to withdraw use of their pension investments in Capitalistic firms, and risk investing them more within the Co-operative sector. Once Labor does this of course, elitist union bosses will no longer be in control as the rank and file will demand greater democracy and say in the operation of co-operative firms as well as the investment of their pension funds. Finally, on the BC scene, it has perplexed me considerably, why it was not possible for the workers at the Port Alice mill, supported by a national union, together with the township of Port Alice, and perhaps one or two First Nations, could not have raised the capital to co-operatively purchase that venture...instead most of those assets have again been bought by a Capitalistic firm. Opportunity missed...and where was Labor's leadership there - answers to which it would be interesting to learn about. Presently, within this election context, there is a large opportunity, if the public can be educated as to the benefits, namely, rather that risking the sale of ICBC by the Fiberals if and when they get re-elected to some multinational Insurance firm, why not pressure to transform it into a co-operative, owned by the citizens of BC, and then use, some of its $6 billion in resereve funds to stimulate the 'co-op' and 'non-profit' sector. Thusfar, except for my articulation of this idea within several public forums, neither Labor nor the NDP have adoped such a possibility . C'est fini -Peter Dimitrov/

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  1. Fri Apr 15, 2005 9:21 pm
    Years ago, the idea of a union was a good one, because we all know that corporations would make people work 15 hours a day, 8 days a week, for two dollars a month. Never mind vacation time, weekends, and benefits either. I`d like to think unions are still important to the cause of social and economic justice, but yes, what we`ve seen here over the last few years is not only more corporate power and capital flight, but we`ve also seen union bosses all too compliant with corporate leaders as well. Again, greed corrupts the union leader too! But I still believe that unions have to be militant, in the workplace as well as in national and international politics, to effectively fight against injustice and exploitation. And no doubt, unions can certainly work with co-ops in the preservation of jobs! Why unions as of late seem to be flacid and uninspiring, one can only speculate. OK, I`ll be blunt, some union leaders are sellouts too!

    Dave Ruston

  2. Sat Apr 16, 2005 5:55 am
    Exactly!Great article Peter! Labor has to realize that simply trying to bargain with capital is now a dead end in a world where multinational corporations can do what ever they want. Labor (and working people everywhere) are being backed into a corner by the pin stripe bandits and it isn't enough to just fight back - it is time to propose a serious and viable alternative to the corporate state. Coops already exist and function very well - around the world some one billion people belong to them and their assets run into the trillions of dollars. All we need to is extend what already exists, add to this the notion of self-management and we can have a truly democratic and libertarian economy - one where everyone has a share and everyone has a say, unlike now where most of us have neither. <a href=""></a><br />

  3. by avatar Spud
    Sat Apr 16, 2005 7:33 am
    Good post.
    I agree with both of you.The old Teamsters knew how to work things.

  4. Sat Apr 16, 2005 8:23 am
    I live in the Brokenogan where some folks work as may as eight part-time job to make close to what one pays according to a workshop I attended sponsored by manpower or whatever they are calling themselves these days.

    I travel throughout the valley operating a very small one man service and so get to see the devastation brought about by bad political choices (Crooked Mouth and clan)

    Several dedicated people I have met are spinning their wheels trying to whip up interest in Co-ops all to no avail.

    A couple of years ago there was a clipping from the Republic of East Van outlining the benefits of co-ops and convinced me it is a viable way to go

    For this I will make an email addy available if enough interest is expressed

  5. by avatar Milton
    Sat Apr 16, 2005 11:35 am
    Very good post, I am a union member and trying to get the executives to change their responses has been like trying to get Canadians to stop voting for the liberals and conservatives. I have advocated asking for shares of the company at contract talks as well as banding together with all the other unions and offering union membership to everyone in the country who wants it. I think unions should be global in scope, it is obvious that robber barons and their organisations are incapable of instituting ethical environmental and economic policies, and therefore the UU (United Unions [you know, "by the people and for the people"]) should be the new world government ( as opposed to the United Nations). Of course all elections should use proportional representation scenarios and referendums should be carried out on all significant legislation.

  6. Sat Apr 16, 2005 4:31 pm
    Yeah, that`s the other thing: Why is it that unions don`t stand together? The teachers unions and other public sector unions seem to think they`re above the blue collar unions. The CAW had a falling out with the CLC a few years back. Definitely we`d be stronger if all unions, regardless of profession, stuck together!

    Dave Ruston

  7. Sat Apr 16, 2005 6:31 pm
    Dave, You might as well ask why doesnít the public wake up to the fact they live within a structure geared to suck them dry

    Or you might ask why is voter turn out so low?

    In my view the proper question might be framed in such a manner as to go to solution rather than wander down some maze that pulls away from solution, donít you think?

  8. by RPW
    Sun Apr 17, 2005 3:10 am
    I think many more union leaders need to know there is a concrete waiting with their name engraved on it.......


  9. Sun Apr 17, 2005 4:21 am
    ya gotzta stop watchin them 1940's gangster movies there gunsel!

  10. by avatar Spud
    Sun Apr 17, 2005 4:36 pm
    Global Unions?!
    Good idea.

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