Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Missile Missive from Mitch

Trenchant commentary on the crazies who control the Professional Staff Congress from our colleague Mitch Langbert:

The Professional Staff Congress and Revolutionary Unionism

"The temperate, prudent, courageous, just and of course virtuous Sharad Karkhanis has written an excellent issue of Patriot Returns. Karkhanis named his newsletter after our Patriot missles, which shot down Iraqi Scuds in 1991. With a circulation of 13,000, Karkhanis's newsletter aims to shoot down the Scuds of the perverse CUNY faculty union, the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) and hopefully blow the PSC leadership back to Cuba, although I doubt that even Castro or his brother would want them. Maybe North Korea's Kim Jong-il would welcome them since they seem to aim to give the CUNY faculty a North Korean-style wage-and-benefit package, but even he might find them tiresome.

In the early twentieth century there were alternative models of unionism being proposed. The mainstream AF of L, created by Samuel Gompers and Adolph Strasser, advocated a form of unionism that labor scholar Robert F. Hoxie called business unionism. Business unionism does not question the underlying assumptions of the capitalist economy and resorts to political gamesmanship only in order to "reward friends and punish enemies". Its emphasis is improving wages, benefits and working conditions, not changing the world. Gompers expressed the pro-capitalist essence of business unionism when someone asked him: "What does labor want?" Gompers responded: "More". Like any profit-maximizing capitalist, and any red-blooded American, business unionists aim to advance themselves economically. In contrast, models of unionism that were prevalent during the early twentieth century included the Industrial Workers of the World (the Wobblies) and the communist unionism of the Socialist Labor Party's Daniel de Leon's Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance and others. American workers rejected what labor scholar Hoxie called revolutionary unionism in favor of business unionism. The gulf between the "New" Left and the business unionists reached a crescendo during the Vietnam War in 1965 when AFL-CIO president George Meany announced his support for the Vietnam War.

Inverting the historical pattern, the PSC leadership has rejected business unionism in favor of revolutionary unionism. Its repeated calls for demonstrations; the anti-Iraqi War protests several years ago; the endless radical rhetoric that has alienated New York's political establishment (social democratic thought it be); and the utter contempt with which the PSC's leadership treats economic and workplace issues all suggest that the PSC does not operate as a mainstream union. The low contract numbers that Karkhanis decries result from the PSC's leadership's strategic choice to favor revolution over selfish gain, or even selfish keeping your head above water and avoiding the bankruptcy judge.

Perhaps the the PSC leadership does not need to worry about electric, heating, gasoline and food bills. Perhaps like Professor Ros, they live in high rent apartments on six figure incomes. Perhaps they can afford to contribute $5,000 to the Obama campaign.

If so, isn't it time to get back to reality and rocket this crew back to Cuba via one of Karkhanis's Patriots?"