On The Existence of the Labour Aristocracy

Richard Fidler rfidler at cyberus.ca
Sat Feb 22 06:18:42 MST 2003

A further post in reply to Anthony on the Socialist Register list, this
one from  Bill Mandel, recently reviled on this list. (RF):

                    * * *

The very best-off of American workers know they have no job security in
terms of the overall economy. They know the bottom line is they have
nothing but their union card and the muscle in their back. So the
plumbers of Silicon Valley are against the Iraq War and marched with an
official banner in the San Francisco parade. That was overwhelmingly the
result of 40 years of work by a friend of mine, Fred Hirsch. During the
Vietnam War he was beaten up in a union meeting. He stuck with it and
eventually got the results described.

   The West Coast longshoremen have probably the best union contract in
the United States, and in dollar income and fringes may well be the best
in the world. But their major San Francisco local also marched in the
parade, and that local's speaker made one of the most militant speeches
from the platform. In this case the union's history probably is the
major single factor, but the work of several individuals, including a
close acquaintance, Jack Heyman, has been of great importance. Jack was
invited to London to speak at the million-strong demonstration there.

   So the subjective factor, collective and individual, is of major
importance, and labels like "labor aristocracy" aren't of much help.

William Mandel

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