LABOR POWER IS SUPPRESSED
Deprived of the trade unions, collective bargaining, and the right to strike, the German workers in the Third Reich became an industrial serf, bound to his master, the employer, much as medieval peasants had been bound to the lord of the manner. The so called Labor Front, which in theory replaced the old trade unions, did not represent the workers. According to the law of October 24, 1934, which created it, was 'the organization of creative Germans of brain and fist." It took on not only wage and salary earners, but also the employers and members of the professions. It was really a vast propaganda organization, and as some workers said, a gigantic fraud. Its aim, as state in law, was not to protect the workers, but to 'create a true social and productive community of all Germans. Its task is to see that every individual should be able to…perform the maximum of work.'"
From THE RISE AND THE FALL OF THE THIRD REICH: A HISTORY OF NAZI GERMANY, page 263
By William L. Shirer
Published in 1960 by Simon and Schuster
Don't you just love it when right wing class warriors condemn the idea of class warfare? We seem to have forgotten that the axis powers (Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan) had no trouble with labor unions because they cracked down on them: often brutally. That's only logical because labor unions, by their very nature, are a nongovernmental source of democratic _expression, promoting everything from fair wages and safer working conditions, to freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble. Granted, right wingers typically condemn labor unions because of alleged low production and higher prices; but the dirty little secret behind the right wing class warfare is the unholy marriage of the Republican Party to Corporate America which funds Republican political campaigns. In both, Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, big business played a political game of footsie with Mussolini and Adolf Hitler; and while the corporations paid a heavy price in the form of constant state harassment, German and Italian business leaders didn't complain too loudly when profit margins went through the roof. True, it was done at the expense of the workers' rights, but who said that corporations are democratic institutions? They are not. By their very nature, they are at best feudal, and at the worst, fascist, which means that the only thing that matters to Corporate America is the bottom line. If corporations believe that a mild form of fascism, such as we seem to be heading towards today, will create larger profit margins, then corporations will continue to make political contributions to the would be fascist no matter how repressive and brutal those politicians may become.
But that raises a rather important question. What's at stake. Well, off hand, we would suggest the following:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; nor abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances."
We shall repeat the relevant words here: "FREEDOM OF SPEECH" and "THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO PEACEABLY ASSEMBLE."
Contrary to the wishes of corporations, the American people really do have rights, and since the Constitution hasn't been rewritten so as to ban freedom of association, the American people have the right to form unions; although you would never know it, judging by the manner in which workers are bullied, spied on, and harassed whenever they attempt to form a union. Indeed, if you want to see fascism in action, just how a corporation behaves when its workers decide to unionize. The minute a corporation gets wind of a union the Powers That Be call in specialized lawyers and psychologists (union busters) who conduct psychological warfare against the workers. Supervisors are transformed into the corporate equivalent of Gestapo officers, reporting, often on a daily basis, to union busting consultants, snitching on the behaviors and reactions of the worker. During the course of the unionizing campaign each worker may be interviewed (some might say harassed) as often as 20 to 25 times. Backing the corporations are organizations such as the National Association of Manufacturers and a plethora of right wing think tanks such as the Free Enterprise Institute and others.
Another tactic is the dissolution of existing unions. Some large companies may deliberately provoke their unions into launching costly strikes which unusually end up hurting both sides. Or the corporation may exploit a legal loophole and engage in "double breasting." Translated into modern English the corporation splits in two: one part unionized the other operating with nonunion workers. Or the employer may encourage employees to circulate petitions which would decertify the union. On the legal front, corporations are constantly seeking ways to undermine First amendment Rights to peaceful assembly through legislation that would impose even greater restrictions on peaceful picketing.
As if anything could be worse than the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947.
*The Taft-Hartley Act undermined workers rights by giving states the right to enact Orwellian named "right to work" laws. In essence, workers can supposedly still enjoy the benefits that come from union membership, minus the dues, without actually joining the union. But this only gives more power to the corporation by diluting the number of unionized workers, weakening the union's collective bargaining power.
*Supervisors and independent contractors are not counted as employees, excluding them from the pool of workers while transforming supervisors into union busters for the corporation.
*The closed shop is banned. Closed shops essentially require a potential employee to join the union before he or she is eligible for employment with the unionized employer.
*Employees are allowed to petition for a union certification election. This may sound fair on the surface, it gives employees a huge advantage in that it allows them to control the timing of the vote, and often forcing that vote to take place before the union is ready to hold one.
*Taft Hartley diminishes the organizing and bargaining power of labor unions by banning secondary boycotts.
*Taft-Hartley also gives corporations the right to campaign against the workers' First Amendment Rights. That is, it nullifies the principles of employee neutrality and allows management to campaign against the formation of a union, when in fact the only debate is the one that should be going on between the workers without outside interference.
*Election hearings concerning disputed matters must be held before a vote is taken to recognize the union. This too sounds harmless enough, but the delay usually benefits the corporation, since it gives high paid lawyers and psychologists an opportunity to harass and coerce workers.
This is quite a change from the 1939 Wagner (National Labor Relations) Act which outlawed company unions, forbade management from interfering in the formation of unions, and, which established the National Labor Relations Board to hear complaints and, if necessary, issue cease and desist orders which could be enforced in federal courts. Of course, the Wagner Act was a product of the New Deal (which Bush and his cronies seem so determined to completely dismantle) and Franklin D. Roosevelt. But then again, Franklin Roosevelt was actually dedicated to fighting fascism.
And that's more than we can say for some presidents