#NJRR Live: Unions. Which side are they on?
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Hello and Welcome!
Welcome to another episode of #NJRR Live! If you are watching or have watched the stream, you may have noticed that Brian is looking and sounding a bit better. This is because he set up his studio in New Jersey one last time for this broadcast. As always, we are so excited to be here on Wednesday Night at 8:00 PM EST for #NJRR Live! Remember to donate if you can because your donations are what make it possible for us to keep bringing you quality podcasts.
NJRR comrade Christian Perez joins us tonight as co-host and starts us off with something that is rare in 2020: good news. In Bolivia, the MAS (Movement for Socialism) Party of the ousted president Evo Morales has won the election with 55 percent of the vote. A right-wing party that ran in opposition ended up with about 14 percent of the vote. This is an issue that we at NJRR have been following for quite some time and we celebrate this momentous occasion while continuing to monitor the situation of fascism in the Southern Hemisphere.
Recently on #NJRR Live, we have been discussing celebrities who support Trump. Art is a fundamental part of New Jersey Revolution Radio and Brian loves music especially. Unfortunately, a fair handful of celebrities who are famous for their endeavors in art and music have come out as Trump supporters. Take, for example, Ice Cube, who had an influence on Brian’s life as he grew up loving music.
Afrika hops into the steam as our guest tonight to inform us that these celebrities are simply doing their jobs. They serve a very intentional purpose in the corrupt system in which we live. Even celebrities that encourage us to vote for Democrats rather than Conservatives are still working as cogs in the machine. Asking us to vote is asking us to maintain the status quo. It is nothing more than a distraction from the real issue, which is that we need to dismantle society’s numerous systems of oppression.
People act like there is nothing better that celebrities could do for the people of the nation than make PSAs asking people to vote. A true solution, put simply, would be to put institutions in communities that support those communities. But the elites of society won’t ever say that, much less do it!
If you’re working with Donald Trump, he is trying to use you. There is no way around it. Trump doesn’t care about your intended policy. He only cares about his own intentions. Everything that he does is in his own interest. That being said, the Democrats do the same thing. They are fine with the idea of people of color legislating because it makes them look good. At the same time, they don’t like revolutionary people of color getting big things done because it jeopardizes the status quo through which they maintain power.
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Afrika went to college to study society and got a degree in Sociology. Speaking from this perspective, he confidently tells us that we live in a social construct. If we do not actively do things to change society, then it will continue to operate in a corrupt way. It is not actually entirely accurate to say that this system is broken because the truth is that it was designed to be like this.
Our guest host tonight, dear comrade Christian Perez, is an adjunct political science instructor at Brookdale Community College. He is not only our resident conspiracy theory expert, but is also a literal professor who teaches about conspiracy theories. He will be teaching a course called Impact of Today’s Conspiracy Theories on Wednesday, October 28, from 10:30 AM to noon. The course is virtual and costs just 19 dollars. Beginning with medieval anti-semitism, Christian will be exploring the wide range of effects that conspiracy theories can have on society. You can find out how to register here.
We now leap into the featured part of our conversation tonight. As many of you may know, a union really screwed Brian over a few years back. Very long and fucked up story short, Brian was fired without cause by CWA 1033 and the evidence was illegally suppressed using union resources. Brian was silenced and abused and the experience had a horrific long-term effect on his mental health. Meanwhile, the union got away with it.
Our featured guest tonight is John Reimann. John is a former recording secretary and an expelled member of Carpenters Union Local 713 in Hayward. He was expelled for fighting for the members in general and for his leading role in the 1999 San Francisco Bay Area carpenters wildcat strike. John is a long time socialist and is the administrator of the blog site oaklandsocialist.com. He got his start in politics during the Civil Rights movement, which inspired John by showing him what a strike can and should be. Another event that impacted John by sparking his interest in revolutionary politics was the coup in Chile.
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A wildcat strike is a strike that is conducted by the rank and file of an organization, usually against the wishes of the leadership. John has been involved in 3 wildcat strikes so far in his life. John was terminated from Carpenters Union Local 713 for instigating such a strike. He notes that he is a 5’4” man and the union claimed he intimidated thousands of union members into a wildcat strike.
Strikes were historically never a democratically decided political action. Every effective strike thus far has looked like militant action against a company until they give in to the needs and demands of the workers. After a period of intense labor militancy in the 1930s, corporations realized that the labor movement and the working class were growing too strong. They decided to make concessions in the present in order to be able to undercut them in the future. Up until the late 1970s, many companies were granting concessions. However, the only purpose of these concessions was to weaken the labor movement so that they could screw them over more easily later.
The Future of Unions
The job of unions should be to protect the rights of workers, but Brian declares that private unions are dead. He says this not to be gloomy but to be realistic. CWA New Jersey is run by a complete fraud. When you have union leaders that have risen through the ranks without challenging power, they think that that is an acceptable way to come into leadership. Socialists can’t just infiltrate; we need to build.
John takes notice of one of the comments on the stream and disagrees. “Unions are not dead,” he remarks, “there is no other political organization that even comes close to having that number of workers.” There were a number of wildcat strikes that occurred this year in the wake of the COVID crisis.
The solution we’re seeking has to start from the bottom. We need a mass grassroots people’s party to take on the Republocrats. Union leadership has continued to distance itself from its members. If you’re in Union leadership, you shouldn’t be having dinner with Senators. Getting cozy with elites is the exact type of thing unions are supposed to be standing against.
John thinks that the best way to take on the threats that unions are facing is building up rank and file opposition caucuses in order to mobilize members and ultimately create a mass political party. To check out John’s work, you can visit his website, oaklandsocialist.com, where he puts out articles and podcasts regularly.
Until next week, stay safe, and remember that the key is to organize!
-Leah Giannantonio, for New Jersey Revolution Radio