During the late 1940s, the Congress of Industrial Organizations stopped being the CIO. They became part of “business unionism” and tried to partner with their bosses. In the mid-1950s, they went so far as to re-join the American Federation of Labor, thus forming the AFL-CIO. The program that they operated from was like that of the older AFL and sharply different from the vibrant CIO organizing machine of 1935-1947.

The AFL-CIO continued trying to partner with their bosses until, in 1995, they admitted failure and began to develop a progressive kind of unionism that wasn’t new. It was a return in the direction of the old fighting CIO. By then, we had lost 2/3 of our membership and were isolated from virtually anybody that might help us. Now, in 2021, things look better, but we have not returned, yet, to the virility that we lost in 1947.

My main criticism of today’s progressive labor movement is that they don’t own up to their mistakes. The changes that the new, improved AFL-CIO leadership is making are called “new.” We’d be stronger if we knew our history, all of it, and stopped hiding the trends of 1947-1995.

One way to fill in the blanks in our labor history is to look at one of the main protagonists in the drama, the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America. Here, I review a scholarly document and a history book on those missing pages of American labor history.

–Gene Lantz

Document review:

Brueggemann, John of Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs NY, “The Rise and Fall of the United Electrical Workers: Defending or Assaulting Democracy in Cold War Labor Politics?” January 8, 2003

I believe this is a college dissertation for a doctorate in history. I have a hard copy, but I can’t find it on-line. He concludes that the union’s collective bargaining strategy was out of date, that American attitudes changed and the union didn’t, and that organized labor in general had poor strategies for dealing with capital. These are all euphemisms.

But if you read what he says, it’s pretty much what happened. The anti-communist witch hunt succeeded in shifting American opinions, the union tried to hold true and not give in, and, sure enough, the labor movement not only gave in but basically joined the witch hunt. As Brueggemann puts it, “…the CIO… expelled one of its most democratic and vibrant unions.”

They didn’t just cut off the UE, they didn’t just expel it from the CIO, they commenced to raid it like vultures picking at the bones. The amazing thing is that the UE survived and is still a progressive voice in the American labor movement.

Book Review:

James J Matles, General Secretary of the UE, and James Higgins, “Them and Us. Struggles of a Rank-and-File Union.” Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1974.

This is a history of the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America from its inception until the mid-seventies. Matles was the original head of the Organizing Department. He became General Secretary after Julius Emspak died in 1962. I especially appreciated this book because it clarifies what happened to American labor during the critical postwar period. This period is flatly boycotted in official American labor history, so very few people know about it.

My friend Richard Stephens of the National Nurses Organizing Committee recommended it to me during a conversation in which I was recommending “Rainbow at Midnight” to him.

The authors do not use this book to rail against the assaults on their union by the rest of the labor movement, although they report on it factually. Mostly, the book is about problems with management, particularly at General Electric and Westinghouse, the two giants of the electrical industry. Problems within the CIO and with backstabbing in general, even problems with attacks from the government, are reported with sparse comment. I find that remarkable. Nevertheless, a union’s main problem is with management, not with the rest of the unions or even with the government.

The reason I read it, though, is because there are practically no historical accounts of the great change in American labor around 1947. This book goes a long way toward filling that giant hole.

My notes:

Pg 13: UE officers are not allowed to get paid more than their members

Pg 17: Abraham Lincoln: Whenever there is a conflict between the man and the dollar, it can only be resolved by “putting the man before the dollar.”

Back when it was a federal union within the AFL, some of the new locals were allowed to affiliate with IAM. Later on, they realized that IAM intended to split off the craft workers. That’s when they bolted the AFL. There was already a lot of turmoil within the IAM-associated locals, because IAM had a “white male” provision for membership. All the locals were new, industrial unions. Some were “federal unions” and some were in the IAM. They all bolted together to form UE. This took place around the same times that UAW was getting established (1935-8).

Pg 103 5/26/38 House Un-American Activities Committee formed by House of Representatives as a response to the LaFollette committee. HR282 formed it, and it became known as “Dies committee”. Sponsor of the Bill was Martin Dies of East Texas “unreconstructed southern Democrat”. A fink named “Colonel” Frey came from the AFL to accuse CIO members and made quite a plash. New York Times headline “Communists Rule the CIO.” Some of those named were John Brophy of Mineworkers and Director of the CIO; James Matles, michael Quill TWU, Walter Reuther of UAW, …

Pg 115 Matles appeared before Dies committee. Asked for S 1970 (LaFollette bill) to pass to stop outrageous employer behavior. He predicted that without it, “The practice of industry in employing spies, stirkebreakers and finks will continue to flourish as in the past.” The bill didn’t happen but Matles prediction did.

Pg 117-8: John Brophy: “Redbaiting, lies, slanders, raising the cry of ‘communists’ against militant and progressive union leaders, is nothing more than a smokescreen for the real objective of the people that use them. The real objective is to kill the CIO, destroy collective bargaining, destroy the unity of the organized and unorganized that the CIO is building through the nation.”

Pg 118: “Walter Reuther, then a young organizer and officer of the United Auto Workers, made a comment on Frey’s performance: ‘Now the bosses are raising a scare – the Red Scare. They pay stools to go around whispering that so-and-so, usually a militant union leader, is a Red. What the bosses actually mean, however, is not that he is really a Red. They mean they do not like him because he is a loyal, dependable union man, a fighter who helps his brothers and sisters and is not afraid of the boss. So let us all be careful that we do not play the bosses’ game by falling for the Red Scare. No union man worthy of that name will play the bosses’ game. Some may do so through ignorance—but those who peddle the Red Scare and know what they are doing are dangerous enemies of the union.’”

Pg 139: November 1945, Truman called a Labor-Management Conference. “CIO proposals for immediate wage increases to make up the 30 percent loss in real wages and a demand for firm price controls across the board were defeated by the combined votes of corporation executives and representatives of the AFL.”

Pg 140 “On November 21, 1945, the first strike in mass production industry began when the Auto Workers under the leadership of vice-president Reuther shut down the auto plants of General Motors.”  I think the UE joined this strike, but signed contracts before the UAW. Later on, Reuther would use this as his reason for raiding the UE.

Pg 146: heads of GM and GE were both named Charles E Wilson. “engine charlie” and “electric charley”

“Despite his public expression of satisfaction with the outcome of the strike, Reuther was deeply disappointed and embittered. He blamed the Chrysler and Ford settlements made by his own union, and the settlements of the Steel Workers and UE with U.S. Steel and the GM electrical division, for the failure to get the additional one cent from General Motors. This episode was the first of a series of developments over the next few years that produced a complete break in the relationship between UE and the Auto Workers. The break lasted for more than two decades. It was not until the winter of 1969-1970 that Reuther and Secretary-Treasurer Emil Mazey met with Fitzgerald and Matles and agreed to join forces in another nationwide strike struggle against a powerful corporation.”

Pg153 3/5/46 at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, Prime Minister Winston Churchill launched the cold war with a call for a political and military buildup by ‘English speaking peoples” to contain communism. Truman, seated on the platform, indicated by his presence, and by a cordial response to the Churchill remarks, his endorsement of the cold war proposition, upon which U.S. foreign policy was soon to be exclusively based and domestic policy oriented accordingly. UE denounced it: “…we must take the lead in the fight to prevent American monopolists from dragging the world into war.”

Pg 155: Electric Charlie Wilson in Oct 1946 “The problems of the United States can be captiously summed up in two words: Russia abroad, labor at home.”

Pg 169: One reason unions gave for signing the Taft-Hartley affidavits were that it would help them organize in the reactionary south. They organized almost nobody and “operation Dixie,” after spending hundreds of thousands, was abandoned. I think in 1948.

Pg 170: Matles in 1948 CIO meeting “But we will not rush to that Taft-Hartley line-up for the simple reason it is not a chow line. It is a line where they are dishing out poison.”

Pg 192 “The Auto Workers, in good standing with the Taft-Hartley board, followed a strategy of petitioning the board for elections in UE organized shops, wherein the UE would be barred from appearing on the ballot.” They explain the process here and there. Companies could call for union elections any time they wanted to, and they did. They worked closely with the raiding unions. UAW was first and worst, but Steelworkers and other unions raided UE even before IUE was created.

Pg 194-5. After years of protesting the raids without relief, the UE stopped paying dues to the CIO and stayed away from the November 1949 convention in Cleveland, whereupon they were “expelled.” That convention created the IUE. Murray installed James Carey, CIO secretary who had been voted out of UE office in 1941, as president. He then issued a call to all UE locals to come to the convention and join the IUE-CIO.

Pg 205: Chapter “McCarthyism and Humphreyism” clarifies the rotten careers of two of America’s worst “rightist” and “leftist” politicians.

There are some really good lessons about fighting and bargaining. A bosses’ technique known as “Boulwarism” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boulwarism#:~:text=Boulwarism%20is%20the%20tactic%20of,Boulware%2C%20who%20promoted%20the%20strategy) is especially edifying.

On pg 295 they explain the problems of new technology and rising productivity. Labor never got a decent share.

Pg 298 “In 1947, at the start of the cold war, the income of the lowest fifth of all families in the U.S. was 5 ½ percent of total national income. Whereas that of the highest fifth of families, in 1947, was 41 ½ percent. In 1972 the breakdown remained exactly the same. No change.” The authors seem to consider those ratios outrageous, but I wonder what they would have said in 2007 when statisticians talked about “the bottom 90%”?

Pg 304: Good summary of the whole period on the last page of the book: “The CIO objective of the 1930s – to implant industrial unionism in the shops of mass production – had been achieved. But the drive toward long-range objectives – organizing the millions of workers still unorganized, developing a strong independent political movement, redistributing the national wealth and income – was derailed by the corporate anti-labor offensive conducted during a quarter-century of cold and hot war. In the seventies, then, these objectives still remain to be won.”

–Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON’s “Workers Beat” talk show every Saturday at 9AM Central Time. They podcast it and an additional “Workers Beat Extra” every Wednesday. If you care curious about what I really think, check out my personal web site

Book Review:

Walter, Jess, “The Cold Millions.” Big Text,Inc, Harper, New York, 2020

There is a rave review from the Washington Post.

Jess Walter lives in Spokane, Washington. The book is about his town during 1909-10, the time of the great free speech fight of the Industrial Workers of the World. It’s fiction, but everything seems to fit. The point of view changes with each chapter, but the central character, by right of survival since his final chapter is the end of the book, is a teenager named Ryan Dolan. Dolan and his older brother are what we would today call migrant workers, but in their day were simply tramps.

The Spokane Free Speech fight is well noted in labor history, but nobody imagined what it may have been actually like in those days until this book. For example, we know that the IWW members were arrested after mounting soap boxes, one by one, and attempting to exercise their constitutional right to speak out. Many of them, just for irony’s sake, were arrested for having tried to read the Declaration of Independence.  In all, over 500 workers were incarcerated in Spokane and suffered terribly.

The IWW’s strategy was to fill the jails until the public, especially taxpayers, demanded their release and respect for constitutional rights. It was nonviolent resistance long before Gandhi and Martin Luther King popularized the term. The greatest hero of the Spokane fight was IWW organizer Frank Little, but he barely appears in this book because he spent the entire period in jail. The Dolan brothers were in and out.

Fortunately for the readers, the other giant labor figure from Spokane is prominent in Walter’s depiction. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, the “Rebel Girl” orator from the IWW, may well be credited with having originated the “fill the jails” strategy earlier in Missoula, Montana. She and Frank Little were successful there. Little carried the strategy forward several times in several western cities for some of the most romantic chapters in American labor history.

If you know your history, you know that Flynn was there and that the publicity she generated was largely responsible for the success in Spokane. You might not know, though, that she was nineteen years old and far-gone pregnant when she did it!

I have always imagined the IWW workers mounting their soapboxes in a more or less orderly fashion, then being handcuffed and led off by the police. That’s how civil disobedience is carried out in our day. But Walters makes it clear that it couldn’t have been orderly at all. He describes it as shrieking bedlam, and, when you think about it, you realize that it must have been as he says.

The whole book is like that. History alive and real.

-Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON’s “Workers Beat” talk who every Saturday at 9 AM Central Time. On Wednesdays, they podcast it along with “Workers Beat Extra.” If you are curious about what I really think, check out my personal web site

Perry Bacon Jr wrote an editorial “American Democracy is in Even Worse Shape Than You Think” in the Washington Post.

I re-posted it on Facebook and Twitter because it’s a very good think piece and deserves general consideration. Americans really must consider the likelihood of a fascist takeover.

I respectfully disagree with Bacon as to how things will happen, but not with his direst prediction.

It is not an overstatement to say that Republicans literally tried to overthrow democracy after the 2020 elections. At that point, one would have thought that they might back off a little and play the “loyal opposition” until their next chance for electoral victory. But that is not what they did. To this day, they are continuing the same policies that led to the January 6th putsch.

Beyond January, Republicans have consistently undermined democracy everywhere that they hold power.

Bacon warns that Republicans are likely to win the 2022 Mid-Term Elections. His strongest argument is the historical trend for first-time presidents to lose in their first mid-term challenge. He points out, correctly, that Republicans who control Congress will certainly, surely, refuse to ratify the 2024 presidential race if they do not win it outright. That’s reasonable to assume, because that’s what they tried to do in 2020 when they had clearly lost.

He May be Wrong, But He’s Right

Here’s where I disagree with Bacon before I agree with him. I don’t think the Republicans are likely to win in 2022. I’m not even sure they are planning to try. Certainly, the antidemocratic, racist, chauvinistic policies they are pursuing are not building a “big tent” of voters. They are avoiding all truth. Their “base” is shrinking down to the most racist and superstitious.

In the long term, civilized people are becoming more technologically capable, more educated, and more sophisticated while the Republicans deliberately appeal only to the most backward. That’s why I don’t expect them to succeed as an electoral party unless the Democrats throw away their advantage with an ideological split or allow a major economic disaster before the election.

In other words, the Republican party is getting smaller. The catch is that it’s getting more fascistic.

History Foretells

In 1931, Hitler’s fascist party was very small. They gained a tiny plurality in that election because of the worldwide economic catastrophe of 1929. The German Communists, I believe, had a slogan “After Hitler, us!” The Nazis were not a powerful electoral party, but they didn’t have to be. Faced with the likelihood of a Communist takeover, the wealthiest class of Germans went over to Hitler. Everything after that was predictable.

Speaking of Predictions

My prediction is that the Democrats will defeat the Republicans in national elections until the next economic disaster. If you don’t believe there will be another great economic disaster, then you may believe that Democrats will stay in power, but you’d be ignoring the history of our economic system. It has to have an economic disaster. It’s only “when,” never “if.”

Even a relatively small fascist political party is likely to take power in the next crisis, and that crisis will come as sure as God made little green apples. The Democrats will not be able to stop the fascists any more than the Weimar socialists could stop the Nazis.

A Further Prediction

The only hope for the future is to defeat the fascists by organizing around working families. That is what the Germans failed to do in 1931 and what Americans must do now. I predict that we will.

–Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON’s “Workers Beat” radio talk show at 9AM Central Time every Saturday. They post it, along with “Workers Beat Extra” podcast on Wednesdays. If you are curious about what I really think, try my personal web site.

Sixty-five percent of Americans approve of labor unions and would join one if they could, according to a Gallup poll for Labor Day, 2020. Unions love to publicize that 65% figure. But here’s contradicting info: the Amazon organizing drive at Bessemer, Alabama, failed miserably. Despite a high-profile campaign, about 45% of eligible workers didn’t even vote! Of those who did vote, 60% rejected the union.

Longtime union organizer Chris Townsend, while urging unions to keep trying, projects a bleak future:

“You will have many, many, more opportunities to complain about what went wrong in the future failed organizing drives yet to come. Bessemer is merely a milepost on what will be a long and arduous road to organize this piece of the commanding economic heights. Many more losses lie ahead. Strikes and other uprisings are ahead. The union organization of corporate America will be a messy affair. There will be many casualties.”

Should we conclude that one contradictory fact or the other is just an aberration, or should we accept them both as hard data and try to figure out the reason? Straining to find an answer, should we think that everybody really does want a union, just not in their own workplace?

Most unions and union supporters have seized on a single explanation for the Amazon fiasco. They say that the American government is so hostile to working people that we don’t have a chance to organize. Labor law, they argue with considerable credibility, has to be changed! They are correct of course, but there’s a lot more to it.

I resolve the contradiction this way: unionization is genuinely popular in America, but our method of organizing needs changing. I agree with Chris Townsend that many future workplace organizing drives will fail. I just don’t believe that the traditional workplace organizing drive, taken alone, has a bright future. I also don’t expect a lot of immediate help from the government in changing labor law so that traditional workplace organizing drives will start succeeding. We don’t presently have that kind of government.

I believe that the data on union popularity from the 2020 Gallup Poll was correct. Further, I believe that union organizing is far more popular in 2021, because of the lessons learned during the continuing worldwide pandemic. I also believe that the American union movement, led by the AFL-CIO labor federation, is moving toward riding that popularity to real gains for working families.

Unions need more than traditional workplace organizing drives. We need big, national and international, campaigns to educate and mobilize our many supporters toward the goal of power for working families. We need to sign up all our supporters and get them to coordinate their resources meaningfully. We can do that. Given the fact that most Americans carry advanced learning and communications devices around with them, it might not take much time.

Workplace organizing, instead of being the one-and-only-labor-tactic, will become a by-product of a mighty movement. A single electronic source could start that movement and build it into an irresistible force. The AFL-CIO already has a potential tool called “Working America,” but it has not yet been fully implemented. It will, or something like it will, and union popularity will be unleashed at last.

Let’s See

If I am right about the progressive movement coming together with the AFL-CIO, then we are likely to see bigger and more meaningful activities. MayDay will be a test of sorts. In 2020, the AFL-CIO and certain national unions had big celebrations. For many of them, it was their first time to publicly acknowledge International Workers Day. I predict it will be far bigger and better in 2021. It will be based on unions, but not confined to them. MayDay will help unify and direct the progressive movement at last! Let’s see!

-Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON’s “Workers Beat” radio talk show every Saturday at 9AM Central Time. We podcast the program and a more directed program, “Workers Beat Extra” on Soundcloud.com If you are interested in what I really think, take a look at my personal web site.

I am not writing on how to win elections. I am writing on the role of elections within the larger purpose of making fundamental change. Among those with that purpose, I will consider three approaches to the political arena known as elections.

All three groups may agree more than they disagree. They all agree that the two major political parties operating in the United States are controlled by very wealthy owners and employers. They all agree that neither the “better” nor the “worse” candidate intends any fundamental change. They agree that fundamental change will never be on the ballot as long as the owners and employers control the election process.

  1. The first group abstains from elections, or they only participate when their own members are candidates. The Industrial Workers of the World were a good example. They believed that the bosses control the elections, the parties, and the candidates; consequently, the entire process was nothing but a diversion from the real struggles for change. Later variations on this approach make exceptions when their own members run for office because of the opportunities for proselytizing and organizing that elections afford. But even though they have limited participation in elections, they never believe that election outcomes make any difference.

As the election outcomes are a matter of indifference, these partial-abstainers tend to choose races and election opponents that represented ideas closest to their own. The followers of their opponents might be more likely to listen to, or even join, the “revolutionaries” in those races. While these “revolutionaries” may be very smug about their tactic, working families tend to see them as spoilers and wreckers, as in fact they are.

2) I think the second group in this discussion is the more dangerous of the two, because their “road to revolution” sounds easier. They see each election as an opportunity for gradual reforms that will eventually erode away the support of the wealthy bosses in charge. Such activists generally support the “better” candidate instead of the “worse” one, or the “better” party instead of the “worse” one. If that’s all there were to it, they would be relatively harmless. Their errors may not even be noticeable in general elections. But their actions in primary elections are a different matter.

Since they believe that the “better” political party – currently the Democrats – will eventually make revolutionary change, then the activists see their own role as finding and supporting the “more revolutionary” Democratic Party candidates in primary elections against the “less revolutionary” ones.

Excellent examples are active in elections today in the various groups that pursue the politics of Social Democrat Bernie Sanders. Like the “real revolutionaries” in the first group, they also choose to field candidates against those most like them. In those races, they are more likely of success. More importantly, every time they replace a “less revolutionary” candidate with a “more revolutionary” one, they believe they have moved the entire Democratic Party in the direction that they consider revolutionary.

The Bernie-ites take the Republican “Tea Party” movement as their example. Just as the “Tea Party” candidates defeated “less reactionary” primary candidates with “more reactionary” ones, and moved the Republican party in a reactionary direction, then one would think that a similar approach would make the Democratic Party more progressive and, eventually, revolutionary. The wealthy owners currently in charge will, apparently, not notice in time.

3) The third group does not participate in elections in order to manipulate the process. They support parties and candidates who will be of most benefit to working families, both in the long and in the short term. They do not tend to run primary challengers against the candidates most like them. In every race, primary or general, they choose the candidate most beneficial to working families. They do not disdain the electoral process, like the sectarians in the first group, nor do they commit to the “better” party against the “worse” one like the reformists in the second group. Their focus is on building the political power of working families in the election arena, just as they do in every other arena of political struggle.

Electoral politics is not nearly the only way that power is won and change is made. It may not even be the most important arena. It is certainly part, though, of the necessary process of building an effective coalition benefitting and led by working families. Such a coalition is the only possible remedy to wealthy owner control of our society.

–Gene Lantz

I’m on “Workers Beat” radio talk show on knon.org at 9 AM Central Time every Saturday. On Wednesdays, they podcast the program and another “Workers Beat Extra” on Soundcloud.com. If you are curious about what I really think, check out my personal web site

I don’t know what happened to the little dog before she sashayed across Sixth Street at Beckley in Dallas 12 years ago. There, in that intersection, is where we met. I know she didn’t have a collar or any sign that she belonged to anybody. I learned later that she was a chewer, like many young dogs; consequently, I have assumed that somebody tethered her outside somewhere in the Western Oak Cliff section of town. If they did, she would certainly have chewed her way to freedom.

I also learned, later on, that she was about six months old and that she had worms. I learned that she was at least part Cocker Spaniel, but that her peculiar “underbite” (her lower teeth projected past her upper teeth—making her just as ugly as she was cute when you didn’t notice her underbite) made her no good for breeding. This “no good for breeding” argument was used by the vet to convince me to have her spayed.

Noting that the dog could really be ugly at some angles, I wanted to name her “Golem.” But Elaine wouldn’t hear of it.

Within a couple of weeks, the little dog we named “Precious” had eaten Elaine’s glasses and ripped the wiring from the back of her computer. Damages in the hundreds of dollars. That wasn’t nearly the most expensive bad habit she had. She also killed our other dog.

Or at least, that was my version of what happened, although Elaine always gave Precious the benefit of the doubt. When the little dog came into our lives, we already had a handsome German Shepherd. He was an extremely good dog, even in his old age. He was tolerant of the new puppy who jumped around on him and constantly invited him to play. Old Buck’s heart gave out a few days after Precious appeared, and I always blamed her, but it was just to tease Elaine.

Rambunctious is an insufficient word for Precious. In those days, our furniture was just what we could afford and mostly from the Salvation Army. Precious could start in the dining room with one big jump, then she would hit the Elaine’s chair, then mine, and then spring, one jump each,  onto the couch. Then she’d gambol her way back to the dining room and start again. Like children, she was fun to watch but hard on the furniture.

Precious would eat anything. I started telling people, when they asked about her pedigree, that she was part Cocker Spaniel and part goat. The pest control people had assured us that no pets had ever been known to eat their rat poison since time began. But Precious got right into it as soon as she found some.

There went $1,500 for a complete blood transfusion and a couple of weeks of rehabilitation at the vets. I made a video when we visited her, “The little dog will live.” I’m sure I put it on YouTube, but now I can’t find it. Precious went on during her long career of costing us more and more until she became, today, probably the most expensive pet that ever lived!

To think, on that first day together, I considered her a free dog!

Getting back to the first day and the street corner where we met, I was just starting my long walk around Lake Cliff Park. I didn’t touch the little dog, but I talked to her, and she followed. Well, she didn’t exactly follow, she was usually ahead of me, but she kept looking back and she stayed near me while I went twice around the 1-mile course and then home. When we got home, I asked Elaine if we could keep her and she said yes. Then I touched the little fuzzy dog for the first time. Before that, I didn’t know she was a female.

As I said, Precious was horribly ugly when one looked directly into her teeth. But from the side, she seemed to have a perpetual smile, almost an audible laugh. Her little stub was always wagging. Elaine and I habitually gave her anything we imagined she might want. When one of us would look askance, the other would give the universal explanation for giving in to the little dog, “She gave me puppy eyes.”

We developed a lot of running jokes about our our little dog. Nothing malicious. For example, we used to say that we were very disappointed that she hadn’t learned to read. Elaine tried to get her to count about two (the number of plates she cleaned after mealtimes), but it was no go.

After 2014, when I had my heart attack, I told Precious that she should have her medical license revoked. We had always heard that people who had dogs had less chance of heart attack. So I pretended to blame Precious for mine. Elaine said that Precious was still batting .500, because only one of us had a heart attack under the dog’s watch.

I always tease Elaine about being too soft on the dog. She says I’m worse.

Not that Precious didn’t have any bad personality flaws. She is intolerant of other dogs, but she never gives them any indication until they get really close. She doesn’t growl at them or posture the way other dogs do. She ignores other dogs until they are close enough for her to bite.

Her other really serious characteristic is intense hatred for the U.S. Post Office. No mailman is safe from Precious if she can get at them. We often worried about getting smacked with a major lawsuit, but mostly we were able to keep her away from them. To her credit, though, we can state today that no mailman has ever successfully smashed their way into our house nor molested either Elaine or me. Not one in 12 years.

Even today, she barks hysterically whenever she thinks the mail might be coming. As she has lost her hearing, she doesn’t really know when they come, but her imagination is working fine.

Precious went everywhere with me unless it was too hot for her to be in the car. That is, she went everywhere with me until about a year ago. That’s when Precious seemed to give up on exercise. She didn’t want to leave the house. She slept almost all the time. About two weeks ago, she even curbed her voracious appetite. The vet (for $641) said she had congestive heart failure and sold us some pills.

She perked up some and even went, once, on a short walk with us. Then about a week ago, Precious started to fall down. She would have spasms on the floor and would be unable to rise. She would just lie there and look directly at us with her big brown Cocker Spaniel eyes. Eventually, she’d get up and act as if nothing had happened. But sooner or later, she’d fall again. The vet calls it “syncope” or something like that. It means that she passes out. She is in the “intermediate” stages of heart failure.

She also started peeing in the house. To be fair, some of her heart medicine is diuretic. It’s the first time in 12 years. My office chair is sitting on a wet floor even as I write this. Fortunately, my sense of smell isn’t any better than my dog’s.

Day after tomorrow, I have been asked to accompany Precious and Elaine to the vet. Elaine says we have to make some decisions. The vet, I’m sure, will (for a price) give us some kind of formulaic outline for whether Precious should live or die. Or the vet will give us some kind of timetable as to when we have to make a decision.

-Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON’s “Workers Beat” radio talk show every Saturday at 9AM Central Time. We podcast it and another short audio on Soundcloud.com every Wednesday morning. If you are curious about what I really think, check out my personal web site

One of the two major parties is becoming fascist!

We saw a small but ugly part of the Republican Party terrorizing Congress on January 6. Did you notice that Trump never disassociated from them? Have you noticed, since then, that the majority of the Republican Party has not disassociated from Trump? A majority of Republicans in Congress voted to overthrow the elections even AFTER the terror attack. Republican Congressmen are circling their wagons around Trump as the impeachment trial approaches. Devout trumpsters continue to be placed in Republican Party power. That includes their national party head!

Are the Democrats Worried?

Democrats are not worried, because Trump is dragging his party down as well as backward. Democrats may find them easy to beat in near future elections.

I’ve only seen a few actual statistics on how many people are leaving the Republican Party: 2,000 in Arizona,  5,855 in North Carolina, 4,600 in Colorado. We won’t get a clear idea how many are leaving before the next national election. Some states, like mine, don’t even keep track of party registration. However, we can assume that the Republican Party, which has been the minority in popular votes for several election cycles, will be smaller. Smaller and more fanatical.

Should We Be Worried?

Damnright we should be worried! Even with a somewhat diminished official membership, the Republican Party is still one of the two massive parties. America has gone from having two parties firmly committed to limited democracy to having only one. The Republican party of today has shown its willingness to dispense with democracy altogether. That is fascist!

Did Hitler and the Nazis have a majority party? No, they took power with a plurality of voters. In fact, they weren’t even considered an important electoral threat before the great depression began in 1929. But that one crisis was enough to catapault them to power.

America today is one crisis away from fascism.

What Can Be Done?

United workers are the only force capable of stopping fascism. Fortunately for America, we have a progressive union movement around which we can unite. That’s the course that should be followed. It’s the path to victory and a positive future.

–Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON’s “Workers Beat” radio talk show every Saturday at 9AM Central Time. We podcast the radio show and another narrative every Wednesday morning on Soundcloud.com. If you are curious about what I really think, check out my old personal web site.

Book Review:

Windham, Lane, “Knocking on Labor’s Door. Union Organizing in the 1970s and the Roots of a New Economic Divide.” University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 2017

Capitalism is said to have begun in the middle of the 17th century in England. Workers and bosses have been fighting since then. Any period in that great long battle for democracy, dignity and a living wage would be an interesting period.

picketing

This author chose the 1970s in the United States. Certain underlying economic and social developments made it a period of interesting class warfare.

  • The civil rights movement and the women’s movement had created a more diversified, and more militant bunch of activists into organizable workplaces
  • The “American Century” of economic domination over the war-weary victims of World War II was noticeably beginning to end
  • America’s most devoted and seasoned labor activists had been driven away by the great witch hunt that began in 1946. Union militancy had turned into “business unionism.”

Union density peaked at about 35% of the workforce earlier, but unions still had about 20% of the workforce in the early 1970s. Union members had far better wages, better benefits, better pensions, and better jobs than the workforce at large. Part of the consequence of getting more for union members while ignoring other workers was increasing isolation for the unions.

Nevertheless, young people wanted to unionize. They fought hard. For the most part in the 1970s, they lost. One could argue that the events from 1947’s Taft Hartley law to 1970 had foreordained that labor would lose, but that isn’t Mr. Lane’s argument. It’s mine.

Lane argues that companies simply worked harder at union busting. They increasingly won government over to their side. By the end of the 1970s, when Ronald Reagan was elected, the downhill slide was evident to everyone. In 1995, maybe a little late, the AFL-CIO started trying to adjust to the new situation.

One shining light in Lane’s book is the early success of an organization called “9 to 5.” They organized women to fight for the workplace rights that the larger women’s movement had won through federal legislation. The idea of organizing outside the control of government authorities like the National Labor Relations Board was a good one, and they had some early successes. However, it didn’t last.

In fact, most of the hopes that young activists may have had for union organizing in the 1970s were crushed. This is not a happy book to read. I wish he had chosen the 1990s, when American labor began to show some real promise.

–Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON’s “Workers Beat” talk show every Saturday at 9AM Central Time. We podcast it and “Workers Beat Extra” dialogue on Wednesdays on Soundcloud.com. If you are curious about what I really think, check out my old personal site.

The last caller on my radio talk show Saturday said, “I don’t know what to believe.” Then we ran out of time. Nearly always, I am able to draw out the right wing critics who call. Within 4 or 5 exchanges, their underlying motivation is exposed. I realize, though, that a lot of people, sincere and insincere, are saying that same thing during the Trump era of “alternate facts.”

The woman who doesn’t know what to believe launched her criticism against me by revealing that the Washington Post, which I had quoted earlier as one of my sources of news, is owned by the richest man in the world. In other words, whatever news I had announced was compromised, because it came from people who are under the control of Jeff Bezos.

If we had more time, I would have drawn her out. I’m pretty sure she would eventually have admitted that she does know what to believe. She just doesn’t want to believe it. More importantly, she doesn’t want anybody else to believe it. I’ve had similar puzzles written into the comment sections of my Facebook posts. Some of them say that the January 6th rioters weren’t really Trump supporters, but disguised Trump haters who were trying to discredit him! That’s too far fetched to even consider, but major spokespersons, including the Attorney General of Texas, are saying it.

Some of the other comments to my Facebook posts kind of try to chip away at the facts. “The rioting crowd included pro- and anti- Trump people” one guy said. But the biggest ruse of all is just to change the subject. In the discussion about the riot, one of my perpetual detractors accused me of being for gun control. Another one said that nothing I had to say could be right because I hadn’t “accepted Jesus Christ.”

I’m leading up to a point here. The point is that some Trump supporters, maybe most of them, just want to believe whatever they want to believe. Facts are just in their way.

This may seem like a digression, but I also noticed on Facebook that somebody from a national Catholic organization said that Catholics should take their share of the blame for the assault on democracy. I rather agree, but not because of the instances he quoted.

The problem of selective belief is much broader than Trumpism. There are lots of selective believers on the anti-Trump side, too. A lot of them are religious. Religion, all religion including the Catholic religion, encourages us to believe things that we know could not be true. They call it “faith.” I call it misleading, dangerous, and often hurtful.

Truth comes to us directly through our senses. “Not truth,” the nonsense people prefer to believe, comes to us through our imagination. We all develop a set of prejudices that we usually refer to as “common sense.” For most decisions, it’s pretty helpful. But it’s a great hindrance when things happen to us that haven’t happened before. We need to consult the facts, not our store of prejudices.

All philosophy falls under one of two headings: materialism and idealism. The materialist believes facts and science. The idealist believes whatever they want. Individuals cross the line between the two philosophies depending on what is at stake. They might believe science when stricken with a deadly disease; they might fall back on superstition when problems are less urgent.

But what does all this have to do with January 6th and the woman who called the radio station?

Everyone with internet connection has seen reams of facts from all kinds of sources about the January 6th riot. They know what happened, what happened beforehand and what happened afterward. For some, their layer of prejudices is more important than facts. So they challenge the information sources and say, “I don’t know what to believe.”

As for Jeff Bezos, surely the woman realizes that virtually ALL, not just the Washington Post, commercial media in America are owned by the very wealthy.  It’s important to keep that in mind and be suspicious, but it doesn’t prevent people from being able to make up their minds about factual developments. They can decide what to believe. They just don’t want to.

–Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON’s “Workers Beat” talk show every Saturday at 9AM Central Time. We podcast it, along with “Workers Beat Extra” commentary on Soundcloud.com. If you are curious about what I really believe, look at my old personal web site.