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I think we should do something about upcoming union contract negotiations. As I understand it, the contract between General Motors and the United Autoworkers Union elapses in mid September. It’s important.

Relatively speaking, the autoworkers have some of the best contracts in America. True, their contracts aren’t as good as they were; but everybody else’s pay and working conditions have been suffering about the same way, so the autoworkers are still ahead. Relatively speaking.

If things go along the way they have been going, the union leadership will take some concessions and sign a new contract early on. If things go along the way they have been going, the membership will grumble but stay on the job. The union will grow weaker.

Most of the time, things do go along the way they have been going. But not always. Sometimes the tiny steps of a trend begin to add up to a giant step, and some fundamental changes occur. In the case of General Motors, too many straws are already on the camel’s back. The announcement of five major plant closures this year was more than just a single straw! The UAW may be forced to strike, if things go along the way they have been going – against working people –, the strike could be disastrous for all of us, not just for the autoworkers.

That’s why we need to start thinking, now, about how we can help.

Take a look backward


The sit-in at GM made history

The successful strike against General Motors in Flint, Michigan, in 1937 was a gigantic breakthrough for America’s working families. The old craft union mold, organizing only the most skilled workers, was broken forever. Unions starting industrial organizing. In other words, everybody in a given industry joined the same union. It didn’t matter if they were skilled or unskilled, black, brown, or white. Women were welcomed. Everybody joined the same union, and, in 1937, that union was the UAW!

Almost immediately, the low-paid and exploited assembly line workers in the auto industry shot to the top of the pay scale. Detroit became the richest per-capita city in America. Other unions followed the example, and economic inequality took a nose dive for the first and only time in capitalist history!

So it matters what happens to the UAW.

Take a look forward

Despite the careful camouflage of the pundits, there is only one reason for the weakening of America’s unions. It isn’t outsourcing because we could be bringing up the wages and living conditions of foreign workers. It isn’t automation because we could be shortening the work week every time productivity climbs. It isn’t some psychological problem.

American unions have been on the decline since government policy turned against us. If government policy were organized around the idea of benefitting Americans, working people would prosper. Instead, they have been cutting us at every opportunity and they intend to continue.

Take a look around

Many progressive activists are involved in a myriad of causes. But one of them should be, must be, support for union contract negotiations. It’s the bosses or us. Which side are you on?

Fortunately for us, the school employees are showing us how to win. Major victories for working families are being won by teachers and other school workers. The reason is simple: they have friends everywhere. Teacher can barely announce a concerted action before students, parents, churches, and community groups swoop in to help them.

Sure, it’s not like that in manufacturing. People don’t see the autoworkers as their community pals the way they see the school workers. They don’t see any stake for themselves in whether or not the autoworkers prevail over General Motors. That’s what we need to overcome.

Starting now, let’s start building support for every union in every contract negotiation. Let’s pay particular attention to the big national contracts that have far-reaching effects. Remember the Teamsters in their UPS contract back around 2006? The Teamsters won big time because they started early and they developed wide support for their contract negotiations.

Let’s do it for the autoworkers in September, starting now!

–Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON’s “Workers Beat” program at 9 AM Central Time every Saturday. If you want to know what I really think, check out my personal web site

Does anybody know what they want?

Progressive activists chase after first one golden cause after another. One day it’s immigrant rights, and the next day it’s something else. All of us are like that because there are so many challenges and opportunities, and they come at us from different angles almost every day.

But, ultimately, what do we actually want? What would meet all the challenges and fulfill all the opportunities?

I’ve been trying to answer that question for some time. I’ve written three short novels about what people might do once a major transition of power had taken place. All my long anguishing boils down to this:

We want a world where all concerned people are organized and in charge. Afterward, we want them to remain organized and in charge while they do their best to end suffering and meet human needs.

What would that look like?

There are two fundamental organizing patterns: workplace and community. Through the past century, our unions were responsible for most of the uplifting that took place. Community groups have also made contributions, but they have tended to be more transitory. If everybody belonged to a workplace organization or to a community group, or to both, then everybody would be organized. Their taking power from the plutocrats would follow almost automatically. That’s what we want.

How do we get there?

Today, we organize ourselves into hundreds of progressive organizations. Most of them are transitory, but every experience in a mass organization is a learning experience. Hardly any of them even intends to take ultimate power, they simply are trying to affect the situation in the here and how. But people within them, and even people who are watching them without participating, are learning.

I often say that it doesn’t make much difference which progressive cause first activates an individual. If they stick to it, they all will eventually reach the same conclusion and tend to join the larger cause.

One of the biggest problems is that they don’t stick to it. A lot of people get discouraged and quit. Hardly anything is as pathetic as listening to older people say, “When I was young and bullet proof I used to believe in causes, but I’ve learned since then that you just can’t fight city hall,” or words to that effect.

So, overcoming discouragement is critical. Right now, people need more inspiration than information. They need to courage to try, and to go on trying.

So here’s the eternal question: “What do I do now?” and here’s the answer: “Promote mass activities that have the potential to bring information and inspiration to working people.” And keep at it!

Book Review:

Taylor,F. Jay, “The United States and the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939,” Introduction by Claude G Bowers, United Printing Services, New Haven, Connecticut, 1956.



Fascist General Franco had a lot of help from his friends

The parents of monsters are not usually examined. Thus it is with the progenitors of World War II, who were in Spain. But if the fascist monster persists, and threatens world havoc again, such an examination is in order. I set out then, to read about the Spanish Republic, Mussolini, and Hitler in the few years leading up to the fascist holocaust.

Historians like to present unassailable facts and feign objectivity. Thus, this author reports only that the Spanish Republic attempted to assert democracy after centuries of monarchy and dictatorship. They were set upon by General Franco and his Moorish troops from Morocco while the “great powers” sat on their hands.





The Abraham Lincoln Brigade is still celebrated with their U.S. magazine

A few thousand untrained internationalists, as many as 3,000 from the United States, joined the fight for democracy. Fascist Italy and Germany supplied tens of thousands of trained soldiers along with modern tanks and aircraft to defeat them. England, France, and the United States went to great lengths to pretend neutrality. Thus, fascism found its military and psychological advantage in its first great step toward taking over all of Europe. The great war became inevitable.

Author F. Jay Taylor cannot completely avoid the same conclusion. On page 189, he says: “In any event, although Roosevelt had some misgivings concerning American Spanish policy, he refused to act and so must share responsibility with Britain and France in contributing to the advent of the Second World War by appeasing Fascist aggressors in Spain.”

The books’ introduction is by the American Ambassador during the period.

Claude G. Bowers is more generous with conclusions. He says that the purpose of the Spanish Republic was “aimed at wiping out the lingering feudalism in the land and the raising of the status of the workers to that of human dignity.” He also says, ““It is a sad commentary on human weakness that while the totalitarians made no secret of their purpose, we democrats did our best to cover it up.”

Having read the book 70 years after its publication, and having read other important sources about the fascist invasion of Spain, I am explicit in my conclusion: The great capitalist powers, including the United States, nurtured European fascism in its infancy because the fascists offered to destroy the socialist bogeyman for them.

They embraced fascism over democracy then and have done it since. Examples include Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Congo, Their current target is Venezuela.

Can one conclude anything else?

-Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON radio’s “Workers Beat” program at 9 AM Central Time every Saturday. If you want to know what I really think, check out my personal web site

I don’t tend to believe the mainstream media about Venezuela because the only people they quote are Trump Administration and a few former state department employees. I also received a few statements with a totally different take on what’s going on.

Today’s newspaper says the usual: “people in Venezuela are in revolt because their failed socialist system has wrecked the economy and, as of now, destroyed their power grid. The United States is for democracy.”

I tend to believe the interview in “Democracy Now,” which says that people on Trump’s side actually burned trucks full of humanitarian aid so they could blame it on the Venezuelan government. Here’s a quote from Pulitzer-Prize winner Glenn Greenwald: “Every time the U.S. wants to start a new war, it does it the same way, which is, it invents some really inflammatory, emotionally wrenching lie that gets people to hate the government they want to topple so much that they set their rationality aside and support the war. So, they claimed North Korea—or, North Vietnam attacked U.S. ships in the Gulf of Tonkin, which was a lie to start the Vietnam War. They claimed that Saddam had been ripping babies out of incubators in Kuwait, to start the Gulf War, which was a lie. They claimed weapons of mass destruction, which was a lie, to start the Iraq War.”

I like the anti-interventionist statement of the Dallas Peace and Justice Center. https://www.dpjc.org/our-messages/178-position-statement-no-u-s-intervention-in-venezuela

Veterans for Peace says, “Veterans For Peace is outraged at the unfolding coup d’etat in Venezuela, which is clearly being orchestrated by the U.S. government.”

Code Pink writes, “The U.S. is orchestrating a coup in Venezuela that is likely to lead to bloodshed — even civil war and U.S. liberal media are willing participants in the “humanitarian aid” PR stunt to make it happen.”

Seventy scholars and experts agreed on a statement calling for negotiations instead of intervention.

The Cuban government made a strong statement about the Venezuelan power failure. “The Revolutionary Government strongly condemns the sabotage perpetrated against the power supply system in Venezuela, which is a terrorist action intended to harm the defenseless population of an entire nation and turn it into a hostage of the non-conventional war launched by the government of the United States…” I wish it didn’t, but it makes sense to me.

As an American trade unionist, I’m most impressed by the long resolution that came from the Chicago Teachers Union. These are the brave and smart people who started today’s round of great labor successes for school workers. They point to the U.S. involvement, specifically Elliott Abrams, President Trump’s current Special Envoy to Venezuela, in the 2002 coup attempt. They continue: “WHEREAS, the U.S. has recently attempted to provoke a border incident with the Maduro government by moving $20 million worth of “aid” to Venezuela after it has frozen the foreign assets of that country, discouraged other countries from doing business with Venezuela, and imposed sanctions that increase the poverty and misery of the general population by costing the Venezuelan government billions  ever year; and

‘WHEREAS, the United Nations, the International Red Cross, and other international relief organizations refused to work with the U.S. on delivering this “aid” to Venezuela, which they say is politically motivated; and the Venezuelan government considers a Trojan Horse for an eventual military invasion’; and

‘WHEREAS, U.S. President Donald Trump, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolden, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have all explicitly stated that U.S. corporations should control the oil resources in Venezuela, which implies that this will be a war for oil; and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that the elected Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro’s “days in office are numbered”; and

‘WHEREAS, the world is still reeling from the war for oil in Iraq, which has left that country in shambles and continues to destabilize the middle east to this day; therefore, be it

‘RESOLVED, that the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) publicly states its opposition to any military invasion of the sovereign state of Venezuela, and insists on dialogue, diplomacy, and negotiation as the means to resolve this crisis; and

‘RESOLVED, that the CTU advocate for the suspension of the current sanctions against Venezuela, and for the U.S. to cease all threats, military mobilization, and interference in the economic and internal politics and affairs of the Venezuelan people; and respect the right of self-determination of this sovereign nation in accordance with U.S. stated commitment to the rule of law; and be it finally

‘RESOLVED, the CTU stands in solidarity with the Venezuelan labor organizations Sindicato Nacional Fuerza Magisterial (SINAFUM)i , Colectivo Clasista de Trabajadores y Trabajadoras de la Educación.ii “Carmen Conzoño” y al Frente Nacional de Lucha de la Clase Trabajadora (FNLCT)iii , and other organizations that oppose the interference in Venezuela’s sovereign affairs and the consequent threat of military intervention.”

Will Democracy Result?

If and when the U.S. takeover is completed, does anybody really expect democracy? Did the Chileans get democracy when the U.S. overthrew their government? Did the Iranians get democracy when the CIA installed the Shah? If the present government of Venezuela is overthrown, you can expect a bloodbath. The way it’s looking right now, it may be a bloodbath either way. Unless we do something!

Take a Stand Before It’s Too Late

–Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON radio’s “Workers Beat” program every Saturday at 9 AM Central Time. If you want to know what I really think, check out my personal web site

It is getting harder to find a Democrat who is not running for president. I have found a few, but they were running for Mayor of Dallas.

So many candidates, so few choices!

I guess they think 2020 will be their electable year, because anybody could beat the presumptive Republican candidate, Donald Trump. But for the rest of us, the giant list of Trump-defeaters is a source of frustration. With so many candidates in the primaries, they are going to expend a large part of the resources and energy they would need to actually win in the general election.

So why are they all running?

One would like to think that each of the candidates running for the Democratic Party presidential nomination is doing it in order to defeat Trump and restore democracy. Or at least they could be running just because they think the Democrats are better than the Republicans.

But we know that’s not really it. If it were true, they’d be looking for the strongest candidate and trying to help him or her over the finish line, not cutting each other’s throats in the primary race.

The sad truth is that nearly all candidates for public office are doing it for opportunistic reasons of their own. In other words, they are advancing their own careers no matter how many times they say they are doing it for us.

The political term “opportunism” generally means sacrificing higher principles for personal gain. It sounds so awful that one would like to think that it’s rare, or at least not customary.

Followers of Bernie Sanders in 2016 are especially angry, and rightfully so, at all the candidates coming forward with most or part of Bernie’s trailblazing 2016 program. If they’re really for Bernie’s program, why aren’t they supporting Bernie?

Opportunism exists in many forms, not just in electoral politics. When a good union representative gets promoted into management, especially into the human relations department, that’s opportunism. It happens a lot. Stool pigeons in the progressive movement are opportunists, and so are so-called progressive leaders who sell out for personal gain.

It’s like polio, AIDS, or malaria, it’s awful and it’s everywhere.

–Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON’s “Workers Beat” program 89.3FM in Dallas at 9 AM central time every Saturday. If you want to know what I really think, check out my personal web site

What Immigration Laws Do You Want?

The Wall is no solution,
but what is?

I sat in on a very nice conversation about immigration the other day. All five of us didn’t like the way things are nor the direction they seem to be heading. At the same time, I don’t think we had very clear ideas about what we’d like to see.

One guy actually had some valuable historical information. He said that the United States hardly had an immigration policy before 1920 when immigration quotas were legally made proportional to the ethnic groups counted in the 1920 census. In other words, if 9% of Eastern Europeans currently live in the United States, then 9% of new immigrants in 1921 are supposed to be Eastern Europeans. That’s the quota system.

One exception, he said, was China. In the 1880’s, they passed the “Chinese Exclusion Act” specifically to keep companies from continuing to bring in Chinese.

He went on to say that the quota system no longer exists. They have some more complicated way of saying who gets in and who doesn’t. He also said that a great many of the undocumented workers in this country today first arrived here legally. Then, instead of going home when their visa was up, they just stayed.

While we were talking history, one participant brought up the fact that the entire Southwestern United States, where all the controversy is, was stolen from Mexico.

As the conversation went on, it became more and more apparent that the immigration “crisis” as described by President Trump and capable of being remedied only by a giant wall is pretty much all nonsense. A wall won’t stop drugs, it won’t stop crime, and it won’t even stop immigrants.

But, I asked everybody, “What do you want?”

Everybody didn’t answer, but one woman said that she wanted immigration matters to be handled more humanely and respectfully. I responded that any attempt to make immigration less unpleasant will result in more immigration. In other words, if things were nicer at the border, there would be more people trying to get in.

She went on to say that United States policies create a lot of problems in other countries. We cause our own immigration problems, she said, and nicer foreign policy would cause people to stay home and not trek to the U.S. border.

And that leads me to the crux of the matter.

Capitalism Creates The Problem

Of course capitalist countries exploit other countries. That’s how it works. Each capitalist nation is a gang’s turf, defended by the gang’s “muscle.” In other words, the very wealthy people of the United States operate within a certain territory that is guarded by their military and police forces. Their “muscle” protects their riches. They foray into other countries, into some other gang’s turf, for purposes of exploitation.

The people suffering the exploitation, rather than starve, tend to pick up and leave. They go where the money is. Right now, the gangs of the United States have the most successful turf the world has ever known, and the exploited peoples of other turfs often want to come here.

Capitalist nations are set up and run by capitalists. The entire idea of a modern nation comes from capitalism.

If we had open borders, which is the only long-term solution to the immigration “problem,” we couldn’t have capitalism. That’s the answer to “What do we want?” No immigration problem. No capitalism.

–Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON’s “Workers Beat” program at 9 Central Time every Saturday. If you are curious about what I really think, check out my personal web site

“It had nothing to do with the wall!” Kenneth Williams explained the recent 35-day government shutdown to the Dallas Chapter of Texas Alliance for Retired Americans meeting on February 6. Williams is a political activist from Rowlett, near Dallas. President George Nolan put Williams on the agenda first.




Kenneth Williams
explained the shutdown

The tipoff, Williams explained, was that Mr Trump had two years in which his party controlled both houses of Congress, yet he didn’t take such drastic action to get his wall. He didn’t do it until the Democrats won the House of Representatives. Williams asked, “If they really wanted money for the wall, why didn’t they do it when they had control of Congress?”

The real reason that Trump provoked the shutdown was to usurp power from Congress. Williams said that Trump was thinking, “We must do something to put them in their place.” But, Williams said, “They underestimated the unity of the Democrats in opposing them.”

Another lesson we learned from the shutdown is that so-called “middle income” job holders don’t have money in reserve. They live paycheck-to-paycheck. The shutdown put a terrible hardship on government employees and contractors. The contractors may never recover.

Will Trump provoke another shutdown? Williams thinks not, because the entire Republican party is not crazy. They know that they lost power and influence and they don’t want any more of it. Williams said, “The Republican Senators are terrified of going through this again.”

One of the activists asked, “How is Trump going to get out of this corner?” Kenneth Williams answered, “He is not going to get out of the corner… he will make up some facts.”

Other retiree activists at the meeting agreed with Williams. Some of them had even stronger statements.

Retiree Meetings Aren’t Just Social Events

The two-hour meeting covered a lot of analysis of the situation confronting retirees followed by recommendations as to how to fight back. Fernando Rojas gave announcements from Senior Source, the local dispenser of government help for retirees. Alliance Field Organizer Judy Bryant went over pending state and federal legislation affecting how retirees live.

Bryant then went on to organize delegations to local congresspersons, voter registration, and other ways that retirees may influence decision makers.