Tuesday, December 19, 2006

US Army to break strike.

Either show solidarity against the war, or wear a yellow ribbon for the scabs. That's the message of a new report in the Financial Times, which says that the army is being called on to break a strike at a Goodyear plant in Kansas. The company wants to shed unionised jobs and cut future health benefits for workers. The army is "considering measures to force striking workers back to their jobs" because they are facing a potential shortage of tyres for Humvee trucks.

The Bush administration has been very aggressive in dealing with the labour movement, especially since they threatened to use troops against dockworkers in 2002. The administration has been one of the most labour-bashing governments in living memory, blocking strikes in crucial airlines (Forbes magazine and its ilk are always complaining about the strength of airline unions), turning back gains made by workers in the 1990s and devising laws that undermine employer-sponsored healthcare. His administration has overseen sustained cuts to American workers' wages, which - aside from not rising at all from 1973 to 2000 for non-supervisory workers (ie 80% of the working population) - have fallen in real terms for the last six years. The last time real wages sank so dramatically was during the 1980s, and they only recovered the loss in the late 1990s when employment was picking up on the back of a stock market bubble, thus temporarily improving the bargaining power of labour.

However, this strike-breaking is somewhat different. The open motivation is not only to bash labour, but to sustain Bush's murderous war in Iraq. They intend to use the Taft-Hartley Act, which even a right-wing bastard like Harry Truman considered a "slave labor bill" when it was passed, to find some measure to force the workers back into the factories. And if they refuse to buckle? Cops bashing in heads on picket lines, perhaps? The invocation of the Military Commissions Act? I don't know how the American antiwar groups are responding to this, but it seems obvious that this is would be a good time to raise money and run petitions for the strikers. What's the Matter With Kansas?, your man wants to know. It's being attacked by capital, that's what. Bring a bucket load of cash down to the picket line in Kansas, see if anyone's going on about the 'culture wars' then.