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Friday, August 26, 2005

Solidarity forever forsaken

Not only are passengers and other union members crossing the picket lines of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) strike against Northwest Airlines--members of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) are serving as scabs! The WSWS has the details on what appears, truly, to be the last throes of organized labor in the U.S.

Ominously, Northwest's strikebreaking policy may come crashing in on them--literally:
Many of the workers said Northwest’s safety was being seriously compromised due to the use of strikebreakers. Barry estimated that only about 30 percent of the replacements had experience repairing the type of planes used by Northwest.

Mike said, “We’re not getting fair coverage in the media. According to them, everything is hunky dory. Well, it’s not. The workers they have now can fix the reading light and change the oil or other small things, but the bigger things like repairing the auto pilot or an engine problem, they can’t. Sometimes you have to read between the lines of the manual, because it’s not all there. There are a lot of things you learn over the years through experience, which these new people don’t have.”
Of course, the union is getting LOTS of supports from the Democratic politicians they helped to elect--NOT:
Many of the picketing workers expressed disgust and disillusionment with the Democratic Party. Mike said the two main parties act as “one party.”

When asked about the Democratic Party, Tonya said, “I haven’t seen anyone out here. I haven’t seen any of them on the news. When it is time to vote, they expect us to go out and vote for them. However, when it comes to a strike, they are not there. That says it all. Maybe the Democratic Party is the Republican Party in disguise.”
It was Bill Clinton, after all, who pushed NAFTA and the WTO on the American people, guaranteeing that we'd have to participate in the grueling race to the bottom known as globalization. Fifty, even thirty years ago, American workers had some actual power. Now they have none. Divide and conquer--the strategy that has worked for the wealthy elite for centuries.

[Update] Lee Sustar has a good article on the strike at Counterpunch.