• authored by Members for Democracy
  • published Sat, Dec 6, 2003

Who among you shall lead?

We are being lulled into a fitful stupor by the leaders of our unions and our rich and powerful employers who want us to believe that there is nothing that can be done to turn the tide against their attacks upon us in their relentless pursuit of profit.

Alex Grant, former president of CUPE Local 2278 states that "90% of the battle exists within our own unions to ensure they have a militant and democratic leadership. When that is true, nothing will stop us".

That would be a good start. But how likely is it to ever to happen within the mainstream labour movement? Not in your wildest dreams. From what we can see, militancy is frowned upon by the leaders of our mainstream unions. It makes for bad relations with employers and uncomfortable moments with the leaders of the biz unions that control the Canadian house o' labour. Democratic leadership is a complete non-starter. Introduce democracy to your union and you might not be the leader much longer. Get real.

Canadian Labour Congress President Ken Georgetti last showed some militancy in 1987 when, as President of the British Columbia Federation of Labour, he led unionized workers in British Columbia in the largest one-day general strike in Canadian history and imposed a five-year boycott to protest oppressive labour laws implemented by the Social Credit government. But Georgetti moved on from this kind of militancy to a concept he called "intelligent militancy": Changing the world through pension fund investing. More than a decade later, the world hasn't changed for the better for working people but a lot of enterprising businessmen are much better off.

On Saturday February 23rd, 2002 more than 30,000 trade unionists, non-union workers, students, welfare recipients and concerned others marched militantly on the British Columbia legislature to protest against the class war policies of the provincial Liberal government in British Columbia.

Some of the crowd of 30,000 chanted for a general strike, but IWA-Canada President Dave Haggard was quick to dismiss a one-day protest strike, let alone a larger action. Haggard was perhaps practicing the "intelligent militancy" of CLC labour guru Georgetti.

Putting a positive spin on your own cowardice is a technique used by elitists of every persuasion. It's worked very well inside the Canadian labour movement. The conflicts within the "House of Labour Leaders" that exploded in the 1950's, 60's and 70's over issues like militancy and democracy turned into some of the most vicious battles between unions in our history. Those battles are long forgotten. They're never mentioned in any of the official histories of our great unions. It's almost as though the whole thing - an unpleasant time before intelligent militancy was discovered - never happened.

Thanks to the intelligent militancy of Georgetti and his crew, business has never been better between unions and their business partners. Workers' anger at their sweetheart deals threatens the stability of the house o' labour. The place may start falling apart block by block any time now. It's hard to believe that at one point the IWA was one of the most militant unions in Canada.

The CLC's House of Intelligently Militant Labour Leaders claims to represent 2.5 million Canadian workers, but workers are becoming more and more reluctant to accept the CLC as their governing body. Who can blame them? The intelligent cowardice of some of the CLC's largest unions has turned hundreds of thousands of decent jobs into McJobs while union leaders are living larger than ever.

The anti-worker legislation passed by the British Columbia Liberal Party is far more devastating and demoralizing than the legislation passed while on Georgetti's watch in 1987, but there is no action by union leaders anywhere. It's as if that whole unpleasantness isn't happening either. Maybe it isn't. It could be that thousands of workers are just dreaming it - just like they're dreaming about militant, democratic union leaders.

Our labour leaders are becalmed and directionless in a churning capitalist sea where they think they can change the world by loaning the capitalists their members' money. All they're getting, however, is a reputation as pushovers.

Action must be initiated for momentum to build. A spark must be lit for there to be a fire. Labour leaders have shown reluctance for any action other than wheeling and dealing with their members' funds, leaving millions of workers disillusioned and isolated. There's no relief in sight. The intelligently militant will keep busy playing with their money as long as there's some to be had.

If workers want change, the spark is going to have to come from with the workers' ranks. Union leaders will hang on to what they have amassed - with a sort imperialist militancy. They don't really care what happens to the worker drones as long as they keep delivering the honey. If you are getting the disquieting sense that your union leaders are flicking you the finger, it's because they are. That's that imperialist militancy again.

Who among you shall lead? The time is here for transformational leaders to step forward to lead the rebellion against the corporate gluttons and their dimwitted union leader buddies.

Transformational leaders are fearless leaders. They are there for the Power Source and the groups they belong to. They are not there strictly for themselves, so they do not fear as much for themselves, their accumulated power and trappings of wealth.

They look at power as something to share with friends and to give away whenever and wherever possible. They teach and share knowledge.

The Biz-Union Blues - The Future's Uncertain and the End is Almost Here

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