Why are there no MLK’s of Labor?

I’m endlessly dismayed by the lack of leadership and moral courage I observe from people and institutions that I would otherwise expect more of. I posted a Quick Hit at OpenLeft called

“Nobody marched at the One Nation “march””

which was about a diary in FDL called

“Progressive “One Nation” Event a Bit Disappointing, We Didn’t March: ”

in which the question of the lack of strong leadership by unions naturally arises.  The contents of this diary flowed from that discussion.

See Nobody marched at the One Nation “march”

(I’m making a perhaps unjustified assumption that there aren’t any. I’m not a close observer of unions.)

Trumka is weak. Certainly, there must be 100’s of thousands (if not millions) of union members who agree, correct? So, why does not at least one of them step forth, and say “I speak for union members*, even if I’m not an elected leader. I’m calling for marches across the US next month (complete with marching! 🙂 ) and we will be excoriating the Democrats and union ‘leaders’ such as Trumka, along with the Republicans. We stand for protecting American jobs, reversing NAFTA, etc., and we fully intend to work against the re-election of not just Republicans, but Democrats, also, who we judge to be against our interests.

Workers of the nation, unite!”

IOW, why are there no nationally known dissident labor leaders who have a moral center that not only allows them to take risks and show moral courage, but are internally compelled to behave that way? Why are there no MLK’s of labor?

Can you imagine MLK contenting himself with Veal Pen membership??? I sure can’t.

You seem to be suggesting that there are mini-MLK’s of labor, but that still leaves the mystery of why none of them rise to prominence. Even if the corporate controlled media won’t give them any more air time than it gives Noam Chomsky, at least Chomsky has a following. I went to hear him speak at a large auditorium at Princeton University, and it was absolutely packed.

See also my comments about a labor leader that I personally knew who wasn’t weak.

P.S.: This is an aside, but when I protested Bush in Trenton, NJ, there were union guys there with purple T-Shirts. Not a very nice shade of purple, either. They were sad-looking T-Shirts, really, that I wouldn’t be caught dead in. And trust me when I tell you, I’m not into fashion, myself. Clearly, their fashion sense is a secondary issue, but a very real issue, nevertheless.  

What the hell is wrong with those union dudes? Weakling protests, weakling leadership, and purple T-Shirts that don’t pass the snicker test. They need a makeover, inside and out. 🙂

* maybe even the “silent majority” of union members  🙂

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    • metamars on October 5, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Of a country with fewer wusses and sell-outs. Most of them won’t agree with me, but at least I know they stand for something!

    • metamars on October 5, 2010 at 3:22 pm


  1. …. and the entire point of a union is that you are following the leadership and the deals it negotiates on your behalf with “the management.”

    This is such a Republican argument I’m surprised you’re making it, they are constantly b*tching about the unions supposedly ruining everything by making things cost too much, yadda yadda, ignoring the fact that the great majority of American workers are still not unionized (I think it’s down to around a measely 11%) and the percentage keeps dropping.   In CA the Republicans are specifically targeting the teacher’s unions and their pensions as they cozy up to the thought of corporate charity donations funding charter schools, instead of property taxes.

    They know that when push comes to shove if they are a govt. union at any level, city, county, state, national, heroics get your a$$ fired.  

    • RUKind on October 7, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    MLK had shifted from racial justice to economic justice in the months before James Earl Ray’s funders put an end to the populist quest.

    And then Bobby got put down in a hotel kitchen.

    The wind went out of the sails and we’ve been in the doldrums since Ronald Reagan began the dismantling of the middle class.

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