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Jack Rasmus invites one of the key organizers of the union effort to launch a USA labor party in the 1990s, Mark Dudzic, in the Alternative Vision show’s third weekly show focusing on strategies and tactics for initiating independent political action.  Dudzic describes the initial strategy employed by union activists in the early 1990s to launch a bonafide third party in the USA based on the trade union movement. Dudzic describes how the initial ‘labor party advocates’ of 82 union activists and local union officers and staffers launched in Chicago in the early 1990s evolved into the Labor Party Founding Convention in Cleveland in 1996 attended by 1400 delegates. The specific strategies and tactics to form and build a labor party at the time are described by Dudzic, as well as the initial organizational forms of the movement. How those strategies, tactics and organization evolved over time are addressed, as well as how they differ from a ‘Fusion’ party approach used by the ‘working families party’ in New York today. Dudzic also describes how the labor party fared with alliances and running local candidates, what broad social forces initially supported the movement for a labor party in the 1990s, and then changed, leading to its decline beginning in 2000 and after until the official disbanding of the labor party initiative nationwide in 2007. The Labor Party experience raises the question: is a third party, organized from ‘within the union movement’, based upon and relying primarily on support from top union leadership, a viable strategy today for launching independent political action?  Subsequent shows in the series will consider more deeply the ‘lessons of the Labor Party’ experience, as well as the experiences of other parties challenging the one Corporate Party (aka Democrat-Republican) in America today. Next Week: interviews and discussions with candidates of successful grass roots local independent elections.

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Jack Rasmus invites presidential candidate of the Green Party, Jill Stein, to discuss the second in the series of shows on ‘which way for independent political action’.  Jill provides her party’s view of what strategies and tactics are on the agenda today in the USA to engage in independent political action, and how the Green Party’s approach differs from other progressive parties and other approaches that reject a political party form of organization for engaging in independent politics.  Jill explains how the Green Party’s strategy is both electoral and orientation toward mass movements, which are expanding and growing on a number of ‘fronts’ in the USA—immigrants, low wage workers, community protests against fracking, anti-police repression, and so forth. The focus of the discussion is not on what’s wrong with the mainstream Republican-Democrat parties. That is assumed to be evident. The focus of today’s show is a discussion  on ‘how best to engage in independent political action’—and what strategies, tactics and organizational forms are today most relevant to building independent politics. Next week’s third interview in the 4 part series on independent politics in the runup to the November elections will welcome former lead organizer for the Labor Party initiative that was launched by the AFLCIO in the 1990s, Mark Dudzic. Dudzic will discuss the history of that effort, its successes and eventual failure and whether another Labor Party initiative is on the agenda.

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Jack Rasmus invites guests, in the first of four consecutive shows before the midterm US elections, to discuss the necessity of independent political action. Jack and guests today, and in subsequent weeks, will discuss the proposition: ‘What is the Way to Independent Politics in the USA’, where independence means from both the Republican and Democratic parties. Jack has asked guests to assume independent politics is a necessity today more than ever before, and to focus in their remarks on how should independent politics be built in the USA today given actual conditions at present? What are the appropriate strategies and tactics for establishing meaningful independent political action—at either national or local levels. Jack invites long time political and union activists, Jerry Gordon, of the Labor Fightback Network, and Jeff Mackler, of Socialist Action, to kick off the discussion. Both guests discuss recent efforts to launch independent politics in Lorrain, Ohio and in Chicago. (Next week’s guests in Part II of the series will include Jill Stein, presidential candidate of the Green Party, and a representative from the ‘Working Families Party’. In subsequent weeks, guests will include Mark Dudzic, the lead organizer of the effort to launch a ‘labor party’ in the USA in the 1990s; and in the show before the midterm elections, interviews of local independent candidates in cities in the USA who have run and won office in the recent past in local government).

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Jack Rasmus explains how the emerging recessions in Latin American economies—especially in Brazil, Argentina, and Venezuela—are the direct consequence of recent shifting of US economic policies over the past year.  Three forces are now converging to drive LATAM economies, especially the big 3 above, into yet another region-wide recession, which almost certainly will now worsen: 1) China’s demand for Latin American commodities, resources, and semi-finished imports is slowing as the China economy itself continues to slow; 2) prior massive free money inflows to Latin America from the US and other advanced economy central banks, which occurred between 2010-13 as a result of USA ‘QE’ and zero rate monetary policies by the US Federal Reserve, are now being reversed—engineering money flows back to the US economy from Latin America and other emerging markets. Meanwhile, a third US policy change is being overlaid on the first two, further exacerbating LATAM economic recessions, in the form of additional negative economic pressure is imposed by the US on Argentina and Venezuela in particular (and potentially Brazil as well pending outcome of elections there) even as their economies slip into recession.   Jack explains how shifting US economic policy represents, in effect, efforts by USA policy makers to support a still weak USA economic recovery at the direct expense of emerging market economies, especially in Latin America.  The USA has thus now begun ‘exporting’ its economic weakness to other economies, while simultaneously taking advantage of the recessions in Argentina and Venezuela to further destabilize those economies for political purposes as well. Meanwhile, global capitalist economies everywhere have entered a phase where they are attempting to grow their own economies at the expense of their capitalist neighbors, marking a new more desperate stage in the global economy’s flagging recovery.

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Jack Rasmus revisits and continues the discussion of the evolution and consequences of Corporate Strategies introduced in the late 1970s-early 1980s (sometimes called Neoliberalism) that continue to evolve and intensify today.  In Part II of the discussion on Corporate Strategy in America (for Part 1 see the Alternative Visions show two weeks ago), Jack explains how the destruction of union labor membership since 1980 has also resulted in the near-collapse of collective bargaining as a means workers and unions to raise their wages and standard of living.  The transformation of collective bargaining from a tool to benefit Labor to a tool that increasingly benefits management and corporations is explained.  The elimination of National Bargaining and Pattern Bargaining in the 1960s-early 1970s and its replacement with Concessions Bargaining—first  wages and then benefits— is traced.  Unions’ ineffective strategic response to concessions bargaining in the 1990s with the introduction of Maintenance of Benefits Bargaining (MOB)--and the imminent demise of MOB today as corporate America and politicians together cooperate to phase out negotiated pensions and employer health coverage-- is described.  The destruction of union membership ranks (Part 1 show) and the ‘inversion’ and destruction of collective bargaining (Part 2 show today) are one and the same event, Rasmus explains, both products of the corporate offensive launched in the 1970s that continues to evolve and gain momentum today.  With MOB at a dead end, and concessions bargaining expanding and deepening in the 21st century, workers and unions will have to devise a new approach and strategy to resurrect collective bargaining, Rasmus argues.’ (In Part 3 future show, the political dimensions of the Corporate Strategy will be discussed, as well as Union Labor’s failed political counter strategy response since the 1970s).

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Jack Rasmus welcomes environmental activists, Michael Rubin and Glenn Turner, to discuss tomorrow’s major environment movement event, the demonstration in New York City and elsewhere in the USA (and globally) advocating the need for reducing global green house gas emissions to avoid a coming global environmental catastrophe.  Jack and guests discuss the significance and the demands of the Sept. 21 events. Jack challenges guests to clarify the demands and future strategic objectives of the USA environmental movement.  What comes next, after Sunday?  Will the many environmental groups continue to unify or continue after Sunday to lead their separate struggles, only occasionally coming together for demonstrations that make no specific demands for change on the system. Will they unite with other groups and forces outside the environmental community—i.e. unions, community and ethnic groups, student organizations, religious organizations, forming a ‘united front’ to confront the destruction of the environment and ultimately the economy as well?  Listen to the lively discussion, as Jack plays ‘devils advocate’ challenging environmental activists to evolve to a higher level of political action.

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Host, Jack Rasmus, discusses the origins and evolution of Corporate Strategy in the USA since the 1970s and explains how that has played a central role in gutting union membership, undermining collective bargaining, and all but negating effective union political action.  Jack describes the collapse of union membership and the net loss of 20 million potential union members since 1980, how corporations transformed collective bargaining from a means for workers to improve wages and benefits to a tool for taking away wages and benefits, and how union labor political action has collapsed into a policy of little more than providing money handouts to Democrats.   Jack explains how the failure of union strategy for organizing, bargaining, and political action is in large part due to the corresponding successes of corporate strategies that originated and began in the 1970s. Union strategic failures thus cannot be separated from Corporate strategic successes; they are both sides of the same coin.  Rasmus describes in detail how Corporate America in the 1970s reorganized and restructured itself to enable new strategies that took on the building trades unions, the teamsters union, and manufacturing unions, gutted their membership ranks, and effectively destroyed their union national, regional, and pattern bargaining power within a decade—by multiple means including double breasted operations, NLRB rule changes, industry deregulation, free trade, corporate tax incentives promoting offshoring & runaway shops, rise of tens of millions of temp workers and independent contractors not allowed to unionize, intensified open shop drives, and today’s de-unionizing of public employment, and other measures. Today’s economic (and increasingly political) class war in America, Rasmus explains, has its roots in corporate strategies formed in the 1970s, that continue to evolve and gain momentum today. Rasmus concludes new, more effective union strategies will have to be accompanied by fundamental reorganization and restructuring of American Unions—just as had occurred in US history before.   


For further on this theme, listeners are encouraged to read Rasmus’s four part series of articles appearing in the new Latin America media outlet, ‘teleSUR English’ at http://www.telesurtv.net/english/section/opinion/index.html.   (which are also available on his website, http://www.kyklosproductions.com/articles.html.) “
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Jack Rasmus invites back union veteran guests he has interviewed over the past year for a roundtable discussion of ‘what can be done’ by union labor to break out of its strategic impasse of organizing-membership decline, collective  bargaining, and political action. Jack provides a brief recap of Unions’ decline in membership, bargaining ineffectiveness, and political results in recent decades, and then turns the discussion over to union veterans to share their views’ on specifics on what should be done to reverse the strategic dead end for union labor today.  Jack welcomes union veterans, with more than four decades of experience each: Steve Early, of the Communications Workers of America, Greg Shotwell of the United Autoworkers, and Jerry Gordon, of the United Food & Commercial Workers. They join together in a lively discussion of how union labor might resurrect itself, starting at the grass roots, by engaging in new ways of organizing, of bargaining, and new initiatives in independent political action.

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Dr. Jack Rasmus reviews his predictions for the US and global economy made June 2013 in ‘Z’ magazine, and makes new predictions for the US and global economy for the coming 12 months.  Review of 2013-14 include forecasts for recessions, US Federal Reserve policy, US tax legislation, housing recovery, manufacturing, jobs and wages, Europe’s bank and debt crises, China GDP, global trade, Japan’s ‘Abenomics’ policy introduction, the convergence of capitalist policy worldwide, and the Ukraine economy (made in early 2013). For the coming year: Federal Reserve interest rates, US tax cuts,  US stock and junk bond markets, Europe’s Central Bank and QE, Euro banking instability, wage compression and austerity policy in Europe, China stimulus, currency and challenges to the USA,the future of Japan’s ‘Abenomics and instability in Emerging Market economies

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Dr. Jack Rasmus interviews Mark Dudzic, National Coordinator of the Labor Campaign for Single Payer HealthCare (aka Medicare for All), on the recently re-energized and growing national movement for Single Payer-National Healthcare. As the problems with Obamacare grow increasingly obvious—i.e. renewed double digit insurance premium hikes, excessive deductibles, limited coverage of insured (only 8 million of 50 million covered to date), corporate exemptions, insufficient subsidies, destruction of union-employer health plans, continued business ‘gaming’ of the system, etc.—the alternative of a National Health Care Solution similar to Medicare is gaining more attention and support throughout the USA. Jack and Mark discuss the new strategic shift emerging for the movement, to be discussed and debated at the upcoming national strategy conference of labor and community groups meeting to forge new national strategies and tactics next Saturday, August 22, in Oakland, California.  Mark provides a detail explanation of the movement today, including efforts to establish Single Payer in Vermont and elsewhere today, as well as new plans and initiatives by labor and community organizations to promote Single Payer-Medicare for All.  Jack explains the significant cost advantages of Single Payer-Medicare compared to both the current Obamacare program and to right wing further privatization solutions proposed by conservatives, Paul Ryan and others.  As problems with Obamacare become more evident, without Single Payer as an alternative, Rasmus argues, even more pro-corporate solutions will be substituted for Obamacare after 2016.  Those interested in the upcoming August 22-24 Oakland conference, see the conference website, www.healthcare-now.org.  For more information on the Single Payer movement nationally, www.laborforsinglepayer.org,  and www.pnhp.org.   


Mark Dudzic is National Coordinator for the Labor Campaign for Single Payer since 2009. He has been a union activist for 30 years, President of the local union 149 of the Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers, and president of its district council. Mark was also a leading figure promoting the formation of a US Labor Party that was launched by the OCAW in the 1990s.
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