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Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan Says, ‘Right to Work’ is Rooted in Racism

Bill Londrigan, Kentucky State AFL-CIO president Bill Londrigan


AFT Local 1360

“Right to work” proponents hate it when somebody exposes the racist roots of RTW.

“These are Jim Crow era laws to divide black against white,” Kentucky State AFL-CIO president Bill Londrigan told delegates at the federation’s recent biennial convention in Lexington.

In the 1940s and 50s, ten of the 11 ex-Confederate states were among the first states to pass RTW laws. Segregation and race discrimination were the law and the social order in Dixie.

In a union, everybody is equal. Thus, white supremacist legislators and governors feared unions would undermine the Jim Crow system, so they eagerly hopped on the RTW bandwagon.

Londrigan added that conservative politicians beyond the old Confederacy embraced RTW because the laws “divide everybody at the work site. ‘Right to work’ was an ingenious concept to break down union solidarity.”

Under a RTW law, workers at a union shop can enjoy union-won wages and benefits without joining the union or paying the union a service fee to represent them. The idea is to weaken strong unions, destroy small unions and keep workers from organizing.

Kentucky’s Republican-majority legislature passed a RTW law in January, and GOP Gov. Matt Bevin eagerly signed it.

“‘Right to work is not about economic development,” Londrigan said. “It’s not about individual freedom. It’s about dividing workers.”

Londrigan pointed out that “unions operate, and are founded on, the democratic principle of majority rule and they are one of the last truly democratic institutions in our society.”

In a union, he explained, “all members have an equal voice in voting on union contracts, expenditures and leadership. RTW is another incarnation of tyranny of the minority.”

RTW laws undermine unions by prohibiting union security agreements under which all bargaining unit members belong to the union or pay a service fee. Union and management must ratify such agreements, union members by a majority vote, Londrigan said.

Meanwhile, in the 1940s, the RTW drive got a big boost from Vance Muse, a Texas tycoon and white supremacist who detested “the doctrine of human equality represented by unions,” wrote Roger Bybee in The Progressive. A Klan fan, Muse  was “the Karl Rove-meets-David Duke brains behind the whole right to work movement,” wrote Mark Ames in Pando Quarterly online.

The Texas Legislature passed a right to work law in 1947 but changed the measure to its current form in 1993.

Muse, who also was rabidly anti-Semitic, saw “right to work”as a twofer: RTW would help smash unions and help maintain segregation and white supremacy in Texas and elsewhere in the Jim Crow South.

In 1936, Muse started the reactionary, racist Christian American Association in opposition to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Muse allied the group with the KKK. FDR was running for re-election and Muse bitterly opposed him.

The year before, a Democratic Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act. Also known as the Wagner Act, the legislation gave workers legal protection to organize and bargain collectively.

“The appallingly racist views of Muse and his Christian American Association coincided with the mentality of corporate managers dedicated to holding down wages and maintaining the tight control over workers dating back to the days of slavery,” Bybee wrote. “The CEOs of the 1930s recognized that Muse’s segregationist ‘right to work’ concept would break up unified worker efforts to claim the rights granted under the 1935 National Labor Relations Act.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also recognized the racist origins of right to work.

“In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work,'” he warned in 1961. “It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone….Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.”

Also in 1961, Dr. King told the AFL-CIO Convention, “Our needs are identical with labor’s needs—decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community. That is why Negroes support labor’s demands and fight laws which curb labor.

“That is why the labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth.”

RTW laws are “lies by lying liars,” Londrigan said. “They are a focused attack directly on unions.”

Berry Craig: Put A Little ‘Ludd’ In Your Life

The Battle Between Progress And Technology That Leaves Workers Without A Job

By BERRY CRAIG, AFT Local 1360

This senior citizen has a hard time figuring out computerized, check-yourself-in airport kiosks.

Like Blanche DuBois, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” So, I’m grateful to nice folks who are still around to check me in the old way.

“Thank you so very much,” I gushed with profound appreciation to the woman who sped my wife and me to our homeward flight from London’s Heathrow airport last summer. (I’m pretty sure she belonged to the UNITE union.)

“You’re welcome,” she smiled and replied. “One day I won’t be here. They want to get rid of us.”

She meant those kiosks would eliminate her job. Millions of people worldwide have already lost jobs to the kind of “progress” the kiosks represent.

As we headed for the gate, I thought of the Luddites, 19th-century English textile mill workers who wrecked machines that were taking their jobs. Factory owners equated mechanization with “progress” — meaning more profit for them. The workers’ supposed leader was Ned Ludd, hence the movement’s name.

Today, “Luddite” is a slam for somebody like me who dares suggest that “technology” is not necessarily synonymous with “progress.”

Don’t get me wrong. I like my PC a lot better than my ancient Royal manual typewriter I used in college going on 50 years ago. Nor am I proposing a Luddite solution to stanch the bleeding of jobs to technology.

I’m with my union brother, David Nickell. He says society needs to redefine its notion of “progress” to ensure that technology serves all of us, rather than enriching just the few.

“We’ve got to start asking ourselves, ‘How can we use technology to bring us the kind of world in which everybody has a job and a place?”” argued David, who teaches sociology and philosophy at West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah.

David is the campus representative for AFT Local 1360, this old history teacher’s union office before he retired.

David, like me, is a lifelong resident of rural western Kentucky. We’re fans of Wendell Berry, the famous Bluegrass State writer, environmental activist and social critic.

“Wendell Berry wrote that we are creating a surplus population, with no role for them in society,” David said.

Berry meant farmers and farm workers. The same applies to blue- and white-collar workers who’ve lost–and are still losing–livelihoods to “progress.”

Added David: “I ask my students, ‘How many of you believe in progress? Every one of them holds up a hand. Then I ask, ‘What are we progressing toward?’”

Silence follows, he said.

David said the self-service check-in gizmos–common at U.S. airports, too–symbolize our seemingly insatiable demand for convenience at almost any cost.

“Somebody said the new American credo is ‘Give me convenience or give me death,’” he said.

Anyway, 19th-factory owners and managers on both sides of the Atlantic welcomed machines as profit enhancers.

Absent unions, factory and mill hands toiled long hours at low pay in jobs that threatened, and often claimed, lives and limbs. Most employers saw their employees as mere means to economic ends. They commonly fired workers as soon as they found machines to replace them.

Stateside and in Europe, self-check-out kiosks are also supplanting staffers at supermarkets and other big stores. Automatic answering devices have mostly replaced human telephone operators, too.

After I’m able to run the press-here-for-this-or-that gauntlet and finally reach a real person, I say, “Thank you for being there. Your company needs to hire more people to answer the phones. They need jobs; machines don’t.”

David also noted that many people are uncritically hailing computerized, self-driving cars and trucks as more examples of “progress.”

“With centralized computers with artificial intelligence, the computer can learn from what one truck encounters and instantly reroute all other trucks,” he said.

“The gains in efficiency will be tremendous, but how many truck and delivery drivers will be replaced?  This is one of the last good paying jobs that does not require a college degree, or any specialized training beyond a commercial driver’s license.”

Self-driving taxi cabs are also on the way.

In any event, David said there’s a big difference between finding meaningful work and merely “having a job.”

He explained, “The alienation of the worker has now become so expected that it seems extremist even to point it out.  If the technologies were used properly, they would replace the alienating, tedious, and back breaking jobs, and not the people.”

David recalled his dismay at hearing a Kentucky governor say “’the purpose of higher education is to meet the needs of business and industry.’

“I thought to myself, ‘Business and industry are supposed to succeed, or fail, based on whether they can meet the needs of the people.’”

To feed the greed of wealthy wool and cotton mill owners in the early 1800s, the British parliament, whose members were all rich and powerful men, passed laws to crush the Luddite movement. They also sent redcoat soldiers to shoot or arrest them; several Luddite leaders were hanged, imprisoned or transported to penal colonies in Australia.

In his maiden speech in the House of Lords, George Gordon, Lord Byron, the famous poet, defended the Luddites. While he “condemned” and “deplored” Luddite violence, he warned, “It cannot be denied that they have arisen from circumstances of the most unparalleled distress: the perseverance of these miserable men in their proceedings, tends to prove that nothing but absolute want could have driven a large, and once honest and industrious, body of the people, into the commission of excesses so hazardous to themselves, their families, and the community.”

So, more than a century later, is it “Time to reconsider the Luddites?” asked the headline on a 2014 story in the online U.S. edition of The Guardian, a British newspaper. The author, Robert Skidelsky, based his story on MIT research which showed that over the last 30 years, the share of wages in our national income has been shrinking.

Professors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee said that during this “second machine age,” computer technology has pushed deeper “into the service sector, taking over jobs for which the human factor and ‘cognitive functions’ were hitherto deemed indispensable.”

At the airport, most of the old-fashioned check-in desks were unstaffed. So we had to stand in line–“queue” in the local lingo. But there were queues for the kiosks, too.

Not counting queuing time, the friendly staffer at the still open desk had us on our way about as quickly as the kiosk users were checking themselves in and heading for their flights.

Skidelsky, a professor of political economy at Warwick (England) University, pointed to Wal Mart and Amazon as “prime examples of new technology driving down workers’ wages. Because computer programs and humans are close substitutes for such jobs, and given the predictable improvement in computing power, there seems to be no technical obstacle to the redundancy of workers across much of the service economy.”

He acknowledged that “there will still be activities that require human skills, and these skills can be improved. But it is broadly true that the more computers can do, the less humans need to do. The prospect of the ‘abridgment of labour’ should fill us with hope rather than foreboding. But, in our kind of society, there are no mechanisms for converting redundancy into leisure.”

Skidelsky recalled the Luddites. “They claimed that because machines were cheaper than labour, their introduction would depress wages. They argued the case for skill against cheapness. The most thoughtful of them understood that consumption depends on real income, and that depressing real income destroys businesses. Above all, they understood that the solution to the problems created by machines would not be found in laissez-faire nostrums.”

In their headlong embrace of technology as a boon to their bottom lines, business and industry owners would do well to remember that jobless workers can’t afford to buy the products made by the computers, robots and machines that replaced them.

For sure, unemployed airport ground staff won’t have the wherewithal to fly the friendly skies.


Sen Rand Paul Submits National Right To Work Bill (Again) As A Fundraising Ploy

Paul fund-raises on his ‘right to work’ bill, rates a zero on
Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights report card

Image by Stump Source FLIKR CC


AFT Local 1360

Rand Paul is all in for “right to work,” but he knows his national RTW bill is going nowhere.

Kentucky’s tea party-tilting junior senator never figured it would. He knows hogs will fly before the legislation winds up on the desk of President Trump, a fellow RTW fan.

Paul is clued in to the fact that the Democrats can filibuster the measure to death.

But passing the bill wasn’t Paul’s point. Putting his John Hancock on the legislation was.

Paul’s uber-conservative, well-heeled, union-despising donors are as crazy about RTW as he is. Paul proposed the bill to give himself a chance to burnish his anti-union creds with his bankrollers.

Koch Industries is the pseudo-populist Paul’s third largest contributor, according to the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. The National Right to Work Committee piled $7,500 into Paul’s campaign coffers.

Charles and David Koch and other kleptocrats have also extended their largess to pro-RTW Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Bluegrass State’s senior senator.

Paul and McConnell realize that GOP-majority state legislatures are where RTW laws get passed. They were on Cloud Ten–the one above Nine–last January when the Republican-run Kentucky General Assembly approved a RTW bill at warp speed; GOP Gov. Matt Bevin lost no time in signing it.

Kentucky unions have filed suit to overturn the bill.

More than just union members understand that RTW laws are among the oldest union-busting tools around. “In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work,’” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. cautioned in 1961. “It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights.”

Added King: “Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone…Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.”

Also in 1961, King warned that “the labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth [italics mine].”

Last year, every Republican in the House and Senate got an “F” on a congressional report card issued by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, George F. Curry wrote in the Daytona, Fla., Times.

The LCCHR is an umbrella organization with more than 200 member groups. It graded all lawmakers on how they voted on legislation important to the civil and human rights community, explained Curry, editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service and former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine.

Paul rated a zero.

That ‘Rigged’ System Made Donald Trump President-Elect


AFT Local 1360

Donald Trump said the election was “rigged’ in favor of Hillary Clinton.

The “rigged” system made him president-elect.

Hillary Clinton got more votes than Trump did. But she came up short where it counted: in the electoral college.

Billionaire Trump should thank the nation’s founders–well-heeled and powerful white men–for creating the electoral college. Their aim was to make sure that only guys like them could be president. 

Barack Obama snapped the string of white presidents. It’s back together with Trump.

Most of the nation’s founders –especially Alexander Hamilton–didn’t believe ordinary citizens could govern themselves. They made no bones about it.

Trump, a rich New Yorker like Hamilton, chose not to model his campaign after the founder, who became the country’s first treasury secretary.

Instead, the ex-reality TV star, emulated 19th-century circus showman P.T. Barnum who supposedly said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” 

Trump donned baseball caps and claimed to champion working stiffs.

He railed against outsourcing. He demonized trade deals like NAFTA and TPP.  Yet Trump has made money hand-over-fist selling a line of duds manufactured in Bangladesh, Honduras, China and other cheap labor countries, according to The Washington Post.

The big beneficiaries of his tax plan are rich people, says NPR.

Trump likes anti-union “right to work laws.” He has battled tooth-and-nail to keep his Las Vegas hotel workers from unionizing. On the minimum wage, he’s flip-flopped more times than a hooked Kentucky Lake bass in the bottom of a johnboat.

Yet Trump collected votes in 49 percent of union households, according to CNN exit polls.

On other hand, ultra-elitist Hamilton was openly contemptuous of ordinary citizens.

“The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right,” according to Hamilton. Thus, they had to be checked by wise and experienced “landholders, merchants and men of the learned professions.”

Hamilton favored the electoral college–and a king elected for life.

Anyway, Clinton became the fifth White House hopeful to win the popular vote but not the election. The last such loser was Al Gore in 2000. Besides Clinton and Gore, the other presidential candidates who won the popular vote and lost the election, were Andrew Jackson (1824), Samuel J. Tilden (1876) and Grover Cleveland (1888). Coincidentally, they were all Democrats.

Meanwhile, everybody who helped draft the constitution in Philadelphia in 1787 was from the colonial aristocracy; many were slaveholders.  Yet there were proposals to elect the president by popular vote (of white men), historian Howard Zinn pointed out in a 2000 interview with Democracy Now.

Every proposal was shot down. Hamilton and many other founders feared an “excess of democracy.” They argued that “people who are intelligent, people who are educated…important people in the community” ought to control the government, explained Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to the Present. In other words, only the elite counted.

The electoral college remains a relic from a period in our history when only white men of property could seek office and vote. They ran businesses, industries and everything else of importance in society.

Elitism was evident even in supposedly egalitarian (for whites) frontier states like Kentucky.

In addition to sanctioning slavery, the Bluegrass State’s first constitution, written in 1792, created a system in which electors chose the governor and state senators, according to A New History of Kentucky by Lowell H. Harrison and James C. Klotter. The 1799 constitution tossed out the electors, the historian added. (Kentucky remained a slave state until the 13th Amendment ended slavery in 1865.) 

The electoral college has, though the years, survived multiple moves to get rid of it. At least 700 amendments have been proposed to modify or abolish it; no other attempt at constitutional reform has been greater, according to Fair Vote, “a non-partisan, 501(c)(3)h non-profit organization that seeks to make democracy fair, functional, and more representative.”

Fair Vote favors repeal.

Trying to deep-sixing the electoral college through a constitutional amendment isn’t likely to work, The Baltimore Sun editorialized. “It would require either a two-thirds vote of both chambers of Congress or a constitutional convention called by two-thirds of state legislatures just to propose such an amendment, and then it would need to be approved by three-fourths of the states.”

The editorial pointed to a different path. “Ten states plus Washington, D.C., have enacted legislation that could lead to a system that leaves the Electoral College intact but ensures that it deliver the presidency to the popular vote winner. This national compact stipulates that as soon as states comprising a majority of the Electoral College — 270 votes — sign on, each will award its electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. The Constitution allows states to allocate their electors as they choose — the winner-take-all system is not in the Constitution, and Maine and Nebraska have already abandoned it, choosing to split their electoral votes based on who wins in each congressional district.”

So far, only Democratic-majority legislatures have endorsed the plan, starting with deep blue Maryland, which Clinton carried.”…Yes, we endorsed the idea then, not just now that the candidate we supported, Hillary Clinton, has won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College,” the Sun editorial said.

“But the idea has gotten some traction in places like Oklahoma, a state so red that no presidential candidate pays it any attention, and in some swing states, including Colorado and Nevada. The 11 jurisdictions that have signed on total 165 electoral votes, nearly two-thirds of the necessary total.”

With the Republicans flipping the House of Representatives, the Kentucky General Assembly is redder and more reactionary than ever. Hogs will fly before GOP lawmakers agree to scuttle a system that made their man the next president.  

The Sun isn’t sanguine about red states hopping on the anti-electoral college bandwagon.  

‘Notwithstanding the fact that President-elect Donald Trump called the Electoral College ‘a disaster for democracy’ in a 2012 election night tweet (he evidently thought at the time that Mitt Romney would win the popular vote and lose the Electoral College, though he wound up losing both), we don’t expect Republicans to take up the cause until one of their nominees suffers the fate of Ms. Clinton and Al Gore. It’s only a matter of time. Had John Kerry convinced 59,301 George W. Bush voters in Ohio to support him instead, he would have taken the presidency in 2004 despite losing the popular vote by 3 million.”

Nonetheless, the paper said the electoral college “is no way to pick a president, and we can fix it. A petition on change.org calling for members of the Electoral College to vote for Ms. Clinton rather than Mr. Trump got more than 2 million signatures in under 36 hours, but if people really want change, they should lobby their state legislators to support the Electoral College compact.”

A MoveOn.org petition calls for the abolition of the electoral college. “Voters currently living and voting in a ‘red’ or ‘blue’ state are disenfranchised, because their vote doesn’t matter. Eliminating the electoral college means: no ‘swing’ states getting all the attention and all the campaign stops and all the empty campaign promises. The electoral members are selected by the two main political parties, Republican and Democrat, disenfranchising all other voters, independent, Libertarian, etc. End it now.”

I put my cyber John Hancock on the petition. You can, too, here.  

Comey Has Kentucky Dems Doubly Determined To Vote For Clinton


AFT Local 1360

Some in the media think—and the Donald Trump campaign hopes–that the latest email controversy might depress Hillary Clinton’s vote next Tuesday.

Piling on, reactionary radio commentator Hugh Hewitt bloviated on MSNBC that Democratic enthusiasm for Clinton is “hemorrhaging” and that even “hard core Democrats are shaking their heads.”

Supposedly, the poor Clintonites are so shattered, dispirited and ashamed that they’ll stay home next Tuesday.

Baloney. FBI Director James Comey’s “October surprise” is more likely to boost Democratic turnout.

Waving a red flag in front of a bull? Too trite.

Comey’s revelation is like sporting orange at a Big Apple St. Patrick’s Day parade, singing “Rocky Top” at Rupp Arena, or trash talking Springsteen in Jersey. (For non-Kentuckians, Rupp Arena is the University of Kentucky Wildcats basketball team’s home court.)   

Fellow Democrats I know are anything but bummed. They’re ballistic and plan to prove it in seven days. I’m with them all the way to the voting booth.

Bernie Sanders was my first choice for president, but I’m Ready for Hillary. I was already in a climb-every-mountain, ford-every-stream mode about voting for her.

Comey has made me willing to crawl through broken glass, too.

I don’t know what motivated Comey, a Republican. If he aimed to boost Trump, I’d bet the farm he blew it.

A lot of Democrats believe he deliberately put his thumb on the scales. They say their suspicions are confirmed with news that Comey failed to mention a reported preliminary FBI probe into Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, and his foreign business dealings, notably with Russia. Supposedly, Comey feared bringing it up might influence the election.

Comey also allegedly refused to add the FBI’s name to U.S. intelligence agency reports that Russia was involved with the WikiLeaks email hacking. He allegedly said—you guessed it—it was too close to the election.

Ya think?  

Comey’s apparent double standard has my Kentucky Democratic buddies doubly determined to put Clinton in the White House. (Me, too.) I emailed some of them—-a lawyer, union members, college students, teachers, health care professionals and others. They replied:   

“I vote my conviction. I vote working families. HRC and the rest of the Democratic candidates.”

“I’ve already voted for Clinton, and I’m proud of my vote. Comey’s behavior is so bizarre that it becomes suspicious for breaking every FBI and DOJ rule with this premature announcement before the facts are gathered.” (This came from a lawyer.)

“I’m excited that the most qualified person ever is our nominee for president! She’s been vilified for years and has come through with her head held high. She’s fought for the weak and underprivileged and is an example to all young women—when you’re in the right, keep fighting, even when it seems the world is against you!!”

“Really, Kellyanne Conway, you think I am too discouraged to vote?  I have voted in every election since I was 18 and voted for Jimmy Carter by absentee from my dorm room in Lexington.  You think anything which includes the words ‘Anthony Weiner’ is going to tempt me into letting a racist a**hole represent me on the world stage?  Kellyanne, you underestimate my resolve.” 

“I can tell you how I feel. I will vote for HRC no matter what.”

“This is an easy call. HRC all the way. I will always take pretty standard cronyism over looming fascism. Every time.”

“We have no choice!  For the future of our democracy, we must defeat Donald Trump and elect HRC.”

Imagine The Republican Outrage If The KGB Had Tried To Subvert The Reagan Campaign

AFT Local 1360

wikileaksPretend it’s 1984.

The cold war has yet to thaw. The Soviets want Ronald Reagan out as president.

Kremlin boss Konstantin Chernenko calls in a bright young KGB intelligence officer named Vladimir Putin.  His mission: run a covert operation to subvert Reagan’s reelection campaign.

The internet era has yet to dawn. Putin sends spies to break into the Republican National Committee and Reagan campaign headquarters. Their job is to ferret out and photograph potentially embarrassing or politically-damaging material.

The secret agents sneak the film to KGB HQ in Moscow. Copies of the documents are released to Western journalists–after KGB forgers doctor some and slip in fakes.

Imagine the Republican–and national–fury if all that really happened. Some super-hawks might have called the espionage an act of war.

Putin, who really was a KGB guy, has graduated to democracy-despising Russian dictator.

Putin hates Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump admires Putin. Czar Vlad clearly wants King Leer to  beat her on Nov. 8.

Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence agencies say evidence is building that Russia is feeding WikiLeaks hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign. Some might be altered and others bogus.

If Russia is leaking to WikiLeaks, you can bet your borscht that Putin is down with it, if he didn’t order it.

Trump is happy to make political hay off the leaked emails. It’s a big part of his “Crooked Hillary” shtick.

The Trump faithful seem fine with Russia helping their guy. Almost half of Trump fans think the old “Evil Empire” is our new ally or friend, a recent poll says.

Anyway, while Trump says he wants to “make America great again,”  Putin has made it plain he wants to make  Russia great again– at the expense of the United States.

Berry Craig: The Skunk Sprayed The Stink

800px-striped_skunkBy BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

Melinda, my wife of nearly 38 years, suggested that debating Donald Trump is like facing a skunk.

You know the cantankerous critter is bound to spray the stink. You just don’t know when.

In the third– and mercifully final—presidential debate, Trump managed to keep the stage fairly odor free for about half an hour. Then came the stench.

Hillary Clinton called Trump Vladimir Putin’s “puppet.” His goat gotten, Trump started talking over her: “No puppet, no puppet. You’re the puppet. No, you’re the puppet!”

Melinda almost fell off a kitchen table chair laughing. She wondered if Trump might resort to that old grade school standby: “Oh, yeah? I’m rubber, and you’re glue–everything bounces off me and sticks on you!”

Predictably, Trump, his dander up, kept squirting the smelly stuff. Rapid-fire, he called Clinton a liar. Melinda anticipated “pants on fire!”

Trump dissed her as “such a nasty woman.” He glowered. He grimaced. He smirked. He bent down and intoned “wrong!” into the mike and did his best Alec Baldwin impersonation.

But, substantively, he was nowhere more skunk-like than when he refused to say flat out he’d accept the election results.

“I will look at it at the time,” Trump hedged. “I’ll keep you in suspense.” 

So Trump hinted that he might not go along with who the body politic wants to be our next president. I could almost hear the cheering from the fever swamps and sloughs of tea party Trump land.

Stay tuned until Nov. 8, says The Donald. 

The last time a big chunk of the American electorate refused to accept how an election turned out was 1860.

The white South, scared that Abraham Lincoln and the Republicans would end slavery, threatened to exit the Union if he won. When he did, Dixie departed—after insisting “Crooked Abe’s” win wasn’t legit. (Okay, the Confederates actually slammed Lincoln as “a Baboon Despot,” “the Illinois Ape,” “King Abraham I” and worse.)

The South—big time Trump country today—brought on the most lethal war in our history.

I’m not for a minute predicting a second Civil War. But check out this video of a Trump “patriot” and this one and this story and this story.  

After characterizing Trump’s election dodge “horrible,” Clinton reminded him that we are “a country based on laws.”

Doesn’t Trump say he’s a “law and order” guy?

Anyway, Trump’s a Republican like Abraham Lincoln. Okay, definitely not one like Lincoln.    

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt,” Lincoln supposedly said.  

If the Great Emancipator did say it, the Great Groper proved him right. Melinda and I can’t wait for Saturday Night Live.

Kentucky Vet And UAW Member: Trump ‘Does Not Have A Clue’


AFT Local 1360

todd-dunnGOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump evidently thinks he’s sewn up the vote of guys like Todd Dunn.

Dunn is a white, blue-collar veteran who earned multiple medals while serving in the First Gulf War.

He’s for Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic opponent.

“In the military, we said you are only as good as the people you surround yourself with,” remembered Dunn, 46, from Louisville. “I would not want people like him around me for the simple fact that he is not credible.”

Dunn has been president of United Auto Workers Local 862 for almost six years. He was a 19-year-old Army military police specialist in Kuwait in 1991.

Dunn said Clinton, a former secretary of state and senator, has the temperament and experience to be president. Trump doesn’t, he added.

Trump, a wealthy business owner, has never held public office.

“Trump puts women down; he puts minorities down– he really doesn’t respect people,” said Dunn, who is also president of the Greater Louisville Central Labor Council.

Trump claims he values veterans most of all. Dunn doesn’t buy it. “Here is a man who says not paying taxes is smart. Taxes support our country.”

Dunn says the fact that taxes fund the U.S. military and federal programs that aid veterans is evidently lost on Trump.

“I paid my fair share of taxes before I joined the United States Army, went to Desert Storm and nearly died in Desert Storm,” said Dunn. “I came home and continued to pay my fair share of taxes.

“Not paying his taxes might make him smart, but it doesn’t make him a man who stands by our veterans. He may be a patriot in his own mind, but he doesn’t show it in his actions.”

Dunn’s missions in the First Gulf War included guarding a vital supply road and protecting Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf, commander of coalition forces that drove dictator Saddam Hussein’s invading Iraqi army out of Kuwait.

Dunn worries about Trump’s penchant for provocative, “off-the-cuff” and “knee-jerk” comments.

Trump, for example, threatened to shoot “out of the water” Iranian sailors if they made rude gestures toward U.S. Navy warships.

Trump, 70, is not a veteran. He used deferments, legally, to avoid the draft and possible combat in Vietnam.

“He doesn’t have a clue, which is obvious,” Dunn said. He doesn’t know the feeling of wondering if this is the last time he will see his family.”

Dunn came home to his loved ones, got married and got a job at Ford in the Falls City. He has two sons, one of whom also works for Ford. (Members of Local 862 work at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant and Louisville Assembly Plant.) 

“Trump,” he said, “sits in an office in his tall, shiny building, knowing he has taken advantage of his country and the people who work for him. Does he have any remorse?”

Dunn’s service in Kuwait is featured in We Don’t Quit!: Stories of UAW Global Solidarity, a 2015 book by Don Stillman. The book tells how the UAW and its members are part of the worldwide struggle for workers’ rights.

Dunn said he had had never witnessed death before he arrived in Kuwait.

“First and foremost, American soldiers like me were there to liberate Kuwait,” he told Stillman.

“We were dealing with atrocities and torture by Saddam’s guys of the Kuwaiti people. I’ll never forget the small children that would climb on our vehicles—they were hungry, and there we were.

“We gave the kids food and liberty. There was a lot of American sacrifice. We lost American soldiers on foreign soil fighting for democracy.”


Western Kentucky Steelworker says Trump’s steel deal is more proof that ‘he’s just selling snake oil’


AFT Local 1360

Donald Trump (Jamelle Bouie FLIKR)

Donald Trump (Jamelle Bouie FLIKR)

Steelworker Jeff Wiggins of Reidland, Ky., isn’t surprised at the Newsweek story that says Donald Trump used Chinese steel and aluminum instead of American-made metal in at least two of his last three building projects.

“Not at all,” said Wiggins, 55, president of Steelworkers Local 9447 in Calvert City, Ky. “Trump is a two-faced, lying snake in the grass. How’s he going to make America great again when he’s using Chinese steel and Chinese aluminum to build his buildings?”

Wiggins’ disdain for Trump is also personal. The Gerdau Ameristeel plant where he’s worked for 33 years is slated to close next month, leaving more than 100 union members jobless.

The company is idling the mill because “the Chinese are flooding the market with cheap steel, and people like Donald Trump are buying it,” Wiggins said.

According to Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald, “Trump opted to purchase his steel and aluminum from Chinese manufacturers rather than United States corporations based in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.”   

Before Eichenwald’s article was published, Trump, at a Pennsylvania rally, promised, “We are going to protect our steel workers. We can’t let China take advantage of us any more.”

Trump predicted, “Pennsylvania steel will build this country like it built the Empire State Building many years ago. And Pennsylvania steel and the incredible steel workers will send new skyscrapers into the clouds.”

Eichenwald also wrote that “Plenty of blue-collar workers believe that, as president, Donald Trump would be ready to fight off U.S. trade adversaries and reinvigorate the country’s manufacturing industries through his commitment to the Rust Belt. What they likely don’t know is that Trump has been stiffing American steel workers on his own construction projects for years, choosing to deprive untold millions of dollars from four key electoral swing states and instead directing it to China—the country whose trade practices have helped decimate the once-powerful industrial center of the United States.”

Wiggins says he knows Trump has been shafting American workers for years. Also president of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council, he points out that clothing and many other products that Trump sells stateside are made in China and other low-wage countries.

“Why doesn’t he bring those jobs back? He’s just selling snake oil, and people are buying it.

 “He’s a guy who makes money off other people–tells them lies. How’s he going to bring manufacturing back when he’s buying stuff from over there? He’s going to do whatever is cheapest for him where he can make the most money. He doesn’t care about American jobs.”    

Berry Craig: Trump Could Create American Jobs Right Now


Image by Bill Day all rights reserved

AFT Local 1360

To hear GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump tell it, jobs will fall upon the land like manna from heaven if he’s elected.

But why wait, Mr. Trump? You can prove you’re a job creator right now: Start making your duds and other stuff stateside instead of abroad.

“Trump’s products have been made in 12 other countries,” claims an ad from the campaign of Hillary Clinton, his AFL-CIO endorsed Democratic foe. TheWashington Post verified the charge.

“We know of at least 12 countries where Trump products were manufactured (China, Netherlands, Mexico, India, Turkey, Slovenia, Honduras, Germany, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam and South Korea),” wrote the Post’s Michelle Ye Hee Lee. All but the Netherlands and Germany are low-wage countries.

“Further, Trump products traveled through other countries through the packaging and shipping process — meaning workers in more than 12 countries contributed to getting many of Trump’s products made, packaged and delivered to the United States.”

Two western Kentucky labor leaders are on to Trump’s hypocrisy on jobs. “He says he wants to bring jobs back to America, but all of his signature lines are made somewhere overseas,” said Jeff Wiggins, president of Steelworkers Local 9447 in Calvert City and president of the Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council in Paducah.

“Why doesn’t some reporter stick a mike in Trump’s face and say ‘When are you going to bring your jobs back?'” asked Jimmy Evans, business manager of Paducah-based IBEW Local 816 in Paducah and a council delegate.

Meanwhile, Trump, though a proven big league outsourcer, continues to lambast outsourcing and trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement, which grease the skids for American companies like his to shift production and jobs—and often bust unions in the process—abroad, usually to cheap labor countries.

So think about it.

Would a President Trump really deep-six trade deals and stop outsourcing, moves that would hit him where it hurts him the most—in his bank account?

Oh, Clinton, as Trump loves to point out, was for NAFTA before she came out against it. But mum’s the word from Trump about how he was cool with outsourcing before he ran for president.

But here’s another point to ponder: Clinton doesn’t make a pile of money off products made in low wage countries and shipped stateside. Trump does. Hence, who’s more likely to put the kibosh on trade deals and outsourcing–the candidate who fattens his wallet off outsourcing or the candidate who doesn’t?

Anyway, the other day I heard a Bernie Sanders booster, who I’d bet the farm won’t vote for Clinton, blame her and the whole Democratic party for NAFTA and other job-killing trade deals. Trump would love this guy who fancies himself a liberal and claims to be a Democrat.

It’s true that President Bill Clinton backed NAFTA in 1993. But most Democrats in Congress didn’t. The Republicans got NAFTA passed.

In the House, 102 Democrats voted “aye” and 156 “nay.” The Republicans were for NAFTA 132-43. One independent voted no. His name is Bernie Sanders and he’s now in Clinton’s corner and in the Senate.

On the Senate side, the GOP went for NAFTA 34-10. The Democrats were 28-27 against NAFTA. (One Democrat did not vote.)

Donald Trump Right to WorkTrump, too, is fine with American companies moving jobs and production from one state to another. Almost always, the migration involves a unionized company closing down and pulling up stakes in a non-“right to work” state and reopening non-union in a RTW state.

Trump prefers RTW states to non-RTW states.

Trump is like the Kentucky horse trader of old. He’s happy to show you his teeth, but not the horse’s.

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