Sunday, April 19, 2009

Business leaders hold conference call on how to crush the EFCA

(via HuffingtonPost), So if you are wondering what the EFCA is really all about, listen to what the class of people up in arms about it have to say about it. They sound off in public about how they are for 'workers rights' and how the EFCA is really only a debate about maintaining the 'secret ballot' (i.e. 'company-dominated elections'). But they know that the EFCA really boils down to class power, and this is why they are so up in arms. They don't want unionization because that means that workers have both more say about how the job gets done and more bargaining power to demand a larger share of the profits that they produce for the company. Over the last 40 years productivity has soared yet wages have stagnated, and the difference (increased profits) was appropriated by the ownership of businesses, not their workers.

(graph from EPI: more here)

And now the class who has absorbed that increase in profit doesn't want to have to give any of it back. Hence their worry about the possibility of more unionization.

So this transcript has nothing new to tell us, but is a perfect exemplification of why the EFCA debate is, at bottom, a matter of class antagonism. You can listen to what they say at length, but here is a gem:
"This is the demise of a civilization," said Marcus. "This is how a civilization disappears. I am sitting here as an elder statesman and I'm watching this happen and I don't believe it."
At one point, relatively early in the call, Marcus joked that he "took a tranquilizer this morning to calm myself down."
(Bernie Marcus is the founder of Home Depot... I'm still wondering how that makes him an elder statesman...). Lisen to what he's saying: "civilization is threatening to disappear". This comes after the VP of the US Chamber of Commerce (which has promised to spend up to $10 million to defeat the bill) declared that the EFCA was tantamount to "Armageddon". I mean, how can any honest person listen to these proclamations and really believe that the EFCA is about the current pro-employer NLRB system and the 'maintenance of the secrete ballot'? This is about the class who owns the largest businesses potentially losing some of their class power and being forced to share some of their profits. And we aren't talking here about the expropriation of the expropriators, the overthrow of the bourgeoisie qua class, worker-controlled production, etc. We are talking, merely, about the ability of workers to form a legally-recognized organization in which they can choose to exercise their right to lay down their tools and not work, all so that they can get job security, benefits, modest income increases, and a more respected say in how the jobs they do should get done. This is what Marcus is losing sleep over. This is what he sees as the destruction of "civilization"; the loss of a small fraction of class power is tantamount to the destruction of the social order as he knows it.

And this bit about the "Starbucks Problem" coined by the capitalist conference-call is well covered in this recent article at

More on this to follow...

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