America needs warriors for justice

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It is beyond doubt that we are living in a period of potentially great historical change in the United States.

Just a year ago we trade unionists, progressives, and Americans of good will made history with the election of an African-American President–something many of us never thought possible — and large majorities of pro-working family Democrats in both Houses of Congress.

With the implosion of our financial services sector and the consequent economic crisis and recession, it has become abundantly clear that unregulated, unfettered free market capitalism doesn’t work for anyone. We now have irrefutable proof that greed is not good, that the markets don’t by themselves work for the common good in the nation’s interest, that if all the money and resources go to the top, the middle and the bottom are starved. And speaking of the middle, we now know that the middle class is in peril — endangered by the policies of free market economics — unfettered corporate-driven globalization, illegal and immoral union busting, contracting out, working rat, privatization, benefit busting, wage thievery — all the policies that have made up the 30 year assault on working families and unions. While some may have doubted these truths two or four or more years ago, these truths are beyond doubt today.

Those who once held themselves up to be leaders of our society and government are now scorned — Wall St, Bush, Cheney, AIG. The recipients of the governments bailouts continue to shovel obscene amounts of our money to executives without a clue while we suffer 10 percent unemployment, continued loss of health care, and declining wages and a consequent declining standard of living, and a potentially frightening future for our kids and grandkids and beyond.

Most importantly, our people are ready for and even demanding change. By significant majorities, Americans want a public healthcare plan included in the larger health care reform package, and Americans want the Employee Free Choice Act to be passed to once again allow American workers to freely form unions and bargain collectively.

America is ready for change.

Why then is change so hard to achieve?

Those who’ve prosecuted and benefited from the 30 year financial assault on America’s working families refuse to let go, to give up what they’ve come to see as theirs — the insurance companies, the union busters, the ABC, the Comcasts, the Walmarts, Wall St and manipulators of our finances, the Radical Rightwing including Cheney and Rush Limbaugh and Karl Rove and Dick Armey and the Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute.

It is clear that if we are to win the change we voted for last fall and many of us have worked for for years, we are gonna have to fight, fight hard, and fight outside the normal Washington lobbying box.

Washington politics and lobbying does not work for workers and working families.

We cannot forget that we’ve gotten to the verge of passing the Employee Free Choice Act by running the largest national grassroots legislative campaign in the history of the American labor movement. Over the six year course of this campaign we’ve put literally hundreds of thousands of people on the street and more than a million workers in motion. We delivered one and a half million signatures to the Congress, sent half a million emails, wrote 300,000 handwritten letters and made 200,000 phone calls to Senators.

That’s a ton of good work. But it is more than clear that we have to do more of it.

While the Employee Free Choice Act has not yet passed, we have realized many benefits — more than a dozen states have passed new public employee collective bargaining laws including majority authorization. Public officials from town and county commissions to city councils to state assemblies to governors and mayors to the Congress to the President of the United States now realize what hell workers go through when they try to organize and bargain for a better life. More public officials than ever have weighed in to support workers trying to organize.

We have got to ramp up our grassroots lobbying by our members.

But just as importantly, we have to ramp up our effort to engage and organize workers who don’t have a union, to make use of the progress and allies we’ve made and enlist unorganized workers in the struggle to organize their workplaces and to fight and struggle in the public policy fight to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. Every organizing campaign is a direct and clear reason to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.

It is not enough to wait for the Employee Free Choice Act to pass. We have to demonstrate its necessity with struggle–old fashioned struggle right now, today not tomorrow. And by their actions, unorganized workers have to demonstrate the necessity for the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act.

It is not enough to wait on the law to change.

History is not made and humanity is not advanced by those who accept the status quo. History is made and the human condition is advanced by warriors willing to struggle for a better life for their kids and grandkids, warriors who understand what they have was won by the blood and tears and sacrifice of our forebears.

America today needs warriors — warriors to organize and struggle, to fight for change, to fight the Radical Right and corporate domination, to organize and struggle, to dare the rat bastards to stop us, to refuse to lose, to challenge the status quo, to tell those who’ve run our country and too many lives into the ditch that change is now, that we will fight in Washington but that we will also fight all across America.

The future is ours. Let’s take it.

This article originally appeared on and is published with the permission of the author. © 2009 Inc.,