Tuesday, December 16, 2008

(some of) NAM's Greatest Hits - Then and Now

National Association of Manufacturers, (1895-???)

*On the need for Employers to Organize (against the free press and direct democracy, etc):
We must co-operate – we must get together and stick together to uphold our honor and honesty, we manufacturers and merchants, or rampant labor men, socialists and demagogues will be our undoing. All these new fangled ideas about the initiative, referendum and recall, and all these attacks on capital, no matter how honestly obtained, are for the sole purpose of putting more power into the hands of the papers and politicians. In fact, I think the greatest menace that our country has today is a so-called “free press,” bidding for popularity with the thoughtless mob.
* Contra the eight-hour working day, from a pamphlet entitled, Eight Hours by Act of Congress: Arbitrary, Needless, Destructive, Dangerous:
The National Association is committed to an unrelenting opposition to this vicious, needless, and in every way preposterous proposition…The worst that can be said of it is none too bad.
The chief work of the Association is an educational one – the molding of public opinion. [If successful] the public spirited masses of the country will rally to their side, and the featherheads and mountebanks who have been casting discredit on many of the labor unions will drop back into obscurity from which they were originally dragged.

We must point out to the people that all this legislation that is going on affects them; shorter hours increases the cost of living, raises taxes, creates a condition for them that is really worse than it is for the manufacturers. We owe that to them. We must do it. That is the most important thing for this organization to do.
* Contra the Employee Free Choice Act
Union bosses have made it clear that their highest legislative priority next year is passage of EFCA.

The card check bill would eliminate over 70 years of precedent established under the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 by taking away employees’ freedom to choose under a federally supervised, secret ballot election when deciding whether or not to join a union. It would replace the private, secret ballot election with a system called “card check” which allows a union to organize if a majority of employees simply sign an authorization card. Under this system, the employees’ signatures are made public to the employer, the union organizers and co-workers.

Trading federally supervised private ballot elections for a card check process tramples the privacy of individual workers. Secret ballots are the only way to protect an individual’s freedom to choose without subtle or overt coercion.
(Good to hear this defense of the secret ballot/democracy from a group that has publicly opposed the free press, direct democracy and the direct election of U.S. Senators, eh?)


lex dexter said...

Organized labor knows but one law and that is the law of physical force – the law of the Huns and Vandals, the law of the savage. All its purposes are accomplished either by actual force or by the threat of force…It is, in all essential features, a mob power knowing no master except its own will. Its history is stained with blood and ruin…It extends its tactics of coercion and intimidation over all classes, dictating to the press and to the politicians and strangling independence of through and American manhood.” – David M. Perry, President of the National Association of Manufacturers, 1903.

wobblie said...

Credit where it's due - at least now they feign to care about the worker.

William said...

This blog really loses me sometimes. When are you intelligentsia labor types (that's not intended to be an insult, btw) going to level with simps like me rather than talking (big) circles around us? All I wanna do is: 1) have a job, 2) go to job every day ('cept holidays and when I'm seeck), 3) come home at a reasonable hour, 4) repeat until I'm 65. Is it that I'm simply missing something or I'm just too stupid to understand what is going on? Labor talk? I really don't know how to engage in a conversation about that with you guys. In fact, I find it downright intimidating to even consider. Post a picture of Gizmo from "Gremlins" or something and I'll be captivated/happy.

dave3544 said...


Posting stupid shit was my bailiwick. You can find me at http://....

Kidding. It's not that hard. You say you just want to go to work, take weekends and call in sick. You don't seem to want to join with your co-workers to be able to negotiate your wages and benefits. Is that something you'd like to do, or you really don't want to? If you really don't want to, then a union is not your bag. Hopefully, you might be supportive if others want to negotiate with their employer.

That's Union 101.

lex dexter said...


(i'm going to take that last admonishment as a tongue-in-cheek kinda thing. i'll quit blogging and never look back if i'm thrust into a situation in which i am obliged to "make sense." i can produce any quantity of loved ones, colleagues and mentors to testify to the fact that "making sense" eludes me as much in other life-worlds as in this blog-world.)

in the above post i was just trying to compile some horrifying quotations from a century-old employers association that impedes workplace democracy and poisons the larger political culture to this very day.

and yeah, retiring at 65 sounds nice. finally i'll have time to play Keno like it's meant to be played.

Wilbur said...

Dave -

That's fine. And I understand the basics (I guess I already did, now that you put it that way). I guess with the content of this blog I just feel like I'm in WAY over my head and have a difficult time "connecting the dots" to see how I should be happy/upset by certain things that come across the Ticker here. I mean, I'm not writing a dissertation on this type of stuff or anything - but you are, and I understand that. AND, it's your blog, so write whatever you feel up for, by any/all means. As for me, I really, most certainly don't have enough of a labortalk vocabulary to keep up with most of the posts. Hell, I'm from Tennessee and only heard about who Bob Corker was (and what he's into) just last week. I don't know why that is. I don't necessarily consider myself ill-informed, lazy, stupid, or apathetic - but I start to feel that way when I can't "make sense" of anything.

Anonymous said...

Damn, someone here is actually writing a dissertation on this?

What I want to know is: who the FUCK is going to be the Secretary of Labor and why is that s/he the absolute last person getting picked?

Minus my nominal allegiance if it's Granholm.


lex dexter said...

EZ and I are holding out hope that Mary Beth Maxwell from American Rights at Work will get the Labor Sec gig. But I bet it's somebody boring-er and neutral-er than that.

wobblie said...

A certain former president of a national labor union with which many of us have been associated has had his name pop up in the mix from time-to-time. Just sayin'.

I've been going back and forth on Maxwell at DoL. On the one hand, she's a real-deal laborite. On the other, I'm not sure she has the institutional and personal heft to go toe-to-toe with the money gurus on Obama's staff. Basically, if we only want the SecO'Lab to make the DoL a worker-friendly bureaucracy, Maxwell's an awesome choice. However, if we want someone who will rip Geithner, Summers, and Volker new assholes when necessary, I don't know that she's the one for the job - she might be, but I don't know.

William: I see your point - we do tend to have a lot of meta-discussions about labor, primarily because a lot of us are concerned about how to position the movement in order to arrest it's decline, and if you're not on that conversation, it can be kind of off-putting. We know that - in fact, we would never have these sorts of conversations with most union members with whom we interact. We'd have the red-meat "bosses are out to screw you and that's why you need to get involved with the union" type conversations. So maybe that's what we need a dose of around here every now and again, no?

lex dexter said...

wobs/AP re: Labor Sec.

David Bonior's name keeps coming up, even though he says he doesn't want the job.

Wobs, who do you think has both the political clout and the ideological bona fides to get the job done? Where's Gephart in all this?

wobblie said...

Those are your $60K questions, right there, right there.

Wilbur said...

Thanks, Wobs. That was pretty much the response I needed. I go to art history school, me'self - so I really have never ventured into territory like this. I suppose the most I ever got involved in subjects of this nature in school have been: 1) "The Dialectic of Enlightenment," 2) "Postmodernism, Or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism," and 3) "Empire" (chronological order but also the reverse in which read them). I really liked all three, of course, but when things get logistical/technical and beyond these (predictable) sources, I tend to get lost...then I get a little frustrated. That's all. But, to answer your question (and I don't know how much real substance my ill-informed input on this may be), I suppose I kind of brought up my initial "observation" in the first place is it made me wonder what's more effective in the long run (or at all, for that matter): 1) the "Red Meat"("meat-and-potatoes"?) convo that you noted OR 2) the more, let's say, "specialized dialogue." Then, it made me wonder about the marginalization (and generally ineffectual role) of the of the Academic Left. But I guess what I would characterize as an American brand of the intelligentsia can also kind of oscillate between those two paths of discussion.

And what's that citation for the whole "necessity of dissent within dissent" idea? There's more than one, of course, spanning from about the 1840's to the 1960's...I'd nominate Duchamp, coming from the art history thing...(READ: Shameless attempt to talk about something I know for a change! Haha!)

Wilbur said...

On second thought, I would struggle between Duchamp and Courbet. Then, I'd eventually settle on Courbet on the basis of his temporal pole positioning. He will effectively initiate a logic of dissent - one in which Duchamp is destined to follow, albeit with more self-destructive intent - for the coming 100 years. "Burial at Ornans" gets madd props as the Critical Moment (with "Stone Breakers" a close second).

Wilbur said...

Don't forget Marx's "Manifesto" was pub. in 1848. February, for that matter - that way, it's got the entire year to "exist" in this particular spatial/temporal setting. Big year. What with the "Spring of Nations" and all. Irish Potato Famine is right through this time too, no?