The McClatchy Newspapers have picked up my op-ed on Richard Trumka, the new AFL-CIO President. So far it’s run in the Providence (RI) Journal, Buffalo News, Sacramento Bee, the Pittsburgh Tribune and the Bellingham (WA) Herald.
Here is the introduction:
America’s leading union federation, the AFL-CIO, just elevated longtime Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka to its presidency, replacing the plodding 75-year-old John Sweeney and providing hope that organized labor will finally get the breath of fresh air it has needed for many years.
To reverse labor’s slow descent into irrelevance will require a bold shift by Trumka, ironically perhaps, back to trade unionism’s first principles, including advocacy of “bread and butter” improvements in pay and working conditions and support for workers abroad.
Once before in its long history, American labor found itself socially isolated, facing intransigent employers, feckless politicians and a challenging combination of rapid technological change and a multi-ethnic immigrant workforce.
You can read the rest here.
The last surviving leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943, Marek Edelman, is dead at 90.
WIth all of the cartoonish declarations by the likes of Beck, Hannity, Radosh and Horowitz about the alleged “socialist” politics of neo-stalinists like Bill Ayers and Van Jones, the sad passing of Edelman serves as a reminder of what a real socialist looked like through some of the worst periods of modern human history. Of course, Jones and Ayers think of themselves as radicals and “socialists” despite their affinity with authoritarian movements like that of Hugo Chavez, Castro and Daniel Ortega. Both sides in this strange collusion have an interest in perpetrating the myth.
Thus, despite the sadness of today’s news it offers a refreshing opportunity to consider the biography of a genuine socialist and radical.
Jewish Bund in 1917
Edelman was 23 when he took part in the ghetto uprising as a member of the Bund, a socialist and anti-zionist Jewish group. The Germans had walled off part of Warsaw and the Jews inside realized their eventual fate. Some 300,000 residents of the ghetto were sent to the gas chambers at Treblinka before the uprising. Despite sure failure some 200 mostly young Jews like Edelman formed the Jewish Fighing Organization and rose up and inflicted significant casualties on the Nazis. In the end more than 55,000 remaining Jewish residents were massacred. Edelman was a sub commander and rose to commander of the entire force when the uprising’s lead organizer Mordechai Anielewicz was killed.