The AFL-CIO leadership are demanding that the two corporate-financed parties, the Democrats and Republicans, adopt the Economic Bill of Rights in their platforms at their conventions this year. They must know this is a lost cause with the openly anti-union Republicans. They should know that a real commitment to an Economic Bill of Rights is as much a lost cause with the Democrats, who have taken labor's political support for granted for many decades with no significant pro-labor reforms to show for it.
If they didn't know that, it should have been clear on August 11 when a 40,000-strong AFL-CIO sponsored rally in Philadelphia called for the Economic Bill of Rights. The rally heard by video from President Obama, who made no mention of the Economic Bill of Rights. Meanwhile, in Detroit, the platform committee of the Democratic National Convention put the final touches on the platform to be adopted over Labor Day week that has no planks to secure any of these economic rights.
The great victories of labor have always been won by independent actions that pressured the political establishment to make concessions. The landmark National Labor Relations Act, which finally established workers' right to collectively bargain, was adopted in 1935 under the pressure of independent labor political action in the factories, shops, and streets by the ascendant union movement and in the electoral arena in the form of many union resolutions calling for a labor party. The labor party resolutions had credibility because the labor-backed Farmer-Labor and Progressive parties in the Upper Midwest already had two governors, three Senators, and 12 Representatives in their camp in 1935 and they were considering an independent presidential campaign in 1936.
But after the AFL rejected the labor party and went into the Democratic Party in 1936, labor lost its independent vision and its leverage in the political system. It was now part of a coalition dominated by big business.
The anti-labor Taft-Hartley Act passed in 1947 with majority support of the Democratic majority in Congress. Every attempt at labor law reform since then has failed when there was a Democratic President with Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress.
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