UNIONS, PROTESTS AND
THE COLLAPSE OF THE U.S. ECONOMY
Dr. Michael S. Coffman Ph. D.
April 16, 2011
One hundred UAW members effectively shut down a Detroit bank for an hour and half; Eighty striking Pocono Medical Center workers and SEIU members fill a bank lobby in Stroudsburg, PA to demand a meeting with its CEO, intimidating employees in the process; Over 200 arrested in violent labor protests in London; Grocery stores stormed; Demonstrators angrily protesting at homes of targeted business management. Could these seemingly separate events actually be part of a massive agenda?
On the surface, the protests in Wisconsin and other states may seem to be simply about humble workers trying to fight to eek out a meager living. For many of the workers, that is what they believe it is all about. To be certain, there are many examples where teacher or public employee unions have protected a member against incompetent, vindictive administrators and bosses. Historically, there are many positive things unions have done.
The truth today, however, is actually much more complicated and fundamentally opposed to all that has made this country great. What we are seeing is just the beginning of a well-planned agenda to destroy the United States as we know it.
To put all of the pieces of this massive puzzle together would require scores of shelf-straining volumes. Although the roots of this agenda go back more than a hundred years, what is happening today started during one of the most radical decades of the 20th century, the 1960’s.
The Sixties brought rampant hedonism, radical social change, and political upheaval, all of which unleashed irreversible havoc and destruction on a very unprepared nation. Many of the agitators of that turbulent decade tossed out the traditional values, morals and beliefs of their parents’ and grandparents’ generations and chose instead to pursue the radical, extreme ideas of socialism and communism.
After decades of cold war with what President Ronald Reagan later called the “Evil Empire,” it is now graphically obvious that communism and other leftist ideologies did not die with the fall of the Soviet Union. This ideology has silently spread like a cancer to America.
Cloward and Piven
By now, most people who are at all interested in what is happening in America have heard of the “Cloward and Piven Strategy. The strategy has been accepted as the bible of the progressive left movement and is at the heart of this cancer.” Birthed by sociologists Richard Andrew Cloward and his wife Frances Fox Piven, the strategy was published in an article entitled The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty in the May 2, 1966 issue of The Nation, an ultra left leaning magazine which strongly supported the Communist bloc during the cold war.
The purpose of the Cloward and Piven Strategy “seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse.” It also called for “cadres of aggressive organizers” to use “demonstrations to create a climate of militancy…. Carefully orchestrated media campaigns, carried out by friendly, leftwing journalists, would float the idea of "a federal program of income redistribution.”
One of the early targets of the strategy was New York City. Just as planned, New York City was overwhelmed by the cost of social programs and was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1975. New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani attempted to expose the attack in the late 1990s and again in 2009-2010 when the now bankrupt ACORN? (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) became front-page news. He accused them of deliberate economic sabotage. Not surprisingly, the mainstream media turned a deaf ear. Most of the mainstream media today have been infiltrated with editors and writers supporting Cloward and Piven ideology. They have essentially become propaganda outlets for progressive left-wing dogma.
Piven’s influence and voice are still very much in the forefront of The Nation’s headlines. In an article published in the The Nation just last January Piven wrote in, “Mobilizing the Jobless,”
Local protests have to accumulate and spread—and become more disruptive—to create serious pressures on national politicians. An effective movement of the unemployed will have to look something like the strikes and riots that have spread across Greece… or like the student protests that recently spread with lightning speed across England in response to the prospect of greatly increased school fees.
In both Greece and England the riots were violent and bloody. In England, a car containing Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall was violently attacked. When the rioters tried to break the windows of the car they yelled, “Off with their heads.”
Violent revolution is exactly what Piven is calling for in the United States. Piven’s article goes on to say, “So where are the angry crowds, the demonstrations, sit-ins and unruly mobs?” she writes. “After all, the injustice is apparent. Working people are losing their homes and their pensions while robber-baron CEOs report renewed profits and windfall bonuses.”
The duplicity of Piven and the unions is unbelievable. The housing collapse starting in 2007 and the economic collapse of 2008 which led to the mortgage defaults were at least partially caused by the myriads of special interest community organizing NGOs. They effectively used the Cloward and Piven Strategy of violence and intimidation for decades to force banks to provide mortgagees to low income people who could not afford them. When the housing crisis hit in 2007, it was the banks that were blamed, not community organizing NGOs and Congress, both of which were at the heart of the problem.
Piven also protests the fat salaries of big business calling them “robber barons,” while glossing over the scores of union leaders who are making double, triple and quadruple six figure incomes, and higher. The discrepancy between salaries of union bosses and those of union members would infuriate most average union members if they knew. Worse, these union bosses typically receive large annual raises of 4 and 5% in many cases, while union members see a much lower percentage, if they get any raise at all. Union members are forced pay dues to their unions or lose their jobs. Yet, these union leaders and bosses are never called “robber barons.”
The Real Goal of Unions
Many unions and community organizing NGOs today are now using the Cloward-Piven Strategy to gain more and more power. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is one of the worst.
Stephen Lerner is the former director of SEIU’s banking and finance campaign. SEIU claims Lerner is on a leave of absence. At the Left Forum held at Pace University on March 19 this year, Lerner was introduced as partnering with unions and groups in Europe and South America. In his speech, Lerner laid out his recommendations to bring the kind of economic collapse that Cloward and Piven promote, “There are actually extraordinary things we could do right now to start to destabilize the folks that are in power and start to rebuild a movement.”
Lerner's plan calls for a carefully coordinated attack on home mortgages, student loans, and local government debt payments. Basically the plan calls for people who have these loans to stop paying. If enough people did this, reasoned Lerner, it would cause bank insolvency, which would theoretically cause the banks to renegotiate the terms of the loans. The attack would cause the destabilization that Lerner longs for and bring about a stock market crisis that would facilitate the transfer of power the radical left wants.
Lerner's plan starts by having union thugs attack JP Morgan Chase in early May with demonstrations on Wall Street and protests at the stockholders’ meeting. Lerner cautions that although unions would benefit from this strategy, they they cannot be seen as having orchestrated the disruption.
This is blatant economic terrorism; a term not to be thrown around lightly. The Center of Security Policy of Geneva, which is an international foundation that promotes the building and maintenance of peace, security and stability defined economic terrorism as “coordinated and sophisticated or massive destabilizing actions in order to disrupt the economic and financial stability of a state, a group of states or a society (such as market oriented western societies) for ideological or religious motives.”
Likewise, the FBI defines terrorism as “The unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a Government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”
There is no question that Learner’s plan is economic terrorism under the Center of Security’s definition. It is less clear under the FBI’s definition because of the word “unlawful.” It is certainly lawful to protest or picket. That is a civil right embedded solidly within the Constitution. But when does the use of force, violence or intimidation become unlawful?
The courts have historically given a lot of latitude to unions and protesters because of the inherent tensions and high emotions on a picket line. Historically, the use of blatant force or violence by unions was done out of sight and not provable in court. Not anymore. Dozens of instances of raw coercion, beatings and violence have been video recorded, but the police or courts look the other way.
A legal line must be drawn when force and violence becomes a tool to intimidate and destabilize. This is at the heart of the Cloward and Piven Strategy commonly used by SEIU and other unions, as well as leftist protestors. So far it has not been found illegal, especially within the Obama administration.
Why should the Obama administration be concerned about the violence and intimidation, when Obama admits he and SEIU are joined at the hip? In a speech at the SEIU’s 2007 convention, then candidate Obama pledged his total support to the unions so they could “take back” America. He claimed he “has spent his entire adult life working with SEIU” and that SEIU’s “agenda is my agenda,” whose “life’s work is your (SEIU’s) work.”
It is therefore no surprise that Lerner is not only a powerful voice within the unions, but also within the Obama administration. As with the former President of SEIU, Andy Stern, Lerner has visited the White House on numerous occasions. Based on their various speeches, both Stern’s and Lerner’s agenda go way beyond good fringe benefits and a living wage for workers.
Stern admitted to PBS on June 15, 2007 that he is trying to organize the world using the old communist phrase, “workers of the world unite! It’s not just a slogan anymore; it is the way we have to do our work.” Responding to another question during the PBS interview, Stern said “There are opportunities in America to share better in the wealth, to rebalance the power and unions and government are part of the solution.” This is militant socialism leaning towards Marxism.
The use of power to accomplish this goal is a given for Stern, “we are trying to use the power of persuasion and if that doesn’t work, we use the persuasion of power.” In yet another talk, Stern proclaimed “we took names, we watched how they voted, we know where they live.” His union thugs have terrorized spouses and families of corporate executives by militant protesting on the lawns of their homes.
The militancy that Cloward and Piven prescribed is moving forward with great speed and effectiveness. The progressive left clearly wants the events and actions in Wisconsin to become the norm. Union bosses now openly associate with socialist and communist groups. Mike Elk, third-generation union organizer and labor journalist wrote recently for a far left wing blog called Talking Union, conceived and administered by the Democratic Socialist of America’s Labor Commission.
In the past, labor leaders have been hesitant to call militant actions in part because they’re afraid they won’t have the support and energy of union members… ‘I think that we have entered a new era of labor militancy,’ SEIU President Mary Kay Henry told me the other day after speaking at a rally in front of 10,000 people. “I think Wisconsin proves that the rank and file is willing to take bold steps.”
The events in Wisconsin ensued when Governor Walker, facing a huge budget shortfall, had to take steps to avoid economic disaster for his state. Many states are facing such deficits. With the deliberate destabilization and disruption of the entire system as stated goals, it isn’t a stretch to link the current pension crises facing so many states, to the Cloward Piven goal of collapsing the economic system.
What amazes many people is the unions have no real grounds for discontent during this economic crisis. Public employees belonging to these unions typically make far more in salaries and benefits than do their private employee counterparts. An article in the New York Times reported that in Yonkers, more than 100 retirees are making significantly more in an annual pension than they did in salaries while they were still working. As it is, New York’s unfunded pension liabilities alone are $10.4 billion, which is a mere shadow of California’s $59.5 billion unfunded liability.
As bad as this is, New York’s retirement liability is a mere pittance when unfunded medical and other retirement benefits are included. Excluding New York City, the state’s total post-employment benefits total is $80 billion. For New York City alone, it is $62 billion. Paul Krugman, op-ed writer for the NYT wrote on February 27 of this year that the pension crisis in New York has resulted from “years and years of huge giveaways to unions” which have resulted in “gigantic, unpayable debts.” Tragically, this is true for too many states.
The Pew Center on the States estimates that all funds combined currently operate at a $1 trillion deficit, leaving many state public pensions funded well below the 80 percent level suggested by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). Many analysts believe that the $1 trillion deficit actually is much higher. The Pensions are contracted. The contracts are negotiated by the unions. The shortfalls are not an accident or an oversight.
Not all states having to take draconian action are being attacked by unions. Fox News reported on March 30 that the Democrat controlled Washington State legislature and governor are requiring public employee unions to pay far more of their retirement benefits than those proposed for Wisconsin public unions. Yet, the same unions whose thugs eventually stormed the Wisconsin state house in protest, and are spending millions of dollars trying to impeach Wisconsin Republican legislators, are strangely quiet in Washington State. It appears that Democrats are also joined at the hip with the unions.
Many leaders of the unions are seeking nothing but power and all that it brings with it. The inconsistency between Wisconsin and Washington is just further evidence that power is the real agenda. In a speech at a meeting of the National Education Association (NEA) in 2010, NEA president, Dennis Van Roekel declares it is all about power, and “collective action.” At the NEA annual meeting in 2009, NEA’s Chief Counsel Robert Chanin said in his retirement speech,
It is not because we care about children, and it is not because we have a vision for a great public school for every child. The NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power. And we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of million of dollars in dues each year.
The NEA’s goal is finally out in the open. It’s all about power. Collective bargaining and the power it brings are more important than the good of the students.
These unions proclaim that their first priority is students. The just released in-depth documentary on education in America, Waiting for Superman, puts the lie to that statement. Waiting for Superman provides shocking evidence that the single greatest reason for the stinking cesspool of public education in American is the unions. The state of education is so bad, especially in the inner cities, that students must be selected by lottery to attend schools not controlled by the union; where they can actually get an education. Think of it. A child’s future is decided by the luck of the draw. That is the legacy of teacher unions.
The SEIU and the NEA are not alone in the power mongering. The Daily Caller reported that “AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka didn’t pull any punches Thursday as he continued attacks against Republicans involved in the ‘Wisconsin Moment.’” The article went on to say, “The President of one of the country’s most powerful unions hailed the ‘Midwest Uprising’ as just the beginning of a battle between labor and corporate-backed Republican ‘tools.’ It’s a battle that has been 25 years in the making.” The most telling thing Trumka said in his speech? “As progressives … it’s our job to transform the outrage, and to make this moment a movement.”
The unions also seem to be joined at the hip with socialists and communists. On October 2 last fall, hard leftist socialists and communists marched together with unions in Washington DC in the One Nation March. This February, Moveon.org, a leftist activist organization which has received millions of dollars from George Soros held a rally for SEIU members. The rally was actually organized by the ISO, the International Socialist Organization (ISO). The ISO website has this as its stated goal, “We see our task as building an independent socialist organization with members organizing in our workplaces, our schools and our neighborhoods to bring socialist ideas to the struggles we are involved in today, and the vision of a socialist world in the future.”
Further evidence of the consummation of this unholy marriage, Communist Party US boasts a working relationship with Trumka in elections analysis. John Olsen, President of the Connecticut Chapter of the AFL-CIO was chosen for an award by the PWW, People’s Weekly World, which is the Newspaper for the Communist Party US. Olsen attended the event and accepted the award. Most people don’t know or remember that former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev proclaimed to the 1,375 people attending the 1959 Communist Party Congress in Moscow that a capitalist nation must become socialist before it can become communist:
"Society cannot leap into Communism from capitalism without going through a socialist stage of development.” The transition "in which socialism develops into Communism is a regular historical process that cannot be arbitrarily violated or avoided. Socialist countries, correctly using the opportunity of cooperation and mutual aid, will more or less simultaneously reach the highest phase of Communist society. "
This is exactly what has been happening in America. The power of the public employee unions is growing at an alarming rate, and they appear to have the endorsement of President Obama. The most frequent visitor to the White House in 2009 was Andy Stern formerly of the SEIU. Once Stern resigned in 2010, Anna Burger, Secretary-Treasurer of the SEIU became the most frequent visitor.
Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO also brags he is “at the White House a couple of times a week…” While Trumka visits a couple times a week, NBC news reports the President has not even conferred once with at least six of his cabinet members since he became president! It is clear that the unions are hungry for power and are joined at the hip with the Obama administration. They are determined to completely and radically change the country as we have known it. This realization gives new meaning to Obama’s campaign promise, “In five days we are going to fundamentally transform America.”
With Ronald Reagan’s, “Mr. Gorbechev, Tear Down This Wall!!!” still ringing in the halls of history, it is staggering to see what is happening in the United States of America. When President Reagan voiced those words we were the beacon of faith, freedom, innovation, initiative and defense of the defenseless. Many Americans still want to be that nation. People by the millions have flocked to these shores looking for a better life. America cannot keep up with the flood. However, we are rapidly losing this light of hope.
Never forget that Communists have to put up walls to keep their people imprisoned. Communism is a virulent, pernicious poison. Destruction, Domination and Death are its unholy children. The atrocities that are occurring in communist countries like China and North Vietnam today are getting almost no coverage in the media. So the current generation of Americans has almost no awareness of the unbelievably appalling and wickedness of communism.
The cold war ended over twenty years ago. Everyone under 35 was a child when the Wall fell and the tanks rolled in Tiananmen Square. Many adults today have little or even no memory of the evils of communism and the oppression that always accompanies it. We have to remember what Soviet Premier Khrushchev told Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson during the Eisenhower administration:
“Your grandchildren will live under communism." Khrushchev said to Secretary Benson. Secretary Benson assured him that he would do all in his power to see to it that that did not happen.
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Khrushchev then replied in substance, "You Americans are so gullible. No, you won't accept Communism outright; but we'll keep feeding you small doses of Socialism until you will finally wake up and find that you already have Communism. We won't have to fight you; we'll so weaken your economy, until you fall like overripe fruit into our hands."
Khrushchev knew what he was talking about. Those who would turn America into a communist/socialist nation are very close to fulfilling that goal. The union’s goal must be exposed and stopped. We have very little time left. For part one click below.
Click here for part -----> 1,
1. It has been reported that Lerner is no longer with SEIU. However, an entry this week on the Blog site of Wade Rathke, founder of ACORN and friend of Stephen Lerner, says Lerner was not fired but rather he was placed on paid leave, to “think through his contribution to the union, but was certainly present at the recent international executive board meeting. He’s in a curious position no doubt, but it’s something like being an ‘injured reserve’ in the NFL and waiting for the team to find a place to bring him back on the roster.”
Michael Coffman. Rescuing a Broken America, (Morgan James Publishing, New York), 2010. P 67
© 2011 Michael Coffman - All Rights Reserved