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Updated: 18.12.2012 15:51
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Eine Debatte um Gewerkschaften und Migration

Aus Anlass einer Demonstration in San Francisco - "Amnesty for All", gemeint sind MigrantInnen ohne Papiere - die zunächst von der regierenden Demokratischen Partei verboten wurde, danach aufgrund massiven Drucks erlaubt werden musste, entspann sich in der Mailingliste "Labor-L" eine Debatte über die Rolle der MigrantInnen, an der zwar nur wenige Menschen teilnahmen, die aber durchaus als repräsentativ für viele Debatten gelten kann, wenn es um die Rolle der MigrantInnen geht. Sind das (fast) alle Mittelklasseleute, die (bewusst?) Lohndrückerarbeit machen? Aber was heisst Mittelklasse überhaupt und was, wenn diese als TagelöhnerInnen arbeiten? Und was sich sonst noch an Debatten entwickelt, wenn ein Gewerkschaftsaktivist den Linken vorwirft, sie seien schwach, weil sie am "amerikanischen Arbeiter vorbei" arbeiten und denken würden - als seien MigrantInnen ein Randgruppenproblem. Die (englische) Debatte "Democrats Deny Permit for 'Amnesty for All' Rally" dokumentiert, wie sie Mitte September 2006 auf Labor-L geführt wurde (und noch weiter wird).

Democrats Deny Permit for 'Amnesty for All' Rally

Groucho Marx

It's absolutely correct that the concrete context of rights is what gives abstract "rights" their meaning. And that it's wrong -- and liberal (at best) -- to fixate on merely the abstraction. By the same token, lumping all low-wage immigrants together as scabs is itself a less-than-accurate representation of the more complex and concrete reality there. Many of these people are in the forefront of struggle: May 1st 2006 wasn't our collective delusional imagination, after all. And why are Roland and Louis fighting here, really? Because, essentially, we don't have a fugging Plan -- let alone a Party -- or even what we truly need right this moment: a broad United Front, organized around some very basic [implicit at least] socialist principles.

People would fight less, if we were arguing about more concrete things -- like an Action Plan. I think we've all posted and reposted enuff articles on the Internet over the past decade or so. We need to _organize_ now.


As the smoke cleared

But, I DO defend the right to assembly -- for workers and the poor -- not for the rich or the exploiter, who makes use of that right to further oppress the mass of exploited and downtrodden. But, is the right to assembly the most important right for workers?? No. Only someone hopelessly brainwashed by the corporate media or a "hopeless", slavering bootlicker of the boss class could think it is. The most fundamental "rights" of all working people include those directly concerned with the earning of one's daily bread. The right to a tenable job, to health care, to decent, affordable housing, to an education that will allow each to become one's true "essential" self, the right to a SKILL, or many skills at which one may become competent and, when performed accordingly, contributes however humbly to the collective wealth of the society in which one is obliged to call home.

The fact is, the vast influx of foreign labor constitutes a force of replacement workers deliberately brought here to attack workers, especially the most impoverished and those suffering from the greatest lack of skill already here. These happen themselves to be people of color and the desperately poor, who, due to the inexorable logic of capitalism, are at risk day to day of being crushed by want. The replacement worker does not care about these people; he is happy to be an instrument in the hands of the boss for whatever crumbs the boss is content to throw him. The nationalist, racist capitalists (or expectant capitalists) who are the real power behind the amnesty movement understand very well the issues involved; the need for ever lower and lower wages (leading in the case of the most wretched worker to outright ruin) in the quest for profit. How any worker, even a former union hack, could fail to see this (and instead offers platitudes about the Bill of Rights)! says volumes about the state of the Left in today's America.

Louis Godena, Local 94, Carpenters


Bill of rights

I am talking about the Bill of Rights -- the first ten admendments to the Constitution, which the 'founding fathers' did not include in the constitution. If you can not defend the right to assembly, the First Admendment, then your hopeless as a union activist.

I think your attitude towards immigrants has blinded you, but then there is none so blind as those that refuse to see. I organized immigrant workers into the Painters Union, when I was an official. At first, they thoought I was like every other Building Trades official. It was my position to organize all workers -- not just white workers.

Roland Garret

"Rights" for everybody??

What about the "right" to own property and to own the labor of others?? What about the "right" to bring in 20 million replacement workers in order to bloat one's own profit margin to the detriment of the workers?? And, while we're at it, what of the "right" of the rich property owner to buy and sell a handful of labor traitors in order to keep workers constantly in thrall to the rich?? There can be no such thing as "rights" for everybody; there are either only rights for the vast majority of exploited or, alternatively, for the tiny minority of exploiters and their hangers-on.

Louis Godena, Local 94, Carpenters

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