The Brad Blog: Union-Busting House GOP Redefines ‘Democracy’

PLUS: Correlating the demise of unions and U.S. wealth disparity…

March 31, 2011- Rep. John Mica (R-FL), Chair of the House Transportation Committee, inserted union-busting language into the 2011 Federal Aviation Administration Re-authorization bill.

His remarkable display of contempt for the democratic aspirations of working class Americans comes as little surprise, unfortunately. Mica, during his time in office, has received more than $620,000 in campaign contributions from the airline industry.

The Mica clause would block a rule adopted by the federal National Mediation Board which, according to the Communications Workers of America permitted airline and railroad workers to achieve "union representation based on a majority of votes cast, in line with the National Labor Relations Act rules governing union representation across all other industries." Instead of accepting the rules of a democratically held election of workers, Mica wants to count those who are eligible to vote, but who fail to do so, as votes against unionization.

Over the dissent of three Republicans and every Democratic member of the Committee, the House Transportation Committee rejected "an amendment by Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL) to strip Mica's anti-union language from the bill."

Mica's new definition of "democracy" underscores the observations we set forth in "Gov. Walker's Wisconsin 'Union Busting' Exposes 'Tea Party' Scam, Duped Americans" as to how so many working class Americans have been "taken in by the lies and deceptions of billionaire sociopaths, like oil-baron David Koch…[whose] aim is not liberty, freedom, and jobs but American fascism, corporatocracy, and the 'eternal subjugation of the common man.'"

That subjugation flows from the disparity of power that accompanies a growing disparity of wealth, which, in turn, correlates with the demise of unions in the U.S…

Union-busting and the 'hallmark of totalitarian society'

In responding to this latest assault on unions, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) observed:

Like [Wisconsin] Governor [Scott] Walker, advocates will describe these amendments as budget savers or pro-growth, but make no mistake, those are not their real goals. The real goal is to weaken the voice of American workers, and continue to push the same, trickle-down economic theory that has led us to unprecedented levels of inequality and instability.

Harkins' assessment, while accurate, understates the fundamental conflict between what Prof. Noam Chomsky described in Profit Over People as "neoliberal democracy" — in which 80% of all individual political contributions are made by the richest 1/4 of one percent of Americans — and "genuine democracy."

Chomsky observes that "to be effective, democracy requires that people feel a connection to their fellow citizens…A vibrant political culture needs community groups, libraries, public schools, neighborhood organizations, cooperatives, public meeting places, voluntary associations, and trade unions to provide ways for citizens to meet, communicate, and interact with their fellow citizens." On the other hand, "Neoliberal democracy", he explains, which places markets before people, community and the environment, produces consumers rather than citizens and "an atomized society of disengaged individuals who feel demoralized and socially powerless."

Union-busting seeks to eliminate collective bargaining in order to isolate individual members of society and render them politically impotent in the face of corporate wealth and power. It leads to political atomization which renowned political scientist Hanna Arendt described in her seminal work, The Origins of Totalitarianism as a hallmark of a totalitarian society.


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