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Labor Unions

Posted by Roar of the Bewildered Herd on February 16, 2011 at 7:50 PM

When you hear the word STRIKE, what comes to mind? Is it a picture of Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters? Is it a group of Coal Miners with signs, picketing in front of their company? Perhaps you might picture the 1994-1995 Major League Baseball strike? Whatever the image is, more frequently than not, a negative connotation comes with the word STRIKE. Even the word UNION tends to be viewed wearily among much of the public, particularly through mainstream media. Why do you suppose that is? Why was the ‘union’ to blame for almost destroying America’s car manufacturers just a few years ago? Since the turn of the century, the business community has vilified workers’ unions? Except, isn’t a labor union supposed to be an example of a true Democracy? Then why would the business community aim to destroy the image of unions?

 

How many films have depicted the union as a positive force that represents the people in a positive way? Films like On the Waterfront, Salt of the Earth, Blue Collar, Silkwood, Hoffa, and October Sky depict the union as an evil entity out to take advantage of the everyday worker. Even the recent documentary, Waiting for Superman, about the ills of the public school system, places blame on the teachers’ unions preventing the privatization of the public school system in the United States. However, in reality it seems that it is the companies themselves that are out to take advantage of the worker and the only important goal is to increase profits. What company have you heard of that puts people before profits? What Board of Director is more concerned with the workers than with the fiscal quarterly earnings? If you can think of more than a handful in our corporate driven economy, please let us know. In the meantime, let us explore the scientific method used by the business community to demonize that which threatens their control over the population of workers.

 

Alex Carey discusses this precise idea in his book, Taking the Risk Out of Democracy. He refers to NAM, National Association of Manufacturers, as using a formula in 1934 called the Mohawk Valley formula, which was created by James Rand of the Remington Rand Corporation. It was written in pamphlet form and it described how a company can use certain techniques to break any strike, threat of a strike or union disturbance. According to the Labor Relations Bulletin of the National Association of Manufacturers, and later outlined by Benjamin Stolberg in the Nation on August 14, 1937, elements of the techniques mentioned are:

 

1. When a strike is threatened, label the union leaders as "agitators" to discredit them with the public and their own followers. Conduct balloting under the foremen to ascertain the strength of the union and to make possible misrepresentation of the strikers as a small minority. Exert economic pressure through threats to move the plant, align bankers, real estate owners and businessmen into a ‘Citizens' Committee’.

 

2. Raise high the banner of "law and order", thereby causing the community to mass legal and police weapons against imagined violence and to forget that employees have equal rights with others in the community.

 

3. Call a "mass meeting" to coordinate public sentiment against the strike and strengthen the Citizens' Committee.

 

4. Form a large police force to intimidate the strikers and exert a psychological effect. Utilize local police, state police, vigilantes and special deputies chosen, if possible, from other neighborhoods.

 

5. Convince the strikers their cause is hopeless with a "back-to-work" movement by a puppet association of so-called "loyal employees" secretly organized by the employer.

 

6. When enough applications are on hand, set a date for opening the plant by having such

opening requested by the puppet "back-to-work" association.

 

7. Stage the "opening" theatrically by throwing open the gates and having the employees march in a mass protected by squads of armed police so as to dramatize and exaggerate the opening and heighten the demoralizing effect.

 

8. Demoralize the strikers with a continuing show of force. If necessary, turn the locality into a warlike camp and barricade it from the outside world.

 

9. Close the publicity barrage on the theme that the plant is in full operation and the strikers are merely a minority attempting to interfere with the right to work. With this, the campaign is over — the employer has broken the strike.

 

The remarks seem similar to the techniques used by a government to stop a coup d'état or a local sheriff to shut down a civil rights movement or break up a G8 summit demonstration. Can we see any of these techniques used today? How similar is the Mohawk Valley formula to the seven basic propaganda devices created by the Institute of Propaganda Analysis (IPA) in 1937?

 

If a correlation of technique to persuade is found between the Creel Commission in 1917, The Mohawk Valley Formula in 1934, The Institute of Propaganda Analysis in 1937 and the creation of Mass Communication Studies in the 1940’s, then perhaps a better understanding of Democracy, Corporate Power and Corporate Propaganda with its seamless interconnectivity to persuasion can be exposed and perhaps be more transparent.

Categories: Propaganda

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2 Comments

Reply Mr.President
2:09 AM on February 28, 2011 
Taking a break from hw and a little tired but this entry has peaked my interest. I like this topic in that I never realized the trend of negative correlations between strikes and how they are portrayed in movies, media, etc. I think the idea of organizing workers to address issues say salary or worker safety is great but it frustrates me that at the same time it seems the more rights workers get in more developed countries, corporations will just move the factories and hire from a labor pool outside of the country where labor is dirt cheap compared to countries like the U.S. or England. I have heard debates where CEO's and representatives for big companies like Nike or big car manufacturers, where they will call U.S. workers lazy but I don't think that's so much the case obviously. As striking is a tool for workers to organize and address issues, how is one supposed to get past first, the idea that we are lucky to have our jobs to begin with, and second, the more and more labor movements strive for workers rights in America and they succeed, they will just move the manufacturing jobs overseas? It is very frustrating in that in my personal experience any work I did that was seen as heavy labor were the jobs where if anyone complained they were not called back in for work, and if someone complained they were looked at as weak because they couldn't handle the physical stress of the job. I don't like the idea that I know we are all breaking our back in some form or another for a wage that is nothing compared to the wages of the CEO's or some higher management positions. This is becoming well known information yet no one really seems to want to do anything about this.

I like how the people of Egypt started their present revolution with media tools like twitter and facebook. The government ended up shutting them down by the shutting down the internet but I wonder if maybe media tools like facebook, twitter, or some social website could be used to be a tool to allow people to vent their anger and frustration almost like a live-stream feed to someone who actually cares, someone who could organize their thoughts. Websites like this give me hope because I take comfort in knowing at least some intelligent people are trying to organize awareness for how we are being manipulated. A blog to complain about the frustrations and the stresses of the workplace as a whole entity, minus the gossip, would be very nice instead of just posting stuff on FML. Do you guys think social tools could be taken seriously enough and organized well enough to get an idea going that would actually give people a voice instead of being voted up for being funny? lol
Reply Roar of the Bewildered Herd
2:41 PM on July 14, 2011 
Mr.President says...
Taking a break from hw and a little tired but this entry has peaked my interest. I like this topic in that I never realized the trend of negative correlations between strikes and how they are portrayed in movies, media, etc. I think the idea of organizing workers to address issues say salary or worker safety is great but it frustrates me that at the same time it seems the more rights workers get in more developed countries, corporations will just move the factories and hire from a labor pool outside of the country where labor is dirt cheap compared to countries like the U.S. or England. I have heard debates where CEO's and representatives for big companies like Nike or big car manufacturers, where they will call U.S. workers lazy but I don't think that's so much the case obviously. As striking is a tool for workers to organize and address issues, how is one supposed to get past first, the idea that we are lucky to have our jobs to begin with, and second, the more and more labor movements strive for workers rights in America and they succeed, they will just move the manufacturing jobs overseas? It is very frustrating in that in my personal experience any work I did that was seen as heavy labor were the jobs where if anyone complained they were not called back in for work, and if someone complained they were looked at as weak because they couldn't handle the physical stress of the job. I don't like the idea that I know we are all breaking our back in some form or another for a wage that is nothing compared to the wages of the CEO's or some higher management positions. This is becoming well known information yet no one really seems to want to do anything about this.

I like how the people of Egypt started their present revolution with media tools like twitter and facebook. The government ended up shutting them down by the shutting down the internet but I wonder if maybe media tools like facebook, twitter, or some social website could be used to be a tool to allow people to vent their anger and frustration almost like a live-stream feed to someone who actually cares, someone who could organize their thoughts. Websites like this give me hope because I take comfort in knowing at least some intelligent people are trying to organize awareness for how we are being manipulated. A blog to complain about the frustrations and the stresses of the workplace as a whole entity, minus the gossip, would be very nice instead of just posting stuff on FML. Do you guys think social tools could be taken seriously enough and organized well enough to get an idea going that would actually give people a voice instead of being voted up for being funny? lol

Egypt was a perfect example of how social tools such as a cell phone, facebook and twitter could be used to give the people a voice, more importantly a voice which is heard. The only problem is that the lines of communication must stay free and open. If the pipes of communication are controlled by media conglomerates and not the people, then democracy can fall prey to being silenced at any given moment. Unfortunately, this to was proven by the recent up-rise in Egypt. When the voices of change are HEARD Democracy prevails. When the voices of change are stifled a Democracy of the BEWILDERED HERD is what will continue. Can a Government be called a Democracy if its people constantly struggle to be heard? Is it a Democracy if the people are continuously and systematically threatened by persuasive corporate propaganda?