Where's Leo?

It’s been over 48 hours and the only union response on Obama’s NAFTA-Style Korea Free Trade agreement has been a thumbs up from Bob King and the UAW.

But the thundering silence from the other unions is not indicative of what’s going on behind the scenes. At the AFL-CIO’s weekly Monday morning legislative meeting, the UAW tried to sell the deal to their fellow unions in the federation.

The unanimous disapproval from all the other unions was summed up in a 10 minute invective by Matt McKinnon, the Political Director of the Machinists, who said:

  • UAW President Bob King threw every other union under the bus, and did not even bother to call his fellow AFL-CIO union presidents who are most affected and involved in the trade debate before announcing to the world their shameful, betraying position (no doubt why Leo Gerard took a jab at King over the weekend).
  • It takes a fat load of nerve for the UAW to be asking others to abandon their long time positions just because the UAW went “yellow belly flip flop”
  • The UAW got nothing it wanted, and the auto provisions they got in exchange for their support are “worth a bucket of warm spit”
  • The deal will be the demise of not only UAW, but the 35% “rule of origin” provisions will be the China duty-free death knell for all US manufacturing – unless the other unions do the work to kill it. Such provisions require that only 35% of products coming into the US duty free be of Korean origin — the rest can come from parts made in China.
  • The deal replicates everything in NAFTA that they have all opposed forever
  • It’s vicious slap in the face by the White House – they do NOTHING to help labor, and then they do THIS?
  • It’s a suicide mission for the 2012 election

There was not one AFL-CIO union at the meeting who did not vigorously oppose the deal.  But they have all remained silent so far, giving the White House three free days to whip support for the bill as if the UAW position represents them all.

Everyone is waiting to hear what Leo Gerard of the Steelworkers has to say.  In the meantime, those of us who are out here alone trying to define the trade deal for what it is become low hanging fruit for the Chamber — and with the phalanx of paid trolls they’ve had across the internet, it was only a matter of time before this kind of personal slime started rolling out from anti-labor astroturf operations.

Which is to be expected when you cross the Chamber of Commerce, but for the record, my relationship with Andy Stern didn’t end over the public option, one of Andy’s enemies just made that up — a crook who isn’t fit to shine Andy’s shoes.  Andy and I are still friends, and I congratulated him last week on voting against the Catfood Commission’s recommendations.  His was by far the best plan, and it was the right thing to do.

In the mean time Sherrod Brown, Mike Michaud, Linda Sanchez, US Chamber Watch, Friends of the Earth, Public Citizen and the Sierra Club have all been stars, working overtime this weekend to push back against the Chamber-generated propaganda.  But we can’t carry this kind of heavy lift alone.  Every hour that goes by, the narrative of the deal’s “glorious achievement” gets locked in, and it will be harder and harder to move people once they’ve already committed to support it.  All the while, those out in front of the opposition become sitting ducks for the Chamber’s formidable resources.

It’s clear from what happened this morning that that UAW intends to try to block a tough AFL-CIO opposition to the deal, and demand that the federation sit it out.

Everyone is waiting on you, Leo.  It’s time to do the right thing and oppose this deal for being the piece of shit you well know it to be — and call for the war against this and all such trade deals that everyone who cares about American jobs is ready and willing to fight.