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September 05, 2001 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-09-05

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 5, 2001

OP/ED

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420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
daily.letters@umich.edu

EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
SINCE 1890

GEOFFREY GAGNON
Editor in Chief
MICHAEL GRASS
NICHOLAS WOOMER
Editorial Page Editors

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
( Our government's
secret police, with its
allies, put a heav fist
upon the scales. There
was to be only one story:
one man of incredible
innate evil wanted to
destroy innocent lives for
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~LvK

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Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority ofthe
Daily's editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

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no reason other than a r
spontaneous joy in
evildoing."
- Gore Vidal, in this month's edition of
Vanity Fair, on how the US. government
overlooked key facts and leads in the
Oklahoma City bombing investigation.
The real Labor Day was May 1

10

NICK WOOMER BACK TO THE WOOM

The place is a con-
struction site. The
time is somewhere
in the labor movements'
darker days, when the mob
wielded significant influ-
ence in some major unions.
A contractor has hired
skilled trade unionists to
do jobs no one else can do.
However, in order to keep costs down, he has
foolishly decided to hire unskilled workers who
are not affiliated with the union to do most of
the less demanding jobs that would otherwise
have been performed by highly-paid, highly-
skilled union members.
It's Friday morning, and work has been
progressing for about an hour. All of the sud-
den, three huge, well-dressed guys carrying
blunt objects pull up to the site in a Cadillac.
Everyone falls silent as the three approach
the worker unlucky enough to be closest to
them.
"Aye, are you in the union?" The worker
shakes his head apologetically and the thugs
deliver unto him a proverbial "beat down."
That finished, the three men turn their atten-
tion to someone else. "Are you in the
union?" The worker nods, breathing a sigh of
relief. "Alright, go over there." The men
approach a third worker. "You in the union?"
He nods. The men turn towards the union
member they've just spared. "Is this guy in
the union?" He shakes his head, and the
three men proceed to beat the liar within an
inch of his life.
After this process has been repeated a few
times, the three men find the contractor. "It
looks like none of the non-union guys can work
any more." The contractor - utterly terrified
- nods his head. "So you're only gonna hire

our guys now, right?"
"Right."
"And our guys can get the day off; they can
come back to work on Monday. Right?"
"Uh huh."
"Good." Then a truck full of cold beer pulls
up and the union members start enjoying an
unexpected three-day weekend.
This story might be apocryphal, but it does
illustrate the basic way some unions operated
back when the mob called a lot of shots in the
labor movement. In this particular story the
gangsters almost come across as "benevolent
muscle" looking out for a few hard working
guys - they "resolve" a conflict between the
union and an employer, secure "their guys" a
well deserved three day weekend and a round of
beer. Of course, all of this "benevolence" is real-
ly just an insidious smoke screen meant to pre-
vent rank and file union members from noticing
that they're actually getting stabbed in the back
(with their pensions being raided and so on).
This technique is tried and true. In the Mid-
dle Ages, it was common for landowners to
throw parties for their serfs - get them drunk
once in awhile, try to look conciliatory and gen-
erous, and they'll tolerate quite a bit of cruelty.
In keeping with this noble tradition, the United
States has "Labor Day," where America sup-
posedly pauses on the first Monday of Septem-
ber to honor all of the men and women who
keep our nation running.
Of course, in this country, Labor Day has
almost nothing to do with honoring working
people and everything to do with enjoying a
three-day weekend. That's not the case in the
rest of the world where people really do honor
working people by celebrating "May Day" on
May 1.
May Day probably began as a spring festival
in pre-Christian Europe, but the labor movement

latched onto it in the 1800s and it has since
become a militant workers holiday celebrating
class consciousness and the struggle for eco-
nomic justice. Needless to say, it stands as a vir-
tual photographic negative to the "let's say good
bye to summer with barbecue, beer and boating"
charade Americans celebrated last Monday.
This year, May Day was celebrated:
... in Vienna, Austria by 100,000 marchers
who demanded greater job security.
... in Seoul, Korea by 20,000 demonstrators
protesting their government's economic poli-
cies. The demonstrators smashed through a
police barricade to take their message to the
main government district in the Korean capital.
... in Istanbul, Turkey by 20,000 protesters
calling for the government to negotiate with left
wing political prisoners staging a hunger strike
that had already left 20 dead.
... in Havana, Cuba by hundreds of thou-
sands of people who followed President Fidei
Castro in a march past the United States' mis-
sion there to protest (among other things) the
U.S.'s embargo on Cuba.
... and that's just a smattering of genuinely
pro-worker events that happened this past May
1 all over the world.
Ironically, the U.S. does have an official
holiday on May Day - In 1961, Congress.
passed a joint resolution declaring May 1 "Law
Day." The purpose of Law Day, according to
the American Bar Association, is to celebrate
(this is an actual quote) "the American heritage
of liberty, justice and equality under the law."
Let's not get ahead of ourselves ABA,
Americans will have to start celebrating the real
Labor Day in earnest before "Law Day" means
anything.
Nick Woomer can be reached via e-mail at
nwoomer@umich.edu.

IV

ANALYSIS

ECONOMIC GLOBALIZATION: PART I
INTRODUCING THE ISSUE
A movement long masked, now makes global waves

With Washington protests less than a month away,

time is now to act

By SCOTT TRUDEAU
The anti (corporate) globalization move-
ment "landed" in the United States in
November 1999 when more than 50,000
people from hundreds of grassroots organiza-
tions and from around the world converged in
Seattle to protest and disrupt a meeting of the
World Trade Organization. "Seattle" put the
anti-globalization movement on the radar of the
corporate media in the United States for the first
time. For more than 20 years, the U.S. media
ignored the mass resistance against the exploita-
tion resulting from the policies of global institu-
tions like the WTO when those protests occurred
in far away lands. When the movement awak-
ened in the belly of the beast, the media could no
longer ignore it.
At first, the media attempted to portray the
protests in Seattle as simply a "riot." Showing
dramatic footage of a small number of black-clad
figures smashing the windows of a Starbucks,
the media characterized the protesters as unin-
formed hooligans bent on property destruction,
while doing little to report the true reason thou-
sands gathered in primarily peaceful resistance.
They decried the "violence" of the protesters
while turning a blind eye to the only violence
against people that occurred during the protests:
the liberal use of pepper spray, tear gas and rub-
ber bullets against almost entirely peaceful pro-
testers attempting to exercise their right to
assemble. Most importantly, they turned a blind
eye to the violence of the system of global
exploitation that was the subject of the protest.
When tens of thousands of protesters con-
verged last April to protest the policies of the
International Monetary Fund and World Bank in
Washington, D.C. and no windows were
smashed, the media simply reported that the
protests were "unfocused" and characterized
them as focusing on a "grab bag" of issues. The
media have failed to delve below the superficial
sea of acronyms ton ethe findamental ises

COUNTDOWN TO
WASHINGTON
EADTHG UEDNESDAYS
INTERNATIONAL MONETARY
FUND/ WORLD TRADE ORGA-
NIZATION ECONOMIC SUMMIT
IN WASHINGTON AT THE END
OF THE MONTH, THE DAILY'S
EDITORIAL PAGE WILL FEATURE
VIEWPOINTS ON DIFFERENT
ASPECTS OF ECONOMIC
GLOBALIZATION.

I

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.

BELOW: rowestrs anu pOwe Wa
this summer.

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human rights and those working
for a sustainable environment.
But this diverse coalition does-
n't converge simply so they can
all protest their particular issue
in one place.
They are converging on the
institutions that are the instru-
ments of corporate globalization,
because they have come to real-
ize that their issues are intercon-
nected. The same corporations
that are exploiting workers in developing coun-
tries are trashing the environment in the name of
profit. The policies of the institutions of global-
ization like the WTO, IMF and World Bank are
enabling these corporations to spread their
destruction further. Despite what they might tell
you in economics class, globalization in the inter-
ests of global capital is not globalization in the
interests of the workers or the environment. This
is demonstrated h the track recnrd of these insti-

globalization protest against the Group of 8, the
police are willing to use even more Draconian
tactics in order to suppress protest - including
lethal violence.
Though mainstream, corporate media does a)
abysmal job covering the details of these protests,
a rapidly growing grassroots movement of inde.
pendent media activists are providing unfiltered
coverage. Check out the Independent Media Ceti-
ter online at www.indymedia.org for coverage of

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