The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Blackmail by the Politicians—With the Help of the Union Heads

Apr 2, 2012

In mid-March, Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers (CFT), announced “a major victory for the thousands of Californians who have risen up over recent months to demand the wealthiest Californians start paying their fair share.”

That’s how the CFT dressed up its complete capitulation to Governor Jerry Brown’s demand that it drop its ballot initiative to increase the tax that millionaires pay. That tax increase was supposed to provide more money for vital programs and services, such as schools and senior and child services, that politicians had been gutting for decades. And it had widespread support in the population, and thousands of teachers, students and other activists had already done most of the work to get it on the ballot, including gathering more than a million signatures.

But the CFT leadership threw all that away. Instead, it agreed to support another increase in California’s already outrageously high sales tax, a tax increase that hits the workers and poor. Supposedly this was a compromise, that is, the tax increase isn’t as bad as the one that the governor is proposing in his initiative.

But most likely the compromise won’t get on the ballot–it is too late to get all the signatures needed. So, that will leave Governor Brown’s corporate-backed initiative–which Brown didn’t pull–with its higher sales tax increase. De facto, Brown’s tax increase will have the support of the CFT, which joins the other big public sector unions, the SEIU and AFSCME, that had backed Brown’s proposal all along.

Union leaders are simply supporting another politicians’ scheme to blackmail workers into agreeing to tax themselves more, under the threat that if they don’t, there will be even worse, more horrendous cuts to education and every other social program and essential service for the working population.

The goal of the politicians is to get workers to hand over more money that the politicians can then hand over to big business and the wealthy. So, if working people allow the politicians to get their way, the workers will be paying higher taxes and the programs will be cut anyway.

The heads of the unions are simply acting as accomplices to the blackmailers.