LaborTalk for November 28, 2011

How Much Is a 'Fair Share' for Corporations to Pay
For Jobs They Killed and Homes They Wrecked?

By Harry Kelber

Remember how we shouted and chanted the slogan, "Make Wall Street Pay" at every demonstration and march? AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka made a fiery speech in front of Bank of America and promised to come back every day, until Wall Street paid for the suffering they had caused American workers by their reckless investments, financial manipulations and shady home mortgage deals.

But Trumka never followed through on his promises. He abandoned the campaign to "Make Wall Street Pay," without talking to any banker about setting up a fund to compensate workers who had lost their jobs and homes. There was hardly the slightest pressure from the AFL-CIO to demand restitution for the victims of the economic crisis.

The campaign, as it turned out, was based solely on rhetoric, not purposeful action. The banks did not pay a dime for the damage they had caused. On the contrary, they continued to accumulate profits, which, by some reports, amounted to more than two trillion dollars in cash. With all that idle cash lying around, couldn't some of it be used to create a fund to provide some financial assistance for the millions of unemployed workers and those who had lost their homes? And why wasn't President Obama speaking up on the issue?

Will the Term, "Fair Share," Be Defined and Applied?

At virtually every rally or march, there will be banners and placards demanding that corporations and the wealthy pay their "fair share." Labor leaders at these demonstrations will echo the same demand.

But the term "fair share" has yet to be defined. The AFL-CIO and Change to Win have not come up with an answer. Neither have the Democrats or Republicans. Nor any member of Congress who believes the Wall Street crowd ought to pay at least a "fair" amount in taxes or other forms of compensation, but won't say how much or how it is to be computed.

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As long as those two words remain undefined and not acted upon, we are being treated to rhetorical trickery. Any campaign based on "fair share" is a sham. All the evidence clearly shows that the AFL-CIO leadership never intended to challenge Wall Street, but to use militant language as a cover-up to deceive union members.

LaborTalk will be posted here on November 30, 2011 and on our two web sites www.laboreducator.org and on www.laborsvoiceforchange.org.

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