Ronald Reagan repudiated that implied agreement by firing striking air controllers, and because the president of the air controllers union had endorsed presidential candidate Reagan, AFL-CIO leaders refused to oppose that firing. Today many labor leaders acknowledge they should have staged a nation-wide strike in support of the air controllers..

When John Sweeney was elected president of the AFL-CIO, his supporters included strong opponents to working with CIA to undermine and overthrow foreign governments and unions that resisted being subordinated to our predatory corporate interests. Yet recently it has been revealed in a labor publication, Labor Notes, that in Venezuela a few top AFL-CIO labor leaders still connived with the CIA to try to overthrow the democratically elected socialist-minded president.

We need national labor leaders courageous enough to organize massive opposition to the capture of the White House and the corruption of both houses of Congress by a cabal of predatory corporate leaders. A tentative step at last in that direction is the AFL-CIO’s call for demonstrations throughout our country on December 10th Human Rights Day in support of workers’ rights.

The New York Times recently reported that approximately 300 billions of our tax dollars have already been spent in Iraq and Afghanistan, with an added billion each week thereafter. The largest recipients of those billions of our tax money are American predatory corporations such as Halliburton and Bechtel.

Though it probably is cynical, one might say President Bush’s “Operation Enduring Freedom” in Iraq could be more correctly named: “Operation Enduring Profit for Predatory Corporations.” The billions spent there should be spent to solve the problems of American cities and counties, including Buffalo and Erie County.

Think of this metaphor. Some animals inside a large cage are depending upon food delivered from outside. People outside the cage decide to keep more of that food for themselves. The animals inside the cage, starved, begin to fight and tear one another apart. But the only way for all to get fed is to break out of the cage and take back food originally intended for them.

Our city and county problems can only be solved by recovering for counties and cities across our country the billions diverted into this unnecessary war in Iraq and the billions of tax cuts unfairly given to rich corporate people who are cutting jobs instead of providing the promised good jobs for Americans. Without those tax cuts they still will live luxurious lives.

What to do when the White House and Congress no longer act to improve lives of the overwhelming majority of our people? It is the responsibility of organized labor to speak and act on behalf of all working families in our country. It’s time for the AFL-CIO and the unions that recently split with them to join forces to call for a massive mobilization in Washington to surround the White House and the Congress, demanding positive change – or resignation – or impeachment.

Almost 10 years ago the Buffalo AFL-CIO Council unanimously passed a resolution calling upon the national AFL-CIO to ask all working people — blue collar and white collar, union and non-union — to demonstrate in some way for the same one hour on the same day across our entire country to protest downsizing and plant closing. The national AFL-CIO at that time apparently was not ready to do this, although the action was strongly favored by the United Mine Workers Executive Board.

(Recently at a labor meeting, an officer of the Buffalo AFL-CIO council sitting next to me whispered, “Manny, we need to have a general strike here like they do in Europe.”)

The time is now. Our leaders of labor should be encouraged by all truly patriotic Americans to lead the way to turn our country around and make it once again respected by the rest of the world – the real answer to eliminating terrorists. By Emanuel Fried

A retired autoworker, disagreeing with my earlier statement that greed of extremist corporate capitalists creates irrational capitalism, said this implies that if they knew the result of their actions they would act differently.

“They are predatory corporate capitalists. They don’t care what damage they do to working people – here and throughout the world.”

Unfortunately, past labor leaders George Meany and Lane Kirkland, supposedly fighting communism, collaborated with predatory corporate interests, helping CIA undermine and destroy militant unions in other countries, fostering cheap labor who then took away American jobs. There was an implied agreement that as long as these labor leaders contributed to corporate economic and political domination abroad, these corporations would treat U.S. labor decently.