The Blaze and Business Insider bring us a rather remarkable speech from former SEIU executive Stephen Lerner from last weekend, describing how to make unions relevant again and bring back stability to the American economy. Apparently, Lerner comes from the “you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet” school of economics, because Lerner’s ideas of bringing stability seem to be taken from the ending of Fight Club. The Blaze has the pertinent clip and the longer, full audio, while BI provides the transcript:
There are actually extraordinary things we could do right now to start to destabilize the folks that are in power and start to rebuild a movement.
For example, 10% of homeowners are underwater right their home they are paying more for it then its worth 10% of those people are in strategic default, meaning they are refusing to pay but they are staying in their home that’s totally spontaneous they figured out it takes a year to kick me out of my home because foreclosure is backed up
If you could double that number you would you could put banks at the edge of insolvency again.
Students have a trillion dollar debt
We have an entire economy that is built on debt and banks so the question would be what would happen if we organized homeowners in mass to do a mortgage strike if we get half a million people to agree it would literally cause a new finical crisis for the banks not for us we would be doing quite well we wouldn’t be paying anything…
We have to think much more creatively. The key thing… What does the other side fear the most – they fear disruption. They fear uncertainty. Every article about Europe says in they rioted in Greece the markets went down
The folks that control this country care about one thing how the stock market goes what the bond market does how the bonuses goes. We have a very simple strategy:
- How do we bring down the stock market
- How do we bring down their bonuses
- How do we interfere with there ability to be rich…
So a bunch of us around the country think who would be a really good company to hate we decided that would be JP Morgan Chase and so we are going to roll out over the next couple of months what would hopefully be an exciting campaign about JP Morgan Chase that is really about challenge the power of Wall Street.
And so what we are looking at is the first week in May can we get enough people together starting now to really have an week of action in New York I don’t want to give any details because I don’t know if there are any police agents in the room.
The goal would be that we will roll out of New York the first week of May. We will connect three ideas
- that we are not broke there is plenty of money
- they have the money – we need to get it back
- and that they are using Bloomberg and other people in government as the vehicle to try and destroy us
And so we need to take on those folks at the same time. And that we will start here we are going to look at a week of civil disobedience – direct action all over the city. Then roll into the JP Morgan shareholder meeting which they moved out of New York because I guess they were afraid because of Columbus.
There is going to be a ten state mobilization to try and shut down that meeting and then looking at bank shareholder meetings around the country and try and create some moments like Madison except where we are on offense instead of defense
Where we have brave and heroic battles challenging the power of the giant corporations. We hope to inspire a much bigger movement about redistributing wealth and power in the country and that labor can’t do itself that community groups can’t do themselves but maybe we can work something new and different that can be brave enough and daring and nimble enough to do that kind of thing.
This might be more compelling if not for the fact that the SEIU fired Lerner in November, as BI reports, for trying to spend millions of dollars on this very project. Apparently, the first rule of Labor Nihilist Club is not to talk about Labor Nihilist Club. The second rule of Labor Nihilist Club? Keep your hands off the union cash, dude. It’s a point of exceptional irony that just can’t be missed.
I don’t think that anyone doubts that labor in this country has become poisonously hostile to private enterprise, thanks in large part to its inability to organize workers outside of the public sector. Its leaders surely share Lerner’s hostility to so-called “fat-cat bankers”, Wall Street executives, and anyone in general that makes a profit off of their hard work, ingenuity, and investment. But the final questioner in the longer video inadvertently makes the case that unions have just as much invested in the current system as everyone else, thanks to their pension fund investments, and stand to lose just as much if not more than most if the system collapses, whether organically or from a “poor people’s movement” attack. That’s why Lerner doesn’t have access to those big bucks any longer, and why Labor Nihilist Club is going to fall short of its Fight Club fantasies.