UnionMaine

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Why do we have to fight for benefits?


Congress couldn’t reach an agreement to bail out the Auto Industry and the right placed the blame placed on the greedy Unions. The Senator from Alabama with three foreign manufacturers in his state wants American industry to die, the Republican Union haters are hoping that the big three will die before Obama gets sworn in.

True irony shows up when George Bush may be the white knight riding to save the day by ordering part of the original $700,000,000,000 to be spent on companies that actually make things instead of glorified accountants. (Apologies to accountants)

The right blames Unions and cites the demand for gold plated health care, retirement pay, and high wages. The non-union plants of Honda, Toyota, and Mercedes are the examples given to pin blame on the Unions.

The Unions are painted as so evil it would justify destroying the big three just to burn them out.Checking out the facts on wages brings out the truth; in 2006 GM reported the highest paid hourly GM workers received $27 an hour, somewhat less than the claims of $72.00 to $80.00 made on talk radio.

Workers in Toyota and Honda plants earn about the same. In 2007, Toyota’s non-union plant in Georgetown, Ky., paid higher wages than UAW contracts, averaging $30 per hour with bonuses.Why do we keep hearing $72.00 and hour?

You need to be creative with math to get to a $72 an hour figure. First you add up all wages, then you add all pensions and benefits paid to retirees and only then do you divide by the current workforce.

The newcomers, Toyota, Honda, and Mercedes don’t have more than a few hundred retirees. Leaving out the cost of retirees a US worker makes about the same as the non-union employee.

GM is $48 billion in debt, not due to the high cost of the employees and retirees; it is a failure to plan.

Necessary money that should have been invested to pay for the future was spent on dividends, private jets, huge bonuses for executives.Legacy costs add as much as $2,000 to the price of an American vehicle. Made in America vehicles could still be sold abroad if they didn’t face VAT taxes that can add up to 150%, taxes that Toyota, Honda, and Mercedes don’t face when they import to the US.

How can they make cars and afford to ship them to the US?In Japan and the EU there are guaranteed health benefits, pensions and retirement provided by the government.

The employers typically give six weeks or more vacation for every employee. When these costs are taken from the employer Unions negotiate over working conditions, training, without worrying where the money to pay for a hip replacement in old age will come from.

Union leaders in the US have been urging the US to support national health care for over six decades, starting in the 1940s.Do we solve this by breaking the Unions? cutting their wages, canceling their benefits, and throwing the retirees under the bus?

It has been shown that the UAW wages are not any higher than non-union workers. Secondly we have to consider what steps the Unions have already taken. In 2005 and 2007 the UAW agreed to freeze wages for four years and cut pay for new employees to about $14.

New company pensions were scrapped, new hires would invest in a 401(k), pay higher co-pays on health care, and lose paid holidays and benefits previously negotiated.

Cost of living increases were given up to help offset escalating health care costs. GM is currently in talks with the UAW to put of paying its share of the VEBA money meant to pay for the health care of current employees and retirees.The Union, traded raises while facing inflation in order to keep their health care, and that doesn’t sound like greed.

The Union negotiated for the issues important to its members, issues GM management had been unable and unwilling to face for years.

The Union negotiated for Health care, a promise to freeze outsourcing and plant closings.The UAW forced GM to do what U.S. government and GM management refused to do: institute long-term planning, provide security over short-term profitability, and lifted most of the health care costs away from the employer, with the agreement that the Union would become responsible for maintaining the health care plan in the future.

The Union made sacrifices for the good of the employer in order to secure their employment.Bush, McCain and many Republicans have blamed unions for “gold plated” health care plans that are nearly as good as what both Bush and McCain get for free.

Do we need to break the hold of organized labor, reduce health care benefits, and slash wages?

Unions created the middle class. That is not to make the claim that Toyota, Honda, and Mercedes are trying to destroy unions, they are paying what would be a fair wage in a country that that provided health care, pensions, and cared for the elderly.

The US is a competitive society, how is it that the country has turned against the working class but not the hundred million dollar executive? The billionaire pays a lower tax rate than the janitor.

Tax rates for corporations are lower than at any time in history when loopholes are figured in.

The screams against a maximum pay, or a fair tax rate for these executives was so loud that there are no effective controls on companies receiving billions of dollars from the taxpayer, yet the Unions are painted as the living devil for trying to provide a living and a retirement for themselves.

If the employees had to cut wages and benefits enough save the auto industry it would mean accepting minimum wage, no benefits while dumping all retiree benefits and pensions. While we are at it why don’t we do away with overtime?

The executives would stay rich, American cars would be cheaper and we would have rolled back society a hundred years.Henry Ford got rich by paying employees far above what was needed to hire employees. The idea was he wanted them able to buy the products they were producing.Enter your Email and receive updates by email

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December 15th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | ATTACK ON UNIONS, Employee Free Choice Act, MSEA, MSEA 2008 bargaining survey, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, SEIU 1989, UAW, anti union talk show, state employee lay offs | no comments

Follow the Money

What is Propaganda?

Propaganda avoids facts, Rush Limbaugh claims moral superiority while forgetting his own drug use, willingness to collect unemployment when he was in need, and I think it is now four failed marriages. Propaganda has at its core the intent to encourage hate and prejudice against a targeted group while providing an excuse and a distraction from rational thought.

The user of propaganda tries to get others to accept claims without thought, or to act without weighing hidden motives. The use of inference and anger as a propaganda tool can be heard on any talk radio show, the yelling and the hate for whatever group the host has picked as a target. Talk show hosts and right wing politicians hope to lead the public to accept claims with no logical grounds and with no balancing points of view. “Fair and balanced”. The “talking heads” avoid logical arguments from the audience, so creating an enemy is the most important tool and is the first step.

How to build the lie? First make broad and positive statements, “Republicans believe in smaller government” regardless of the truth. Statements are presented using tag lines and familiar language. By refusing to admit, or even suggest, that there is another side to the question they create the devil, saying “All Unions protect lazy workers”, “Democrats hate free enterprise”, “Union thugs”. These are examples of propaganda. Another example is the repeated claim that Union members are the cause of government waste while ignoring the fact that the public wants the snow plowed, the potholes fixed, and the ambulance to come when needed.

Slogans are a highly powerful form of attack; “drinking Union Cool Aid” suggests that Union members are killing themselves following insane leadership is a common theme.

First they say what everyone knows, times are tough. Then they show sympathy for the audience claiming that they know how hard it is for the public. Then they talk about cutting State Government and then cutting State Employees and their benefits. They never say put a fire a fire fighter, fire a State police officer or stop maintaining the roads. They always say “State Employees” as if it is a group from another world.

A second method of propaganda is appealing to the desires of the audience. Desire is an important factor in belief. The public is frustrated with how government and corporate interests have worked to destroy the middle class. The right needs to find someone to blame for their failed policies and needs a target.

Like advertisers they study public opinion to find out what things people are “for” or “against” in order to decide on labels to use to bring about desired reactions. Using words such as “justice,” “promoting efficient Government” “lower taxes” and “equal opportunity,” will work as positive hooks, and are used in every message. The use of negative words—for example, “Union Bosses” or “Lazy employees” and “government waste” is used to influence the public to justify hate for the intended target.

The desire for lower taxes, a better job, appeals to the target audience. The desire to be respected, capable of taking care of a family, and to be socially acceptable, sells ideas and at the same time the claim that all the problems can be fixed by fixing those who are stealing from the public, state employees is worked in. Anyone who has listened to the radio, or reads knows of dozens of ads now attacking and blaming state employees.

Tax cuts sound great, follow the money, Bush mainly cut taxes for the rich and put billions of your tax dollars into the vaults of the already rich oil companies. Cutting tax rates for billionaires to less than that paid by a janitor can be ignored if you just keep saying tax cuts are good!

The real trick is to “make the idea stick.” That is why key words and slogans, cartoons, are used. “I could have had a V8!” and a hand slap to the forehead, sticks in your mind.

Slogans pack meaning into short sentences. The purpose is to get them noticed. They will burrow into the minds of people. CEOs and political leaders know that slogans are a great viral marketing tool. Advertisers know that reasoned, logical appeals are not always effective. Political debates, have been shortened and emotionalized, “Read my lips, no new taxes!” because much of the audience will not listen to reasoned, point, counter point arguments. The Union message relying on concern for people and on logic and rationality is out of place in this bloody arena.

Political propaganda is full of examples of the use of striking slogans. For example, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” used by Ronald Reagan. Reagan’s technique painted the U.S. as the lone defender of democracy, while the Soviet Union was ‘the evil empire”.

Slogans have inspired the imaginations of people in the past and continue to the present. We remember “No Taxation without Representation” and it is has become part of American culture and language.

Propaganda uses slogans, and it uses symbols. We have seen the Kool Aid pitcher with “Union Kool Aid” across the front. A symbol avoids logic and discussion and leaves no opportunity for debate. This symbol is used to disguise the true intent, the intent to turn Maine into a “right to work” state.

A symbol is the glue that holds together a group together.

A propagandist knows how to use symbols. Symbols are used to build both positive and negative attitudes.

Cartoons have been used to represent the taxpayer in tattered clothing, the “union boss” and others. The “union boss” is usually pictured as a fat and wearing a diamond pinky ring.

For the big lie to work blame must be placed on individuals or groups that are not responsible, relieving feelings of guilt from responsible parties and distracting attention from the need to fix the problem for which blame is being assigned. By blaming Unions, for failures of industry, the need to worry about products produced by slave or child labor for Wal-Mart can be forgotten.

The history of corporations claiming bankruptcy and canceling benefits for employees and retirees before paying millions in bonuses to the boards can be conveniently ignored.

The fact that many people work for employers that pay little, and respect their employees less can be forgotten by blaming Unions.

The use of “State Employee” as a term of hate is a device to encourage the persecution of scapegoats, while denying the humanity of the group. It is hard to hate when the Union worker taking care of your grandmother is known by her first name, hard to hate when you need the help of a Union police officer or nurse. The creation of a faceless group is done to avoid engaging in reasoned debate and foster hate.

Catchwords and slogans abound in right to work propaganda, contrived for the sake of impressing voters in certain groups. “No Fair Share” uses such important and high-sounding words as “personal merit,” and “right to choose”. “Right to Work,” is a false slogan that does NOT guarantee anyone the “right” to employment and does not protect any worker from being laid off or fired, but it make a great sound bite.

Propaganda can be effective. The support of G.W. Bush and his totally anti-labor appointees by many of our own members is something that I as a Union supporter find impossible to understand. To me it is incredible that a labor hating, former party boy, C student at best, and total failure in all prior business dealings, after having destroyed the Texas budget, should be have ever been turned into an all-powerful and “infallible” leader, “The Decider,” who claims the right to reinterpret our constitution.

How did even some members of labor Unions come to accept this legend surrounding a failed businessman? Perhaps it was because millions of Americans were hoping for “an end of confusion, and no longer felt that their actions in the conduct of their own affairs was effective. The two presidential election won by G. Bush both were under a cloud of suspicion and voters felt they could not make a difference. To many the idea of a leader, a symbol of moral authority, a man to turn things around, allowed the public to forget their role in affairs and to turn the nation over to a ruler who claimed a mandate and all the public had to do was to give him complete trust, blind faith, and the keys to the treasury.

When a group is trying to influence your opinions and actions, ask yourself if their purpose is selfish or unselfish? Will the results of right to work (for less) laws benefit the employees or will it serve to generate political power for the right?

What is likely to be the effect of destroying the current Union? Will the public and the legislature trim government and reward the remaining employees with benefit and wage increases? Is it more likely that projects will be handed out to the private sector to benefit only the owners at the tax payer’s expense?

As an example of facts not revealed, workers in Right to Work states earn on average $6,590 less than workers in free-bargaining states. That’s a 17% pay cut! Women earn 12% less and on average, Right to Work states have a 16% higher poverty rate with job fatality rates 54% higher. The average employee in a free bargaining state is 24.1% more likely to have health insurance.

If personal merit alone guarantees success, why would the best athletes in the world in U.S. baseball, hockey and football join Unions?

It all boils down to some very simple questions: What is the source of the propaganda? Are there any actual facts to support the claims? What really started the movement? Follow the money and ask who will make a buck? Propaganda presents one point of view as if it were the best or only way to look at a situation. Perhaps it is a weakness of Unions that they are willing to listen to many points of view.

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January 6th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | Chellie Pingree, Ethan Strimling, FAIR SHARE, FairShare, MSEA, MSEA ELECTIONS, MSEA-SEIU, Maine Congressional Elections, Maine State Employees, SEIU 1989, UNIONMAINE, anti union talk show | 2 comments

Come and meet my little friend!


The outgoing Federal administration is running scared, and the anti-Union, anti working family, conservatives in Maine are starting the campaign to blame State Employees for any thing that is wrong in Maine. On several Radio Stations there are now ads running saying that State Employees are too well paid, have too many benefits and the leader of the organization in an interview on WVOM radio on January 3 said the State should just break the contract now and stop paying the benefits. As I have said previously the articles have started in the K.J. a new web site is up, and they are directly telling legislators that they are being watched.

One thing they say is right. The legislators are being watched by the most organized voting block in the state. Union Members vote. This is all a run up to the next gubernatorial elections. The Republican candidates will be like Tony Montana in Scarface, telling State employees to “Come and say hello to my little friend!” before they start screaming and shooting. They will be trying to out do each other calling Union members the devil, lazy, greedy, and blaming you instead of failed national policies. The Federal present and near term future are the blueprint for what will be attempted in Maine.

In the next year the Bush Federal Anti Labor board will be trying to engineer a blitzkrieg against labor, taking the whole organized labor system into a death spiral that no Democratic presidency will be able to fix. They would rather destroy decades of law than leave anything for the survivors. The propaganda has been running for years picturing organized labor as an already beaten and despised remnant of weaklings. This is the Republican way. The Unions and the American middle class are quickly becoming unable to provide the things their parents grew up to believe are the American birthright, health, a good home, and to provide for families. They call names and tell lies, all State employees are lazy, all Unions are corrupt, and they are attempting to put us in isolation and blame their own failed polices on labor. This will happen in our working lives, and it will be bad for Maine and the U.S. The drive of the middle class, American optimism and can-do spirit will be gone, replaced by employers that will say “you are lucky to have a job at all”.

If the Republicans can’t finish us in a year they will try to prevent meaningful reform during a Democratic presidency and force the nation into a slowly decaying one world, Wal-Mart economy, where only a few share the wealth. Everything will grow worse. Your children will know something is wrong, but without good jobs with security and benefits they will have nothing to compare to. Don’t fall for the bull; it is not the teachers Union that is running schools down, it was the Republican takeover of our schools to teach good consumers, not good thinkers. They blame the teachers Unions while children become less and less able to compete against better educated foreign students.

It seems like we may win against the false conservatives. The new direction we need to go in could be called “conservative” in the best possible sense of the word. Our children need to be educated in reading, writing, science, and math. We must stop teaching a false U.S. history where we helped the ignorant red man and all American wars are good wars. An educated citizen is the best weapon against the big lie.

We must start locally and so will we become involved with our Union or will we return to the seeing employers as royals, while we are the grateful serfs? The Republicans say that the employer freed of Unions will happily reward the productive employees (with whatever they feel we deserve). Under Republican logic Wal-Mart is rich and successful so therefore all Wal-Mart employees must be rich and successful with not Unions. One more example of Republican logic is that tax cuts increase government revenue. Therefore I would think that cutting all taxes would increase government revenue so much we could all retire now.

As a State and as a Union will we remain so divided from one another that no one can get anything they want? Or, should we organize and by reaching out to others overpower the tower of lies that have been told about all of us?

Will we be able to picture a future, and know the only way to get there is together?

Remember, Union households vote at a three to one ratio to the rest of the Public. Find your legislator. You can do that on this Blog and email your legislators. Ask what they will do to protect the pay and benefits promised to you for one, five, ten, even thirty five years.

Ask them if they want to cut your pay if they will then support your right to strike? If you are so unimportant you can be lied to and stolen from then giving you the right to strike should not matter.

Solidarity

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January 3rd, 2008 Posted by narsbars | ATTACK ON UNIONS, MSEA, MSEA contract, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, SEIU, SEIU 1989, STATE EMPLOYEES, STATE VIOLATES CONTRACT, TECHNORATI, UNIONMAINE, anti union talk show, msea maine | no comments