UnionMaine

Trust me, I work for the Government

Ups and Downs and Up again

E.T.I. 2009

I read a lot, here is a collection of ideas from everywhere in the Union world. The theme is that Unions are weaker, we are under attack, but there are signs for hope. There are things we can do.
If anyone actually reads this whole post, I would love to meet you.



How are you doing America?

NAFTA CAFTA, globalization, and more workers than jobs all threaten the American worker. The result is Corporations with low costs and growing profits. Business Week magazine reported “the share of (US) national income going to corporate profits (compared to labor) is hovering around a 50 year high.

Having millions of workers in countries with no labor protection and a steady supply of illegal immigrants that can be threatened if they don’t take what is offered leads to a race to the bottom for wages and benefits.

Organized Labor in the US – Up and then the long fall

In 1800s companies became richer and richer and employees wanted a share of the benefits. They turned to unions for help.

In the 1880s, labor was able to strike for better pay and working conditions like the eight hour day. Only a few of the troublemakers were shot and beaten, or both.

While the AFLCIO is still the country’s largest federation of unions even after the (SEIU), Teamsters, and more left, Organized labor’s numbers are dropping. (NOW GOING UP IN MAINE) We are fighting Corporate money and globalization. The modern attack on worker rights began with Reagan. In the early part of the 1900s after living through firings, killings and threats, the Unions won an eight-hour day, a living wage, and benefits because strong unions defied the company power and money and won. Corporations pay their politicians by leaving money on the bureau after they have done their business with congress.

The Unions have always been on the weaker side but that was not enough for business. Big business paid for the passage of the Taft-Hartley Labor-Management Relations Act in 1947. Taft-Hartley feeds business by giving the President power to stop strikes by court-ordered injunction for 80 days. The act was claimed to be for National Security when it was actually for corporate profits. National Security is the same justification used now, to deny hundreds of thousands of Federal workers Union protection.

George Bush used TH in 2002 against 10,500 west coast dock workers “locked out” (not striking) by the Pacific Maritime Association representing shipping companies and terminal operators.

Bush has always showed his hate for labor. He used the Railway Labor Act against a threatened strike by mechanics, cleaners and custodians at Northwest Airlines, and against United Airlines’ mechanics. He fought for management in 2006 against Northwest’s flight attendants’ job action against the bankrupt airline’s unfair demands for huge wage cuts and increases in hours worked. Even “our friend” Bill Clinton used the Railway Labor Act against American Airline’s pilots and to prevent railroad strikes over and over.

It has been the steady attack of money buying anti labor laws that has brought down Union membership. I have to add that the big cases of Union corruption although not the rule, painted Unions as crooked. The laws weakened or revoked worker protections and lowered workers bargaining power. Taft-Hartley allows stiff penalties for union violations but tiny penalties for companies. It enacted a list of “unfair (union) labor practices” and legalized employer interventions aimed at preventing union organizing campaigns.

There are still no real punishments for corporations that fire Union organizers.

Ronald Reagan started his attack on labor in his first year. In 1981 he fired 11,000 striking PATCO air traffic controllers, imprisoned its leaders, and fined the union millions of dollars. He succeeded in busting the Union.

After WW II Union membership was up to 35%, then falling to about 25% and staying steady until the Reagan years. Membership is now about 16% with about 7% in the private sector and about 36% of government workers. Union membership is the lowest in the private sector in 100 years.

George Bush’s support for corporations and attacks on unions is an attempt to give companies complete control of the workplace. Using 9/11 as an excuse, he attacked government unions immediately. He denied 170,000 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees civil service protection and the right to collective bargaining.

Why do they hate Unions? Union, organized workers make more money and benefits. A great reason to organize and all the reason the corporations need to fight Unions.

  • Most Union members have employer-paid health care coverage. Many fewer private sector employees have paid coverage and they pay more for their share.
  • over two-thirds of union members have short-term disability insurance compared to about one-third for nonunion workers;
  • Union members get more vacation time and more total paid leave than nonunion workers.

Organizing gives workers power so of course management wants to destroy them. It’s to deny working people their right to organize, earn more and get greater benefits corporations don’t want to provide. The G. Bush National Labor Relations Board ruled 3-2 against registered nurses’ right to union membership if they perform certain minimal supervisory duties.

US law doesn’t give supervisors the right to organize.

Bush ended the Clinton administration’s regulation requiring federal agencies vet companies’ compliance with the law when awarding federal contracts.

Just the way Ronald Reagan busted PATCO, George Bush started out the way he intended to continue. Georgie is a union-hater, and he declared open season on workers and their rights under his administration.

  • stripping workers of their right to unionize;
  • cutting pay raises for 1.8 million federal workers on the pretext of a “national emergency;”
  • denying millions overtime pay;
  • appointing anti-union officials;
  • scheming to weaken (and then end) retirement security by replacing Social Security with risky private accounts managed by Wall Street sharks that so far has gotten nowhere because of public opposition to it;

The failed “immigration reform” legislation was aimed at organized labor in a plan to create a workplace of near slaves having few or no benefits and no security.

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) – Some Hope for Worker Rights Now Denied

EFCA was introduced to “amend the (pro-labor) National Labor Relations Act that’s been systematically ripped to pieces ever since. Its aim was to “establish an efficient system to enable employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts, and for other purposes.” Senate Republicans blocked labor’s top legislative priority by preventing the bill’s supporters from getting the 60 votes needed to end debate and bring it to a vote.

For now the bill is dead, but if it ever passes, it will change federal law on worker rights. They’ll henceforth be able to organize by signing cards authorizing union representation, penalize employers violating worker rights to do it, and establish new mediation and arbitration processes for first-contract disputes. It might also end or slow down the firing, demoting, laying off, or suspending without pay of over 20,000 US workers annually because of their union activities.

The US Chamber of Commerce and big business fought against the bill. They oppose any worker rights, and their lobbying paid off. They claimed the bill allowed workers to organize before employers can explain why having a Union is not in their best interest. Could it really be that over and over it proves out that union workers have more rights, higher pay, greater benefits and added job security?

Dick Cheney promised that George Bush would veto EFCA legislation if it passed.

Right after Labor Day 2007, organized labor is weak after decades of government and business working together to grind down the middle class. The Employee Free Choice Act almost made it, but Senate Republicans killed it.

Labor is struggling to retain a role and improve its leverage. It will be a hard job, but we made this country great doing hard jobs.

Outsourcing

(GATT) in 1948, the ILO (International Trade Organization) in 1946 Then the IMF and now the World Bank.

GATT was followed by the WTO in 1995; one year after NAFTA took became a weapon of mass destruction for jobs.

The WTO is a corporate-friendly cover for agreements designed to do one thing. It’s to help corporations become the new world order by crushing member states’ sovereignty. All the rules must be good for money, not good for people.

The UN’s International Labor Organization’s (ILO) commission issued a condemnation of the damage and hurt world trade rules caused.

Starting unnoticed in the 1950s the exporting of jobs to low-wage countries began. Then the jobs making cars, shoes, clothing, electronics, and toys along with clerical work to India. Call centers, credit cards, and so called customer service followed the higher paying jobs out of the country.

What’s leaving now is big business. They move, and sell us the goods, and with a paid for Congress they don’t pay taxes because they are a foreign company.

The SEIU realized how important the service industry is. Services are now 84% of the economy. Manufacturing is done in countries with little to no labor laws. In South America they are still shooting Union organizers. The few good jobs left are under attack with the right claiming that anyone that has a good job or good benefits has taken it from someone else. Hedge fund managers make sixteen thousand times the average wage and pay 50% of the taxes the regular citizen pays. The average CEO pay is 343 times the average wage. How can they blame Unions?

Unions are no longer strong, and workers that had good pay with good benefits like full health insurance coverage and pensions have lost them to bankruptcies by companies that stole the pension funds and some that return from bankruptcy like the airlines but never have to pay their workers.

Except for the new gains by some unions private service sector jobs have suffered lost wages, benefits, job security and overall working conditions. There are fewer good jobs. Unions are weak, and workers are at the mercy of employers that have bought the law. In September 2007 American workers were reported to be the most productive in the World or the second most depending on how you read the numbers. We work more hours and take less time off than any civilized nation. We are the only civilized nation without guaranteed health care. They don’t hire part time workers at Wal Mart because of a lack of work. It is a design to destroy worker rights and make them a disposable unit.

The jobs at risk as reported by the University of California in 2004 and by Gartner Research predicts as many as 30% of high-tech jobs may be lost to low-wage countries by 2015. In 2006 former Federal Reserve vice-chairman Alan Blinder estimated 28 – 42 million American service sector jobs could be lost to foreign labor.

Once India took low-skill and routine programming jobs. Now the engineering jobs, the banking, pharmaceuticals, and more are leaving. The cycle does not stop. Outsourcing companies that supplied labor in India are now outsourcing it to other countries because the wages have gone up so much.

We are not gaining, we are not staying even.

Adjusted for inflation, the average American worker now earns less than in the mid-1970s with the minimum wage unchanged at $5.15 an hour since 1997 until the 110th Congress raised it over George Bush’s objections. Until the increase, minimum worker pay was at the lowest point relative to average wages since 1949.

One in three jobs in the country pay low wages, $11.11 per hour or less) with few or no benefits like health insurance, pensions or retirement.

The desire of the corporations was to achieve extreme wealth at the top, a dying middle class, and a growing underclass of low-paid workers grateful for any crumbs.

After the 1920s, the nation experienced a growth in the middle class incomes rose due to the New Deal and Great Society programs, strong unions, and a fair tax system for individuals and corporations. Since then the corporations have fought back “Only the little people pay taxes”

“Wal-Martization means corporate America wants to control labor costs by outsourcing jobs, de-unionizing, hiring temps and part-timers, and removing internal career ladders to boost profits at the expense of people. The only jobs left are dead-end, low-wage jobs with laws that have been paid for by corporations to keep it that way. This is no accident this is a long term plan by separate corporations with the same goal. Destroy organized labor.

In 2005 the top 1% of Americans (about 3 million people) got their largest share of national income since 1928 – 21.8%, up from 19.8% 2004 or a 10% gain. Further, the top 10% received 48.5% of all reported income in 2005, also the highest level since 1928, up 2% from 2004, and one-third since the late 1970s.

The top one-tenth of 1% (about 300,000 people) got as much income in total as the bottom 150 million Americans combined. In 2005 the total of all reported income went up almost 9%. The average income for the bottom 90% of the population dropped .6% from 2004.

The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy only helped the rich with a big slice of the benefits going to big corporations. In the 1950s, corporations contributed an average of 28% to federal revenues. Then corporate share of government taxes fell to 21% in the 1960s and 10% and falling since the 1980s. The corporate tax rate is supposed to be 35%, but according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), 94% of major corporations now pay less than 5% of their income in taxes. Many large companies pay no tax, and some end up with sizable rebates on top of huge corporate welfare subsidies under a system of socialism for big corporations and the rich.

The share of national income going to wages and salaries is the lowest on record based on data going back to 1929. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) reported wage and salary growth in the current recovery growing at half the average rate for post-recessionary periods since the end of WW II while corporate profits in the current period grew over 50% more than the post-WW II average. It’s the first time on record, corporate profits got a larger share of income growth in a recovery than wages and salaries – 46% to 34%.

Attack the poor and the sick

Most of the States and the Federal Government had some benefits and retirement in place for many of their employees as early as the late 1920s. Even the private sector added some small amounts of health care, pensions, life insurance and sick pay.

The Great Depression changed everything created the atmosphere that allowed the rise of worker rights and benefits. The 1920s anything goes corporate greed and loose corporations without regulation sickened the country.

The “bubble up” theory of recovery didn’t work a lot better than the “trickle down” theory did under Reagan, but at least the attempt was made to raise wages and thereby stimulate consumer purchasing power to pull us out of a recession. In 1939 the build up to WW II began and ended the depression. Manufacturing things here worked.

One of the biggest successes of all government programs was the passage in 1935 of the Social Security Act. To this day, it’s still the single most important piece of social legislation in our It is the one program most responsible for keeping vast numbers of elderly people out of poverty and providing essential services and benefits for the needy and disabled. Those “Liberals” also brought us Unemployment Insurance; Public Housing; and don’t forget the 40 hour week.

Medicare and Medicaid were established in 1965 guaranteeing the elderly and poor health care coverage at affordable, minimal or no cost when they needed it most.

Then the bad news started. Ronald Reagan was elected President in 1980. .

The Reagan administration started a long attack on worker rights and social programs. Reagan brought higher payroll taxes, raised the retirement age, increased Medicare premiums, and cut Medicaid benefits for the poor. This from the smiling lovable Uncle Ronnie. Big increases in military spending, big tax cuts for the rich and big business, cuts for social services, union rights and the philosophy that the national debt didn’t count.

Most social services, except, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, was cut by one-third from 1981 – 1988. Programs for low income earners were hard hit with a 54% cut. Subsidized housing lost over 80%, housing assistance for the elderly 47%, and training and employment services over 68%. Reagan also reduced health and safety protections and weakened federal statutes guaranteeing workers the right to organize and bargain collectively.

Loveable Uncle Ronnie supported the Christian Right’s hate campaign against gays and lesbians by refusing to address the AIDS problem and allowing it to become a global epidemic. Ironically enough he also cut funding that might have found a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

Ronald Reagan did not mention AIDS or do anything to help in the first seven years in office. Both Bush presidents have refused to help with AIDS funding if the wrong kind of birth control was discussed. The religious right was glad to see God punish the unbeliever.

The GHW Bush years followed Reagan harming working people everywhere. We can’t give Bill Clinton a pass, Clinton gave us NAFTA.

Clinton pushed for health care “reform.”, that everyone knew would not work. What we need is a plan as good as the one all members of Congress and the administration get. They cover everyone, irrespective of ability to pay, and for US legislators and the executive it’s gold-plated for life.

Social service cuts were the daily special under George Bush. Funding tax cuts for the rich means you must steal from the poor.

The Republicans blame Unions but the Bush congress brought you:

  • The removal of OSHA workplace ergonomic rules.
  • Cancelled grants to study workplace safety and health
  • Reduced funding for job training; and
  • Bush proposed paying welfare recipients below-minimum wages
  • Wanted to deny Homeland Security employees protection for being a whistle blower
  • Ignored New York rescue workers’ health
  • Cut health care benefits for veterans and billions more cuts for Medicare and Medicaid
  • Tried to cut benefits for veterans again and again.
  • Raised interest rates on student college loans
  • Called providing Health care for the neediest children a step in the wrong direction and threatened a veto.

Let us not forget the Walter Reed Hospital with moldy medical facilities for military personnel.

Where are we now, where are we going?

The laws have been bought. The corporations are in charge. This must change, it has been done before. The Union job with rights and fair pay set the goal for all workers and the Corporations are dedicated to smashing this goal. They want nothing better to aim for except what they choose to give.

What worked before can work again. This is not rocket science. Effective mass organizing is needed to build unity and strength of numbers, show non-union Americans what they have to gain. Show the Union members what they have lost and what they could lose.

It worked; we won an eight hour day. Our wages used to keep up with inflation, some of us still have health care even though it is under constant attack. The corporations have attacked benefits as bad for business and sold this load of garbage calling it steak. The corporations never gave us these benefits we fought for the right to bargain collectively and nothing was given to us because change never comes from the top down.

Organized labor is a mess, with some light showing through with the SEIU and others making small gains in the last two years. Only 7% of private sector workers are unionized. On the average all better paying jobs. Organized labor must push out organized money. Our muscle is unity and the vote. It worked before, it can work now.

How are you doing America?

NAFTA CAFTA, globalization, and more workers than jobs all threaten the American worker. The result is Corporations with low costs and growing profits. Business Week magazine reported “the share of (US) national income going to corporate profits (compared to labor) is hovering around a 50 year high.

Having millions of workers in countries with no labor protection leads to a race to the bottom in corporate run marketplace. In developed nations they’re outsourcing good jobs to lower wage countries and blackmailing workers to do more for less because they’ve got little bargaining power to fight back.

Organized Labor in the US – Up and then the long fall

In 1800s companies became richer and richer and employees wanted a share of the benefits. They turned to unions for help.

Finally in the 1880s, labor was able to strike for better pay and working conditions like the eight hour day.

Political parties helped the unions, not like today where neither Republicans nor Democrats are doing anything to help working Americans.

The American Federation of Labor (AFL) founded by Samuel Gompers in 1886 and would survive even with other unions falling around it. The AFL became the largest union in the first half of the 20th century. The AFLCIO is still the country’s largest federation of unions even after the (SEIU), Teamsters, and more left.

Organized labor faces declining membership and corporate dominance and workers are facing globalization. It has been a painful fall for labor with worker rights under attack since Reagan. In the early part of the 1900s only after suffering firings, killings and threats, the Unions won an eight-hour day, a living wage, and benefits because strong unions went head-to-head with management and won. Now we face corporations pay their politicians by leaving money on the bureau after they have done their business with congress.

The Unions have always been on the weaker side but that was not enough for business. Big business paid for the passage of the Taft-Hartley Labor-Management Relations Act in 1947. The bill was called “slave labor” by Harry Truman who then used it 10 times. Taft-Hartley feeds business by giving the President power to stop strikes by court-ordered injunction for 80 days. The act was claimed to be for National Security when it was actually for corporate profits. National Security is the same claim to deny hundreds of thousands of Federal workers Union protection.

George Bush used TH in 2002 against 10,500 west coast dock workers “locked out” (not striking) by the Pacific Maritime Association representing shipping companies and terminal operators.

In 2001 Bush showed his hate for labor. He used the Railway Labor Act against a threatened strike by mechanics, cleaners and custodians at Northwest Airlines and again against United Airlines’ mechanics in December. He fought for management in 2006 against Northwest’s 8700 flight attendants’ planned job action against the bankrupt airline’s unfair demands for huge wage cuts and increases in hours worked. Even “our friend” Bill Clinton used the Railway Labor Act against American Airline’s pilots and to prevent railroad strikes 13 times.

It has been the steady attack of money buying anti labor laws that has brought down Union membership. The laws weakened or revoked worker protections and lowered workers bargaining power. Taft-Hartley allows stiff penalties for union violations but tiny penalties for companies. It enacted a list of “unfair (union) labor practices” and legalized employer interventions aimed at preventing union organizing campaigns.

There are still no real punishments for corporations that fire Union organizers.

Ronald Reagan started his attack on labor in his first year. In 1981 he fired 11,000 striking PATCO air traffic controllers, imprisoned its leaders, and fined the union millions of dollars. He succeeded in busting the Union. .

After WW II Union membership was up to as much as 35% falling to about 25% and staying steady until the Reagan years. Membership is now about 16% with about 7% in the private sector and about 36% of government workers. Union membership is the lowest in the private sector in 100 years.

George Bush’s support for corporations and attacks on unions is an attempt to give companies complete control of the workplace. Using 9/11 as an excuse, he attacked government unions immediately. He denied 170,000 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees civil service protection and the right to collective bargaining.

Why do they hate Unions? Union, organized workers make more money and benefits. A great reason to organize and all the reason the corporations need to fight Unions.

  • Most Union members have employer-paid health care coverage. Many fewer private sector employees have paid coverage and they pay more for their share.
  • over two-thirds of union members have short-term disability insurance compared to about one-third for nonunion workers;
  • Union members get more vacation time and more total paid leave than nonunion workers.

Organizing gives workers power so of course management wants to destroy them. It’s to deny working people their right to organize, earn more and get greater benefits corporations don’t want to provide. The G. Bush National Labor Relations Board ruled 3-2 against registered nurses’ right to union membership if they perform certain minimal supervisory duties.

US law doesn’t give supervisors the right to organize.

Bush ended the Clinton administration’s regulation requiring federal agencies vet companies’ compliance with the law when awarding federal contracts.

Just the way Ronald Reagan busted PATCO, George Bush started out the way he intended to continue. Georgie is a union-hater, and he declared open season on workers and their rights under his administration.

  • stripping workers of their right to unionize;
  • cutting pay raises for 1.8 million federal workers on the pretext of a “national emergency;”
  • denying millions overtime pay;
  • appointing anti-union officials;
  • scheming to weaken (and then end) retirement security by replacing Social Security with risky private accounts managed by Wall Street sharks that so far has gotten nowhere because of public opposition to it;

The failed “immigration reform” legislation was aimed at organized labor in a plan to create a workplace of near slaves having few or no benefits and no security.

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) – Some Hope for Worker Rights Now Denied

EFCA was introduced to “amend the (pro-labor) National Labor Relations Act that’s been systematically ripped to pieces ever since. Its aim was to “establish an efficient system to enable employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts, and for other purposes.” Senate Republicans blocked labor’s top legislative priority by preventing the bill’s supporters from getting the 60 votes needed to end debate and bring it to a vote.

For now the bill is dead, but if it ever passes, it will change federal law on worker rights. They’ll henceforth be able to organize by signing cards authorizing union representation, penalize employers violating worker rights to do it, and establish new mediation and arbitration processes for first-contract disputes. It might also end or slow down the firing, demoting, laying off, or suspending without pay of over 20,000 US workers annually because of their union activities.

The US Chamber of Commerce and big business fought against the bill. They oppose any worker rights, and their lobbying paid off. They claimed the bill allowed workers to organize before employers can explain why having a Union is not in their best interest. Could it really be that over and over it proves out that union workers have more rights, higher pay, greater benefits and added job security?

Dick Cheney let business know that George Bush would veto EFCA legislation if it passed.

Right after Labor Day 2007, organized labor is weak after decades of government and business working together to grind down the middle class. The Employee Free Choice Act almost made it, but Senate Republicans killed it.

Labor is struggling to retain a role and improve its leverage. It will be a hard job, but we made this country great doing hard jobs.

Outsourcing

(GATT) in 1948, the ILO (International Trade Organization) in 1946 Then the IMF and now the World Bank.

GATT was followed by the WTO in 1995; one year after NAFTA took became a weapon of mass destruction for jobs.

The WTO is a corporate-friendly cover for agreements designed to do one thing. It’s to help corporations become the new world order by crushing member states’ sovereignty. All the rules must be good for money, not good for people.

The UN’s International Labor Organization’s (ILO) commission issued a condemnation of the damage and hurt world trade rules caused.

Starting unnoticed in the 1950s the exporting of jobs to low-wage countries began. Then the jobs making cars, shoes, clothing, electronics, and toys along with clerical work to India. Call centers, credit cards, and so called customer service followed the higher paying jobs out of the country.

What’s leaving now is big business. They move, and sell us the goods, and with a paid for Congress they don’t pay taxes because they are a foreign company.

The SEIU realized how important the service industry is. Services are now 84% of the economy. Manufacturing is done in countries with little to no labor laws. In South America they are still shooting Union organizers. The few good jobs left are under attack with the right claiming that anyone that has a good job or good benefits has taken it from someone else. Hedge fund managers make sixteen thousand times the average wage and pay 50% of the taxes the regular citizen pays. The average CEO pay is 343 times the average wage. How can they blame Unions?

Unions are no longer strong, and workers that had good pay with good benefits like full health insurance coverage and pensions have lost them to bankruptcies by companies that stole the pension funds and some that return from bankruptcy like the airlines but never have to pay their workers.

Except for the new gains by some unions, like the SEIU, private service sector jobs have suffered lost wages, benefits, job security and worsening working conditions. There are fewer good jobs. Unions are weak, and workers are at the mercy of employers that have bought the law. In September 2007 American workers were reported to be the most productive in the World or the second most depending on how you read the numbers. We work more hours and take less time off than any civilized nation. We are the only civilized nation without guaranteed health care. They don’t hire part time workers at Wal Mart because of a lack of work. It is a design to destroy worker rights and make them a disposable unit.

The jobs at risk as reported by the University of California in 2004 and by Gartner Research predicts as many as 30% of high-tech jobs may be lost to low-wage countries by 2015. In 2006 former Federal Reserve vice-chairman Alan Blinder estimated 28 – 42 million American service sector jobs could be lost to foreign labor.

Once India took low-skill and routine programming jobs. Now the engineering jobs, the banking, pharmaceuticals, and more are leaving. The cycle does not stop. Outsourcing companies that supplied labor in India are now outsourcing it to other countries because the wages have gone up so much.

We are not gaining, we are not staying even.

Adjusted for inflation, the average American worker now earns less than in the mid-1970s with the minimum wage unchanged at $5.15 an hour since 1997 until the 110th Congress raised it over George Bush’s objections. Until the increase, minimum worker pay was at the lowest point relative to average wages since 1949.

One in three jobs in the country pay low wages, $11.11 per hour or less) with few or no benefits like health insurance, pensions or retirement.

The desire of the corporations was to achieve extreme wealth at the top, a dying middle class, and a growing underclass of low-paid workers grateful for any crumbs.

After the 1920s, the nation experienced a growth in the middle class incomes rose due to the New Deal and Great Society programs, strong unions, and a fair tax system for individuals and corporations. Since then the corporations have fought back “Only the little people pay taxes”

Corporate America wants to control labor costs by outsourcing jobs, de-unionizing, hiring temps and part-timers, and removing internal career ladders to boost profits at the expense of people. The only jobs left are dead-end, low-wage jobs with laws that have been paid for by corporations to keep it that way. The goal is to destroy organized labor, because organized labor shows what jobs could be for Americans.

IThe Bush tax cuts for the wealthy only helped the rich and big corporations. In the 1950s, corporations contributed 28% of federal revenues. Then the corporate share of government taxes fell to 21% in the 1960s and 10% and falling since the 1980s. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), 94% of major corporations pay less than 5% in taxes. Many large companies pay no tax. Corporate welfare for billionaires

The share of national income going to wages and salaries is the lowest on record based on data going back to 1929. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) reported wage and salary growth in the current recovery growing at half the average rate for post-recessionary periods since the end of WW II while corporate profits in the current period grew over 50% more than the post-WW II average. It’s the first time on record, corporate profits got a larger share of income growth in a recovery than wages and salaries – 46% to 34%.

Attack the poor and the sick

Most of the States and the Federal Government had some benefits and retirement in place for many of their employees as early as the late 1920s. Even the private sector added some small amounts of health care, pensions, life insurance and sick pay.

The Great Depression changed everything created the atmosphere that allowed the rise of worker rights and benefits. The 1920s anything goes corporate greed and loose corporations without regulation sickened the country.

The recovery from the depression didn’t work a lot better than the “trickle down” theory did under Reagan, but at least the attempt was made to raise wages and to stimulate consumer spending, not to cut taxes to the rich. In 1939 the build up to WW II began and ended the depression.

Social Security, passed in 1935 is still the most important piece of social legislation in our history. It is the one program most responsible for keeping the elderly people out of poverty and providing life saving services and benefits to the needy and disabled. Those “Liberals” also brought us Unemployment Insurance; Public Housing; and don’t forget the 40 hour week.

Medicare and Medicaid were established in 1965 guaranteeing the elderly and poor health care coverage at affordable, minimal or no cost when they needed it most.

Then the bad news started. Ronald Reagan was elected President in 1980. .

The Reagan administration started a long attack on worker rights and social programs. Reagan brought higher payroll taxes, raised the retirement age, increased Medicare premiums, and cut Medicaid benefits for the poor. This from the smiling loveable Uncle Ronnie. Big increases in military spending, big tax cuts for the rich and big business, cuts for social services, union rights and the philosophy that the national debt didn’t count.

Most social services, except, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, was cut by one-third from 1981 – 1988. Programs for low income earners were hard hit with a 54% cut. Subsidized housing lost over 80%, housing assistance for the elderly 47%, and training and employment services over 68%. Reagan also reduced health and safety protections and weakened federal statutes guaranteeing workers the right to organize and bargain collectively.

Ironically enough, some of the funding cuts might have found a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

GHW Bush followed Reagan harming working people everywhere and it was the same under Bill Clinton who called himself a Democrat but never governed like one. Clinton gave us NAFTA.

Clinton pushed for health care “reform.”, that everyone knew would not work. What we need is a plan as good as the one all members of Congress and the administration get. They cover everyone, irrespective of ability to pay, and for US legislators and the executive it’s gold-plated for life.

Social service cuts accelerated dramatically under George Bush who’d eliminate them all given the choice. Funding tax cuts for the rich has to get the money from somewhere and if you are giving to the rich you must steal from the poor.

The Republicans blame Unions but the Bush congress brought you:

  • The removal of OSHA workplace ergonomic rules.
  • Cancelled grants to study workplace safety and health;
  • Reduced funding for job training; and
  • Bush proposed paying welfare recipients below-minimum wages;
  • Wanted to deny Homeland Security employees protection for being a whistleblower;
  • Ignored New York rescue workers’ health;
  • Cut health care benefits for veterans and billions more cuts for Medicare and Medicaid;
  • Raised interest rates on student college loans;

Let us not forget the Walter Reed Hospital with moldy medical facilities for military personnel. Only Bush’s plummeting approval and the new Democratic majority might slow him down.

Where are we now, where are we going?

The laws have been bought. The corporations are in charge. This must change, it has been done before.

What worked before can work again. This is not rocket science. Effective mass organizing is needed to build unity and strength of numbers, show non-union Americans what they have to gain. Show the Union members what they have lost and what they could lose.

It worked; we won an eight hour day. Our wages used to keep up with inflation, some of us still have healthcare even though it is under constant attack. The corporations have attacked benefits as bad for business and sold this load of garbage calling it steak. The corporations never gave us these benefits we fought for the right to bargain collectively and nothing was given to us because change never comes from the top down.

Organized labor is a mess, with some light showing through with the SEIU and others making small gains in the last two years. Only 7% of private sector workers are unionized. On the average all better paying jobs. Organized labor must push out organized money. Our muscle is unity and the vote. It worked before, it can work now.

E.T.I. 2009

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September 6th, 2007 Posted by narsbars | MSEA, MSEASEIU, SEIU, SEIU 1984, SEIU 1989, STATE EMPLOYEES, TECHNORATI, UNIONMAINE, VSEA | no comments

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