Labor For Life

In my younger more impetuous days I was a labor organizer and since then I am always reading about the movement and trying to decide where it is going in this country…….

In modern politics the word labor and unions are dirty words in conservative circles……..this institution has been blamed for all sorts of woes…it has been blamed for a wide array of situations from the high cost of cars to poor educational performance to the unwanted outcome of elections…..in short…..unions are the anti-Christ in some corners.

The perfectly executed character assassination of unions has, in my opinion, has lead to a weakening of labor’s position in the workplace which in turn has slowly fueled the demise of the middle class….

Fast forward to this week……the ‘big story’ has been the union vote in a VW plant in Tennessee on whether to unionize or not….BTW the union lost out in that vote…..they voted to NOT unionize…….

The obvious loser in last week’s failed bid to unionize the Volkswagen auto plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., was the United Auto Workers. The union was counting on a victory at the German-owned plant, which stayed officially neutral in the unionizing effort but hinted it welcomed a platform for organizing other plants in the South.

But the vote — and the forces that had arrayed themselves against the UAW — could also represent a setback for the economy and blue- and white-collar employees, a number of auto-industry and economic experts suggested.

U.S. management and labor organizations have battled each other —with both sides wasting resources in the process — ever since Frederick Winslow Taylor used his “scientific” methods a century ago to de-skill and control production workers, explained James P. Womack, founder of the Lean Enterprise Institute in Cambridge, Mass., and a co-author of “The Machine That Changed The World.” For Womack, the acrimonious fight and vote in Chattanooga was part of a historical continuum that has often hobbled U.S. industry, especially in the face of international competitors who embraced much more collaborative approaches to management.

My personal opinion was that it would not succeed in unionizing the plant….after all it is in the South and Right To Work is strong in the region…….so was the vote a big win for VW?  I thought so until I read another article shortly after the vote…….

The head of Volkswagen’s General Works Councils in Germany is threatening to block any further investment in the southern United States, Reuters reports, after workers at VW’s Chattanooga plant voted against union representation. “I can imagine fairly well that another VW factory in the United States, provided that one more should still be set up there, does not necessarily have to be assigned to the South again,’ Bernd Osterloh said. “We as workers will hardly be able to vote in favor” of one. Osterloh blames US conservatives for stirring up “massive anti-union sentiments.” He serves on a 20-member supervisory board split evenly between workers and management that could block future investments unless Chattanooga gets a German-style workers’ council. VW would still like to create a council without the United Auto Workers union, the New York Times reports, but legal experts say that might violate federal laws against company-controlled worker groups. Some anti-UAW workers have offered to set up an alternative union to get around the problem.

An interesting turn of the screw, right?  With all that info in hgand, who would you say was the big winner in this situation?

Please throwing your hat into this conversation.  I would like to have as many thoughts as possible……

Why The Hate?

I am sure that if you watch or read news reports you have been subject to the attacks on labor unions…..they have been blamed for every bad economic trend in this country……from expensive cars to problems in the schools to voter fraud to….well pick an issue and some mental midget will blame it on unions……..and all the misinformation has been used by red states to want to make their states right-to-work states (anyone who thinks that is a good idea then Google Mississippi stats)…….

If you work for a living then unions have help get you should horrible things as…….8 hour day, overtime, 40 hour week…..workmen’s comp……on and on……..

Union membership is at a 97-year low in America, with just 11.3% of workers belonging to one. Because you’re probably not one of them, you probably don’t care about this low point—but you should, writes Eric Liu in Time. Not only do unions lift wages for their members, they also lift wages for the rest of us “by creating a higher prevailing wage,” Liu writes. “The presence of unions sets off a wage race to the top. Their absence sets off a race to the bottom.” But most Americans don’t see it that way—rather, many see unions “as special interests seeking special privileges, often on the taxpayer’s dime.” But consider this: Workers in unions are making a better wage, and are thus less likely to rely on government assistance. “The weakness of labor is everyone’s problem—and its revival everyone’s opportunity.” Click for Liu’s full column.

Before someone thinks they have me pegged….let me say….while I believe that unions have done more good than harm….I do not like the bureaucratic structure….to my thinking the head of a union should make only 20% more than its highest paid member….but as long as we have this sort of set up….unions will be nothing more than expensive lobbyists…..

I realize that most Americans will buy into the BS spread about unions….all I can say is all that wanted to be a right-to-work state…….welcome to low ages and crap jobs……and then it may be too late to remedy the situation…….what’s the old saying, “crap in, crap out”……

Assaulting The System

For years I have been telling people to watch their backs that they were letting the politicians get away with way too much and that it would eventually sneak up and bite them in the butt…..right about now the voter’s ass should look like hamburger!

It began with the hatchet job done on ACORN by Breitbart and his lackey film maker….it seemed that the Far Right had to silence ACORN and the job it did helping poor people register to vote….for those people were “Democrats”…argh!

Then after the 2010 election we had a number of Repub governors attacking collective bargaining and union membership as some how making the deficits worse in their states….states like Ohio, Wisconsin …….after all unions were the major contributors to the opposition…..those “Democrats”…..argh!

And then Repub governors and legislatures started attacking voting…..they passed new laws that limit who could vote or made it extremely hard for some people to register….states like Florida…because these people more than likely would have voted….”Democrat”….argh!

And now there is a new approach…..the Hill is reporting….

A new proposal by the governor of Pennsylvania that would dramatically change how the state awards its Electoral College votes could have a major impact on the 2012 election — and President Obama’s reelection chances.The plan would be similar to the configurations in Nebraska and Maine, which divide their votes rather than adopting the “winner-take-all” system in place in the remaining states plus the District of Columbia. But while Nebraska and Maine have a relatively small impact on the race, due to their size, Pennsylvania’s adoption of the system would have a dramatic effect on the presidential process.

They will tinker with a plan that was stated in the Constitution….remember that document?

This plan would further eliminate the whole  idea of one vote concept….this is the attempt to find ways to prevent Obama from gaining all the electoral votes….these newly elected Repub governors and legislatures are doing what they accused us Leftist of wanting to do in the past….and yet they get support and the Left got vilified……why is that?  To be fair, this idea could well, backfire on them….but that is not important….trying to gin the system for the 2012 election is all that matters at this time…….

I warned yet again…WATCH your backs…….or you will lose what few voting rights you have now…..and there are NOT many left.

Blame It On The Unions

With the revolution, so to speak, that has been festering in Wisconsin and now moved onto other states, the unions are being blamed for everything from the election of a president to e coli…..of course this is NOTHING new….conservs have been doing this for a very long time….almost since the beginning back in the early 20th century…..

Any one that has read Info Ink for any length of time knows that I am a labor supporter but not necessarily a supporter of unions, as we know them today.  Yes, I think that labor should be lead by a separate party, if you will……but NOT an AFL-CIO type of organization……why?  It is too bureaucratic and too top-centric (if that is a word)….this was not the fault of the members but rather a labor leader back in the day, named Gompers who believed economic power was more to his liking than political power…..

If you are a worker, either union or non, there is a lot you can blame on the unions…..a whole litany of issues that conservs have seldom been in favor of in the past and most notably in the present……

  1. Weekends
  2. All Breaks at Work, including your Lunch Breaks
  3. Paid Vacation
  4. FMLA
  5. Sick Leave
  6. Social Security
  7. Minimum Wage
  8. Civil Rights Act/Title VII (Prohibits Employer Discrimination)
  9. 8-Hour Work Day
  10. Overtime Pay
  11. Child Labor Laws
  12. Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA)
  13. 40 Hour Work Week
  14. Worker’s Compensation (Worker’s Comp)
  15. Unemployment Insurance
  16. Pensions
  17. Workplace Safety Standards and Regulations
  18. Employer Health Care Insurance
  19. Collective Bargaining Rights for Employees
  20. Wrongful Termination Laws
  21. Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
  22. Whistleblower Protection Laws
  23. Employee Polygraph Protect Act (Prohibits Employer from using a lie detector test on an employee)
  24. Veteran’s Employment and Training Services (VETS)
  25. Compensation increases and Evaluations (Raises)
  26. Sexual Harassment Laws
  27. Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
  28. Holiday Pay
  29. Employer Dental, Life, and Vision Insurance
  30. Privacy Rights
  31. Pregnancy and Parental Leave
  32. Military Leave
  33. The Right to Strike
  34. Public Education for Children
  35. Equal Pay Acts of 1963 & 2011 (Requires employers pay men and women equally for the same amount of work)
  36. Laws Ending Sweatshops in the United States

(Thanx to bigcorporationusa.blogspot for the list)

The next time you hear one of your potential reps telling you all about the evils of unions ask them about some of the things on the list and ask why they are so hated……so on Labor Day if you want to remember those in the Labor movement and thank them for the rights and benefits you have today….for without their work your life would be considerably more miserable than you think you have it.

Enjoy your day of fun, food and family…..see you tomorrow…….

But First, A Little History

College of Political Knowledge

I think we have all about exhausted the story in Wisconsin….the situation and the reporting is becoming redundant…….there is not more we can saw about the issue…only that the people seem to be on the side of unions and the GOP is fighting it tooth and nail…..

I will let it go after I give a bit of history for those that are not aware of what the labor movement has done in the past……back in the early days of the 20th century there was a massive labor movement and yes there were some Leftists involved in it…….but without the fight for fairness in labor we would not have the situation we have today….we would NOT have the 8 hour work day or the 5 day work week or overtime or minimum wage or benefits or a safe work place or a ban on child labor and the list goes on and on….let me ask…what would you working life be like if NOT for the fight of unions of the past?  We soon forget the hardship and sacrifices that our people had to deal with in their work environment….but we should thank unions for the life we have today…..

But wait….history seems to be trying to repeat itself starting in Wisconsin and now moves on to Ohio…..

Another showdown on an Ohio bill to restrict the bargaining rights of public workers could come as early as Wednesday with a vote by a Republican-majority legislative committee whose chairman says he has the support to send the measure to the Senate.Worker rights and collective bargaining have sparked debate in statehouses across the country, most notably in Wisconsin, where a scheduled vote on a similar bill prompted Democratic lawmakers to flee the state.

A repeat of history?  Where?

In many ways, it’s the 1930s again. Just as then, workers and their political allies and other supporters are demonstrating, picketing, marching, striking and otherwise forcefully demanding the basic civil right of collective bargaining – the unfettered right for workers’ representatives to negotiate with employers on setting their wages, hours and working conditions.

Eventually, workers and their millions of supporters won the 1930s struggle. Congress, acting closely with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, granted the legal right of collective bargaining to most workers. Farm workers, domestics and a few other groups were excluded from the law, but all others finally had that vital right.

The 1930s struggle arose primarily because of the economic pressures of the Great Depression that led to massive protests, just as today’s struggle can be traced to the pressures of the Great Recession that also have led to massive protests.

There are key differences between then and now, however. In the thirties, the struggle was to win union rights for workers in the face of strong opposition from large financial interests, powerful conservative politicians and other anti-labor forces. Today, the struggle is to keep union rights from being taken away from workers by today’s anti-union forces. Their main targets are public employees and the pensions and other benefits they won in past bargaining with their government employers.  (Thanx to Buzzflash and Dick Meister)

Once again workers are having to fight for their right to work……it really comes down to the cash that unions and their members are willing to give to politicians that is the real story….it has little to do with the workers themselves just the influence that they can wield…….it is about elections NOT jobs!

Better Later Than Never

Yes, I will be talking about the doings in Wisconsin….and yes…again!

There is a report on a poll out today about the governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker…….

Wisconsin voters already have buyers remorse about electing Gov. Scott Walker (R).

In a PPP poll released Monday, a majority of registered Wisconsin voters say that in a hypothetical re-do of last year’s gubernatorial election, they would vote for Democrat Tom Barrett, whom Walker defeated in November. That finding comes as Walker continues to stand firm on his budget proposals that would strip most state public employees of long-held collective bargaining rights.

Fifty-two percent of respondents said they would vote for Barrett if the election were held today, while 45% said they would vote for Walker. That’s almost exactly the opposite of what happened in the election, when Walker won the governorship with 52% of the vote to Barrett’s 47%.

The huge shift comes, not surprisingly, from union members. In releasing the findings, Tom Jensen at PPP wrote:

Thanx to Talking Points Memo for the update…….

All I have to say about this is…..see what happens when you are lazy and depend on morons on the tube to tell you where to vote?  Maybe, just maybe  you people should exercise your most important muscle….no not the abs or the pecs or the penis……but rather the BRAIN!  If you would have used it more maybe you would not have the massive problem you have now…..if you pay attention to what you are voting for then sneaks and thieves cannot easily influence you……

You have NO one to blame for this but yourself and your damn laziness!  Ignorance hurts, huh?

The GOP’s Man Crush

By now we ALL have heard about the doings in states like Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, to mention a few……if not then there is a rush by GOP governors to attack public employees and their unions….it seems to these types all the budget problems and shortfalls are ALL the fault of public employees and the unions……It seems that the GOP is still trying to negate ALL progress of workers that started back in the 1940’s………..conservs make it sound as if the public employees have somehow stolen their benefits….utter and total BS!

I am still waiting for these governors to focus on one of their major points that helped them win a large percentage of the vote….that point is…the creation of jobs…..somehow lower corporate taxes will create jobs….it has NOT in my state, which has some of the lowest in the country, and have been promised great prosperity will come with lower taxes….not so in the last 50 years…..nowhere have these elected officials created a job and their points they are pushing like furloughs, dismissals, etc….will create NO jobs  but will create a rise in unemployment….keep in mind you mental midgets voted for these people….are you pleased with your choices?

Anyway back to the man crush thing…….The darling of ALL conservs, Gov. Cristie of New Jersey today on MSNBC (which has a major man crush on this guy)…..Christie talked about the stuff he is doing in New Jersey he said that….”the unions were destroying thew Middle Class and that by pursuing them he was going to strengthen the Middle Class….(this is a paraphrase)……and of course Morning Joe was so9 pleased to hear that the public employees would be attacked that he could barely contain himself (after all he is a conserv and as such sees the evils behind unions)…….but after hearing his little mindless diatribe I have to ask……..

Just how are unions destroying the middle class, governor?  How would weakening or eliminating unions strengthen the middle class?

Since thanx to the work of unions, the middle class prospered and gave working people the opportunity to advance their standing in society…Thanx to the work of unions Americans were given the chance to live the American dream…Just how would Christie and his comrades strengthen the middle class?

These GOP governors are pursuing an agenda that they kept from the voter during the campaign….this is NOT unusual….but you would think that the American voter would be smarter by now……(pause here for raucous laughter)…….

Civil Disobedience Comes Home!

From the VOMITORIUM

In the last month all of the Middle East has exploded into protests…..by now we all have heard the reasons….no jobs, little food, little pay, total breakdown of society for the people and a well spring for the authoritarian a/holes that hold the power….somewhere I though it would be good if Americans would get off their lazy butts and start demanding that the pigs in Washington would start acting as a true rep of the people….so far I have been sadly disappointed….we Americans stand by and allow the crap to happen…..

But wait!  Wisconsin has revved up and the public employees are protesting the bill by their new governor that would target unions, especially public service unions…trying  to eliminate collective bargaining, screwing with their pensions and their health care….basically it is an attack on unions….a typical GOP strategy…that and trying to eliminate any organization that deals with the poor……

All the pundits whether Right or Left have been calling this action by the governor as a way to attack the state budget and that the protesters are just cowards for NOT caring about the state deficit……25,000 protests have descended on the state capital of Madison to voice their disapproval of these targeted actions….

Let us look a little closer at the situation……as of January whjen the governor took office there was an expectation of a budget surplus of about $120 million…..but shortly after the swearing in….the Repub governor and his cronies in the GOP lead legislature passed a sweeping bill that spent $140 million on the special interests that paid him for his campaign…..news pundits say that the people need to do the math….I agree……a $125 million surplus minus the $140 million bill mean that there will be a deficit…….a deficit that the governor the legislature brought onto the people of Wisconsin and now the public employees are asked to make up the shortfall……I WOULD BE PISSED TOO!

Oh by the way….there are exemptions from the cuts those would be the police union, firefighters union and the state troops union…….in case you are interested…these 3 unions were the ones that supported Walker in his campaign…..coincidence?  Like Hell!

A few more tidbits……

The Fiscal Bureau memo — which readers can access here — makes it clear that Walker did not inherit a budget that required a repair bill.

The facts are not debatable.

Because of the painful choices made by the previous Legislature, Wisconsin is in better shape fiscally than most states.

Wisconsin has lower unemployment than most states.

Wisconsin has better prospects for maintaining great schools, great public services and a great quality of life than most states, even in turbulent economic times.

Unfortunately, Walker has a political agenda that relies on the fantasy that Wisconsin is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

Walker is not interested in balanced budgets, efficient government or meaningful job creation.

Walker is interested in gaming the system to benefit his political allies and campaign contributors.

Any deficit that may occur in Wisconsin had NOTHING to do with the public employees and their benefits….but rather a well timed plan to destroy anything union…….the middle class workers MUST pay for the benefits that the governor has given to his handlers and their interests…..

Repubs are PIGS!  Attack anything that represents the workers….now please tell me whose has the best interests of the middle class at heart….why does the middle class keep voting for the very people that are out to destroy them?

Here is another thought….if they succeed in Wisconsin…NO public employee will be safe anywhere in this country…..

It’s Those Damn Unions!

From the vomitorium

(BTW the title is sarcasm in case you missed it)

You have heard it all before……especially from conservs……the American auto industry is NOT competitive because of those damn unions or unions are destroying our economy or …… well you get the idea.

Today is the day that the House is in session to vote on a bill that will save jobs in education as well as police and fire and help states with their deficits….but as usual the GOP is hot on this accusing the Dems of paying off unions for past support…..

The legislation provides $10 billion to school districts to rehire laid-off teachers or ensure that more teachers won’t be let go before the new school year begins. The money could keep more than 160,000 teachers, including 16,000 in California and 14,000 in Texas, on the job, advocates say.

The other half of the bill has $16 billion for six more months of increased Medicaid payments to the states. That would free up money for states to meet other budget priorities, including keeping more than 150,000 police officers and other public workers on the payroll. Some three-fifths of states have already factored in the federal money in drawing up their budgets for the current fiscal year.

But House Republican leader John Boehner contended, “The American people don’t want more Washington ‘stimulus’ spending — especially in the form of a payoff to union bosses and liberal special interests.”

(Thanx to the AP for above excerpts)

So according to these dipsticks it is all unions fault that the public sector jobs pay better than the private sector……is it the union’s fault that a raisin sizer at the USDA makes $100,000 or that congress people make $400,000+?  No it is NOT!  And let us talk about the unions and the auto industry….now that the unions have given back so much to the auto makers then the price of cars should come down, right?  So far we are still waiting…..the reason that the public sector pays better is that it does not have the greed factor built in……

The truth of the matter is that unions are a toothless beast in the US…okay they throw money at candidates but what has it gotten them?  Not much return on their investment then why are unions the political demon for the conservs?

So will Repubs vote against keeping teachers working as well as firemen and policemen?  If they do….who side are they really on….this vote could be telling no matter how they try to spin it……