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Workers Unite

It was with great sadness – and disgust although not surprise – that I read of the recent “triumph” of the Wisconsin Republicans, who in order to circumvent the law, separated the non-financial portion of their “tax relief” bill and without debate or discussion, passed the most heinous portion of their “tax relief” bill – the one which strips State workers of their rights to organize and negotiate with the State government for their wages and benefits.

It is telling that the Republicans were able to do this because the matter has no fiscal impact on the state budget. That’s right – crippling the union won’t add a single dime to their coffers. It won’t decrease their deficit one iota. What it does do is remove a source of funds for the Democrats, one of the largest supporters of them in the state. It creates a situation where the Republicans have a huge advantage in raising campaign funds and pretty much insures that their message will be the only one heard.

It also is a very large blow in what is becoming a class war. The rich are not only determined to take control of the nation’s wealth, they want to kill the soul of the working class. This is being done out of fear – they realize that they are vastly outnumbered and that an uprising, legal or otherwise, is something they can never resist. They want to take the fight out of the dog before they get bitten, in other words.

The sight and sounds of people uprising in Egypt and Libya terrifies them. The response of students and state workers in Wisconsin worries them. They realize that their power stems from their wealth and from the apathy of those who do the work. If ever people stand up and say “Enough,” the powers that be will lose their control and the wealth that comes with it.

That wealth is considerable; 400 people in this country control roughly the same amount of wealth as 150 million people and I’m not talking about the 150 million poorest…the next 150 million people after the 400. That’s staggering – to my knowledge that has never occurred in human history, that kind of disparity – even in the days of feudalism. We have allowed it to happen by abrogating our responsibilities; we haven’t been keeping watch and as a result, the wolves are among us.

However, the thought that unions are obsolete is ludicrous; clearly that’s not the case. Don’t agree with me? Well, in the last 30 years as union membership has eroded, so has the base pay of the working class. The comparable salaries of blue collar workers has plummeted to the point that they are making less than half what they made (adjusted for inflation) three decades ago. Benefits have become fewer and far between. Pensions are almost unheard of, replaced by 401Ks and other retirement plans that cost the employers less, the employees more and force the workforce to work longer before retiring.

Look at history; before unions, there were unsafe working conditions and brutal hours. Laborers were forced to work 12 hours and longer in unsafe working conditions, often without breaks. Unions have provided us with safety, minimum wage requirements, health benefits and paid vacations and sick time. Those were absent from the workplace before unions. They will be absent again if big business has their way.

What is happening in Wisconsin now is merely a prelude to what is very apparently a concerted effort to strip the working class of dignity and render them more pliable. Already Florida governor Rick Scott is making noises about enacting similar legislation in his state, and the budget submitted by the Republicans is absolutely heinous, gutting most social programs while refusing to allow billions of dollars in revenue to come in immediately by eliminating the tax cuts for the super-wealthy.

It’s not just the Republicans at fault here; the Democrats have much blame to account for. They have consistently allowed laws to be enacted that curtail the authority of regulatory agencies; they have sat back and done nothing as Wall Street has raped this country and its people. Our tax dollars went to banks and financial firms who pocketed the proceeds and have refused to redistribute the dollars as they were meant to be – to small businesses and mortgages that desperately needed it. The scam that this country has fallen victim to is massive and jaw-dropping ballsy and yet not one person has gone to jail for the very considered and deliberate attempt to throw our economy into chaos. Chances are, there never will be; the politicians are far too afraid to bite the hand that feeds them.

That is why the only solution lies in the hands of the people, us. It is time – long past time I’d say – to take our country back. Not in the way the tea party says we should – no sir, that is just playing into the hands of the corporate masters that run things. It is time to return the country to its people. The same people, who built it, bled for it and died for it and continue to do so.

It is time to say “no more.” It is time for the workers of America – the teachers, the firemen, the laborers, the doctors, the nurses, law enforcement and students; those who work in restaurants, retail shops, customer service phone centers, garages, construction sites, and yes, at home – to stand together and say “We will accept no further erosion of our rights; we will no longer sit back and allow ourselves to be exploited by the rich.”

It is time to insist on campaign spending limits. Our country will always belong to the rich so long as only the rich can afford to be elected to office. That’s the first thing we need to do to get this country back in the hands of the people it belongs to. We also need to look at what our politicians are doing and keep an eye on them. No longer can we afford to allow them to do what they do in darkness; we must hold them accountable for their actions (or inactions) and pay attention to more than their sexual improprieties; it is their legislative improprieties we should be more concerned with.

We can’t afford to sit back and let things happen, surfing the internet and playing videogames while our rights are slowly eaten away and our country falls deeper and deeper in the control of a very few. That wasn’t what our founding fathers had in mind when they drafted our constitution, with the checks and balances to insure that wouldn’t happen. I still believe that we have a form of government that is second to none; we have just allowed the system to break down.

It doesn’t have to stay that way. We are a nation of fixers, and we can fix this. We will fix this; it’s just a matter of getting our asses off the couch, taking a deep breath and getting the job done. We can put the political establishment on notice – your days are numbered. America is going to be returned to Americans and it won’t be any politician that does it; it will be the citizens of this country who make it happen. Woe be it to any politician or group that stands in our way – when we are united as one, we can do anything. Even return a country to its rightful owners.


3 Responses

  1. Too much pain in the middle east has led to the present situation, so it seems the muslims understand justice and democracy,perhaps better appreciate what they don’t have while we watch our democracy slowly being eroded away. Too much pain in this country, too may homeless, too many forclosures, toomany jobless, too much pain. In seminole county considere affluent one out of four children are homeless, sometimes the their address is a car license number.

  2. What the Republicans did in Wisconsin did not “circumvent the law” anymore than what the Democrats did. It was a totally legal move that followed the existing senate rules.

    Also, the bill did not strip state workers of their right to organize. I don’t know where you got that idea from.

    All the bill did was to say that the public employees in Wisconsin can now only collectively bargain for wages and the member have to vote to recertify their unions each year.

    Remember, in 26 states, public employee unions do not have the right to collectively bargain and neither do the vast majority of Federal employees.

    It’s a conflict of interest because they are able to directly contribute to the same politicians that they negotiate their contracts with.

    You’re right that the solution lies in the hands of the people. The American people need to get a handle on their overpaid, overcompensated, corrupt and out of control public employee unions.

    These excessive wages, pensions and health care packages are financially unsustainable and will bankrupt everyone if they’re not brought down to reasonable levels.

    All this communist ranting and chest-beating that you’re doing is misguided and “Polyanna-ish.”

    Poor people in this country have a better quality of life than the upper middle class had 200 years ago.

    Are things perfect? No.
    Are there still rich people? Yes.
    Are things better than they were 200 years ago? Yes.
    Is that because of capitalism? Yes.

    • Seriously? The debt is because of what we’re paying our public employees? Why didn’t I think of that! Maybe if we told those overpaid, underworked teachers and firefighters that they should take their benefits and pensions and stick ’em where the sun don’t shine, our fiscal problems will just disappear!

      Unfortunately, the Republicans did actually circumvent the law – Wisconsin’s state constitution requires that any bill that goes up for a vote in the legislature must first be subject to a minimum of 24 hours of debate. That wasn’t done unless you count the debate done on the original bill with all of the financial provisions in it and since those were removed, technically the bill should have been resubmitted for debate which would have been proper procedure. However, the Republicans failed to do that, opening the door for the courts to become involved which they almost certainly will be. It also shows that Governor Walker doesn’t give a crap about balancing the budget (which he is partially responsible for causing the imbalance in); he wants to break the unions plain and simple.

      The bill essentially limits what unions can and can’t negotiate. Also, the union must be annually recertified. However, if the union is NOT recertified, the vote doesn’t come back. Ever. The union is gone from Wisconsin – permanently.

      I understand that public enployee unions don’t have the right to collectively bargain everywhere. In most of those cases, there were pre-existing laws that prevented it and unions continue to lobby to remove those statutes. However, it is – was – legal in Wisconsin and was overturned by a cadre of politicians whose agenda is to attack the dignity and rights of workers not only in the public employee unions but everywhere.

      The unions don’t directly contribute to the campaigns of every politician and not every politician that negotiates the contracts with public employee unions receives union campaign contributions. Be logical dude. Yes, some of the politicians that receive campaign contributions from unions negotiates with them. However, politicians regularly negotiate and/or vote on issues involving industries and individual companies that they receive campaign contributions from on a daily basis. Corruption is widespread and rampant in this regard. The solution is not to ban the unions – it’s to limit campaign contributions or even ban them altogether.

      What the American people REALLY need to get a handle on is the overpaid, overcompensated, corrupt and out of control CEOs. Money, if you believe the Bible, is the root of all evil. The 21st century is living proof of that. If you think public employees are overpaid and corrupt, try talking to a cop who has to pull overtime to meet his mortgage payments, or the firefighter’s widow whose husband went into a burning building and didn’t come out. Or the millions of teachers who pay for school supplies out of their own pockets and spend hours after work grading papers or preparing lesson plans. Yes, there are plenty of bureaucrats who are overpaid and overcompensated – most of these are MANAGEMENT and as such, aren’t represented by unions.

      Are things perfect? No. Are there still rich people? Yes. Are things better than they were 200 years ago? Yes, depending on how you define “better.” Is it because of capitalism? NO! It’s better than it was 200 years ago because it’s 200 years later. Things are better in China than they were 200 years ago and that can hardly be called a capitalist society.

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