Sunday, October 15, 2017

ALEC Using States to Block Wage Hikes

The fight for a living wage continues. Workers are asking for a minimum wage of at least $15 an hour, but in reality it should be $24 an hour had it kept up with inflation and CEOs exorbitant incomes. When workers finally get their local leaders to support a better wage, they then have to deal with a handful of states with conservative lawmakers who get ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) to write wage preemption laws to block increasing the minimum wage. There are now four states with such laws. This template for states to block cities and counties from raising the minimum wage in their own communities is taking the voice and vote away from low-wage workers. In order to fight back, there needs to be unions and local lawmakers who should be incensed by what the states are doing in supporting the large food and retail corporations. The corporations don’t leave their profits in these cities, counties and even states. They just take from our coffers by forcing their employees to use government assistance programs and leave in their wake wage pollution. If there was a good living wage in these cities and counties, there would be more tax payer support systems. We need to elect good, honest people to the state government, who will support a living wage and people who will support workers at the local level of government and the workers need to keep up the fight and ask for union help. The unions can hold education classes on how to get this done and maybe even run the organizing of local leaders who will—in the long run—benefit by receiving jobs that pay a living wage, which keeps children in housing and in school. It is cheaper to pay up front than to try to clean up afterward when families are destroyed by drugs, divorce, crime and homelessness.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Support Our Canadian Union Brothers

Capitalist bosses standing on the shoulders of workers and pushing them into the quicksand of profits is just greed at the expense of the workers, which is just what is happening at to train engineer Tom Harding and train controller Richard Labrie in Canada. Both are union members of the United Steelworkers. They are being framed by their bosses in Ottawa for following orders, and when those orders resulted in a derailment, dumping 1.5 million gallons of crude oil, causing an explosion and fire that destroyed the town of Sherbrooke, Canada. Many in this area consider Harding a hero for risking his life to aid firefighters in moving a number of unexploded tankers thereby limiting the devastation. Transport Canada’s Minister of Transportation Denis Lebel ruled in 2012 that a train crew could be cut to just one engineer to increase profits while ignoring health and safety rules. Harding wanted to engage the breaks on each of the cars, he was overruled and told to engage them on the locomotive, but the air leaked out and there were no brakes to prevent the wreckage that ensued. Now the two men are facing 47 counts of criminal negligence causing death and life in prison. If you’re unable to attend the trial in Sherbrooke, Canada, you can show your solidarity by sending a message of support to Harding and Lebrie to USW Local 1976/Section locale 1976, 2360 De Lasalle, Suite 202, Montreal, OC Canada H1V 2L1, with copies to Thomas Walsh, Attorney, 165 Rue Wellington, N., Suite 310, Sherbrooke, QC Canada J1H 5B9 or email him at: thomaspwalsh@hotmail.com.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Unions & Dems: Reclaim Rural America

Rural America was seceded to the GOP by the Democrats, likewise the labor trades seceded the rural counties to non-union shops. In the old days, unions, in these rural areas, got bigger and bigger until they decided they could leave the rural counties' side, and compete in the large cities, foregoing smaller populated counties, which used to be union sanctuaries. This type of strategy is not working. Retreating never works. It is just like going into a fort or a castle, which sooner or later, the fortifications will be breached. All that is happening is just buying time and the Democrats and labor unions have both run out of time. It is time now for an offense and come out of the forts and castles and take back rural America. They, the labor and Democrats, should work together with all their resources combined, such as money and people power. If used wisely, they both could become relevant again in our rural countrysides. By attending all public meetings, using the time before each meeting to promote whatever is relevant to the Democrats or labor at the time, such as healthcare, $15 minimum wage, jobs, union support on jobs, and supporting people who we have elected. Sometimes, these board members need to be reminded not only who they work for, but also where the tax base comes from. The 99 percent have to retake their state’s government and local local government agencies, such as water boards, fire boards, school boards, city and county boards, and then take these people to the state government, and then take the best of these and run the for federal government positions. This is the strategy the Koch brothers and the Tea Party used and were successful at it. If we do this, only then will the 99 percent start to have their basic needs fulfilled in things like a living wage, free education, right to join a union, free healthcare, good pensions, or UBI (universal basic income) since workers are being replaced by automation and robots. UBI can be achieved by charging rent for our Commons. We need our elected people to deal with climate change and stop going to war in a pathetic attempt to look macho and make their corporate cronies lots of money. This all can be done if we have the will and elect the right people.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Puerto Rico's Opportunity

Some times when bad things happen it is for the best in the long run. Once when working with my tools as a union sheet metal worker, my tools were stolen. My co-worker told me it was the best thing for me because my tools were so old and outdated, basically crap. Fortunately for me, my insurance covered the cost for new tools. Two back-to-back hurricanes, Irma and Maria, decimated Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, could be a good thing in the long run. Puerto Rico’s infrastructure was crap before the hurricanes, but the wreckage gives it an opportunity to rebuild it in a stronger, more efficient way. The government owns the utilities, such as roads, electrical grid, schools, and water and sewer systems, and allowed the infrastructure to become so fragile by underfunding since 2006. The government cut spending by 12 percent, laid off one quarter of the government work force, jacked-up sales taxes ad reduced pensions. With these layoffs, there’s no one to run the sewage system, and none of the remaining workers know how to run the operation. The medical program funds are running out of money. This is the result of capitalists plundering Puerto Rico. The U.S. government has plundered this country’s resources and the wealth created by the island workers is going to fill the coffers of the U.S. capitalists since wrestling control of the island from Spain in 1898, as a result the average annual income in Puerto Rico is less than half that of Mississippi, the poorest state in the U.S. So now that there is nothing left, Puerto Rico will start over with a new infrastructure, and will have to be rebuilt for the world is watching. The time, we must not let the vultures plunder Puerto Rico again. We must stop the greedy capitalists continue taking the pensions away the country’s workers and giving the pensions to the government’s general fund, instead of going after the wealthy/investors to pay a greater sum to keep the government going. There is a lot of work to be done and Puerto Rico should get just as much help as Texas ad Florida is getting in their clean-up and rebuilding after their hurricane damage.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Unions--Learn From Our Mistakes

Union leaders who jumped the gun on the 2016 election thinking the Democrats and Hillary Clinton would win and take charge of the U.S. Supreme Court will now pay for their very bad decision. Also, the leaders of some of the union leaders did not understand the feelings of their members on where their support lay, which was with Bernie Sanders. Labor went to court with three cases on labor arbitration agreements, which now will lose in the right-leaning Supreme Court and end up being the law of the land. In another case, the Court will decide whether public employee unions can collect fees from non-union members. If we lose this case, we can kiss the relevancy of labor unions goodbye. The law will bankrupt the unions and the loss of union membership will be catastrophic. These Court cases will be the Justice Department vs the National Labor Relation Board, which is a federal agency, will oppose each other in Court. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, this will be a first in her 25 years on the court and it looks like a five to four victory for the employers, and their non-union businesses. This will radically tilt the landscape in favor of corporations if workers lose here. This was just such a bad decision on labor’s part and will put labor behind for the next ten years or until we are smart enough to elect labor friendly people. What we need to remember is that the U.S. Supreme Court can giveth and taketh away. We must never let our guard down again by being overly confident. This has cost us dearly. The anti-union Republicans take a case to court, if they lose in one court they appeal to the next and ask the court to pass on judgment so the case can get to the Supreme Court and become law of the land. This means another lesson we need to learn is to not take a case to the Court until you have a good chance to win. If you lose, it can be forever (Law of the Land).

Sunday, September 24, 2017

When Will the Greed Stop?

Where have all the jobs that pay a living wage gone? We know that greed has sent a lot of jobs to countries that accept cheap wages for their workers and to the non-union southern states. Now we are seeing robots changing the employment landscape and eliminating jobs in factories. Even with all this, there were still the brick and mortar jobs selling the cheaply made products from overseas. Now these jobs are going by the wayside with Amazon and Walmart companies investing in E-commerce. This has started a retail apocalypse on thousands of mall-based stores shutting down. JC Penney’s 138 stores, Sears 150 stores, Kmart 3,500 stores. Then the Kroger company, the largest grocery store chain, sales plummeted 25 percent erasing more than $7 billion in value. These jobs will go to $7.25 an hour minimum wage and workers will be hired by Amazon for warehouse jobs. These jobs are in a cutthroat competition and is based on keeping out unions at all costs. What these workers at Walmart and Amazon need more than anything else is to be unionized, to be able to organize and to defend themselves and advance their own interests against the boss. The head of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, is one of the richest people in the world. His fortune is more than $90 billion, which mean, by screwing over the workers even more, he can and probably will become the first trillionaire. The Waltons of Walmart are notorious for underpaying their employees and forcing them to apply for government benefits so Walmart doesn’t have to pay a living wage. When is this greed going to stop? Amazon and Walmart now have patents to have flying warehouses, which can hover at 500 feet over cities and dispatch a fleet of drones to deliver orders. Amazon’s Mothership is like a blimp. Walmart’s will hover at 45,000 feet and send out drones, as well. Then, we are facing more jobs losses in the trucking and taxi cab industry. Self-driving vehicles are eliminating the need for humans.  When this happens, the only job left will be going into the service industry, gig jobs or starting a business. There will not be a way to make a living with just one job. What will happen to the capitalist system? There has to be money going around to support even Amazon or Walmart’s blimps. Will we institute a universal basic income (UBI) system? Or will people just fight each other and starve and die off in this fight? With these developments, climate change and war, maybe we can see the future as no jobs, floods, stronger hurricanes, earthquakes, no healthcare or housing, do we still have time to turn things around?  The very rich are already taking care of themselves with their bunkers, and they think we, the 99 percent, don’t know and a lot don’t know so maybe the rich are smarter than the 99 percent. Maybe this is why there are the Have Nots. We just are not as smart or ruthless as the rich or maybe we’re just not paying attention or watching Fox News or listening to corporate propaganda  and not voting in our best interest and, instead, falling for the lies and manipulation of the wrong people.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Fighting Amongst Ourselves

Anger and distrust is destroying the workers, both unionized and non-union. Even some unions are split, and some unions are fighting each other, which then makes the non-union workers distrust our unions even more. Our anger is misdirected by intention. If the money people can keep us fighting amongst ourselves then we won't see how they are screwing us over. This distrust started in the U.S. and worldwide with the anti-union line of Great Britain’s Margaret Thatcher government along with the anti-union policies of Ronald Reagan's administration. But the assault actually began in the late 1940s, and escalated in the late 1970s, and has gotten progressively worse since 1981 until now. Polls have revealed some dissatisfaction on the part of our members and nonmembers alike with the way unions are run and governed. Unions are doing a poor job of presenting their members and giving members a say in how a union should operate and not telling union members what the unions are doing. This was happening throughout New Zealand, Great Britain, and the U.S. There are things union leaders should be looking at to fix the dissatisfaction. Question how it is the workers vote? Most blue collar workers vote for labor supporters, and most white collar voters overwhelmingly vote for conservative people, who protect their monied interests. This is a union killing vote and needs to change. Unions should address the culture of greed, the inhumane treatment of workers, the exploitation of government benefits by corporations to protect their profits by paying their workers as little as possible, and the attack on the American way of life. So how did this happen? Were we victims of our own success? Did the rise of the welfare state and the expansion of government programs and services reduced the appeal of unionism by generalizing the benefits that attracted workers to unions in the past. Let’s go back to why unions were formed in the first place. It started by imposing hardships on workers who came from agrarian-type of work to the industrialization type of lifestyle. Great Britain, where the industrial revolution began was the first country to see the birth of a labor movement. The U.S. was next. Both countries started unions about 1853, in the U.S. was Typographical Union. The workers were fighting for shorter hours, wages, and safety. These workers, who had just come from farms to factories where wages were needed for workers were living at the margins of existence. The workers have come full circle and today it is all about wages and inequality of lifestyles, and this is what will bring unions back to power—wages, healthcare, pensions, housing, and education. The fight in 1853 began because of wages, and here we are again fighting for wages in 2017. It should be the rights of all workers to earn a minimum of $18 to $24 an hour. The ALF/CIO needs this to be.