Who Hijacked Our Country

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Worker Centers are the New Labor Unions

If you work for a living — or know someone who does — you probably think Worker Centers are a good thing.  On the other hand, if you’re a rightwing plutocrat and you’ve spent millions of your inherited dollars bribing your legislative prostitutes into destroying labor unions, your opinion of worker centers would be less favorable.

Stomp on a labor union and up pops a worker center.

Worker centers are not unions but they do a lot of the advising and organizing that unions do, or used to do before they were sabotaged by the Far Right.  Fast Food Forward is one of the better known worker centers.  The group has staged walkouts of fast food workers who want higher wages.

Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart), is another worker center.  A founding member of OUR Walmart says the group is not trying to unionize:

“We have our organization of associates for associates across the country. We are not unionizing. We are organizing.  We want respect. We want a decent wage. We want healthcare.”

The AFL-CIO has adopted a resolution to “expand its partnerships” with worker centers.

Needless to say, the oligarchy is not happy.  A Columbia University professor who specializes in labor issues said:

“…there will be targeted attacks from the right on worker centers.  Worker centers are going to have to navigate carefully the line between being a labor organization and a nonprofit organization. They are going to receive a lot more scrutiny.”

Yes they will.  We already have Worker Center Watch (warning:  Euphemism Alert!).  Worker Center Watch’s advisors include Ryan Williams, one of the architects of Mitt Romney’s failed presidential campaign.  Williams said:

“They have morphed into groups that harass employers, shame companies and hurt business across the country.  They are essentially getting away with skirting labor laws.”

“Skirting labor laws,” LOL.  For a long time, the National Labor Relations Board was unable to enforce any labor laws because the Board only had two members and three vacancies.  Senate Republicans kept filibustering every potential board member that Obama nominated.  I don’t recall any complaints from Ryan Williams about “skirting labor laws.”

More irony:  Worker Center Watch does not disclose its donors and supporters.  At the same time, congressional Republicans are insisting that worker centers be required to disclose their donors.  Irony is lost on the stupid.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has developed a Workforce Freedom Initiative (these euphemisms are busting out all over) and wants the government to crack down on worker centers.  I thought government was “the problem, not the solution.”  [See Irony above]

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Anonymous Screamin said...

I find it so interesting that there has been such a backlash against unions. There is corruption, no question about that, as there is in ANY and EVERY organization, but the unions gave every working person every benefit s/he has. We are talking about 40-hour weeks, paid sick days/vacation, overtime for extra work, holidays, etc. Most people who enjoy those benefits today do not realize that they owe all of them to the unions of 100 years ago.

This is another example of throwing the baby out with the bath water: make some changes to the union system but don't just throw it away. What would we put in its place?

The oligarchy, as Tom puts it (the Republicans, as I would put it) would love to see the unions banished, and no worker organizations -- then every employer could be free to pay whatever they pleased (as little as possible) and people would have to take these jobs because there would be no alternatives.

Whatever you may think of unions, BELIEVE ME YOU DO NOT WANT THIS!

September 21, 2013 at 10:29 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Screamin: You're absolutely right. It's unreal how many clueless people are bashing unions while benefiting from their weekends, lunch breaks, overtime pay, paid vacations...

I can see why rightwing politicians want to abolish unions, but I can't believe how many useful idiots (i.e. people who work for a living) they've conned into joining the anti-union backlash.

September 22, 2013 at 1:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG How did I miss this one?

It remains the norm that no one cares if a CEO embezzles or steals from his company, but let a Union Head do it, and it hurts all the Unions. I’m sure most people still think Unions are all Mob connected.

Credit to the Republicans, they have actually been able to label the Unions “Special Interest Groups” and it seems to have stuck with many Americans. I always ask “How come 1000 CEO’s are considered normal, but millions of Union Members are considered ‘special interest groups?” I’m sure more of us know a Nurse or Teacher then a CEO or a Billionaire. Not to mention the Unions are still outspent almost 10:1 in all the elections.

Here in the Bay Area, most people are mad at BART going on strike and the constant line is the Average BART worker is making $70,000 a year. Several Economist have pointed out that in all reality $70,000 a year is probably the MINIMUM you should make in the Bay Area to make a decent comfortable living - especially if you live near the coast (No they mention raising a family as well).

It works because the average commuter is thinking “ I don’t make that so why should they?” When the average commuter (the average worker) should be encouraged by it and try for the same standard of living.

What people don’t realize is that Unions kept the corporations honest. Back then, if a corporation wanted to deny wages, they had to open the books to the Unions to show them why, then why they could justify a large raise and periscope to the CEO. No Corporation could have gotten away back then with “relocating” their corporate HQ to a P.O. box in the Cayman Islands for the tax breaks and then say “We have no money” to the Unions.

It’s no coincidence that average wage have gone down proportionately (since 1978) with the demise in Unions, the rise in Billionaires, rise in CEO compensation, and increases in Corporate Taxbreaks and subsidies.


September 23, 2013 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Erik: It's funny how the public is outraged -- or is told by the media to be outraged -- when an occupation actually pays a livable wage. But if you mention a CEO's $10 million salary and bonus package, you're engaging in Class Warfare.

And you're right about the irony -- CEOs and hedge fund managers are just regular folks, but a union with thousands of members is a "special interest group."

September 23, 2013 at 8:10 PM  

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