Archive for the ‘Unions’ Category
Once upon a time there was a liberal crusader named Barney Frank. Barney was famous for his toughness, his smarts, and his canny ability to realize when he was being conned. Then the Democrat party won the Congress back and Barney found himself Chair of the House Financial Service Committee. Suddenly (*dummmm da dum-dum*) he was replaced by an evil twin who became the banksters’ best friend, shoveling them $$$ by the barrel and protecting their profits at our expense. What happened? Who pulled the switcheroo?
All 155 passengers were rescued from the US Airways jet that crashed into the Hudson. What the media has failed completely to mention is that the rescuers were all union members. For instance:
Sullenberger is a former national committee member and the former safety chairman for the Airline Pilots Association and now represented by US Airline Pilots Association. He–and his union–have fought to ensure pilots get the kind of safety training to pull off what he did yesterday.
Studs Terkel complained for years that while every newspaper had a Business Section, a Lifestyle Section, and a Travel Section, none – NONE – had a Labor Section. In fact, most newspapers, magazines, and electronic news shows ignore Labor until somebody gets caught with their hand in the till or some employer shafts his emloyees so badly they go on strike. Even in the latter case, the papers and news shows (teevee, as usual, is the worst offender this way) usually approach strikes as demands for money, rarely bothering to go into other issues – workplace safety, job security, health insurance – that make up the background to most job actions.
And then we wonder why unions have such a lousy reputation. But of course the corporate media doesn’t under-report unions because it’s biased against Labor.
No, no, it can’t be that.
Conservative blogger and big Bush backer Matt Margolis got into a scuffle with some union guys (the dumb fuck–steelworkers for chrissake, don’t he know any better than that?) during Bush’s foray into Boston and is just livid about it, the poor kid. So is Philosoraptor‘s Winston Smith:
Yes, of course I undestand it’s an isolated incident. Yes, I also understand that this is something that is more often associated with the right and the very far left than the liberal center. Blah, blah, blah. Frankly, I have no time for anyone who is inclined to make such arguments. We’re the God-damned good guys–or have we forgotten that? WE DO NOT DO THINGS LIKE THIS.
Wrong. The union guys do. That’s how they got their goddam unions–by fighting people who tried to and often did kill anyone who wanted to form a union. Or has Mr Smith forgotten his history? Margolis, by his own account, got into a shouting match with one of the union guys and all but dared him to go ahead and make something of it. Well, anybody from my neighborhood could have told him you don’t challenge union guys to a duel, especially nowadays. They’ve been hammered by 25 years of radcon hatred and abuse. They’ve watched their unions be attacked as Communist, unAmerican, or subsidiaries of the Mob; they’ve had their company pensions stolen by their employers with the help and encouragement of Bush I; they’ve watched conservatives like Bush II disembowel worker protections, advance management powers, and eviscerate labor laws; they’ve seen the Labor Dept turned over to corporate shills who never worked a day in their lives; and they’re painfully aware of how tenuous globalization and the Bush-engineered deficit make thier jobs. This is not the group some pissant, privileged college kid should be deliberately giving the finger to. These aren’t intellectual liberals who talk things over; they’re basically right-wing thugs, tough as nails and not prone to lengthy dialogue.
Not that I condone what they did. I wouldn’t condone a grizzly mauling a camper, either, but if that camper had walked up to that bear while it was minding its own business and poked a stick in its eye, well, it would be kind of hard to work up any real sense of righteous indignation against the bear. Faults on both sides, don’t ya know. Margolis, protected son of privilege as he no doubt is, has learned a valuable Nature lesson: Don’t treat wild tigers as if they’re house cats.
Margolis and his friends got off easy. A couple of punches were thrown that didn’t do much damage, Margolis got knocked to the ground, and somebody else’s glasses got broke. Not much as crowd-fights go. I’ve seen worse at the hot dog stand during a Sox game. So it’s doubly hard to get excited when I remember the very real, genuine violence we’ve been suffering from right-wing Neandethals for the past 20 years.
Gays have been murdered. Doctors who perform abortions have been assassinated. Environmental activists have been threatened, badly beaten, maimed, and murdered. Churches have been bombed. A govt building has been bombed, killing over 200 people. Family Clinics have been bombed, not because they perform abortions but because they dared to counsel pregnant women that abortion was one of their legitimate, legal options. Anti-war demonstrators have been beaten so badly they ended up in the hospital, and one was killed in Texas–shot by a man who overheard him criticize Bush in a bar. A community office devoted to promoting diversity was pipe-bombed only a month ago. Plots by right-wing paramilitary and white supremacist groups have been discovered that planned cyanide bombings, anthrax attacks, and botulin poisonings of left-wing targets. Right-wing radio personalities regularly incite their listeners to disrupt liberal and progressiver meetings, marches, and gatherings, and lefties now regularly receive threatening phone calls and emails like these:
Fuckin Leftist traitors break the law and think they should get away with it?! FUCK YOU YA GODDAMN LEFTIST PUKES AND DON’T EVEN THINK OF FUCKING WITH FREE REPUBLIC MOTHERFUCKERS!WE WILL BEAT YOU DOWN IN THE STREETS NEXT FALL!!!
If I see you or any of your comrades from Dem Underground I will kick the living shit out of you you filthy faggotcunt traitorDO NOT IDENTIFY YOURSELF AS LEFTIST OUT ON THE STREET YOU PIECE OF SHIT OR YOU WILL BE BEATEN UNCONSCIOUS YOU GODDAM ENEMY OF AMERICA!!!!!
I could go on. The depredations from the right are massive and on-going and extremely violent. So when a right-wing blogger gets punched in the nose and acts like that’s the worst civil rights violation he could ever imagine, I’m like, “Where have you been, you whiny, spoiled little brat? We get dragged behind trucks and clubbed and shot and run over and bombed and you don’t even notice but we’re supposed to turn the world upside down because some union goon scratched your face after you taunted him? You need a lesson or two in ‘Get Real’, kid.”
I’ll make a deal with you, Matt. You condemn right-wing murder and the hate-mail and disruption tactics of your fellow Freepers, and I’ll condemn the punch in your nose. It’s not a fair trade but I’m a generous guy.
Phaedrus at No Fear of Freedom has another great post up. This one’s about the CA supermarket strike and media responsibility for (suprise!) careless reporting.
When it began, ta give ya an example of management lies and how the media runs right home and reports them, lotta peebles was tellin’ me how silly the workers were to strike over over only $5 a week in increased insurance payments.
He pretty much demolishes that nonsense–
Workers are losing their homes, their cars, their health coverage. The markets have lost $2 billion in sales. Is there some semi-rational person somewhere who honestly believes that either side would put themselves through such misery over $5 per week per worker?
–and goes on to explain what the fairy tale was meant to cover:
We call this a two tier wage structure, and it benefits management in at least four ways. First, it reduces labor costs immediately. Second, it results in a permanent reduction in wages over time, since new hires will eventually be the only hires left. Third, it creates a situation where management gains if they can find a way to force out or fire the top tier workers. Fourth, and probably most importantly, it’s a union busting tactic. Say you’re a new hire. How you gonna feel ’bout the higher paid workers who sold you out? How you gonna feel about the union, which also sold you out? How you gonna feel about payin’ union dues? How you gonna feel about solidarity?
The supermarket chains are either 1) genuinely running scared from Wal-mart’s proven ability to use its odious and sometimes illegal employment policies to destroy its competition, or 2) using Wal-mart as an excuse to break the unions and add to their profits by lowering their weekly payroll–a favorite corporate scam when sales are flat. Either way, the workers are caught in the middle of a Corporate Greed War (remember, these chains were quite profitable before the strike) in the global Race-to-the-Bottom.
Paul Clark, a Penn State labor relations professor who edited a recent book on trends in collective bargaining, said the dispute could have nationwide repercussions.”If the union loses this and has to give back a significant portion of their health benefits,” Professor Clark said, “you’re really moving down the road to everybody beginning to be a Wal-Mart worker with low wages and low benefits.”
Which is, of course, precisely what management’s intractable offer was all about.
Go read the rest, especially if you’re under the impression that corporations “just don’t do that kind of thing any more.”