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Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 09:53 AM PST

End the Filibuster!

by try democracy

There's a few diaries on the nonsense of letting a very small minority of the country dictate terms to the majority, but nothing on the rec page yet.  In real life, some of the Democratic leadership are, in fact, starting to lead for a change.  Hopefully this trend continues:

Vice President Joe Biden said at a Florida fundraiser Sunday that the 60-seat threshold for passing legislation in the Senate put a dangerous new roadblock in the way of American government.

"As long as I have served, ... I've never seen, as my uncle once said, the constitution stood on its head as they've done. This is the first time every single solitary decision has required 60 senators," Biden said. "No democracy has survived needing a supermajority."VP: Constitution 'on its head'


End the Filibuster?

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I don't trust Obama.  Yes, I voted for him, and I'd vote for him next election, but he's just one man and I don't trust him absolutely.

I love that Obama found a way to outwit the money dominated campaigns that the GOP and the ultra rich usually win.  But I don't believe that the Obama machine should be trusted to continually elect candidates that are looking out for America's majority, the working middle-class.

I think that people who work should have a greater role in elections and should have the ability to rally grassroots support for candidates who will represent their economic interests.  That support came in the past from unions, but their strength has withered along with the earning power of the middle class.

I'm no apologist for unions, and don't claim that they are always fair and always give employees the best deal.  The quality and fairness of a union depends on its members and leadership.  They can be good or bad, just like all democratically elected government can be good or bad.


The GOP hates the Employee Free Choice Act

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There's been a lot of chatter from the lunatic Right and even some Democrats like Senator Diane Feinstein(CA) that we cannot afford strong labor rights in this down economy.  Companies that are struggling to survive have to be able to crush any workers that are agitating to get better wages and benefits, and so there is declining support for enacting any labor reform even under a Democratic administration, and again the Employee Free Choice Act is unlikely to pass the Senate.

While it is true that paying fairly negotiated wages and benefits costs more than paying as little as you please, it goes without saying that struggling companies could make even more profits if they simply enslaved their workers, and didn't worry about upholding any human rights.

After all, many of our top paying manufacturing jobs went overseas to countries where their isn't such a bother about being paid "living wages".  If you were starving and homeless before, living in a company dormitory and being fed, but working 24/7, is a better deal than dying.  "Food and housing" are the true requirements of a "living wage,"


Labor rights

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There's a lot of fright in the air about the Obama administration being pro-labor.  The wing nuts are worried about the Employee Free Choice Act passing, which they claim will destroy the democratic right of employees to secretly elect to form a union.


Work is not a democracy.  You need free speech to have a democracy, and employees don't have it at work.  Case in point, here's a helpful anti-labor article on "Protecting your company's e-mail from union organizing"


Don't say a word....the right to Organize

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Ever wonder how come your burger at McDonalds and your socks at Wal-Mart are so cheap?  Why your 2x4 costs less at Home Depot than the local lumberyard?

Its because they don't have to play by the rules and can keep their labor costs dirt cheap by firing union supporters.  A local store with 20 or so workers where everyone knows each other can't keep a majority of employees from associating.  A union could be formed at the next softball game if work conditions got bad.

But at the big multinational corporations, employees who feel they aren't paid a living wage can be fired with $0 penalties.  A few years later an employee might win a suit to get lost wages, but only if they didn't earn money anywhere else.

Thats why McDonalds, Walmart, and the founder of HomeDepot are so aggressively against labor reform and adding penalties for violations of the National Labor Relations Act.  The latest from Mickey D's is here:
 No Surprise Here: McDonald's To Fight EFCA


The right to organize

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How many of us won't go to India or won't ride the subway because of the threat of terrorism?  Probably not many, but if the definition of successful terrorism is getting us to change our lives because of fear, then some terrorists have won hands down.

How many Kossacks worry about their online activities affecting their jobs?  Do you guys worry that HR or your boss might be snooping your facebook or kos diary and factoring your political beliefs when handing out raises and promotions?

Do you talk to your co-workers about politics, or only those friends at work that you trust?  How about your pay and work conditions?  Do you look over your shoulder when asking how much coworkers earn, or are you too scared to even ask?

Its a subject that is frowned upon as polite conversation, and often firms have regulations against salary comparison, because it generally leads to someone discovering that they are underpaid.  


I'm not afraid

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Today's economic problems make it clear to most Americans that regulation is a good thing.  However, a diarist recently said:

I don't get the urgent need for Unions "I'm looking for a union proponent slash expert to help me undestand the way unions work and are set up these days, as well as why they're a great idea. I'm a former Republican, and this is one sticking point I'm trying to reconcile with the rest of the Democratic party platform.

I feel like unions did important work getting us things like overtime, a 40-hour workweek, eight-hour days, et cetera. But the way I saw them until very recently, and even still somewhat today, is as bloated, corrupt... more concerned about power and the benefit of the union leaders than the members."

First off, there is no urgent call for Unions.  However there has been a lot of alarmist right-wing advertisements about labor law reform, which is what I believe the diarist is talking about.  Mandatory unions, like those in countries with high-standards of living like Germany or Singapore, are not being proposed in the U.S., although it is one method to keep employee-management relations in balance.


Labor law reform in America

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Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 08:42 AM PST

Just don't screw it up, Buddy!

by try democracy

That was Michelle's advice to Barack at the 2004 Democratic Convention before his speech that brought the house down and established himself on the National scene.

I don't see any indications that Obama is going to screw it up.  But Ramesh Ponnuru in Time talks about how the Right will be waiting in the wings for people to care about their arguments again.

When a party suffers the kind of beating the Republicans have taken in the past two elections, the public has not rejected one of its factions. It has rejected the party as a whole. Voters have turned on pro-choice as well as pro-life Republicans, on Senators who favored amnesty and ones who fought it. Evidently voters did not believe that Republicans of any stripe offered solutions to the challenges America faces now.


Don't screw it up!

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Yesterday this was published in the WSJ, with Bernie Marcus calling for the execution of business leaders that don't agree with his extreme right-wing views.  Why do these people hate Democracy so much?

"This is the demise of a civilization," moaned Bernie Marcus, cofounder and former CEO of The Home Depot, during an Oct. 17 conference call about card check.

Mr. Marcus sketched out the doomsday scenario for his listeners, with unions going after what he called the "low hanging fruit" and proceeding to organize workers in industry after industry. He had taken it upon himself to notify the nation's CEOs of the danger, but they were not yet grabbing their guns. "This is as important as anything that's ever happened to these companies. And they're not reacting, and they're not fighting. The old time fighters are gone."

But in the class war, as in the real deal, there are always ways of motivating the yellow. "If a retailer has not gotten involved with this, if he has not spent money on this election, if he has not sent money to Norm Coleman and these other guys then those retailers should be shot; should be thrown out of their goddamn jobs.

Not far from Al Qaeda.


Labor rights and the right to organize are for

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The USA Today hates the Employee Free Choice Act

"When you deny rights to workers, only union members will have labor rights." -me

Organized labor has a lot of flaws.  Our Government is chock full of union members and the rest of America has to pay for the benefits that a strong group was able to negotiate.  However, that is no reason to give up on the concept of labor rights.

The Employee Free Choice Act is for disorganized labor.  Sure big unions support it, but who would need to join a big union if labor law was respected by corporate America.  Any group of employees could set up a Facebook group and start organizing.  Why would you want to pay huge overhead of the AFL-CIO if you can outsource their tasks to any competent lawyer?

Is "card check" necessary?  Its been an option for organizing employees since the passage of the Labor Management Relations Act in 1936.  Organizing without secret ballots is a right thats older than John McCain!


Palin is one of the few Republicans that has strong union ties.  

McCain touted the fact that Palin, husband of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, belongs to the United Steelworkers during a campaign event Friday.

Palin own experiences with labor have been limited to those she enjoyed giving birth in the hospital while covered by her husband's union benefits.  It will be interesting to see if she supports the rights of all Americans to choose to join a union by supporting the Employee Free Choice Act.  Barack Obama cosponsored the EFCA, but McCain greatly opposes it.

I support this bill because in order to restore a sense of shared prosperity and security, we need to help working Americans exercise their right to organize under a fair and free process and bargain for their fair share of the wealth our country creates.
The current process for organizing a workplace denies too many workers the ability to do so. -Barack Obama


All Americans deserve an opportunity to join together for better wages and benefits.

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Jack Welch, ex-CEO of GE, slams unions and labor rights by comparing unionized workers to IRS employees in his Business Week column.  A great strategy from the Right to make average Americans hate labor rights even more by associating them with everyone's favorite: the IRS.  

Jack preaches of the evils of allowing people the option of negotiating with the power of a group:

...the IRS touches so many people. And its inability to change due to lack of differentiation may soon become a much wider problem.

Why? The answer is the Employee Free Choice Act, proposed legislation that aims to remove the secret ballot from organized labor elections, which could foster union-building.

The Right overwhelms any beliefs in allowing democracy at work.  For example, Boeing employees now on strike are portrayed as overpaid in the Seattle market.  Is it that Boeing workers are overpaid, or are other workers that can't negotiate as a group underpaid?  Since the latter employees compete in a global market including exploited workers in the third world, they are underpaid.
(more over the fold)


The Employee Free Choice Act

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