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  •  I have worked in teh labor movement for (7+ / 0-)

    over 25 years and was raised in a working class union family. over the years I have heard again and again labor leaders referring to their members as the middle class and it always makes me cringe. I have always felt it was a disservice to our members. If hotel maids, nurses aids, janitors and auto workers are the middle class then who is the working class. When our leaders feed into this definition they feed into a philosophy that denigrates struggle and the need for struggle.

    recently there was a strike near me where the workers were being assaulted by the scabs even tough the scabs were far out numbered and the workers were running away.  In the 80's I was on a picket line in NYC where the scabs were afraid and the police were supportive even the homeless guys who washed windows back then would wash ours for free and tell their friends we were on strike.

    Things have changed quite dramatically in just my tenure in the labor movement. As long as the illusion of being "middle class" and just one lottery ticket away from joining the ranks of the really rich we will never be able to engage in the kinds of struggles that need to take place in order to get a fair share of the economy.

    To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men~~ Abraham Lincoln

    by Tanya on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 10:12:02 AM PDT

    •  Interesting (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tanya, Denise Oliver Velez

      When I was a bathroom matron or a hotel maid I most definitely felt part of the working poor, not unionized. That's was a long time ago.

      By the time I was (single, no children) in a union retail clerk job (also many years ago)  I felt working not so poor and able to save a little.

      I think Americans expect upward movement from working poor to working middle class, with a "safety net" (I hate that term) for those (few) who fall backward from working poor. Is this a myth now?

      The notion of class gets mushy for me versus the individuals transitioning through classes.

      I think this notion that people are transitioning with time and hard work may be a key factor in the concentration of policy on the middle class. Isn't a middle class of workers that's the ongoing and goal state until retirement? The few who move on are what? 15? Inequality of income is a clearer problem than class war IMO.

      I wonder what's the actual measurement of mobility today.

      Eliminate the Bush tax cuts Eliminate Afghan and Iraq wars Do these things first before considering any cuts

      by kck on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 11:25:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think it is much more complex. Income is a part (4+ / 0-)

        of how we define our class but only a part. Many small business owners make less then skilled union workers. I earn much more than my parents but will never see the standard of living they attained.

        Inequality of income is a clearer problem than class war IMO.

        your quote is the class war and as warren buffet has said on numerous occasions his class has won. It is always about the distribution of the finite pie. since we as a class have stopped struggling to get a larger piece our piece keeps shrinking. Wages are now only 49.6% of GDP and the figure will continue to drop until we wage the kind of war that the ownership class has waged on us for the last 30 years.

        It is now common and accepted practice for unions to cross each others picket lines. There was a time when this was unheard of. PATCO changed the labor movement in ways that are incredibly destructive for all of us and until this changes we will continue to see our share of the proverbial pie shrink. Those opportunities of mobility will be fewer and fewer. But i would also argue that we are not really moving from one class to another. We are still in the same class as we improve our economic situation and when we forget that we begin the slow and steady decline backward. The ownership class never forgets their place in the pecking order and will always see the easiest way for them to get more is by us getting less. That is what layoffs, stagnant wages, and part time or contract labor is all about in highly profitable corporations.  

        To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men~~ Abraham Lincoln

        by Tanya on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 11:45:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This makes alot of sense (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Denise Oliver Velez
          . since we as a class have stopped struggling to get a larger piece our piece keeps shrinking.

          Maybe it time for a new way to rationalize and automate the "struggling".

          I suspect that in decades to come the most modern and agile parts of our social organization will evolve to even more portable and more fungible workers (talk about contract and part time workers!) where jobs, wages, and benefits are decoupled from the precise "employers' from job to job.

          That would mean employers and business owners would have to become more flexible and more fungible also, and since jobs, wages, and benefits would be  decoupled from the precise "employees' the expenses would be rolled into some kind of capitated tax like a "use tax"  for workers.  

          Eliminate the Bush tax cuts Eliminate Afghan and Iraq wars Do these things first before considering any cuts

          by kck on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 12:13:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  not sure what you mean by automate the struggle (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kck, evergreen2, Denise Oliver Velez

            I firmly believe the powers that be are thrilled that all we do is sit in our individual domiciles and sign on line petitions. Until we once again start meeting with each other, talk about goals, strategies and tactics and begin to disrupt business as usual we will continue sliding backward. We have to be creative and forward thinking but we cannot even begin to scratch our way back to where we were 30 years ago if we don't start to actually do something

            To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men~~ Abraham Lincoln

            by Tanya on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 12:24:38 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Automate...workers organizations need leverage (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tanya, Denise Oliver Velez

              ...and innovative legislative infrastructure. Forgetting about that legislation in this climate, leverage is something that can be organized.

              Leverage has to come from some new externality given the now global labor market and continuous automation and productivity gains which is multiplying unemployment to a crippling degree.

              That may mean labor "mergers and acquisitions" and probably with more equity across industries and sectors and maybe regional, national, and global linkages as well as differences.

              Whatever it looks like, we are moving backwards and workers rights need to be resolved in new ways.

              Eliminate the Bush tax cuts Eliminate Afghan and Iraq wars Do these things first before considering any cuts

              by kck on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 12:53:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  i totally agree. one of the things i thing is (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                kck, evergreen2, Denise Oliver Velez

                imperative is to educate European workers about how their corporations are coming here for cheap labor and it is only a matter of time before wages start to decline there as well if we don't start working together.

                To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men~~ Abraham Lincoln

                by Tanya on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 12:57:41 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

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