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    There has been much talk lately about the state of the middle-class, the insecurity of workers, and the flat-lining of wages in America. Much of the debate has revolved around the changes in the make-up of our labor force today. It has been erroneously reported that the shrinking of wages and of the middle-class is due to our no longer being a manufacturing society and due to out-sourcing. While this provides a convenient foe, it does not accurately depict the situation. There is a direct correlation between the flat-lining wages and the shrinking middle-class with the reduction of the labor movement in America. The only groups who have seen real growth in wages the past few decades are groups who are represented by unions. If this is true, then why are unions and the labor movement not more powerful and vibrant?

    The reason is simple, corporate America and their Washington whores have gutted the labor movement in America. The only defense that middle-income folks had against the big money lobbyists and government thieves were the unions. The unions allowed the workers to pool their resources to be able to fight against the influence of corporate America. They provided cover for and contributions to politicians with the courage to stand up to corporate America. Unions for many years were the driving force behind the increase in the standard of living for all working Americans, not just their union members. Unions allowed the development of a strong middle-class which is essential to a thriving economy and a vibrant democracy. It was the unions that guaranteed their workers an honest wage and a secure job environment. How many of today’s workers cite job insecurity as a major concern with the economy?

    While the unions provided many positives for their members, they also provided excesses for their leaders. I would be remiss and disingenuous if I only extolled the positive without the negative, there were many instances of abuse of power in many unions by leaders. However, that abuse of power is not because of unionism, isn’t it more because of a human frailty; greed? The problem is that corporate America began a campaign decades ago to destroy the labor movement in America, the labor movement through unions offered the only protection of the American workers against the type of abuse that they are suffering today. With the help of their "political allies" in Washington, corporate America has used the broad brush of union corruption and legal defeats to cripple the unions and the labor movement in America as a whole.

The great sit-down strikes and labor uprisings in the 30s and 40s brought our nation close to real democracy when the voices of the majority, American workers, was heard loud and clear. Corporate thugs, police agencies, and federal troops openly murdered workers and their families. The corporate media supported those actions, even calling for hanging of labor organizers. Unfortunately, labor leaders mistakenly accepted the passing of the National Labor Relations Act [NLRA] as remedy. Nothing more than deception, the Act reaffirmed the Corporation's superiority over the Constitution and made the criminal behavior by employers, labor violations, effectively undermining rights our founders sought to give. Each time labor stood up and mobilized, the Corporation, with the aid of congressional pimps and the corporate media, passed new labor acts to beat down the rights of workers. A prime example was the passage of Taft-Hartley. Labor Net

    Using PR firms and restrictive organizing regulations supported and sponsored by the politicians, corporations have created an atmosphere of appeasement and apathy for today’s workers. Many of today’s "high tech" workers have been brainwashed to believe that the cause of labor no longer applies to their concerns. I have been at many tech jobs where the younger workers have blamed labor for the loss of industry and jobs. Many of today’s workers do not believe that labor is relevant anymore. There is only one small problem with this thinking, as the unions have shrunk the disparity between the salaries of the average worker and the top executives have reached all-time highs. Are we to believe that this is a coincidence? Correspondingly, the wealth of our nation is also being concentrated in to fewer and fewer hands. The American worker has been sold a bill of goods concerning the labor movement and its relevancy to their lives.

    Without a strong labor movement including unions the American worker is at the mercy of greedy corporate executives and money grubbing politicians. The call of the union is just as relevant today as it ever was, there is strength in numbers and solidarity. It is foolish for today’s worker to rely on the benevolence of corporations, just as it was foolish for their grandparents to do so. Today’s worker must not buy into the hype that the dynamics of our economy and industries have outgrown the need for labor and unions. If nothing else the proof is in the fact that corporate executive compensation has increased at the same time workers compensation has decreased or flat-lined. Never in our history has there been disparity on the scales we are now witnessing.

These are outcomes of the long, unfolding crisis, not root causes.  Despite the novelty, but obvious seriousness, of the current debate, U.S. Labor did not arrive at this point of historic impotence in just the past several years.  This downward spiral has been in process for decades.  Workers at the base became painfully aware that corporate capital was breaking the so-called "social contract" many years ago.  Their initial anticipation that leaders of the nation's unions might devise appropriate strategies to resist or blunt the assault or that, in many instances, their own local determination to fight back would be welcomed and fully supported was one of the first casualties of this new chapter of class warfare being written in America.

Unabated disinvestment, corporate whipsawing of one plant's workers against another's, job blackmail, often with union leadership complicity, and a magician's trunk full of solidarity-busting workplace reorganization schemes had, by the mid-1980s, become the backdrop for the renewed concerted employer aggression.  Most labor bureaucrats were either untrained and/or more often unwilling to venture out of their comfort zones to lead struggles against this eviscerating reality. Monthly Review

Truth is not only violated by falsehood; it may be equally outraged by silence. - Henri Frederic Amiel

The Disputed Truth

Originally posted to Forgiven on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 07:02 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Forgiven's Tip Jar (12+ / 0-)

    From the cowardice that shrinks from new truth; from the laziness that is content with half-truths; from the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth – oh God of Truth deliver us!— Unknown

    The Disputed Truth

  •  This is important (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    votermom, Hens Teeth, luckylizard

    The rest of the diaries, about which Presidential candidate is marginally better than the rest of the Presidential candidates,  are useless. The death of the labor movement is the BIG unreported story of the
    last 25 years.  

  •  Quotation from Economics Professor (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sdgeek, luckylizard

    By coincidence, I just added this to my files:

    excerpt from the book
    Dirty Truths
    by Michael Parenti
    City Lights Books, 1996,

    Throughout history there has been only one thing that ruling interests have ever wanted -and that is everything: all the choice lands, forests, game, herds, harvests, mineral deposits, and precious metals of the earth; all the wealth, riches, and profitable returns; all the productive facilities, gainful inventiveness, and technologies; all the control positions of the state and other major institutions; all public supports and subsidies, privileges and immunities; all the protections of the law with none of its constraints; all the services, comforts, luxuries, and advantages of civil society with none of the taxes and costs. Every ruling class has wanted only this: all the rewards and none of the burdens. The operational code is: we have a lot; we can get more; we want it all.
    With the rollback of communism, the politico-economic circles that preside over this country no longer feel they need to tolerate any modus vivendi with those who work for a living. Instead of worrying about lowering unemployment, as during the cold war, corporate elites now seek to sustain a relatively high level of joblessness in order to weaken unions, curb workers, and attain growth without inflation.
    Growth without inflation sounds pretty good. But meanwhile we are witnessing the Third Worldization of the United States, the economic downgrading of a relatively prosperous population. Corporate circles see no reason why millions of working people should be able to enjoy a middle-class living standard, with home ownership, surplus income, and secure long-term employment. They also see no reason why the middle class itself should be as large as it is.
    As the haves would have it, people must lower their expectations, work harder, and be satisfied with less.

    "The Science of Propaganda" and search NYPL website for "Lakoff"

    by LNK on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 08:47:05 AM PST

    •  The thing (0+ / 0-)

      The thing about greed is that there is never enough of anything...same as it always was, same as it always was...

    •  Wow! (0+ / 0-)

      He said a mouthful!

      Corporate circles see no reason why millions of working people should be able to enjoy a middle-class living standard, with home ownership, surplus income, and secure long-term employment.

      So who do they think is gonna buy all their sh*t?  Sooner or later it's got to get down to "there is no one left to buy our product."  Whether that is a car, a video game, or the "wealth" we are now so eagerly "producing," if there is no one to buy, there is no sale.

      "We told the truth. We obeyed the law. We kept the peace." - Walter Mondale

      by luckylizard on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 09:07:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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