Skip to main content

Line graph showing sharp increases in concerns about benefits being reduced, job loss, and other negative work impacts.
Americans' fears about having their benefits or wages reduced, being laid off, or having work hours cut back shot up in 2009, and haven't fallen back to pre-2009 levels since, a Gallup poll finds. Benefit cuts lead the list of worries, with 40 percent fearful about that, while wage cuts and layoffs follow at 28 percent.

It's no wonder that fears about benefit cuts have consistently topped responses to this question since the first time Gallup asked it in 1997. You only have to look at any story about a union's contract negotiations—companies are overwhelmingly demanding cuts to health insurance and pensions, and they didn't come for union members' health insurance and pensions first. Companies worked their way methodically through, cutting benefits to the most vulnerable workers first, selling middle-class professionals on the idea that 401(k) plans would make them investor-class masters of the universe and make pensions obsolete and undesirable.

Union members' benefits only started getting hit after enough other people's benefits had been cut that companies could play divide-and-conquer, stoking resentment against workers who still had good benefits, promoting the question "why does my neighbor have a pension when I don't?" rather than "why did my boss take my pension?" And even as too many people still fall prey to that corporate campaign of division, it may be starting to sink in that once pensions are gone for everyone in the 99 percent, and once even people who have employer-provided health care are paying a bigger chunk of the costs every year until they can't afford it at all, businesses are coming for something else next. So, yeah. American workers should be worried about benefits. And they should be doing something about that worry—voting, organizing, taking to the fucking streets—before there are no more benefits to be worried about.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 02:13 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  I worry about losing my (4+ / 0-)

    benefits and my job every day. Up until 2010, I didn't give it a lot of thought, I felt pretty secure, but no longer. As a union member & its political arm I fight apathy more than any other emotion...people just want their paychecks and go home. Not see the big picture. Thank you for your diary.

    Change is not an event, it is a process.....

    by lady blair on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 04:16:32 PM PDT

    •  The best way for the few (1%) to... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jfdunphy

      control people is to keep them ignorant, unhealthy and fearful.

      Keep people ignorant by having a poor educational system - like the GOP wants.

      Keep people unhealthy by having poor and unavailable health systems.  No more need be said here.

      Keep people fearful:
      - afraid of losing jobs or benefits
      - afraid of war
      - afraid of being in poverty, hungry
      - afraid of being put in prison (the US has more people in prison than ANY other country, as a percentage)

      Sound like America today?

      "The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously." -- Hubert H. Humphrey

      by Candide08 on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 06:34:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent analysis of the issue. (3+ / 0-)

    Don't know if the Obama campaign would explain it in the detail you have, but it's going to take something like this on a sustained basis to turn this around.

    I doubt anything would happen quickly, though.

    Unfortunately, no one thinks it applies to them - until it does.

    Because stupid people are so sure they're smart, they often act smart, and sometimes even smart people are too stupid to recognize that the stupid people acting smart really ARE stupid.

    by ZedMont on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 04:17:10 PM PDT

  •  Worries about benefit cuts. (0+ / 0-)

    Laura:

    No one is forced in this country to work for a particular company or accept particular benefits.  They are free to work for who they choose or start a business on their own.

    The main reasons that companies are cutting or thinking of cutting benefits are manifest.  

    First:  The tax burden is increasing at the Federal, State and Local level continuously.  Whether it is local property tax for schools that don't teach, state taxes for roads that are not repaired or federal taxes for Congressmen to take trips and go skinny dipping.

    Second:  The regulation burden.  Regulations for the environment that produce no improvement.  Those on greenhouse gas as a deterrent to global warming that is in fact not caused by greenhouse gases or man period.  (The sun drops more heat energy on the planet every 40 minutes than man produces in a year and is a micro variable). State regulations that make it harder and harder to fire incompetent people.  Higher minimum wages that drive mechanization.  Silly things like how many trees in front of a new building that drives up costs.

    Third:  Unions that want to take all of the profit out of a business when it is doing well and don't want to share in the loss when the business tanks.  Look at the fabric/clothing industry in America, whoops it is gone.  Look at the Auto industry in the tank for billions in government loans they can't pay back.  Is there anybody who things the average American Airline is worth the $68.00 per hour that they currently make?

    Fourth: The President of the United States who is constantly contravening the Constitution through his impeachable actions but can't be restrained because of the crook Harry Reid (How do you make millions and millions on a government salary) and his ilk.

    Aside:  Streets do no copulate.  Such language is inappropriate.

    Charles

  •  Blasts off at the Financial Crisis (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, Pluto, lorzie, Burned

    Bloodbath of layoffs. If you're a survivor you might actually be more pliant to reductions.

    The 1st Amendment gives you the right to say stupid things, the 1st Amendment doesn't guarantee a paycheck to say stupid things.

    by JML9999 on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 08:10:51 PM PDT

    •  Yep. Ms. Clawson nailed it here: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JML9999, sethtriggs
      Union members' benefits only started getting hit after enough other people's benefits had been cut that companies could play divide-and-conquer, stoking resentment against workers who still had good benefits....
      The fact is, working for benefits in the 21st century is a loser's game. Benefits feed the beast. Show me the money and I'll take care of my own benefits, thank you very much.


      A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five. -- Groucho Marx

      by Pluto on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 08:21:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That rugged individualism thing wasn't practical (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pluto, sethtriggs

        until the ACA.

        The 1st Amendment gives you the right to say stupid things, the 1st Amendment doesn't guarantee a paycheck to say stupid things.

        by JML9999 on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 08:26:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  A longer and more nuanced discussion (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JML9999, sethtriggs

          ...is called for -- but essentially, yes, the ACA will help for a few years to put a floor under the potential doom of non-slave working conditions.

          Robotics and automation, however, will continue to negate the need for workers. Looking ahead....


          A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five. -- Groucho Marx

          by Pluto on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 08:36:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The divide-and-conquer game (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pluto, Loozerio, ranton

        is played by the right all the time at every conceivable opportunity.  During this election season, it's the older generation vs. younger generations; energy hawks vs. environmentalists; immigrants vs. citizens; gays vs. straights, and of course union workers vs. at-will workers.

        The 99% are in the vast majority, but they refuse to come together to demand equal treatment to meet their economic needs because they're blinded by hatred of "the other."

        "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

        by SueDe on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 08:40:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  So very true. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SueDe

          And so many deliberate legislative processes were put into place to keep it that way.


          A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five. -- Groucho Marx

          by Pluto on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 08:50:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Deliberate legislative processes (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Pluto

            and deliberate legislation is the reason financiers indulging in skullduggery, tax evasion and even fraud have not been prosecuted:  what they have been doing was already made legal.

            "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

            by SueDe on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 09:05:02 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Union? What Union? Our Govenor shut them off in (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, Pluto, Loozerio, sethtriggs

    the last legislative session in Indiana --- at least for teachers and fire fighters.  No more Unions for us.

  •  egad, the trolls emerge (6+ / 0-)

    beneath the copulating bridges

    Don't roof rack me bro', Now the brown's comin' down; Präsidentenelf-maßschach; "Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Ensanguining the skies...Falls the remorseful day".政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

    by annieli on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 08:11:56 PM PDT

  •  It already happened to me (6+ / 0-)

    In 2010, my perfect job in the nonprofit sector reduced my hours to below benefit level and took them all away.

    I resigned that day and although I am freelancing, I am in a much better place financially and mentally (MUCH) than I was there and I consider it a gift, really, that they made it so clear that it was not worth my mental health and happiness to keep their job for a pittance.  We don't have health insurance now, but if we can make it through to 2014, we will qualify for subsidies under the ACA and I will get to keep the nice parts about being a freelancer like setting my own hours, working from home and being able to volunteer at my children's school, which is incredibly important to me.

    So far so good! :o)

    If you are true, but not in the same truth with me, cleave to your companions; I will seek my own. --Ralph Waldo Emerson

    by sopranospinner on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 08:23:35 PM PDT

    •  Excellent.... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Loozerio, sethtriggs, caryltoo

      But unfortunately, I'm still working an impossibly stressful job with constant worries about benefit cuts and layoffs (which would not be a terrible thing, except for the no healthcare, hope I'm not prescient).
      I have to keep trudging in for a while longer, til Medicare kicks in and then I will rethink this whole thing.  Hell, I'm rethinking it on a daily basis now, with relish. I'd like to tell the corporation to go 'f' themselves, but have a little more tact and business savvy than that.  If Rmoney and the Ayn Rand devotee get in, they better not screw up my medicare.  I can't keep up with this stress, and knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel keeps me going on.
      And these are my golden years!

      I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose....AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

      by Lilyvt on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 08:44:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It was losing the healthcare that was scary (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        caryltoo

        But they had already taken dependent coverage and my kids were already on SCHIP so it wasn't as earth shattering as it could have been.  And I had a chance to start a whole new career instead of staying in nonprofit administration forever, which I probably would have if it hadn't gone bad.

        I'm still vacillating on whether I want to look for a full time job to get health insurance.  I would have to stay  a few years and by then my daughter would be almost ready for college.  I don't want to miss so much time with her before she leaves home when the ACA will solve it for me in 16 months.  There's a chance I would lose more than I would gain, but of course there is also a huge risk because we don't have health insurance.  

        I go back and forth and of course there is no guarantee I will find full time work, although one of my clients is a recruiter in my field.

        If you are true, but not in the same truth with me, cleave to your companions; I will seek my own. --Ralph Waldo Emerson

        by sopranospinner on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 08:56:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If you're counting on the ACA to help you, (0+ / 0-)

          I hope you're spending most of your freed-up time working on Democratic candidates' campaigns.  If the Republicans win, the ACA will be strangled in its crib.

          "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

          by SueDe on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 09:08:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  T&Rd. but as someone once said, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Loozerio, jfdunphy

    Liberals hope that reason may prevail. Conservatives know that emotion will prevail.

    Romney and the R party are betting on the latter. And it scares the f****ng sh*t out of me!

    I know you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant. -- S.I. Hayakawa

    by tapu dali on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 08:26:25 PM PDT

  •  Laura, an insightful diary indeed. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranton, SueDe, jfdunphy
    Companies worked their way methodically through, cutting benefits to the most vulnerable workers first, selling middle-class professionals on the idea that 401(k) plans would make them investor-class masters of the universe and make pensions obsolete and undesirable.

    Union members' benefits only started getting hit after enough other people's benefits had been cut that companies could play divide-and-conquer, stoking resentment against workers who still had good benefits, promoting the question "why does my neighbor have a pension when I don't?" rather than "why did my boss take my pension?"

    That's exactly what happened. I've said this before, and I'll say it again...I've worked in non-union manufacturing for 25 years, and never resented the good pay and benefits of the unionized. I am glad for them, that they have entities advocating on their behalf. Pension plans were a great thing, until they were sacked and pillaged by the Romney clones. LBO vampires and deliberate pre-planned corporate "bankruptcy" restructurings have destroyed the once vibrant middle class.
    •  Was there ever a push to unionize (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Loozerio

      your non-union manufacturing workplace?  If so, what happened?  If not, why not?  I'm genuinely interested.

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 08:55:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  SueDe, no push, not even talk about it. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SueDe

        I work in N.H., which, although not a "right to work" state, may be one in the near future. From the link...

        Of the 14 states where "right-to-work" bills barring mandatory union fees were considered, only New Hampshire has passed the legislation, and it is uncertain whether Republican lawmakers can overcome an expected veto by the Democratic governor.
        The N.H. House is chock full o' Teanutbags, and if they keep the house, and the governorship shifts to GOP in November, then it's all over for private sector unions, and even public unions will come under attack. -(8^/>
  •  Union Fail (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    llywrch

    The problem is that people stopped believing unions were necessary, and now most workers lack the power of collective bargaining.

    No one takes to the streets alone (well they do - but soon they get thrown in a mental hospital or in jail). Taking to the streets works when you have an organization behind you, supporting you.

    What we really need is a new union movement and de-stigmatization of "socialism".

    Le nirvane n'existe pas. - Etienne Lamotte

    by breakingranks on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 09:05:23 PM PDT

    •  Finish the thought. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sethtriggs, breakingranks, caryltoo

      Unions failed to survive thirty years of constant assault since Ronnie Raygun crushed PATCO. Individual unions are not capable of withstanding attacks by big business supported by some or, at times, all three branches of the federal government. Crushing unions had to happen first in order to divide labor. Most non-union labor doesn't like to admit it but they benefit from union pay, benefits, and work rules in heavily unionized industries. Breaking the unions makes everyone feel alone and defenseless when dealing with their employer. Business benefits when it has employees mistrusting and/or envying their peers.

      The strength of we is a union's most potent weapon. The right wing's narrative of the rugged individual in America is no coincidence. The story goes that there is something very wrong with you if you want band together with others to obtain decent working conditions, pay, and benefits. The meme is that its down right un-American. Nobody wants to be un-American! Do they? Maybe when their standard of living is low enough they'll rethink supporting policies that are not in their best interests. Sadly, enough people aren't in dire straits. Yet.

      Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

      by VTCC73 on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 10:40:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Rugged individuals are... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        caryltoo

        very easy to divide and conquer!

        Le nirvane n'existe pas. - Etienne Lamotte

        by breakingranks on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 03:04:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  There's also the meme that unions protect the (0+ / 0-)

        lazy, unproductive worker, and since everyone thinks there's someone like that in their workplace, it has worked very effectively.

        •  Well, unions do protect them (0+ / 0-)

          But then management protects the lazy, incompetent middle manager who can't be trusted to oversee production (has always destroyed machinery or fired the best employees for telling him he's wrong), can't be allowed to make contact with the customers (repeatedly proves to be the competition's best tool for attracting customers), but can't be fired for some reason (is the CEO's golfing buddy).

          And deadwood in management costs a company a whole lot more than a goldbricker in the rank & file, no matter how one does the math.

  •  There is a broader issue here, though. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    caryltoo

    In an economy where we do not stay with the same employer very long, why do we depend so heavily on employer-provided benefits?

    Screw that.

    Pay us the cold hard cash and let us get those benefits elsewhere -- someplace that doesn't care who we're working for and doesn't disappear if we change employers or lose our jobs.

    Social Security is a bad deal for many of us, but it does one thing very very well: It's there. Id doesn't care who we work for.  It doesn't disappear if find ourselves outside the labor force looking in.

    More than you can say for employer benefits, especially if you move through jobs too quickly to vest in things like pensions.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 01:02:04 AM PDT

  •  Health insurance must be independent of jobs (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jfdunphy

    It is insane to continue to tie health insurance to one's job, a quirk of post-WWII politics that is now baked into the ACA. I'm a part-time seasonal employee, and although I can get health insurance through my job, the months I'm not working would cost me so much that it's barely worth it. And my understanding is that because my employer offers a plan, even though it's way too expensive, I may not be eligible for the subsidies in the ACA or buying through the exchanges.

    Oh, and the health insurance premium split is one of the issues holding up our faculty union contract. They want full-time faculty to get the same poor deal that part-timers already have, paying a percentage of the actual premium rather than a flat amount.

  •  Union pensions cut (0+ / 0-)

    Not a uniform proposition, of course. In GMs UAW bailout, the union came out in nearly pristine condition, while those unlucky enough to hold a non-union pension—they got screwed by government fiat.

  •  Occupy Tried That But The American Militarized (0+ / 0-)

    and corrupt police departments put an end to it.

    Only Teabaggers and Abortion Clinic Bombers can take it to the streets and have complete hands off from the police.

    they should be doing something about that worry—voting, organizing, taking to the fucking streets—before there are no more benefits to be worried about
    And the police union believes it is just fine to mass pepper spray citizens.  So how much faith do working Americans have in unions with that thinking?

    http://www.youtube.com/...

    UC Davis Police Association condemns decision to fire officer

    http://www.dailycal.org/...

    The Republican Party is Simply a Coalition of Greed and Hate

    by kerplunk on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 07:33:39 AM PDT

  •  What's even worse is to see how (0+ / 0-)

    management wastes the money that could go to improved benefits, and a better workforce. With 1,000 or so employees, and no employer provided health benefits (all is paid for voluntarily), if you figure that family coverage runs about $12,000 /year in premiums, that's a gift of $12 million a year to the company. Who then invests it in buildings in areas where they lose contracts, and are stuck with a lease, or in acquisitions at several million a pop, which then fizzle out within the month.  Dilbert comic strips do not begin to approach the seriousness of the problem. How many times can corporations Enron themselves?

  •  Romney hopes Americans are too dumb to notice (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    llywrch

    that the "job creators' have been fast to fire workers and slow to rehire Americans.  At the same time businesses have been gaming the IRS in to starving the government of funds resulting in the firing of the civil service.  The crooked Mr Romney has even promised if elected to school small business in how to find more loop holes in the tax code and bank offshore.  Not surprisingly Bernie Madoff was ultimately more honest and compassionate than Romney.  The difference between these two crooks probably lies as much in their religious backgrounds as their individual personalities.  One was raised in a religion that stresses ethical behavior whereas the other learned greed and wealth building one tithe at a time.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site