Friday, July 14, 2017

Democrats Shouldn't Shy Away From Union Issues In The 2018 Midterms-- Although Do The DCCC's Self-Funding Conservative Recruits Even Know What Unions Are?


Kashana Cauley writes comedic bits for Trevor Noah. And yesterday, he wrote a decidedly not comedic OpEd for the NY Times, Why Millennials Should Lead the Next Labor Movement. When he was growing up, his dad was a union guy on the assembly line at an auto factory down in what is now Paul Ryan's congressional district. Cauley recalls that his dad's work "regularly sent him to the hospital for surgeries to drain extra fluid from his knees. But those procedures were covered by union-negotiated medical insurance, and the time he had to miss work for them was handled by union-negotiated contractual provisions. Each time he healed, he could go right back to the job he loved in order to provide for our family."
Memories of my dad’s union job feel like they belong in a museum, and that’s only partly because I’m talking about the long-gone 1980s and ’90s. Many jobs added to the American economy these days not only come without unions but also don’t even provide full-time employment. The lack of unionization has sent the bottom flying out of the middle class.

Workers are being deprived of the advantages my dad’s labor union negotiated for my family: wages that helped us save for a down payment on a house after years of moving from apartment to apartment; health care that covered, in addition to Dad’s knee surgeries, treatment for my sister’s asthma, my brother’s autism, my mother’s high blood pressure and Dad’s early-onset prostate cancer.

...I grew enthralled with the existence of union negotiator guys who looked just like my dad, dressed in the Midwestern anti-fashion of workboots and fleeces to guard against our seemingly eternal winters. Though they dressed like my dad, they had knowledge he didn’t, until they shared it with him: how to negotiate fair wages for his physically challenging job and how to avoid illegal and unreasonable work hours and conditions.

Belonging to a union is a form of education that the current national political regime opposes and that states have been working to weaken so that we are unable to be fairly compensated for our work. The dangers of not being able to receive information about wages, hours and working conditions or the bargaining power that unions provide are legion.

As just one example, back in my native state of Wisconsin, after Gov. Scott Walker passed an anti-collective-bargaining law that sharply curtailed unions’ right to fight on behalf of their workers, he was able to pass another law a few months later that eliminated Wisconsin factory and retail workers’ right to weekends off. That doesn’t mean only that thousands of Wisconsinites have lost the right to relax on Saturdays and Sundays; it means also that their employers have gained the right to force people to “volunteer” to work seven days a week or risk being let go. Zero guaranteed days off a week isn’t a system that has been shown to increase either productivity or workplace morale; it just makes people miserable.

I belong to a union myself these days: the Writers Guild of America East, which recently avoided a strike and negotiated more favorable health care coverage for its members. That success was a particularly noteworthy accomplishment in this era when millions of people-- many with employer-based plans-- are rightly afraid of losing their health coverage.

At a time when the government wants to disembowel public and private health care and when wages are on the decline, our best recourse to these threats is to join existing unions or unionize ourselves.

The last big boom for American unions came during a period that resembles the present one: The Great Depression, like the ’08 recession, left workers deeply unsatisfied with wages and working conditions. Thanks to the New Deal’s favorable collective bargaining legislation, Americans felt free to organize unions and petition their employers for labor rights; there were 12 million labor union members by the end of World War II.

People like me, who have mental museums filled with memories of the stability that came with our parents’ union jobs, could be the perfect leaders of the next labor union renaissance. We millennials, many of whom entered the work force during the last recession, have borne the brunt of the country’s recent decline in employment quality, with lower wages, diminishing benefits and the presence of noncompete clauses that hurt even entry-level employees from finding subsequent jobs. We show higher support for unions than previous generations, and with good reason: Unionized employees typically enjoy better benefits and have made about 27 percent more than their non-unionized counterparts for roughly the last 15 years.
I hope Cauley is aware of Randy Bryce, the iron worker and union activist who's running to represent the working and middle class families of WI-01, where Cauley-- and Bryce-- both grew up. In the past we talked with Randy about the crucial nature of labor solidarity and why its so tragic that DCCC policies have shoved candidates who understand it out of the nomination process, largely why Bryce has pursued a decidedly non-DCCC and local approach to running for Congress. After reading Cauley's OpEd, he told me that after he served in the U.S. Army he "returned home and tried my best to assimilate into civilian life. For a few years that took the form of working two full time jobs in order to make ends meet. Neither offered 'good' health insurance, or any benefits to speak of. In order to get any time off I had to be too sick to get out of bed. My life changed once I applied to the ironworkers union, and was accepted into their apprenticeship program. The ironworker union was first formed over 100 years ago in order for members to pool their money together in order to cover funeral expenses as our line of work has been one (even to this day) with a high on the job mortality rate. After uniting, it was found that if we stuck together and demanded safer work conditions, we wouldn't need to spend as much money on funerals, and, could enjoy a longer life with our loved ones. Even if you have no intent on ever joining a union, your life is better because of them. To those who do belong to a union-- your job is to show the community that you live in how you improve the quality of life for everyone. We put the 'unity' in commUNITY."

Goal Thermometer Thursday morning both the Wisconsin Working Families Party and the national Working Families Party endorsed Bryce's campaign with great enthusiasm. How odd is it that Bryce is getting so many endorsements but not from Pelosi or the DCCC. Hoyer, Crowley and Wasserman Schultz and their PACs write checks it every crap conservative Dem the DCCC digs up to run for Congress... but no checks for Rand Bryce. (If you'd like to help, please consider any sized contribution by tapping this Act Blue thermometer on the right. And by the way, the other southern Wisconsin progressive, Congressman Mark Pocan, who is co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and has been introducing Randy to his own followers in places like Racine and Elkhorn and Janesville, told us that "In the changing nature of today’s economy, I hope that millennials will recognize the power of organized labor as much as their previous generations. Republicans are well aware of the power of organized labor as a foundation for positive change and progress. That’s why Governor Scott Walker and other Republican leaders have staked their political reputations on decimating unions and worker rights. Unions gave us the 40 hour work, paid time off and safer working conditions. That we have seen these things evaporate is a reflection of labor’s diminished role in the economy. It’s incumbent on millennials to help build a 21st century labor movement to ensure they enjoy the same and better benefits as their parents and parents’ parents."

And this isn't just something for people in once heavily unionized states like Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania to be thinking about. Tom Guild is the progressive Democrat running for the Oklahoma City area congressional seat held;d by vehement anti-union fanatic Steve Russell. "Unions were," Guild told us today, "for a time in American history following WWII, the backbone of our economy. In the late 1960’s when labor unions were strong, even formidable in our country, the minimum wage was close to the median income or wage in our country. Benefits were fairly generous and the middle class counted among its many members working people and their families. As union membership began to slowly decline in the 1970’s, the minimum wage started to lag behind. Eventually pensions were cut or even eliminated. Working conditions deteriorated. Government inspectors of America’s worksites started to cover fewer and fewer business at longer and longer intervals. Access to the courts for workers injured on the job was restricted. Wages stagnated and workers began slowly losing purchasing power. Access to the middle class has been slowed, even stifled. Americans now often work more than one job to survive and support their loved ones. Some qualified and energetic Americans can only find part-time jobs. Critics of organized labor have seized on the occasional misbehavior of union leaders to demonize hard working members of the rank and file. Big corporations and politicians have demonized workers who are organized or attempting to organize. All of these changes have led to an explosion in the gap between workers and corporate titans. Since America is mainly a consumer-led economic system, the economy has lagged behind and often slowed to a crawl. Ordinary workers often have little disposable income to purchase things they need that would fuel the economy. We are clearly better off with strong families, decent wages and benefits, including health care. Americans have borne the brunt of the decline of unions in our country. Where have you gone George Meany?  Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you!"

Texas hasn't been a welcoming place for unions any more than Oklahoma has been. But the progressive candidate running for the seat held by anti-worker nutcase Lamar Smith in the Austin/San Antonio area, Derrick Crowe, realizes the importance of unions to working families. "Trust-busting and the presence of unions," he told us, "used to provide a counterbalance to the extreme power of corporate bosses and the ultra-wealthy. As anti-worker forces kept winning battles starting in the '70s and '80s, that bulwark lost a lot of its potency. As a result, we've continually lost freedom in the political sphere, but also in the economic sphere as the new monopolies choke entrepreneurs out of the markets and corporate bosses roll back the wins of the labor movement. This is absolutely a moment for a Millennial-led labor revival that can provide the wins for workers that Trump blathers about but will never, ever deliver."

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At 6:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At the apex of the US middle class, Union workers made up about a third of all workers.

The reason unions were so necessary is simple. The rich owners don't like paying their workers. They want to pay them the least amount possible to make themselves richer as rapidly as possible. This is capitalism in its essence.

Today union workers make up 6% of all workers and many of the unions are next to impotent to force the owner caste to do anything for workers (UAW, SEIU...) because their members are already paid so little, have shit benefits and/or there is always the threat of jobs being sent overseas (Ford just announced their Foci will be made in China).

As the democraps continue to elect members of the owner caste, they will continue to be hostile to all concerns of labor. This has been the case for 35 years, coincidentally the time of the decline of unions.
In a case of horrible irony or relentless stupidity, however, unions always pledge fealty to the democraps, donating manpower and money to the less racist candidates who would further ratfuck them. A macrocosm of why the US is such a shithole.

So... saying "democraps shouldn't shy away from union issues..." is equal to exhorting fish to step out of the ocean and walk on land. They might pander, but they'll never, ever help labor. Luckily for the owner caste, unions don't seem to be able to catch on.

Another reason to euthanize the democrap party.

At 7:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a union member myself, I'd like to point out that while unions may be approached by Democratic candidates, the membership isn't necessarily on board with that decision. My International Union is particularly partisan Democrat, very vocal in support of Democratic candidates at all levels. But the majority of my fellow Local members are staunch Trumpsters. (I'm a Bernie Bro).

There is evidence that this union member support for Trump was wider than I knew:

"Democrats are worried as more and more union members are supporting Donald Trump for president. A recent AFL-CIO poll found that Trump has more support than Hillary and Bernie Sanders combined." [I tried to find a link to back this claim, but failed. If anyone knows of this, please comment with any links.]

The Democratic Party leaders tend to treat union members only as cash cows and door knockers. What, for example, ever happened to card check? I guess Barry forgot his comfy shoes for this march as well, didn't he? Ask the Wisconsin teachers that Scott Walker hammered how they feel about that!

National union organizations did tend to support Hillary in 2016, as this quote shows:

"Clinton has picked up more than a dozen national union endorsements, [That includes the Service Employees International Union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the nation's two largest teacher unions]. compared with two for Sanders -- National Nurses United and the American Postal Workers Union."

BUT . . .

"Bernie Sanders’ campaign for president is drawing impressive crowds to rallies across the country...So far Sanders has the backing of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 2222 in Massachusetts, IBEW Local 159 in Madison, Wisconsin, the Vermont National Education Association (NEA), and Lithographers Local One-L (a Teamsters’ affiliate), among others."

There is much more, but national labor entities backed Hillary while Local unions tended to support Bernie. This was exemplified by the American Federation of Teachers, who backed Hillary while not telling members they could have a say in the endorsement. “I was really flabbergasted. I think it seems so premature,” said Candi Peterson, vice president of the Washington Teachers Union, Local 6. She’d never heard about the union’s telephone town hall meetings or its “You Decide” website. “It was the best-kept secret in town,” said Peterson, whose local is based in D.C., like the national union. “And that’s not typical of the AFT—we get bombarded with information.”

As a union member, I have little regard for national union figures. I find Richard Trumka in particular an egregious example of a national union official who is never around when a Local needs some assistance. But who gets in front of the camera faster than Trumka to endorse corporatist Democrats?

I wish union organizations weren't mired in the 1930s. It was time for them to notice what year they were in when Reagan declared open season on labor unions by firing PATCO. They did not, and never stood in support of PATCO members, who resorted to an illegal strike when Reagan shunned any meaningful discussion over job conditions as is the right of all unions under Federal law. They remain clueless about what is happening to their membership, and how their support for unions is deteriorating.

It's been downhill for labor ever since, but that hasn't stopped the Democrats from showing up and pushing for contributions. They are out of luck, for even if my Local had any money, it now goes to defend our jobs. We don't have any money left for lying politicians who will stab us in the back every chance they get.

At 11:03 AM, Anonymous Tom Wakely said...

One of the defining campaign issues​ here in Texas for candidates running for Statewide office should be income inequality. That said, one of the ways to address this is by running on a progressive platform that includes repealing my state's right to work laws. Rebuilding the middle class starts with the union movement.

At 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

7:44, you may be correct, though "news" reports of how union members are flocking to the drumpfsterfire have to be taken with several grains of salt. It's probably the tendency of union workers to follow rather than lead that makes planted "stories" so effective in flipping voters.

But rank and file members still need to take more than half the blame. They elect their leadershit. Trumko didn't get the job by birth. But voters in this shithole haven't punished anyone for being evil... just for getting blown. That includes union elections.

Tom, I feel you on that issue. But... IT'S FUCKING TEXAS, dude. You're hoping for a miracle.

At 11:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom Wakely

Recall when Boeing moved work from Washington to South Carolina? the IAM TRIED to get those who would have been covered by a contract to accept union organizing. But the appeal was rejected, because South Carolina workers have been "properly" conditioned to reject unionisation as an affront to their societal betters. It remains thus in Texas, where there is an attitude that "messin' with a man's money" constitutes a legitimate case for summary execution.


It's damn hard enough to get the rank and file to vote in Local elections much less national ones. My local has 131 voting members, with a dozen others who refuse to complete their registration with the International to gain voting rights. We just elected officers with the votes of only 49 of the eligible participating. We are about to ask the members to raise dues, which have been covering the defense of member jobs lately. We're broke. We MIGHT get 40 members voting. But I assure you, the other 90+ will ignore our entreaties to vote, and will bitch up a storm when they discover their dues went up because "nobody told me this was going to happen".

At 2:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Big corporations and politicians have demonized workers who are organized or attempting to organize."
And mocked them. And mocked any people who were trying to do the right thing in life. Perhaps a simple return to not being a weasel, and not lauding the weasels' ill-gotten fortunes, would take us to valuing only that which has real value. Wisconsin has that tradition, as Kashana Cauley mentions about the boots and fleece. Let's hope it rises up again.

At 5:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:43, a microcosm of why the entire US is a shithole. A third don't vote. A third vote for naziism cuz it's white. A third vote AGAINST naziism and end up with fascism. The parties both serve the same mammon. With the exception of the drumpfsterfire when his third are relatively mollified, NOBODY is ever happy with the outcome.

And americans hate taxes but still want their services. Reminds me of the old saying: "everyone wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die".

Yes, I remember the Boeing thing. They SAID they wanted to keep the jobs in the PNW and would if only WA would pass a few billion in tax incentives. WA did that. They moved a few thousand jobs anyway (not only nonunion IAM jobs but also lower wages for all the admin/exec jobs too). They even made folks that wanted to transfer reapply for their same jobs there at 20% less money.
WA didn't smack them for lying. And SC imbeciles can't be helped if they don't want to be helped.

Makes one lose all hope in americans. They range from barely sentient to sub-sentient and from indifferent to others to rabid hatred of "others".

It's a fucking miracle this country EVER worked... even a little... even for a short time.


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