VOTE YOUR INCUMBENT OUT!
We attended a huge gathering of labor unions this week from across the mid-Atlantic and the feeling was strong-----we have the wrong political leadership for the future of America. I went to each labor tent telling the story of Maryland's O'Malley as corporate stooge asking them to spread the word to vote 'NO' to an O'Malley national campaign. I also reminded the AFL-CIO members that some of their leadership were supporting Democrats pushing public-private partnerships-----like O'Malley , Anthony Brown, and Rawlings-Blake----gutting the strongest unions in the country----public sectors unions. Each time I talk to the union members I get a resounding 'WE ARE AGAINST PRIVATIZATION OF THE PUBLIC SECTOR' and yet we often see union leaders, here in Maryland we have SEIU and AFL-CIO - MD often standing beside Maryland's corporate leadership. Labor must hold their leadership responsible for political endorsements. It does the union member no good if a candidate supports a development project for 'jobs' that never materialize or that result in poverty wages all around. FOOL ME ONCE SHAME ON YOU---FOOL ME TWICE SHAME ON ME!
I am talking with all labor and social justice organizations about running their own candidates.....unions have the money for candidate registration fees, they have the organization, and they need to run labor candidates; not support incumbent corporate candidates.
I AM SENDING THIS TO MARYLAND'S AFL-CIO AND SEIU LEADERSHIP-------RUN LABOR CANDIDATES AND STOP STANDING WITH CORPORATE POLITICIANS. WE WANT A LABOR CANDIDATE RUNNING AS A WRITE-IN AGAINST CARDIN, SARBANES, AND CUMMINGS THIS NOVEMBER AND A FARM TEAM AT THE LOCAL AND STATE LEVEL.
City and county councils, mayors and county executives, state legislators all need labor candidates as challengers to incumbents and if you do not see your union leadership pushing and providing this------YOUR UNION LEADERSHIP IS NOT WORKING FOR YOU AND I----THEY ARE WORKING AGAINST OUR INTERESTS. This is not a game and there is no more time for concessions. These politicians are not going to change and middle/lower class must turn out their own politicians just as the political right created the TEA PARTY. WE NEED LABOR POLITICIANS AND UNIONS HAVE THE MONEY AND THE ORGANIZATION TO RUN THESE CANDIDATES!
I had a brief conversation with a neighbor on the way to work this morning that is a perfect analogy of today's politics. The early end of winter has played havoc with our gardens.....blooming and insect pollinators thrown for a loop. We had a brief spurt of beetle infestation devouring our greens and flowering plants bloomed out by July's end rather than at the end of September. This morning the conversation was this: the beetles are gone having had their fill and the flowering plants are starting a second round of blooming. OUR CORPORATE POLITICIANS HAVE HAD THEIR FILL AND NEED TO CRAWL UNDER THE NEAREST ROCK SO OUR ECONOMY AND QUALITY OF LIFE WILL RETURN FOR A SECOND PERIOD OF PROSPERITY FOR ALL.
VOTE YOUR INCUMBENT OUT!!!!
IF LABOR AND UNIONS DO NOT SHOUT OUT AGAINST UNION-BASHING, HOLDING LOCAL MEDIA RESPONSIBLE FOR BIAS AND FILLING LOCAL COMMUNITY MEETINGS WITH PRO-UNION MESSAGES, THE PEOPLE WILL LET THIS ANTI-LABOR MESSAGE WIN. NO MEDIA COVERAGE AT UNION RALLIES.....NO MENTION OF POLITICAL LEGISLATION AND POLICY AGAINST LABOR........
STAND UP ---------FIGHT BACK!!!!
ATTEND MEETINGS AND SHOUT OUT!!!!
Public Image of Labor Unions, Business Near an All-Time Low
The public image of labor unions is near an all-time low. While a majority of Americans believe unions have a positive effect on salaries, benefits, and working conditions, few think that unions contribute to productivity, the availability of good jobs and the ability of U.S. companies to compete globally, according to a Pew Research Center poll conducted Feb. 2-7.
Forty-five percent of those surveyed had a favorable view of unions, slightly higher than the 41 percent a year ago, but well below the 58 percent recorded in January 2007.
Corporations don't fare much better with 47 percent of Americans holding a favorable view of them.
A Gallup survey last August found 52 percent of Americans approving of labor unions, but that was the lowest mark for them in the 70 years Gallup has been asking the question. In that poll, 40 percent said they wanted to see unions wield less influence, 29 percent wanted them to have more clout, and 27 percent said the level of their influence should remain as it is.
The view of unions is about the same for private and public sector unions. Public sector unions have been in the spotlight in recent months as governors in many states, facing yawning budget deficits, take aim at pension and benefit plans, which they say they can no longer afford.
The struggle involving public employee unions came to a particular head this week in Wisconsin where thousands of public workers staged a protest against proposals by newly elected Republican Gov. Scott Walker that would weaken public employee unions. In the Pew survey, 44 percent said they sided with unions in their dealings with state governments, 38 percent sided with the governments, 8 percent answered that it "depends" on the situation and 10 percent were undecided.
When it comes to the pros and cons of the impact unions have, 53 percent say they have a positive effect on the salaries and benefits of union workers and 51 percent say the same about unions' effect on working conditions.
However, only 34 percent believe unions contribute to workplace productivity, 32 percent say they have a positive impact on the availability of good jobs, and 24 percent say they have a positive impact on the ability of American companies to compete in the global marketplace.
While Democrats have a less negative view of unions than Republicans, even they fall short of mustering a majority when it comes to the question of whether the unions have a positive impact on productivity, job creation and global competition.
THERE IS A DISINFORMATION PUSH ON THE YOUNG AGAINST UNIONS AND SOCIAL PROGRAMS BY REPUBLICANS AS THIRD WAY DEMOCRATS SILENTLY MOVE POLICY IN THE SAME ANTI-UNION DIRECTION.
REPORT: Five Things Unions Have Done For All Americans
By Zaid Jilani on Mar 5, 2011 at 8:00 am Think Progress
Over the past few weeks, right-wing legislators have unleashed a torrent of radical legislation upon the American electorate designed to gut collective bargaining rights and attack the middle class. As these conservatives have launched their assault, a Main Street Movement consisting of ordinary Americans fed up with living in such an unequal country has fought back.
Conservatives have sought to malign this movement by claiming that it is simply defending the parochial interests of labor unions, who they claim are imposing huge costs on taxpayers with little benefit. Yet the truth is that America’s public and private unions have been one of the major forces in building a robust and vibrant middle class and have fought over the past century to improve the lives of all Americans in a variety of ways. ThinkProgress has assembled just five of the many things that Americans can thank the nation’s unions for giving us all:
1. Unions Gave Us The Weekend: Even the ultra-conservative Mises Institute notes that the relatively labor-free 1870, the average workweek for most Americans was 61 hours — almost double what most Americans work now. Yet in the late nineteenth century and the twentieth century, labor unions engaged in massive strikes in order to demand shorter workweeks so that Americans could be home with their loved ones instead of constantly toiling for their employers with no leisure time. By 1937, these labor actions created enough political momentum to pass the Fair Labor Standards Act, which helped create a federal framework for a shorter workweek that included room for leisure time.
2. Unions Gave Us Fair Wages And Relative Income Equality: As ThinkProgress reported earlier in the week, the relative decline of unions over the past 35 years has mirrored a decline in the middle class’s share of national income. It is also true that at the time when most Americans belonged to a union — a period of time between the 1940′s and 1950′s — income inequality in the U.S. was at its lowest point in the history of the country.
3. Unions Helped End Child Labor: “Union organizing and child labor reform were often intertwined” in U.S. history, with organization’s like the “National Consumers’ League” and the National Child Labor Committee” working together in the early 20th century to ban child labor. The very first American Federation of Labor (AFL) national convention passed “a resolution calling on states to ban children under 14 from all gainful employment” in 1881, and soon after states across the country adopted similar recommendations, leading up to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act which regulated child labor on the federal level for the first time.
4. Unions Won Widespread Employer-Based Health Coverage: “The rise of unions in the 1930′s and 1940′s led to the first great expansion of health care” for all Americans, as labor unions banded workers together to negotiate for health coverage plans from employers. In 1942, “the US set up a National War Labor Board. It had the power to set a cap on all wage increases. But it let employers circumvent the cap by offering “fringe benefits” – notably, health insurance.” By 1950, “half of all companies with fewer than 250 workers and two-thirds of all companies with more than 250 workers offered health insurance of one kind or another.”
5. Unions Spearheaded The Fight For The Family And Medical Leave Act: Labor unions like the AFL-CIO federation led the fight for this 1993 law, which “requires state agencies and private employers with more than 50 employees to provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave annually for workers to care for a newborn, newly adopted child, seriously ill family member or for the worker’s own illness.”
When you read terms like neo-liberal or Third Way you are reading about the change in the Democratic Party that created corporate/pro-wealth political groups from what was once the liberals who fought for the people. This is the Clinton caucus and it now has control of the leadership of the Democratic Party. We simply need to change that leadership to REAL PROGRESSIVES---LABOR to reverse profits over people.
Think Again: When Labor Unions Were at the Center of Politics
Posted: 06/08/2012 8:13 pm In Tuesday's New York Times, pundit Joe Nocera writes a lengthy plug for Tim Noah's new book on inequality, The Great Divergence. In his review Nocera focuses on one of the myriad causes Noah identifies as responsible for the explosion of inequality in recent decades: the decline of labor unions. Nocera and Noah are both alumni of the neoliberal magazine The Washington Monthly, which made its name, in part, by attacking unions during the Carter and Reagan eras. Looking back, both agree that neoliberals certainly overdid it.
Many non-neoliberals also attacked unions during this same era. In the case of leftists and others, many of them chose "identity politics over economic justice," and we continue to live in an era defined by these values, as I argued here. As a result, the "high-water mark for unionism" in America occurred in the mid 1950s, when almost four out of every 10 workers were fortunate enough to be "nonunion members who were nonetheless covered by union contracts." In the early postwar years, even the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce agreed that "collective bargaining is a part of the democratic process."
That statement would today be considered controversial not only on the far right but also by many in the mainstream media. Over on the other side of the Times' op-ed page on Tuesday, David Brooks wrote about the vicious anti-union efforts of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker as an argument over "debt indulgence," and pretended that a vote for the man dedicated to destroying the collective bargaining rights of the state's public workers -- denying what even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce once embraced -- "won't be an antiunion vote."
Rethinking the positions they adopted in the early days of neoliberalism, both Noah and Nocera argue, in the latter's words, that "if liberals really want to reverse income inequality, they should think seriously about rejoining labor's side." To do so, it might help to recollect the example of the kind of leadership the U.S. labor movement enjoyed in its heyday.
In the late '40s and early '50s, liberal leaders were not much interested in attempting to create a mass movement in support of their program during the postwar years. This was an age of distrust in "the masses," which were now associated with both Stalinism and fascism among both intellectuals and much of the general population, leading up to the period when Joe McCarthy's brand of fear-based politics dominated much of America's political discourse. Still, liberals needed to find a way to push Democrats to turn their ideas into policy.
The one institution capable of doing this at the time was organized labor. Unions had been the linchpin of New Deal activism, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt had helped galvanize them in many ways, but most importantly via his successful push to pass the Wagner Act in 1935, which vastly extended the right of workers to collective bargaining.
The liberals' favorite among the nascent national labor leaders was the firebrand Walter Reuther, president of the United Auto Workers, or UAW. As a young socialist, Reuther had begun organizing in Detroit during the Depression. Although his original support within the UAW began with a tenuous alliance of socialists, communists, and other militants, Reuther turned on the communists when they adopted a noninterventionist policy toward Hitler following the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact.
After a narrow victory for the UAW presidency in 1946, Reuther consolidated his power by purging more than 100 communist staffers from every level of the organization.
"Abe Lincoln said that a nation cannot exist half free and half slave. Nor can the CIO exist part trade union, dedicated to the ideals and objectives of the trade union movement, and part subservient to a foreign power," Reuther explained to his brother workers. "The Communists are to be pitied more than despised, because they are not free men," he continued. "Their very souls do not belong to them."
This was, in many respects, a turning point for the American labor movement.
WHEREAS THIS COMMITMENT TO COMMUNIST/SOCIALIST IDEALS TIED THE UNIONS TO POLITICAL POLICY UNTENABLE TO THE WESTERN CAPITALIST POLICY, SOCIAL DEMOCRACY OF THE 1960s - 1980s WAS A RESOUNDING SUCCESS FOR THE PEOPLE. CLINTON'S NEO-LIBERAL/THIRD WAY CAUCUS STARTED BREAKING DOWN THIS SOCIAL CONTRACT AND ARE NOW WORKING FOR CORPORATE INTERESTS. CLIPS FROM A LONG ARTICLE BELOW HIGHLIGHT THIS LABOR DECLINE AND AS SUCH ITS PATH TO RESURGENCE.
No doubt reading this is boring stuff, but if you don't understand the problem, you won't know the solution!
Why Screwing Unions Screws the Entire Middle Class Plus: How much income have you given up for the top 1 percent? —By Kevin Drum
| March/April 2011 Issue 678 Illustration: Jason Schneider
Read more: The 10 richest members of Congress, CEO pay vs. American worker pay, and more infographics on the new gilded era.
IN 2008, A LIBERAL Democrat was elected president. Landslide votes gave Democrats huge congressional majorities. Eight years of war and scandal and George W. Bush had stigmatized the Republican Party almost beyond redemption. A global financial crisis had discredited the disciples of free-market fundamentalism, and Americans were ready for serious change.
Or so it seemed. But two years later, Wall Street is back to earning record profits, and conservatives are triumphant. To understand why this happened, it's not enough to examine polls and tea parties and the makeup of Barack Obama's economic team. You have to understand how we fell so short, and what we rightfully should have expected from Obama's election. And you have to understand two crucial things about American politics.
The first is this: Income inequality has grown dramatically since the mid-'70s—far more in the US than in most advanced countries—and the gap is only partly related to college grads outperforming high-school grads. Rather, the bulk of our growing inequality has been a product of skyrocketing incomes among the richest 1 percent and—even more dramatically—among the top 0.1 percent. It has, in other words, been CEOs and Wall Street traders at the very tippy-top who are hoovering up vast sums of money from everyone, even those who by ordinary standards are pretty well off.
Second, American politicians don't care much about voters with moderate incomes. Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels studied the voting behavior of US senators in the early '90s and discovered that they respond far more to the desires of high-income groups than to anyone else. By itself, that's not a surprise. He also found that Republicans don't respond at all to the desires of voters with modest incomes. Maybe that's not a surprise, either. But this should be: Bartels found that Democratic senators don't respond to the desires of these voters, either. At all.
.It doesn't take a multivariate correlation to conclude that these two things are tightly related: If politicians care almost exclusively about the concerns of the rich, it makes sense that over the past decades they've enacted policies that have ended up benefiting the rich. And if you're not rich yourself, this is a problem. First and foremost, it's an economic problem because it's siphoned vast sums of money from the pockets of most Americans into those of the ultrawealthy. At the same time, relentless concentration of wealth and power among the rich is deeply corrosive in a democracy, and this makes it a profoundly political problem as well.
How did we get here? In the past, after all, liberal politicians did make it their business to advocate for the working and middle classes, and they worked that advocacy through the Democratic Party. But they largely stopped doing this in the '70s, leaving the interests of corporations and the wealthy nearly unopposed. The story of how this happened is the key to understanding why the Obama era lasted less than two years.
The strength of unions in postwar America benefited nonunion workers, too. Unions made the American economy work for the middle class. ABOUT A YEAR ago, the Pew Research Center looked looked at the sources reporters used for stories on the economy. The White House and members of Congress were often quoted, of course. Business leaders. Academics. Ordinary citizens. If you're under 40, you may not notice anything amiss. Who else is missing, then? Well: "Representatives of organized labor unions," Pew found, "were sources in a mere 2% of all the economy stories studied."
It wasn't always this way. Union leaders like John L. Lewis, George Meany, and Walter Reuther were routine sources for reporters from the '30s through the '70s. And why not? They made news. The contracts they signed were templates for entire industries. They had the power to bring commerce to a halt. They raised living standards for millions, they made and broke presidents, and they formed the backbone of one of America's two great political parties.
They did far more than that, though. As historian Kim Phillips-Fein puts it, "The strength of unions in postwar America had a profound impact on all people who worked for a living, even those who did not belong to a union themselves." (Emphasis mine.) Wages went up, even at nonunion companies. Health benefits expanded, private pensions rose, and vacations became more common. It was unions that made the American economy work for the middle class, and it was their later decline that turned the economy upside-down and made it into a playground for the business and financial classes.
Technically, American labor began its ebb in the early '50s. But as late as 1970, private-sector union density was still more than 25 percent, and the absolute number of union members was at its highest point in history. American unions had plenty of problems, ranging from unremitting hostility in the South to unimaginative leadership almost everywhere else, but it wasn't until the rise of the New Left in the '60s that these problems began to metastasize.
The problems were political, not economic. Organized labor requires government support to thrive—things like the right to organize workplaces, rules that prevent retaliation against union leaders, and requirements that management negotiate in good faith—and in America, that support traditionally came from the Democratic Party. The relationship was symbiotic: Unions provided money and ground game campaign organization, and in return Democrats supported economic policies like minimum-wage laws and expanded health care that helped not just union members per se—since they'd already won good wages and benefits at the bargaining table—but the interests of the working and middle classes writ large.
The real harm was the eventual disaffection of the Democratic Party from the labor cause. Two years after the debacle in Miami, Nixon was gone and Democrats won a landslide victory in the 1974 midterm election. But the newly minted members of Congress, among them former McGovern campaign manager Gary Hart, weren't especially loyal to big labor. They'd seen how labor had treated McGovern, despite his lifetime of support for their issues. The results were catastrophic. Business groups, simultaneously alarmed at the expansion of federal regulations during the '60s and newly emboldened by the obvious fault lines on the left, started hiring lobbyists and launching political action committees at a torrid pace. At the same time, corporations began to realize that lobbying individually for their own parochial interests (steel, sugar, finance, etc.) wasn't enough: They needed to band together to push aggressively for a broadly pro-business legislative environment. In 1971, future Supreme Court justice Lewis Powell wrote his now-famous memo urging the business community to fight back: "Strength lies in organization," he wrote, and would rise and fall "through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations." Over the next few years, the Chamber of Commerce morphed into an aggressive and highly politicized advocate of business interests, conservative think tanks began to flourish, and more than 100 corporate CEOs banded together to found a pro-market supergroup, the Business Roundtable.
They didn't have to wait long for their first big success. By 1978, a chastened union movement had already given up on big-ticket legislation to make it easier to organize workplaces. But they still had every reason to think they could at least win passage of a modest package to bolster existing labor law and increase penalties for flouting rulings of the National Labor Relations Board. After all, a Democrat was president, and Democrats held 61 seats in the Senate. So they threw their support behind a compromise bill they thought the business community would accept with only a pro forma fight.
Instead, the Business Roundtable, the US Chamber of Commerce, and other business groups declared war. Organized labor fought back with all it had—but that was no longer enough: The bill failed in the Senate by two votes. It was, said right-wing Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), "a starting point for a new era of assertiveness by big business in Washington." Business historian Kim McQuaid put it more bluntly: 1978, he said, was "Waterloo" for unions.
Organized labor, already in trouble thanks to stagflation, globalization, and the decay of manufacturing, now went into a death spiral. That decline led to a decline in the power of the Democratic Party, which in turn led to fewer protections for unions. Rinse and repeat. By the time both sides realized what had happened, it was too late—union density had slumped below the point of no return.
Why does this matter? Big unions have plenty of pathologies of their own, after all, so maybe it's just as well that we're rid of them. Maybe. But in the real world, political parties need an institutional base. Parties need money. And parties need organizational muscle. The Republican Party gets the former from corporate sponsors and the latter from highly organized church-based groups. The Democratic Party, conversely, relied heavily on organized labor for both in the postwar era. So as unions increasingly withered beginning in the '70s, the Democratic Party turned to the only other source of money and influence available in large-enough quantities to replace big labor: the business community. The rise of neoliberalism in the '80s, given concrete form by the Democratic Leadership Council, was fundamentally an effort to make the party more friendly to business. After all, what choice did Democrats have? Without substantial support from labor or business, no modern party can thrive.
This has produced three decades of commercial and financial deregulation that started during the administration of a Democrat, Jimmy Carter, gained steam throughout the Reagan era, and continued under Bill Clinton. There were a lot of ways America could have responded to the twin challenges of '70s-era stagflation and the globalization of finance, but the policies we chose almost invariably ignored the stagnating wages of the middle class and instead catered to the desires of the superrich: hefty tax cuts on both high incomes and capital gains. Deregulation of S&Ls (PDF) that led to extensive looting and billions in taxpayer losses. Monetary policy focused excessively on inflation instead of employment levels. Tacit acceptance of asset bubbles as a way of maintaining high economic growth. An unwillingness to regulate financial derivatives that led to enormous Wall Street profits and contributed to the financial crisis of 2008. At nearly every turn, corporations and the financial industry used their institutional muscle to get what they wanted, while the working class sat by and watched, mostly unaware that any of this was even happening.
VOTE THESE CORPORATE INCUMBENTS OUT!!!!