Sanctity of employees contracts

As focus has shifted from protests in the Middle East to protests in Madison, we need to think about one of the underlying issues of this debate, employee contracts.

For those of you that think this is all about the state budget crisis and that alone, you are very mistaken.  This is about destroying the last institution, the last guardian for middle class and poor Americans from the ruling elites.  This is about destroying unions, so there is a weakened support organization for the Democratic party.  Not that the Democratic party has been the best friend of unions, I often think that many Democratic politicians play them lip service, but it is better than the outright hostility that they face from Republican politicians.

Remember in the spring of 2009 and 2010 when we heard about the on-going obscene bonuses going to folks on Wall Street?  We had funded the bailout of their industry, keeping them employed.  But that wasn’t enough, they had their contracts and we had to pay them bonuses.  But when the outrage over the bonuses came out, I didn’t hear from Republicans asking to make them re-adjust their contracts because of the bailout.  No, they said it was dumb for Wall Street to give huge bonuses, tried to lay blame on Democrats (many which are as beholden to Wall Street as Republicans), but never once pushed for a clawback on bonuses.

Yet, when it comes to bailing out a union industry like big auto, they ask for union members to take a cut.  When they are facing state government deficits, they ask public government unions to alter their contracts and take a cut.

It is not because unionized employees have more income in which to give, no that is what you find on Wall Street.  Wall Street can give more, but are not asked to because they are special, they represent the wealthy class that has an exaggerated importance in our country.  They demonstrate the lie that is supposed one person one vote democracy with their lack of sacrifice and exaggerated importance.

Republican hatred of unions is very clear to those who are willing to listen.  Their willingness to violate contracts in some circumstances and say they are inviolate in other cases shows that they have a political agenda, destroying unions.  As Rahm Emanuel has said, and Governor Walker and his fellow Republican state politicians are taking to heart, “don’t let a crisis go to waste.”


Recommended Reading

Joshua Holland at Alternet has a great article on attempts to level the playing field between employees and employers, and how the corporations will do anything to keep the status quo.  Just go read it.


Coalition for a Democratic Workplace – what a name!

So this ad has been running the Twin Cities for a little while.

Coming from my pro-labor background, I found the ad to be clever by questioning the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). Now as with any ad that focuses on legislation it is important to see who is running the ad, and who supports them.

If you go their web site, you can see their long list of supporters, which seems to just be employers or associations that represent employers, I didn’t see a single labor organization listed.

On their web page about facts, it is all about making sure the EFCA does not get passed. In a great example of cherry picking the facts they quote this:

Private Ballot Elections Have Been Supported By the U.S. Supreme Court, Chairman George Miller (D-CA) and the AFL-CIO

A letter sent by Rep. George Miller and 15 other members of Congress to Mexican government officials in 2001, stated, “We understand that the private ballot is allowed for, but not required by Mexican labor law. However, we feel that the private ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they may otherwise not choose.”

Other members of Congress that signed this letter include: Dennis Kucinich, Bernard Sanders (now a senator), Bob Filner, Barney Frank, Joe Baca, Zoe Lofgren, Fortney Stark, Barbara Lee, James McGovern, and Marcy Kaptur.

Now this is a letter in support of privacy in another country which has different labor laws than ours, so similar, but not the same. And when you look at the voting record on EFCA in the House, where it has passed, we find out that:

  • Joe Baca – sponsored it and voted yea.
  • Bob Filner – sponsored it and voted yea.
  • Barney Frank – sponsored it and voted yea.
  • Marcy Kaptur – sponsored it and voted yea.
  • Dennis Kucinich – sponsored it and voted yea.
  • Barbara Lee – sponsored it and voted yea.
  • Zoe Lofgren – sponsored it and voted yea.
  • James McGovern – sponsored it and voted yea.
  • George Miller – authored it and voted yea.
  • Fortney Stark – sponsored it and voted yea.
  • Bernard Sanders (now a senator) – sponsored S.1041 in the Senate, it has not been voted on yet.

So that fact is hugely misleading, but hey they don’t want an honest discussion, or workers to unionize, they want to continue to divide and conquer.

American Rights at Work has a more comprehensive coverage of supposed supporters of worker’s rights including the Coalition of a Democratic Workplace. EcuProphets has a nice blog on it too.

Remember as this election season ramps up ads, that you need to think intelligently and critically about what they are trying to convince you of. Think about who is funding that ad, who supports them, and if that seems out of place. I mean come on, do we really think all these employer associations are really about making unionization easier or better?

The has a great article on this topic and this group in particular,

Then there are the lobbying groups whose name suggests the exact opposite of what they really stand for. That should tell you a lot, right there. It tells you that the people behind these groups are less than proud of what they represent.

Take the United Seniors Association, for example. Here is a group funded by drug companies that promotes the interests of drug companies, even when their interests clash with those of seniors. Apparently the “Put Drug Companies First Coalition” didn’t poll well.

So what should we make of a group that calls itself the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace? That sounds like something I might be in favor of. Are these people really trying to give workers more say in the workplace? Heck, that’s what unions do.

Actually, that is most definitely NOT what the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace tries to accomplish. Just look at who its members are. The coalition is made up of groups such as the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), whose biggest member is the notoriously anti-union Wal-Mart; the Associated Builders and Contractors, an association of anti-union contractors; the National Association of Manufacturers; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

These groups do have a track record on issues that involve giving workers more say in the workplace. Not surprisingly, they’re not for that.

In fact, the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace was formed to defeat legislation that would make it less of an ordeal for workers to form unions and bargain with management for better wages and working conditions.

Think critically for the sake of informed democracy!