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Thursday, February 17, 2011

A sleeping giant awakens in Wisconsin
Posted by Jill | 5:22 AM
Here in New Jersey, where property taxes on even a modest house often run upwards of $8,000 a year, Chris Christie's jihad against public sector workers has been met with either applause or crickets. If my own community is any indication, New Jerseyans care only about youth sports and nothing else. They don't put together than when the snow is plowed, it's a public worker who does it. Or when the potholes are fixed, it's a public worker who does it. They support their community's schools and praise THEIR children's teachers, but want OTHER communities' teachers to get screwed. Perhaps it's that there are so many Wall Street workers in the state, or the reality that so many governors have been stiffing the public pension fund for so many years that the problem may well be intractable. But where I live, these workers are silently taking it. And as a result, Chris Christie is touted more as the GOP Flavor-of-the-Month for 2012:

...despite that most of his budget-cutting is so far just bluster, as the state's bond rating has just been cut.

Not so in Wisconsin, where tens of thousands of state workers, perhaps inspired by the sight of large numbers of people amassing to force change, have gathered in front of, and in many cases, even IN, the state house, to protest the radical move by Wisconsin's teabagger governor Scott Walker to summarily remove the state workers' right to collective bargaining.

Unions make convenient punching bags. My own experiences with being a union member have hardly been edifying. I spent an entire summer after high school on a picket line in front of the Elm Street A&P (now a Trader Joe's) in order to preserve my ability to work summers there while in college. When my job at Standard & Poor's was a Newspaper Guild job, and my boss wanted to promote me to a non-union job, the shop steward blocked the promotion, despite the fact that I would be replaced by someone in the union. There are unions, and there are unions. In some cases, like mine, you are simply working for another level of management just trying to protect its own interests and not caring one whit for yours. But when you see things like Republican state senators trying to gut child labor laws and a Republican outgoing president rushing through a rule to make it more difficult for the government to regulate toxic substances that adversely affect workers on the job, you know what ultimately all this demonization of public workers is about. It's not ultimately about saving taxpayer money, it's about making sure that not one worker anywhere in the country has any say against an onslaught of corporate exploitation and greed. If workers have to develop life-threatening illnesses so people have microwave popcorn to eat while watching streaming movies, so be it.

Rachel Maddow talked with Russ Feingold last night about the demonization of public sector workers:

If you're lucky enough to still have a job; if you're paid well, maybe you just got promoted, you feel pretty secure -- if you think that you aren't expendable and jettisoning you onto the scrap heap of 99-ers isn't something that can happen if it means getting the company through the giant maw of Wall Street greed through another quarter, guess again. And the next time you demonize a public sector worker, go read about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Then come back and tell me that unions have been an unmitigated evil.

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Blogger PurpleGirl said...
At your mention of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire: This coming March 25th is the 100th Anniversary of the Fire.

Do a Google search both for information about the fire and for information about memorials and commemorative events being planned.

Some "trivia": * Rose Freedman who was last living survivor of the fire, died in 2001 at the age of 107. *The building the fire was in, is now owned by NYU and used by the Chemistry Department for offices, classrooms and student labs. The elevators, though, are still condemned. NYU never tried to renovated them so they could be used. (I began college as a Chemistry major at NYU.)

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I worked union jobs until I went in the service. They paid better. They stood up for the workers.

After I left the Army, I refused to join anything except AAA.

However, in three cases that I can remember, I attempted to get the union people in to organize large corporations that would have been a lot better off financially and with a happier work force if the union was in, even if the union stole every single penny in dues.

I was called to a management meeting of a large hotel/casino in Reno when the manager was chewing up the carpet over "union organizers" and demanding that they be tracked down and fired.

The head of personnel and payroll came to my office later and told me that eventually someone was going to rat me out.

I was the one providing the lists of names, addresses and telephone numbers to the union organizers. Telling them whom the natural leaders were.

I just told the truth, "I'm not career. I could give a damn less. He is wasting millions of dollars a year in turn over, unsafe labor practices, abuse of employees and ripping off the dealers for a good portion of their tips." He was getting rich. The corporation was headed straight for bankruptcy.

The manager was paranoid. He had one woman clean his office and he had all of the keys. He would forget she was there and talk to the sub managers frankly.I knew I was going to be fired before the comptroller (my boss's boss's boss) knew.

I ate in the employee cafeteria, usually with the cleaners. They knew everything that was going on in the place.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
A writer on he "The first Draft" website pointed out something else: if unions are defunded, then the only entities with real clout under the "Citizens United" case will be the Repub's corporate pals.

So the writer thinks Walker's ploy is part of a "long game" on the part of the Repubs to insure a "permanent majority" of the Corporate Party....