FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Labor Fights Back

If the U.S. economy eventually recovers and current trends continue, U.S. workers won’t be celebrating in the streets. The corporate establishment has made it clear that a “strong recovery” depends on U.S. workers making “great sacrifices” in the areas of wages, health care, pensions, and more ominously, reductions in so-called “entitlement programs” — Social Security, Medicare, and other social services.

These plans have been discussed at length in corporate think tanks for years, and only recently has the mainstream media begun a coordinated attack to convince American workers of the “necessity” of adopting these policies. The New York Times speaks for the corporate establishment as a whole when it writes:

“American workers are overpaid, relative to equally productive employees elsewhere doing the same work [China for example]. If the global economy is to get into balance, that gap must close.”

and:

“The recession shows that many workers are paid more than they’re worth…The global wage gap has been narrowing [because U.S. workers’ wages are shrinking], but recent labor market statistics in the United States suggest the adjustment has not gone far enough.”

The New York Times solution? “Both moderate inflation to cut real wages [!] and a further drop in the dollar’s real trade-weighted value [monetary inflation to shrink wages] might be acceptable.” (November 11, 2009).

The Atlantic magazine, agrees:

“So how do we keep wages high in the U.S.? We don’t…U.S. workers cannot ultimately continue to have higher wages relative to those in other nations [China, India, etc.] who compete in the same industries.”

President Obama speaks less bluntly about the wage subject for political purposes, but he wholeheartedly agrees with the above opinions, especially when he repeatedly said:

“We must lay a new foundation for growth and prosperity, where we consume less [as a result of lower wages] at home and send more exports abroad.”

So how will Obama implement his economic vision that inspired Wall Street to give him millions during his Presidential campaign? Much of the work is happening automatically, due to the Great Recession. Bloomberg news reports:

“More than half of U.S. workers were either unemployed or experienced reductions in hours or wages since the recession began in December 2007… The worst economic slump since the 1930s has affected 55 percent of adults in the labor force…” (June 30, 2010).

Employers are exploiting fears of joblessness by demanding workers take wage cuts and reductions or eliminations in benefits. The millions of unemployed are giving corporations an excuse to slash wages, since desperate workers will work for almost anything.

Federal, State and municipal workers are being specifically targeted and blamed — especially teachers — by politicians and corporate groups. The state budget crises and the federal deficit are being used as reasons to demand that public employees take huge reductions in wages and benefits, for those who aren’t laid off. Laid off public workers then enter the private workforce where they are to compete with millions of other unemployed workers. Democratic politicians nationwide have recently agreed with Republicans of the “necessity” of state workers to make huge “sacrifices.”

Ultimately, years of Wall Street gambling and corporate greed in general have destroyed the U.S. economy, sending jobs overseas to exploit slave wages with the inevitable result of slave wages coming to the U.S. Decades of tax-cuts for the rich combined with overseas wars for profit have undermined the foundation of economic stability — and U.S. workers are being asked to foot the bill.

In the long-term, the U.S. economy will need to be re-structured, meaning that giant corporations cannot continue to dominate the economy for their personal profits. In the short term, U.S. workers will need to organize themselves to fight back. Alliances with Democratic politicians are no longer an option to stave off attacks from corporations, since the attacks are now coming from both sides of the two-party system.

Labor unions must work together with community groups to demand that the rich pay for the recession with higher tax rates. As AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka recently argued before Obama’s Deficit Reduction Commission: “We believe it is only fitting to ask Wall Street to pay to rebuild the economy it helped destroy.” And he called for higher taxes on the rich in general, pointing out that “effective tax rates applicable to high-income taxpayers (earning over $250,000 in 2009 dollars) reached their lowest level in at least half a century in 2008.”

U.S. workers have been forced to bear the brunt of the current economic crisis, though they had no part in causing it. Meanwhile, Wall Street is back to speculative trading and rewarding itself with big bonuses. It is time to turn the tables and start properly rewarding hard-working Americans. U.S. workers have sacrificed enough!

This October 2, 2010, SEIU Local 1199, the NAACP, and other progressive organizations are staging a march on Washington, D.C., calling on the government to create more jobs. The AFL-CIO has recently endorsed this demonstration and is actively building it. Other major endorsers include the California Labor Federation and the American Federation of Teachers. The SEIU president is predicting the march will be “massive – we believe historic.” It might prove to be the beginning of organized labor’s comeback.

SHAMUS COOKE is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at shamuscooke@gmail.com

 

WORDS THAT STICK

?

 

More articles by:

Shamus Cooke is a member of the Portland branch of Democratic Socialists of America. He can be reached at shamuscooke@gmail.com

January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Craig Collins
Why Did Socialism Fail?
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposal Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail