Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Labor Day Weekend

It was a long sweaty Labor Day weekend on the southern plains, one filled with college football and anti union rhetoric.

On the op-ed page of the August 31st edition of The Oklahoman, Mr. Mark Mix set the tone. The headline of his piece read, "It's Labor Day, not Union Day." Mix, who is the president of something called, The National Right to Work Legal Foundation, knows a little something about propaganda. He managed to repeat the terms, "forced dues, forced union dues, or compulsory union fees" six times in the space of about 300 words. He also tells us, "Most Americans realize that Labor Day is about celebrating workers and their contribution to our free society, but that won't stop union bosses from stealing the spotlight to push their own agenda." The unsaid accusation being unions are anti freedom.

Yes, there is nothing quite like revising history in order to advance your own agenda. The truth is, Labor Day came about because,  one--according to Wikipedia, the head of the New York Central Union came up with the idea. Two--President Grover Cleveland and congress, in a spasm of guilt, pushed through the legislation to make it a national holiday in order to appease organized labor. The act was passed a mere six days after the Pullman rail car strike ended. That summer, Cleveland had used thousands of U.S. Marshals and 12,000 regular troops of the United States Army to help break, not only the strike, but as many heads as possible. By the time they were done, 30 strikers were dead and nearly 60 had been wounded.

Wikipedia notes, the early incarnations of the holiday were marked by large parades which were primarily designed to show the strength of organized labor. In other words the holiday was a union concept and originally designed to honor and celebrate union workers.

It was only in passing that Brother Mix lets us in on the real reason all the chamber of commerce and conservative types abhor unions. Toward the end of his screed he tells us, " union bosses use dues to exert an immense amount of clout in Washington D.C. and state capitals." Not only does he scrupulously avoid mentioning those bosses are elected by the rank and file membership of unions and ultimately are answerable to them, but he blithely skips over talking about what the clout is used to secure. You know, things like a minimum wage, an eight hour work day, overtime pay, a 40 hour work week, paid vacations, and medical benefits for not just union members, but everyone out there.

The following day The Oklahoman ran a diatribe by J.E. McReynolds who blamed Barack Obama for a "sluggish economic recovery," even as he glossed over the disaster left to him and the nation by George W. Bush. He noted Obama has been in charge for six years. What he didn't say is that six years are two trips around the sun fewer than it took Bush to foul the economy so completely we were on the verge of another great depression. He also ignores the hard fact a republican controlled house, which is rife with tea party hacks, will vote against anything the president proposes, no matter what the merit--not for the good of the country--but just because he came up with the idea.

In addition McReynolds claimed Obama was "dividing" the nation with his continued talk about the expanding gap between the richest few and the rest of us poor schmucks working in the trenches of corporate America. Of course McReynolds is a ruthless shill bought and paid for by some of those richest few who are fully invested in an obscene orgy of greed. He is the economic equivalent of those "scientists" who, decades ago, were paid by the tobacco industry to tell us there was no evidence smoking cigarettes caused lung cancer and heart disease.

He went so far as to blame Obamacare for the growing trend of companies to cut its staffers back to part time status. What he refused to admit is The Affordable Care Act hasn't forced a single corporation to cut employee hours in order to dodge the medical benefits it requires them to provide. That despicable maneuver is the choice of vampires like the Walton family and the Koch brothers. They are a just a few of those corporate bosses who aren't elected by anyone and can't imagine a capitalist system in which they aren't allowed to relentlessly fuck their employees for profit and fun.

Are there corrupt union leaders? Yes, but there is corruption in every human endeavor. Just ask all those poor folks who worked for Enron. In the end, we the workers have grown soft and complacent. We take for granted benefits which members of organized labor went out and not only fought for, but spilled their blood to ensure. Too many of us have bought into the vile lie that corporations have grown wiser and more compassionate--that we're better off listening to cruel profiteers rather than organizations which have no other goal, but to represent us when it comes to work conditions, pay, and benefits.

The blue collar middle class is gone. The next target of the Kochs and all the rest of the ruthless bastards who think like them is the white collar middle class.

They have nothing, but disdain for democracy and their god is the Almighty Dollar. To them the rest of us are no more than serfs to be used as tools and in times of war, cannon fodder.

There is a reason there are socialists. To find out why all you have to do is look no further than Wichita, Kansas and Bentonville, Arkansas.


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