I'm hearing lots of talk lately from high union officials and Democratic electeds of the progressive persuasion complaining about this or that aspect of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and various other "free" trade agreements. These people who want our loyalty, votes and trust should know better. They focus on one specific aspect or another of the agreements and want it fixed or removed. That narrow perspective implies that they find "free" trade agreements to be acceptable with some minor tweaks and that "free" trade agreements in any form are acceptable to the average working American or for that matter, anyone who isn't a one percenter.
NAFTA and other "free" trade agreements were proven job killers that helped greedy corporations ship countless American jobs to foreign countries. They helped destroy America's manufacturing infrastructure. They were passed and signed under the Clinton administration. They came with the false promise of creating jobs. As I've often said, it takes Republicans to lower the economic bar for working people, the middle class and the poor and Democrats to keep it lowered! I expect corporate owned Republicans to promote and defend "free" trade agreements and corporate leased "compromising" centrist Democrats to do likewise, but I become appalled when progressive Democrats and union officials give those agreements an air of respectability by attempting to change small bits and pieces of them but leave the main parts, the job killing parts intact!
Phone, email or write your elected officials and union officials and let them know in no uncertain terms that you have had it up to here with all "free" trade agreements! Tell them that you will vote anyone who supports them out of office! PERIOD!
My father is no longer with us, so every Father's Day reminds me about how much I miss him. He was a guiding light in my life who worked on a GM assembly line for over thirty years. He was union and proud of it. He knew that his union, The United Auto Workers was looking out for his best interests.
His union was a true manifestation of "Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself", it was every co-worker looking out for each other's well being by speaking out in one loud, unified voice. The benefits and wages that they gained in hard fought negotiations let my dad give his family a middle class lifestyle. He took great pride in what his union job allowed him to do for his family. He had close ties to his union brothers and sisters and many of his fellow union members were more like extended members of our family.
We were raised to respect unions and the wonderful things they do for working people and America. We were taught at an early age that one of the lowest creatures in existence is a scab, a person who crosses a picket line during a strike. That person wasn't just crossing a picket line, he or she was showing every worker at that plant that his or her selfish need to make a quick buck is more important than their well being and that of their families. Luckily, scabs were a rarity in those days as everyone had respect for everyone else.
My father would not recognize or like today's America, a place that no longer gives working people a fair shake and where worker is turned against worker by corporate sponsored political TV ads. We have become a nation of mentally lazy, self-absorbed people who are willing to let the mainstream media tell them how to think and vote. Many of our unions find it easier to get in bed with a political party that is gradually killing them because the other party wants to wipe them out instantly. We have become a nation divided.
Dad, Happy Father's Day. I'm still here keeping the faith and hope that many more will join me!
Did you ever write a letter or an article and realize that you just scratched the surface on the subject? Here is a quickie discourse that will tie all of the information of my previous posting together. What if the “two” party system was created to control a nation's populace? Please understand that the theory that I am going to present to you is purely hypothetical. - - OR IS IT?
Just imagine that you are corporate and banking wannabe oligarchs. You make massive campaign contributions to and do other things to curry favor with BOTH political parties of a nation's “two” party system. Obviously, after making that investment in the future of BOTH parties and their politicians, you expect a decent return on your “investment.” You want that return to come in the form of little things like:
The key thing to remember is that this kind of “two” party system, which is really a virtual one party system, is the ideal way for corporate and banking oligarchs to take control of a country. The corporate and banking masters of the universe find it to be preferable to a one party system because it give the illusion of democracy, while it divides and conquers the citizenry. If voters are given the “opportunity” to pick one corporate and bank backed candidate from one corporate and bank owned party, even the most thick-skulled voter would realize that he or she has been had. The “two” party deception serves the corporate/banking oligarchy well, by having two corporate and bank backed parties that play one group of voters against the other group of voters in a double version of good cop/bad cop.
I hope that this food for thought hasn't given you indigestion.
As you know, I am more than just a casual observer of the political scene. In fact, I have spent most of my life watching the comings and goings of our two party system. As such, I don't claim that I am the most qualified to make some keen observations, just that I've seen a lot of things, for a lot of years and kept my eyes and mind wide open.
Over those years, each political party seemed to have its own unique identity:
The current GOP/corporate strategy seems to be to attack every Democratic initiative individually, using the same scare tactics they used during the cold war when they painted themselves as the patriotic bulwark against communism. They did their dirty work by reducing every Democratic initiative to a derisive slogan and elevating every GOP protected species and sacred cow to a glorifying slogan, healthcare legislation = Obamacare, job offshoring corporations = job creators. If you think that this tactic makes the Republicans seem like they are the only bad guys, read on.
The Democrats forgot who really put them in office when President Obama, with the huge momentum of a solid victory that was a repudiation of Bush and Republican policies, threw away that bully pulpit by stating at the outset that he's “everybody’s President.” Well “everybody” didn't elect him, we did! When he spent the next three years trying to “compromise” with the GOP, he was “compromising” our futures and our families. That “compromise” lowered the bar in negotiating with the Republicans and allowed them to set the agenda! If you think that the whole thing looked like a fixed boxing match, you could be right.
If you take away nothing else from this, I want you to realize that the extreme posturing of the GOP electeds made the apathetic indifference to their REAL constituency of the Democratic electeds look benign by comparison. All of that reminds me of a boxing match where the champion is “asked” to throw the fight by an unnamed “benefactor.” Corporate backers? Wealthy backers? Who knows? The evidence is circumstantial.
We now find ourselves smack in the middle of an election year. We are being held hostage by the “lesser of two evils” meme that's been spewed out, ad nauseam, by numerous O-pologists! Until unions and other groups step up to the plate and sponsor their own candidates who are NOT part of the rigged duopoly that is basically corporate America's surrogate in government, we are doomed to living with and by the dictates of America's real rulers, corporations and the rich!
Do you have a relative or friend who is a working person, but insists on badmouthing unions? Do they vociferously defend political policies that hurt working people, but attack policies that help us? Chances are that because they are addicted to right-wing talk radio and a certain right wing cable news network, their brains are fried! So how can we get through to people like that?
Did you ever notice that three and four year old children are always asking "why?" It seems like every sentence out of their little mouths starts with why: “Why is the sky blue?” “Why are leaves green?” “Why is uncle Bubba a Republican?” Just kidding about the last one to see if you're paying attention.
You can harness the power of those innocent questions for a noble purpose, winning people over to our side. The next time your relative or neighbor opens his or her mouth and a right-wing talk show host's words come out, use the power of that innocent question, why? Don't argue with uncle Bubba when he says that “unions kill jobs by demanding high salaries for their members that drive companies out of business”, use the power of why to ask him the following questions:
How many times have you heard Republican politicians or the business people who own them use the derogatory term “union thug?” That term is supposed to evoke the image of a Tony Soprano type union boss holding a hard working, clean cut businessman hostage by making unreasonable demands like no-work jobs for his cronies or else. That stereotype is designed to strike the fear of GOD in naive people who have never been represented by a union. The truth is that when unions are doing what they're supposed to be doing, they create a level playing field for their members. Individually they're mere whispers, united they're one loud voice.
Sadly, in many cases, union leaders are the exact opposite of union thugs, many have become union marshmallows or union cream puffs. They have forgotten their roots, that unions were born in bitter struggles. Many union leaders and members like to think that corporations have become kinder and gentler than they were in the bad old days of armed corporate goon squads firing on union strikers. Corporations haven't become nicer, just more sophisticated in their assault on unions and union members. Bullets fired on picketers have been replaced by bucks tossed into the pockets of our corporate owned electeds in exchange for anti-union legislation and “free” trade agreements.
Unions are confronted with a decidedly anti-union legislative climate that limits their effectiveness. Due to high powered anti-union corporate lobbyists, union lobbying efforts can be described as fighting a losing battle, at best. The proof of that is that The Employee Free Choice Act still hasn't passed and we are getting additional right to work for less states.
Union local officials are confronted with take it or leave it contracts that have give-backs or worse, have provisions that weaken their locals in the future. Many local union leaders give in when they should be rallying and educating the troops. Many union members think of the short term implications when they should be thinking about their future. It's time for local leaders and members to get together for some frank talk about the future of their local. I suggest that they do that before the next contract comes up for renewal.
In short, national union leaders should stop fighting a war of attrition by going over the heads of corporate owned electeds and taking their case to Americas real owners, "we, the people!" Buy advertising, run publicity campaigns, fight for the heart and mind of every working American! Local leaders should get their members approval to dig in and drive a hard bargain on the next contract and take their case public! Let's win this one for the future of all of America's workers and their families!
I was thinking about how the union movement has fared over the past 30 years and had to write this short article. Let me remind my fellow union members that the road to extinction was paved with a series of "small" compromises! There is no such thing as a small compromise when it comes to any issue that could weaken the union protections and contractual benefits of new members. When you establish things like a dual seniority system or negotiate dual wage scales for new employees as a concession in exchange for your company letting senior employees keep their present benefits, you set up a caste system within your union and create resentment among younger members. After 30 years of such compromises, we've just about compromised ourselves out of existence.
The self-serving corporate interests that have been plotting our undoing for years have stepped up their attacks via their usual route of owned politicians. They are going after the meat and potatoes items that allow unions to exist, things like collective bargaining. Unions have to take a no compromise stance from now on if we are to survive. Unions have to let future members know that they are represented by people who are fully prepared to fight for each member's rights with the very same strength, courage and determination that enabled labor's founding fathers to form unions in the first place.
Wisconsin has awakened the union rank and file, union leadership now has a clear mandate to do what needs to be done! To quote my favorite union song, “Which Side Are You On?”
Your Typical teabagger just loves to complain about "those overpaid government employees". He thinks that unions and union members are making too much money and have those cushy benefits. The real reason for all of his noise is JEALOUSY! I have a few choice words for him that you can hear by visiting my Listen Here! page.
If Tea Partiers really care about "the future of our children", why do they want to fire their teachers now?
If Tea Partiers really want to reduce unemployment, why are they turning down federal funds for high speed rail projects that would create jobs and put people back to work?
If Tea Partiers are really about "We The People", why does it seem like they are backed by and jump to the tune of "Us The Corporations"?
If Tea Partiers are opposed to "Obamacare". why do they want to make sure so many uninsured Americans wind up with "Nobodycares"?
It Tea Partiers really think that they are a populist movement of everyday working people, why do they oppose unions and support "right to work" laws that create third world states with businesses that offer jobs paying just above minimum wage? Speaking of that, why do they oppose minimum wage laws?
If Tea Partiers are really "patriots", why do they support "free" trade policies that offshore American manufacturing to China, give away American jobs and give Chinese manufacturers OUR trade secrets?
Solidarity, my Union brothers and Sisters!
I want this to serve as a reminder to ANY person, Tea Partier or otherwise who opposes unions that union members are America's last remaining True patriots. Now I know that the Tea Partiers call themselves "patriots" but they actually support policies that allow and encourage corporations to outsource manufacturing and jobs to places like China and India. When American corporations outsource jobs to China they are transferring American technology and trade secrets to China. Need I remind you Tea Party "patriots" that China is a Communist country!
When our corporations offshore our jobs, we lose high paying private sector jobs, the kind of jobs that made the American dream possible and allowed our parents to put a comfortable middle class roof over our heads. Those jobs paid wages that were much higher that the salary of a government worker and usually had decent benefits! The proud unionized American employees who held those jobs were taxpayers who contributed to the American tax base. Need I remind everyone that both the Republicans and the Democrats support "free" trade agreements that send our jobs overseas because the same corporate lobbyists control BOTH parties. The Tea Party has a "free" market, hands off corporations mentality that also makes job offshoring possible. Unions are the last remaining defenders of American jobs and the American dream!
These days, government workers generally make lower salaries than their counterparts in private industry but have better benefits due to all of the corporate conniving that goes on in the private sector.
Government workers pay taxes, buy food, homes, appliances, cars, etc. which helps our economy. When a Tea Party politician advocates eliminating a government employee's job they are hurting local and American businesses by wiping out that employee's purchasing power. They have also lost another taxpayer and put him on the unemployment rolls. That same Tea Party politician will then whine that the government has to cut unemployment.
In closing, If you work for a living and advocate eliminating the jobs and right to collective bargaining of government employees, you are hurting their families and your community. What would happen to your family and lifestyle if you lost YOUR job? If you feel that they make too much money or have better benefits, don't envy them, unionize YOUR workplace!