The line’s been crossed. Will America’s working sheep bleat in outrage on Twitter or take real action? Brainwashed by FOX, the Republican Party, American Crossroads, Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers into voting for ‘change,’ can they now see the endgame and fight for their rights? Or will they sit on the couch, load up on high fructose sugar and watching Idol?
Will they get it that “doing the right thing” has nothing to do with them and their rights, rather the lobbyists supporting corporations and special interests? Will the President of the United States, get off the fence, take a real stand and lead/push the Congress to act or will he remain the Prisoner of Pennsylvania Avenue fearfully watching poll numbers and avoiding a misstep before 2012?
Will real campaign reform ever happen in Washington or will it take an Egyptian-style revolution inside the USA to stop the monied and powerful from abusing everyone?
The end-around by Wisconsin Republican Senators stripping collective bargaining rights from all state workers by decoupling that language from the original bill and passing it without a quorum, coupled with emergency powers sought by another nearby governor to take away local government rights in “an emergency” and dissolve elected city governments is one of many assaults on civility by the current Republican leadership across the Midwest. (This Rachel Maddow clip shows a string of measures being taken by Republicans across the Midwest to seize control of even local government.)
This should be the last nail in Governor Walker’s coffin, alas he has hydra headed band of brothers in Ohio, Florida and several other states with but one agenda, put down unions and give massive tax breaks to their supporters. It can be stopped but only if workers and Democrats across the USA grow a pair of solid brass ones, get up off the couch and take real action to stop every special interest laden Republican legislature and Congress.
There is not even a hint of contrition in the bold Koch brothers funded plan to strip the only group that supports the Democratic Party financially, unions. They want to cripple the Democratic Party’s fund raising ability for 2012. This is the Citizen United “corporate election takeover because we businesses are humans with rights to do whatever we want to” Supreme Court case on steroids.
What is the price? The future and security of American workers as they grow older. It was not always this brazenly evil.
In 1975 I graduated from high school and worked full-time every summer while in University. I scored a great job working as a passenger agent for Aer Lingus Irish Airlines at Boston’s Logan Airport. I traded up from a $3.25 per hour grocery store job to one paying $6.60 per hour with time and a half for every hour worked over 40 and double time for Sundays and/or any shift over 10-hours.
I was guaranteed and scheduled a 45-minutes lunch break and two 15-minute breaks each shift plus earned 3-sick days per month which were paid at the end of the summer if not taken.
6 of us worked our asses off every night checking in 700-1,000 passengers and it was one of the best jobs ever, in a great working environment, serving those who were embarking upon a huge voyage.
We were a closed Machinist’s (International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers) Union shop so I paid $15 per month in cash to the shop steward to be a member. The union went to bat for me against an abusive and interfering staff member of an airline we represented. $15 was a lot of money in 1975 (a tank of petrol) and I paid it proudly because I saw what unions had done to benefit my Dad.
My father spent 35-years working for British Airways and died in 2003. If it was not for that same Machinists union, there is no way he, a naturalised US citizen from the West Indies in the 1950’s, could have risen to prominence as lead station supervisor, worked as hard as he did, earned enough to put two children through University, own his home that appreciated in value over 45-years and provided long term security, housing and care for my now nearly 80-year old mother to be able to sell her home and live in a nice retirement community.
He did not have to deal with greedy bankers, speculators or people messing with his healthcare. Yes my mother pays more now for her medicines, but on the whole she collects his modest pension, augments it with her Social Security and is one of a few seniors living at the sustenance line despite the shenanigans of today and attempts to cut back on those collecting pensions.
British Airways and Aer Lingus made lots of money in the 60’s-90’s, labour strife was minimal, people worked together and no CEO EVER was worth or earned 400x the amount of any line worker. Yes they fought each other, but they respected each other and everyone in the end did the right thing. Union workers served the customer with dignity and treated them like the Kings and Queens they were. We all implicitly understood that their satisfaction was why we were in business.
Airlines in the US today nowhere resemble union shops of the 1970s. If you are forced to travel by air in the USA you often ride in a filthy bus with wings, can be groped by the TSA and are lucky to get any service agent’s attention because they are almost invisible. The customer has to do all the work, check themselves in at the computer kiosk and then buy, bring their own food on board to avoid paying. Flight attendants are angry and rude because they’ve had to give 30% of their pay back or worry about seniority lists with the latest merger. The customer takes their wrath.
If I have a choice using a Star Alliance foreign flag carrier or the US one, I will always choice the foreign one because there is still service provided. I am upset about the lack of service on US carriers but even more that there is no security and companies and employees fight against each without remotely thinking about the dignity for any worker.
Now those workers cannot even collectively bargain for rights in Wisconsin? Shame on you all!
Denis G Campbell is the author of 6 books including 'Billionaire Boys Election Freak Show,' 'The Vagina Wars' & 'Egypt Unsh@ckled.' He is the editor of UK Progressive Magazine and provides commentary to the BBC, itv Al Jazeera English, CNN, MSNBC and others. His weekly 'World View with Denis Campbell' segment can be heard every Thursday on the globally syndicated The David Pakman Show. You can follow him on Twitter via @UKProgressive and on Facebook.
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