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Labor Day: Build Esprit de Corps for Action

8:44 am in Uncategorized by Leo W. Gerard

"San Francisco Labor Temple wall painting"

"San Francisco Labor Temple Wall Painting" by xeeliz on flickr. The San Francisco Temple of Labor was built to house the San Francisco Labor Council and labor union offices and to provide a meeting hall for San Francisco's unions.

Celebrate Labor Day. Really, celebrate. It’s important.

Wear a t-shirt announcing to the world the name of your union and march in a parade, chanting and whooping it up about how glad you are to belong to an organization whose members are devoted to looking out for each other. If you’re among those without a union, proclaim your profession and declare your pride in the hard work you do. Make some happy noise. Infect your fellow marchers with your zeal.

Invite your most beleaguered neighbors, friends and co-workers over for a picnic. Raise a pint, braise some burgers and praise your companions for their skill, devotion and compassion. Recognize them for all they’ve persevered through since this relentless recession began in December of 2007. Build esprit de corps among your fellow workers.

This is one day devoted to labor, to the middle class, to the majority. One day out of 365. On this holiday, everyone gives an obligatory nod to workers. So don’t fret this Labor Day. Don’t waste it away in apathetic doldrums. Don’t let the minority rich and their purchased politicians take this celebration away from us too.

Some, including former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, have called for protests on Labor Day. They say workers must use this opportunity to demand that Washington solve the real crisis debilitating this country – dogged joblessness.

Reich is right. Read the rest of this entry →

GOP Offers No Death Panels, Just Death From Lack Of Care

5:56 am in Uncategorized by Leo W. Gerard

Red Alone

Red Alone by Stuck in Customs, on Flickr

Republicans concocted death panels in an attempt to terrify Americans about health care reform, then propagated the lie because they wanted insurance corporations to profit from illness and injury unfettered.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed anyway, but now the GOP has announced that it plans to kill the reform, and Medicaid and Medicare too.

In one fell swoop, Republicans would foreclose on Americas’ long-held and cherished expectation that they’ll receive health coverage from their government in their old age, impoverishment or infirmity. For the elderly, poor, unemployed, disabled and juvenile who can’t afford insurance, the GOP offers no death panels, just death from lack of care.

U.S. Representative Paul D. Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin and chairman of the House Budget Committee, disclosed the GOP scheme to massacre Medicare and Medicaid. Instead of the government directly paying for medical services for the elderly and impoverished, Republicans would shift costs to states and the elderly. Under their plan, instead of Medicare, the federal government would give seniors an unspecified amount of money toward the cost of premiums for private health insurance. Also, instead of Medicaid, the GOP would give states some money to help pay for insurance for the poor, which includes nursing home care for the elderly. States and the elderly then would be stuck paying insurance costs above the amount provided by the federal government.

Ryan and his GOP gang transfer medical costs to the elderly and impoverished to compensate for federal revenues lost when they slash income taxes levied on the rich and corporations by an additional 30 percent.

The GOP message to the rich and to corporations: keep your tax break and take another 30 percent. The GOP message to the middle class: pay more and lose your safety net.
Read the rest of this entry →

In a Democracy, Freedom of Assembly Trumps “Free Enterprise”

8:01 am in Economy, Labor by Leo W. Gerard

Sign at pro-workers rally, Madison WI. (photo: WxMom via Flickr)

It’s illegal in America now to buy or sell a human being, but a recorded telephone conversation between a Republican governor and a guy he thought was a billionaire benefactor shows that it’s still possible to own a politician.

Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker didn’t have time to talk to Democratic leaders or union officials about his anti-union legislation – a proposal that has incited protests by tens of thousands for more than a week in Madison. But he jumped on the phone for 20 minutes this week when told the caller was billionaire David Koch, who was Walker’s second largest campaign contributor, who provided $1 million to a GOP fund to attack Walker’s opponent and who bankrolls radical libertarian organizations and the Tea Party.

Republicans like Walker, owned by billionaires like Koch, are fulfilling demands from corporate interests that government “free” enterprise by slashing corporate taxes and regulation. Over the past three years, America has suffered the consequences of a government under-funded after tax breaks to the rich and under-performing after years of lax regulation. The result: a growing federal deficit, the Wall Street collapse, the BP oil spill and the deaths of 29 Upper Big Branch miners. Still, Republicans want more government atrophy. That would leave only one restraint on corporate control of the economy, environment and government.

That one restraint is labor unions. A union is workers using their constitutionally-guaranteed freedom to assemble, the right to get together as a group, in this case a labor organization, to negotiate collectively with employers for better wages, benefits and working conditions.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →