3/02/2011

The Corporate Attack on Unions and Collective Bargaining

By Jamie York

Corporations – emboldened by a 2010 Supreme Court ruling allowing them unlimited spending in U.S. elections, and bolstered by a pro-corporate Congress – are now poised to eliminate the right of union workers to bargain collectively for fair wages and benefits.

The right to strike is embedded in the American psyche. Americans overwhelmingly support the right to negotiate a fair contract for wages and benefits. Without such protection, employers can impose any hours they wish, hire and fire at will, and pay starvation wages with no health or retirement benefits whatsoever.

And this is their goal. Corporate lobbyists and their mouthpieces in Congress and the media know full well what the impact of the actions will be on U.S. elections. Without dues collected from unions, financial support for Democrats and Independents would drop, thereby providing Republican corporatists and Teabaggers with a better chance at victory. Deny the opposition campaign money. This is behind the attack on unions and you can bet that corporate strategist Karl Rove is the man behind the curtain.

The corporate media are framing this issue in Wisconsin and Ohio as “budget battles.” State union workers are portrayed as greedy and lazy even though their unions have voluntarily allowed wage reductions, benefit reductions, higher insurance costs, and fewer vacation and sick days for their members. Unions, responding to take it or leave offers from the states and private employers have often allowed these giveaways out of fear that they would lose their jobs if they did not cave in to their demands. But the media do not talk about this. Once collective bargaining is repealed and the contracts expire in a year or two, state workers and their families will be at the mercy of their state. States will be able to hire and fire at will, eliminate health plans entirely and pay minimum wage. More and more people will lose their homes when they cannot pay their mortgages or medical bills. Crime will go up and more prisons will have to be built.

All of this is wrong on so many levels. First, the attack on collective bargaining violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. People have the right to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Union contracts are bargains reached between employer and employees. They serve as a petition for a redress of grievances. If an agreement cannot reached, the union may vote to go on strike as an incentive for the grievance (bargaining) process to start anew. It makes no difference if the employer is the federal government, the state, or a private employer.

The attack on unions is also immoral and unethical. Hardworking teachers, firefighters, police, and a multitude of state construction and clerical workers, are all in a life-or-death struggle over collective bargaining. That is what this is. It is about livelihood versus bankruptcy. From being able to just make ends meet to being unable to afford life’s necessities. People who call themselves Christians cannot justify their faith if they also support the state imposing its will on the people. What would Jesus do, you ask? Would he support the imposing Goliath or the meek David? I’ll bet there are a lot of creative answers to this question in an attempt to reconcile oneself with the corporate overthrow of the United States.

Folks, this is Hitler’s dream. He envisioned a world of “state socialism,” a world in which the corporations, not central governments, make the rules of society. He was a big believer in unrestrained, unregulated, worldwide capitalism and many of his followers today do not even realize they are followers. But you can bet Hitler’s views live within today’s corporatists and their lobbyists and congressional lackeys.

So how can we “fix” the supposed budget deficits all the Teabaggers are whining about. First, end the Bush tax cuts on the rich. This will create revenue, a term that most Teabaggers do not understand because they are versed in the language of corporatism. Second, bring the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan and use that money to help the states. There, the budget problem is solved. But leave the unions, the right to strike, and collective bargaining alone ye conniving bastards!

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