Watering Hole: September 5, 2011 – The Fighting Spirit

Let us remember what Labor Day represents.  We must stand together because the GOP is determined to destroy labor.  Their goal is to return to the days of lords and serfs.  The wealthy, Republican politicians push religion because religion was used to control the poor, starving serfs and peasants. Karl Marx was correct when he stated that “Religion is the opium of the people.”

A brief history of Unions…

And just how did we go from prosperity to austerity?

This is our Open Thread.  Feel free to Speak Up!  And if you have the time, scroll down the page.  There may be some new, interesting posts.

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, August 10, 2011: Hump Day: Wisconsin Votes to Reaffirm its Committment to Destroying Unions

Not too long ago, Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker, together with a Republican Controlled legislature, took unprecedented steps to destroy public unions in the State. The Unions reacted with massive demonstrations and a recall effort.

Tonight, the good people of Wisconsin voted overwhelmingly to support 4 out of the 6 Republicans targeted for recall, essentially giving a resounding affirmation to the GOP’S efforts to destroy unions across this country.

As of this writing, with all but a couple of precincts reporting, 183,215 Cheeseheads (and I use that term affectionately) voted for the Republican incumbant and 164,542 voted for the Democratic challenger.

So, Wisconsin, enjoy your victory. Kiss unionism good-bye and welcome in a brand new era of Corporate dominance.

This is our open thread. When’s the last time you looked for the Union Label?

Oh My Aching Back

Georgia has put tough immigration laws into effect and as a result, many immigrants, both legal and illegal, are refusing to work in the fields picking crops.  It is estimated that up to 40% of Georgia’s produce will be left to rot in the fields.

The governor of Georgia created a plan to help with the labor shortage.  Probationers are encouraged to work in the fields.  Unfortunately, it is not working out so well for the growers as these new workers quit half way through the day.  Productivity is low and is not sufficient to complete the harvest.

Mendez put the probationers to the test last Wednesday, assigning them to fill one truck and a Latino crew to a second truck. The Latinos picked six truckloads of cucumbers compared to one truckload and four bins for the probationers.

“It’s not going to work,” Mendez said. “No way. If I’m going to depend on the probation people, I’m never going to get the crops up.”

Conditions in the field are bruising, and the probationers didn’t seem to know what to expect. Cucumber plants hug the ground, forcing the workers to bend over, push aside the large leaves and pull them from the vine. Unlike the Mexican and Guatemalan workers, the probationers didn’t wear gloves to protect their hands from the small but prickly thorns on the vines and sandpaper-rough leaves.

Be careful what you wish for.

The Watering Hole: Saturday, February 26, 2011: We are All Cheeseheads!

There are supposed to be Pro-Union rallies across the nation today.

In fact, this is what MainStream Media websites had to say about it on Friday afternoon:

As Madison impasse continues, schools eye layoffs

Tensions flare in Wisconsin after Assembly passes bill on union rights

Obama’s Promised March With Union Workers Fails to Materialize

Wisconsin Assembly Approves Bill Stripping Away Union Rights

Wis. Assembly passes anti-union bill

Wis. Assembly passes bill taking away union rights

Judging by all media sites, there are no rallies planned for today. In fact, other than Fox using this as another opportunity to bash President Obama, the rest of the media seems focused on the Wisconsin Assembly’s middle of the night passage of the anti-union bill.

If you want to find out more about today’s rallies you’ll have to look to a non mainstream source.

Unions made the Middle Class. But with a consistent voter turnout in the 30% range, ‘evangelical christians’ learned they could dominate elections by voting in blocks. Their church has become a powerful political machine, operating in shadows, electing “stealth” candidates, and now, they are coming into their own. Candidates espousing the ‘evangelical christian’ ideology are holding majority positions in State Legislatures across the country.

The Middle Class will pay a price for its complacency: a struggle for its very existence.

This is our daily open thread — as always, your thoughts on this, or any other subject, are welcome.

UPDATE:
The nation-wide protests did make the AP Press:

Protestors across US decry Wis. anti-union efforts

It’s a B*tch Being Poor

We are all still feeling the effects of a slow economy.  Jobs that pay a livable income are hard to come by.  If the unemployed do find work, many times it is temporary, contract work without benefits.

A recent research paper from the Center for Labor Market Studies, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, further analyzed the unemployed by income and race.

The charts with the results can be viewed here

Source: “Labor Underutilization Problems of U.S. Workers Across Household Income Groups at the End of the Great Recession: A Truly Great Depression Among the Nation’s Low Income Workers Amidst Full Employment Among the Most Affluent”, by Andrew Sum, Ishwar Khatiwada, with the Assistance of Sheila Palma, Center for Labor Market Studies,Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts.

The following are some of the key takeaways from the study:

  • The total number of unemployed and underemployed has doubled in the last two years
  • Four year collage graduates, many managers, government employees, professionals are well protected from job losses
  • Blue-collar workers particularly in the construction sector, teenagers and black men have higher unemployment rates
  • From the chart above, we can infer that workers in the top two deciles have unemployment rates of just 4.0% and 3.2%
  • Workers in the lowest decile – those earning $12,499 or less – faced a Great Depression era unemployment rate of about 31% and the second lowest declie had an unemployment rate of about 20%
  • Both unemployment and underemployment rates increase dramatically from high income to low income levels

The study above clearly shows that lower-income Americans are affected greatly by the current recession while people at the top of the pyramid have almost negligible unemployment rates.

Since the majority of the low-income workers are employed in the service sector, they face a further bleak future as consumer spending is still down. The study confirms that the headline rate unemployment rate of 9.7% is vastly misleading since it is much worse than that for low-income workers. Most of the Wall-Street bankers, government employees and other professionals have escaped this recession unscathed while it is not the same case with the rest of the workers.

Republican Senate candidate from Nevada, Sharron Angle, wants people to take any old job and stop collecting unemployment insurance.   Sharron’s views on the unemployed only echoe the Republican ideology of “I got mine so I don’t care about you.”

Joe the non-Plumber Doesn’t know…

Well, well, well… Joe the dumber non-plumber doesn’t know a lot about everything and I doubt that he knows even a little about anything and yet, he continues to shoot off his big mouth. Thank you to MorrillMajority for taking the trip to Harrisburg and interviewing the conservatives’ puppet, Joe Wertzelbacher. I knew that I could count on you :) .

Senator Specter and the EFCA

As a resident of Pennsylvania, I felt it was my duty to contact my Senator, Arlen Specter and request that he support the Employee Free Choice Act. It shocked me, when I received an email response from him the very next day. During the Bush years, Senator Specter would never respond to my emails. All I would get from him was a generic response stating that he just didn’t have time to address all his email. In other words, he would just blow me off. Now, he seemed eager to get back in touch with me. Ha!

Below is the email that I received which is cross posted at Pennsylvania for Change:

Dear Pennsylvania Constituent,
After giving exhaustive consideration to the Employee Free Choice legislation, I have decided to oppose the bill for reasons specified in my Senate floor statement which is contained below or you may read here and watch here.

I remain open to working to correct the imbalance which exists with so many jobs being exported and substantial labor losses in areas like pensions and health care.

In my floor statement, I have also laid out some suggested revisions to the National Labor Relations Act which could provide the basis for correcting the current imbalance.

Sincerely,

Arlen Specter

Here is his complete floor statement which was included in the email…

Senator Specter’s full floor statement, including the appendix, follows:

I have sought recognition to state my position on a bill known as the Employee Free Choice Act, also known as card check. My vote on this bill is very difficult for many reasons. First, on the merits, it is a close call and has been the most heavily lobbied issue I can recall. Second, it is a very emotional issue with Labor looking to this legislation to reverse the steep decline in union membership and business expressing great concern about added costs which would drive more companies out of business or overseas. Perhaps, most of all, it is very hard to disappoint many friends who have supported me over the years, on either side, who are urging me to vote their way.

In voting for cloture – that, is to cut off debate – in June 2007, I emphasized in my floor statement and in a law review article that I was not supporting the bill on the merits, but only to take up the issue of labor law reform. Hearings had shown that the NLRB was dysfunctional and badly politicized. When Republicans controlled the Board, the decisions were for business. With Democrats in control, the decisions were for labor. Some cases took as long as eleven years to decide. The remedies were ineffective.

Regrettably, there has been widespread intimidation on both sides. Testimony shows union officials visit workers’ homes with strong-arm tactics and refuse to leave until cards are signed. Similarly, employees have complained about being captives in employers’ meetings with threats of being fired and other strong-arm tactics. Continue reading