A Hard Year for Working Families: A Labor Day Message.

by Glenn Littrell: AUGUST 2011 Indy Info

Since last Labor Day the countries pre-midterm election obsession with a down economy, massive unemployment and anti-tax rhetoric has shifted to a pro-corporation, anti-worker and social re-engineering attack on middle-class America. By middle class I mean people who have to work for a living not those trust fund babies who are well enough off to set-back and let their money work for them. or those that can set on their ‘capitol’ while holding the economy captive under the guise of ‘tax-increase’ uncertainty, or the ones who claim ‘small business’ status even though they employ few but rake in millions.
By middle class I mean working class:

  • people who take home a paycheck and pay income taxes, people who paid into Medicare, Social Security, and unemployment insurance with an expectation that those safety nets would  be there when they needed them. Safety nets, not investments.
  • people who work hard and too often live paycheck to paycheck, medical bill to medical bill or social security check to social security check.
  • the people who are truly small business because the word small means small. Businesses that start from scratch and are building towards success, not businesses who hide behind their ‘small business’ label to reap low interest government loans, grants and incentives. Not businesses with million dollar revenue streams and paid lobbyist and unlimited campaign donation funds.
Last years election saw a groundswell of newly elected state and federal ‘Tea Party’ candidates winning elections on the basis of jobs, economy and taxes. They avoided and disowned any concern for social issues.  Yet since taking office they have provided no jobs program [as of July 24th, 200 days with no jobs bill under House GOP Majority's “So Be It” agenda, the “Where are the jobs’ mantra of the republican party candidates in October became the “So be it"  agenda in Feb when advocated Federal Job cuts]. With no jobs program, a one-sided approach to deficit reduction that hurts the working family and a new found obsession with social issues we have seen plenty of attacks on senior citizens, women, education, unions and civil liberties from state and national bodies. The only election issues that have survived have been the ones many of us feared and the rest of us didn’t realize were there. While giving tax breaks to corporations at the state level we saw budget woes being used to attack teachers, public servants and local governments. Who knew that changing the legal definition of a rape victim from ‘victim’ to ‘accuser’ was so important?HuckKonopacki_March2011_thumb[8]
The attack on state workers has manifested itself in the form of stripping collective bargaining rights, removing job protection, benefits and seniority. But these attacks are not just occurring at the state level. You and I as postal workers are are facing the same dilemma:
  • Even before we ratified our new contract newly elected Republican congressman summoned Postmaster General Donahoe and APWU President Guffey to committees meetings to attack the new contract.
  • Numerous critical statements, many exaggerated, misstated or outright untrue have been made by Republicans and right-wing media. These statements mirror and bolster the same claims made against state and federal workers.

Right To Work Laws.jesse
The irony of all this is that most postal workers have ignored the alarm sounded by their union for years. These attacks on state workers did not precede the attacks on postal workers but actually grew out of the pro-privatization, pro-corporate, anti-postal workers movement of the last 30 years. A prime example is the miss-named “Right to Work” legislation that has flooded state legislatures across the country. What this legislation does is remove the requirement that employees pay union dues when represented by a union. On the face of it you might think that its only fair that if someone doesn’t want to join the union they shouldn’t have to. If it was just about joining or not joining then it might be that simple, but there is always more.
By not joining does that mean they don’t ‘join’ the dues paying members in the benefits that have been won by the union? Does that mean that they don’t get union representation when their job is threatened by rogue management? Does that mean they don’t get the benefits of new contracts when the union has spent much time, effort and money negotiating them? Does that mean they don’t get the same benefits, retirement, medical, COLA, vacation, sick leave, overtime and breaks that the dues paying member gets? The answer to all these questions is NO! Under right to work laws they still get everything the dues paying member gets except they get it for FREE. So you see its not just as simple as join and pay or don’t join and don’t pay because their is the issue of paying for what you get. If a non dues paying employee reaps the benefits paid for by dues paying members then what results is two things:

  1. A class of self-entitled freeloaders,
  2. and Union that over times is destroyed by a continued drain of its resources by that self-entitled class of freeloaders.


 APWU members at the Indiana State Capitol protest.

Indiana Postal Workers at the State House Protest

If you don’t think that these state level right to work laws and the other attacks on state workers affect you then consider this:
The right to work laws have been in place and hindering the unions that represent postal workers for years. That’s right, the post office operates under the right to work ‘illogic.’ The right to work rules weaken postal workers by creating the class of entitled freeloaders that drain our financial resources, tax our ability to adequately represent dues paying members by requiring unions to also defend the entitled non-member and undercut morale by letting these freeloaders not just to enjoy the befits paid for by their co-workers but also to undercut their co-workers with their anti-union bull****.
The attack on  other federal workers and state workers are related to the attacks on us. The states are a battleground for testing anti worker rhetoric and tactics as well as building a so called ‘grassroots’ constituency [Google the word
Astroturfing] against public employees, meaning you and me. This is why earlier this year members of Indianapolis Area Local #130 and other Postal workers from around the state marched in support of state workers and democratic legislators who boycotted the state legislature. This is why you should look at this coming Labor Day as the moment that you start taking notice of the forces that work for you and recognize those that are working against the working family. Get involved in you local. Attend the Labor Day Parade. Develop an interest in Labor issues that affect your financial well being.
In closing I have a rhetorical question for you. Its rhetorical in the sense that the correct answer is that both are important and the total abdication of one in favor of the other is not desirable, but for the sake of defining your position which is the more important statement to you:

  1. What’s best for business [corporate America and Wall Street] is best for America.
  2. or… What’s best for the working family is best for America.

Think about it,

Glenn Littrell, Editor

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