Common Dreams has republished an article by Richard Seymour of the Guardian that looks at the broad implications of a teacher’s strike in Chicago. The issue is not simply salary as some critics try to claim. Chicago teachers know that the Mayor and other officials are defunding public schools while they transfer money to unproven charter schools. Seymour looks beyond this point to say that a successful campaign by Chicago teachers could revitalize American labor.
I want to be hopeful about Seymour’s analysis, but I can’t. Americans have been fed anti-union lies for three decades, and they often repeat them without thinking. It must be true, they think. Even if Chicago’s teachers are successful, which I hope they are, the larger union movement in America will not rise up anytime soon. Wisconsin proved that.
Too many Americans have bought the libertarian lies. Even as salaries and the safety net get weaker and weaker, lovers of “freedom” condemn any kind of public action, whether it is government or labor. They want individual liberty. And, as Mencken said of democracy, they will get it, “good and hard.”
Spain’s two biggest unions have called for a general strike this Thursday to protest deep cuts the government is making, big cuts ($40 billion) that will hit working people and the poor hardest. According to Katherine Ainger of the Guardian (via Common Dreams), 30% of working people will be joined on the strike by an “invisible” group of the unemployed, many of whom are younger than 30.
What’s happening in Spain and other European countries should be a wake up to citizens in the U.S. Austerity only benefits bankers and the investment class. The same people who devised schemes to put working people and the middle class deep into debt are now coming after the government’s money, which is our tax money. Rather than taxes going to fund schools and health care, it will be a brighter day for the fat and happy 1%.
Working people need to wake up and stand up. Hopefully, Spain will set a good example this Thursday.
Common Dreams has reposted an article from the English Guardian that looks at CEO pay rates in theU.S. While pay for common workers and the middle class has declined or stayed flat, CEOs are enjoying boom times. One executive cited in the article, John Hammergren of McKesson, “earned” an incredible $145 million last year. To put that in perspective, many sports fans are outraged that Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols make $25-$27 million a year. Clearly, Mr. Hammergren must have a special skill. Can he hit a slider?
The article outlines other stories of the big winners in the Great Recession. It’s worth your time to learn more about this topic.
Writing in Common Dreams, Michelle Chen explores how tech workers are mistreated in China. Several workers have committed suicide. Meanwhile, the large multinational tech companies (Dell, Apple, etc.) that benefit from these low wage conditions claim to be increasing wages and cutting mandatory overtime. However, according to Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour, a Hong Kong based group, workers still average 174 hours per month along with 80-100 hours of overtime (63-68 hours per week). The Guardian reports that workers are being required to sign “anti-suicide” pledges in which they promise to “treasure their lives.”
These stories remind us why unions and workplace safety rules still play a major role in preventing such conditions in the U.S. and other industrial countries. When you hear attacks on workers, ask those making the attack if they want to be like China, a place where workers are driven to suicide.
Common Dreams has posted an article from the Guardian that examines the worldwide impact of unemployment. Unlike the U.S., workers in other countries take to the streets to express their unhappiness. The article cites experts who say that stimulus programs in Europe were cut too soon, which led to increased job loss. That could be a problem soon in this country. I don’t advocate violence, but it is a good thing when people voice their opinion as a group. Tomorrow there will be a One Nation March in Washington, D.C. Hopefully, this will be the start of an American movement to let our leaders know what working people are thinking – and feeling.