Labor Day Reflection 2011

This past year has been a rollercoaster for organized labor across the globe, and my little corner of it in Connecticut has not been spared.  I saw some disturbing, if not shocking, events unfold as the rollecoaster ride went along.  Make no mistake, this most recent ride is just a uptick, since these things happen all year, every year, but usually with less frequency.  Here is a small selection of rants regarding the most bizarre of the bizarre:

Anti-Union Union Leadership: We have seen a variety of people run for elected union office, and win, despite being openly anti-union and anti-organized labor.  They continually fail to recognize the most basic structures and ground rules, but have sown seeds of dissatisfaction among enough people to carry the day in a voting process.  The recent backlash against SEBAC is a great example because SEBAC did nothing more than what it was mandated to do by the Connecticut General Assembly, but somehow there is traction to the idea that SEBAC is supposed to be a membership organization, which it is not.  These same pathetic dopes are now trying to sell their fellow union members on a plot to be represented by a new union, with no experience in collective bargaining, no political presence in CT, and bylaws that look like Pol Pot wrote them, and all because SEBAC did what it has done for 17 years, and followed their charter…

“Race To The Bottom” – you know that you have social power when you can make people vote against their own self interests.  The Republican(t) party has done a great job convincing non-union workers, and even union-workers, that union jobs should pay less because private sector jobs (supposedly) pay less.  They are not asking for better pay and working conditions at their own jobs.  They are asking that others get less so they feel better about not keeping up with inflation.  While they are being led in this race to the bottom, the same characters are raising the standard of living of the mega rich by making sure that corporations have the freedom to send work offshore, pay less here in the US, provide less benefits here in the US, raid pensions here in the US… and so on.  The game is so brazenly transparent that it is shocking that it works, but it does work.  Nobody calls in to convicted felon John Rowland’s radio show to ask what they can do to raise their own standard of living… ever.  If they did they would be hung up on.  No.  They call to complain about how they heard that someone in a State job retired with a living pension… Not once mentioning that the radio host has two such pensions, concurrently.

And last, just for balance, Blind Pro-Union Sentiment: I have been consistent that I do not believe that organized labor is right for every sector of the workforce.  In public service it serves to protect the employed from the rapidly shifting political whims of the political arm of the State.  That is a fact.  Having a defensible contract provides stability to public services during times like the ones we are in now.  Times when political expediency would carry the day, and services and jobs would be slashed.  Instead of seeing every job as a potential organizing target, I think we would be better off focusing on the investment made by the public in the services provided with their tax dollars, and the costs involved in throwing that investment away.

So that, is just a stream of consciousness ramble through a few points of personal interest.  I wish that the people in State service that complain about  the cost of government services while drawing a government paycheck would admit that their position is not defensible.  Maybe they could help their cause and find a job in the private sector.  That would be fair.  Frustrated by the parliamentary system and the statutes of the government that employs you?  Take a real stand and find a job that doesn’t rely on those structures.  And if you are not in a union and are not making enough money, seeing regular raises, accessing affordable health care, or watching your pension drained by a heartless corporation… stop bitching about unions and do something about YOUR situation.

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