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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Labor Pains

Over the predictable objections of the Bushies, and the less predictable objections of my own senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the Senate Homeland Security committee voted to give airport screeners the union and whistle blower protection rights already enjoyed by other federal employees. The administration apparently feels that by having basic union protections, airport screeners would interfere with the ability of TSA to respond to terror attacks. That, of course is an insult to both the screeners and their supervisors. There are millions of unionized workers, including nurses and firefighters, whose jobs require them to be available and flexible in times of crisis. Unionization does not strip them of that responsibility, but it DOES ensure a fair and orderly process during that crisis time. To assert that collective bargaining rights would empower the employees to blatantly disregard real security threats is absurd but typical of the anti-labor bent of this White House.

In a similar vein, The Employee Free Choice Act is a bill pending before Congress that would take steps to reestablish employees' rights to unionize their workplaces. Labor issues are an issue near and dear to my heart-as a current member of the MSEA, and union steward in a former position, I have seen firsthand how true the motto "United We Bargain-Divided We Beg" is. But this administration, with corporate cocks in hand, have made it their own personal mission to deny worker rights and consolidate the money and power in the hands of their management cronies. It is estimated that every 23 minutes a worker is fired or harassed as a result of union activity; there are also estimates that over 90% of employers have forced employees to listen to anti-union diatribes. I can attest to the former by direct personal experience. A year or so ago, at the large multinational corporation where my middle-management suck up ex works (I won't say the name of the company but just think Ted Turner), a union movement was underway and the brass was in full panic mode. My ex would detail to me the utterly unbelievable brainwashing tactics the heavily resourced company was pulling on the workers, primarily fear mongering horror stories of how much worse off the unionized workers of the same company at different locations were (never mind, of course, that actual data proves that to be a fallacy nearly all the time). And my idiot ass-kissing company stooge ex was proud of his company's efforts to drive the organizers out! There was a lot of screaming matches over that one. It's no wonder we parted ways.

Even though the bill has strong bipartisan support , the Chimp in Chief has promised to veto it (He says it's because he wants to "defend their [workers] right to vote yes or no by secret ballot and their right to fair bargaining" which is complete horseshit. I will never understand this president's support among white working men. Never!) It is unlikely the Senate will garner the 2/3 majority needed to override the veto (how fitting that this president has seen fit to veto only two bills in six years-stem cell research and union organizing protections, both of which were designed to benefit some of the most vulnerable members of our society). But although the Corporate Culture of Cronyism that exists in this administration has won this battle, there is good reason to believe that this bill, or a version of it, will live to fight another day when hopefully a more amenable and receptive administration takes hold in 2009.


El Jefe said...

Ever heard of Milton Friedman?

Mainecatwoman said...

Yes, of course. Working class Americans everywhere celebrated his death recently...