Putting the Axe to Workers Rights

The Wisconsin governor’s proposal  is simply an out and out attempt at destroying public unions.  By taking away collective bargaining and by making it almost impossible to organize and collect dues, the governor is removing a basic human right:  the right to organize and bargain.

Now, I  am certainly aware of the the flaws in unions:  corruption, living in the past, backwardness, seniority over merit, and general ineffectiveness.  The inflexible opposition of unions to workers contributing more to health care and pensions is a serious problem.

At the same time, unions are responsible for worker rights, lunch breaks, the 8-hour day, 40-hour work weeks, overtime, vacations, the weekend, child labor laws, the retirement system, and so much more.  In general, people are unaware that the lives they lead are possible because people died and suffered violence on picket lines.  No matter how flawed our unions are, they serve as a check against an inherently unbalanced relationship between management and workers.  It’s not ultimately the fault of management that absence of unions has led to abuse–it’s simply the human condition.  Without unions (or some kind of collective bargaining forces), workers (both union and non-union) will find themselves going backwards, increasingly losing their time off and unable to live middle-class lives.  And management will find itself saddled with unhappy and unproductive workers, as they shuffle paper on the deck of the Titanic.

I don’t know what to advocate here in terms of union tactics, but I can say that the time is coming when what the Egyptians had to do in a non-violent protest against a cruel dictatorship, we will have to do to preserve our basic human rights in the workplace.  The governor of Wisconsin is betting on public dislike of unions, as he and his corporate, billionaire backers use one segment of the populace to beat down the other.  In the ensuing division, both groups will go down the tubes while the extreme rich grow even richer–unless people stand up for their rights.  They will to have risk their jobs and well-being to make sure that they preserve a reasonable standard of living, which is the foundation on which our democratic republic stands.

This country is not supposed to be a tyrannical plutocracy, where billionaires secretly run the rest of us poor slobs by convincing some of us that we can be rich just like them.  That’s nothing more than a con.  Of course, wealth can be a worthy goal, but it should not be the primary value of a humane society, nor will it lead to a nation’s economic prosperity.  That only occurs when everybody works together, when we each have a voice in the governance of our society, and when we each have realistic access to educational and vocational opportunity.


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/12/us/12unions.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha23 (via Nelson French)

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DR. LAURENCE H. KANT (LARRY KANT), MYSTIC SCHOLAR: Engaged Mysticism and Scholarship in the Pursuit of Wisdom; Discovering meaning in every issue and facet of life; Integrating scholarship, spirituality, mysticism, poetry, community, economics, and politics seamlessly. Historian of Religion: Ph.D., Yale University, 1993 (Department of Religious Studies); Exchange Scholar, Harvard University, Rabbinics, 1983-84; M.A., 1982, Yale, 1982 (Department of Religious Studies); M.T.S., Harvard Divinity School, 1981; B.A., Classics (Greek and Latin), Tufts University, 1978; Wayland High School (Wayland, MA), 1974. Served on the faculty of Cornell University (Ithaca, NY), York University (Toronto), and Lexington Theological Seminary (Lexington, KY). Works in many languages: Ancient Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, English, French, Italian, German, Modern Greek (some Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish). Holder of numerous honors and awards, including The Rome Prize in Classics (Prix de Rome) and Fellow of the American Academy of Rome.

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