Saturday :: Jul 15, 2006

Look For Disunion Rabble


by pessimist

One of the best ways to neutralize a law without rousing opposition is to do as the Bu$hCo Department of Labor has already done - change how certain legal categories are to be defined, thus changing who is covered by the law - and who isn't.

Such is again the case with the Labor Department, which is now in the process of redefining whose job status involves 'supervisory' duties - a nice legal distinction which immediately denies said employees collective bargaining rights.

“The right to collective bargaining is an internationally recognized, fundamental human right which George Bush and this labor board have systematically been trying to destroy,” said Stewart Acuff, national organizing director of the AFL-CIO.

They have been succeeding, thanks to the lame and lazy Democrats. Do they not see that their traditional constituency is under grievous assault? Do they even care?

Considering how friendly the Democrats have become to Bu$hCo, pretty much bending over backwards until their foreheads butt their butts, one has a legitimate cause to ask the question - especially as there hasn't been one Democratic Congressional voice raised to ask why Bu$hCo's Labor Department has not held one single public hearing for arguments.

The AFL-CIO held 18 rallies across the nation demanding that the NLRB hold such hearings, but their effort was dismissed with casual disdain by Joe Antiles, an NLRB officer, who said "the board is a neutral party and will consider the request."

Male. Bovine. Excrement.
Eric Schechter, professor of math at Vanderbilt University and a social activist, attended Wednesday’s rally and said he feels the labor/management balance is out of whack.
“I believe that this is another move among many
to decrease the power among unions
and increase the power of big amoral corporations
who’ve been destroying the country and the world
for quite a while now.”

Back in the days when unions had power, there would be a strike to pressure employers to meet demands. That is no longer an option open to organized labor:

Jerry Lee, president of the state’s AFL-CIO chapter, said labor groups will continue the grassroots push to be heard, but no threats of striking have been made. “There’s really no recourse. We’ve learned a long time ago that withholding our labor is not the best route to take, especially in the climate that prevails today politically,” Lee said.
“[A company] could hire striker replacements and fire the striking worker.”

In an age when middle-class wages are under assault whether or not the employee is organized into a union, the loss of middle-class income carries some significant consequences, as I pointed out yesterday. Among the few job categories in America that are retaining their wages are nurses, and this particular effort of Bu$hCo seems to be aimed at them - but not exclusively:

The revised policy could also affect mineworkers, computers systems analysts and cooks, union officials say.

Nearly 850,000 of the 2.5 million nurses in the United States could be denied collective bargaining rights if the definition of “supervisor” is based on independent judgment and workplace autonomy.

This is how one such nurse sees how she could suffer the effects of the Bu$hco definition change:

Linda Jernigan, a registered nurse at Nashville’s VA Medical Center, said she could lose her bargaining power for wages and benefits. Jernigan is also concerned about having no say regarding adequate working conditions and reasonable shift lengths.
“Without the collective voice, we have no power to stop [administrators],”
she said. “They could do pretty much what they want to do.”

That is exactly the point. Under ISO rules, especially ISO 9000 - a management standard that I have been researching lately - employees are to be led by the nose by the employer and are to be 'led' to the position that they are to support EVERYTHING the employer says and does, because that is the only right thing to do to benefit the employing entity.

Sounds a little too close to the way Bu$hco mis-governs America, doesn't it?

But I digress. That is a topic for another post.

Another aspect of ISO 9000 is that the company's sole philosophy is to ensure that EVERY need of their customer is met. And who is the customer of the Labor Department?

Elaine Chao, in fact, is probably the most anti-labor secretary of labor ever.

Although the law defines her job as furthering the interests of "the wage earners of the United States," she spends her time furthering the interests of employers. You'd think she was secretary of commerce.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce certainly is quite pleased with her. Chamber Vice President Randel Johnson praises Chao for supporting "the limited role of government" and "free-market principles".

Despite her position, Chao rarely has any contact with labor representatives, but plenty of contact with anti-labor business people. She's done nothing to try to combat the pitifully lax enforcement and open employer violation of the federal laws that are supposed to guarantee union rights to workers, but has put in place regulations making it even easier for employers to circumvent the laws -- and drawn plaudits from them for doing so.

Chao has recently been spending much of her time speaking before conservative groups on behalf of Bush's decidedly worker-unfriendly proposals for revamping the Social Security system. And she has warned unions not to use their pension funds to oppose Bush's proposal or to hire or fire service providers mainly on the basis of their position on the proposal.

Unfortunately there's more. Much more. Chao opposes any increase in the pitifully inadequate federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour. She opposes affirmative action. She argued that the 170,000 members of the Homeland Security Department should be denied union rights "so we can better protect Americans."

She supported canceling the Labor Department regulations -- 10 years in the making -- that were designed to protect workers from the repetitive motion injuries that hurt and cripple more than two million of them annually and withdrew more than 20 other proposed safety regulations. She slashed the budget for enforcement of the remaining regulations and virtually all other department functions aimed at helping workers.

One of these benefits under assault is the Family Leave Act, under which Mrs P was able to see to the recent final days of her mother and not suffer the loss of her job as a result.

Chao meanwhile is attempting to impose financial disclosure regulations on unions that would require them to spend thousands of hours and millions of dollars to track and report their expenditures in great, unprecedented and clearly unnecessary detail.

As a former local official, I can attest that our treasurer spent a great deal of time dealing with these reporting requirements. We weren't an actively political local (too many of the members are Bu$hco Republicans), but it would have cut down on the amount of time we could have spent financially supporting any action we might have considered.

Those are the regulations first suggested in 1992 by former Republican leader Newt Gingrich as a way to "weaken our opponents and encourage our allies."
We should be outraged, but hardly surprised,
that President Bush's secretary of labor
is as anti-labor as her boss.

Here is evidence supporting the charge of King George's opposition to the rights of the working class:

George Bush, in fact, is unquestionably the most anti-labor President in modern history. His administration¹s refusal to adequately enforce the National Labor Relations Act, which was designed to further unionization, has been a major factor in creating the widespread anti-unionism that¹s reduced union ranks to only about 12 percent of U.S. workers. Bush¹s trade policies also have done great harm, shifting work performed in this country by unionized workers to unorganized, poorly- treated workers abroad.

So what? Aren't company profits being reported as higher than they have been in years? This would be a good thing if labor were getting it's fair share. But as pointed out above, the middle-class wages are falling, which really does imperil George's so-called booming economy. When the economy is so strongly driven by consumer spending, how much longer can consumers buy things when their earning and purchasing power keep falling?

There was a reason why this situation could have evolved in the first place:

Organized labor was the key instrument in the rise of a middle class, and as labor¹s share of the workforce has diminished over the past half-century, so has the relative size of the middle class. Strengthening unions will inevitably lead to an expanded middle class, to a better life for millions of Americans, whether they be union members or not.

But that doesn't matter much, as Bu$hCo marches to the tune being played by ISO. Appearances of action count far more than the results achieved, and who really gives a damn about those who have to actually work and sacrifice to realize the illusion of prosperity for the elites?

Definitely not either major political party, especially as evidenced by the active opposition of one party combined with the lack of defensive action on the part of the other.

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