Of Unions, Companies, Strikes, and Broken Promises: The Politics of Labor



   Of Unions, Companies, Strikes, and Broken Promises



August 19, 2011
I am a bit under the weather today, but better than I have been in the past week or so. It all started out with a simple ear infection... something that I have not had in over thirty three years. As a matter of fact, the last time I had an ear infection is when I re-joined the Bell System after a 3 year hiatus, having been laid off from Western Electric in 1975. Soon after re-joining the Communications Workers of America, my service was bridged, and I had health insurance right away.. a good thing, since I soon came down with an ear infection and was out of work for a week. I was never one for taking time off for illness, but this was one of the exceptions.
  Flash forward thirty three years, and there I was with an ear infection being paid for by the same health insurance plan. I am retired now, and over the years, CWA took less in wage compensation so that we would be assured coverage for our illnesses. I never feared being ill....... until now! My Union Brothers and Sisters are out on the picket lines, fighting to keep the benefits that we fought so hard for over the years. The Company, now called ‘Verizon’, says that it can no longer be competitive if it pays for health insurance for it’s employees and retirees. It says that the union rank and file must now pay into the plan. They no longer want to pay for a retirement plan, although the way it was structured, it never cost the company a cent in real cash... in paid out from interest that was earned from the original retirement account when it was first established. They want the Union to give back three holidays, Veteran’s Day and Martin Luther King Day. The company spokesman said that they are not “Real Holidays” anyway. Tell that to those of us who put our lives on the line in defense of this great nation, and did not just guard Alabama, or seek deferment after deferment to escape service. Tell that to those who were beaten, and to those who gave their lives in the struggle for equality. Indeed.. tell that to Dr. King himself. The third Holiday that the Company want’s the Union to give up is: Labor Day! This is obviously so that they can say that the Labor Movement is dead in America.  
 This struggle that my Brothers and Sisters are in is very real. It is a matter of life and death. Those of us that are retired, hear the sharpening of the axe in Washington. Soon, they will be coming for us. They want to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. They call them ‘Entitlements’. Pardon my plain English, but Entitlements sound too much like ‘Welfare’, and that is just bullshit! There are people like myself that have paid into the Social Security fund since we were 14 and 15 years old. We have paid into Medicare since President Johnson forced it through to ensure that seniors had some kind of healthcare. These budget trimming congressman on the right are getting ready to sentence a great many of our seniors to death. If I lose both Verizon’s healthcare and Medicare, I will be one of them. 
 I have read across the internet, on facebook  and other social media outlets, how each defeat for a Union is a gain for citizens. How sad that these people who speak in this way have no concept on the underlying disdain that corporate America really has for the worker. You don’t believe me? You need look no further than the coal miners in this country to see greed and lack of care at work. It could be worse. The Unions have fought for every hard won concession, pay raise, and safety regulation that the industry has. And yet, the Unions are blamed for everything that has gone wrong in America’s economy. No blame for NAFTA. No blame for shipping jobs overseas to factories where they employee children. Just the Unions are the bad guys. “But look at all of the union people who malinger and do nothing all day long”... Oh, really? Maybe, Mr. Conservative Rush Limbaugh Listening Company Man, you can then explain to me how you are posting on Facebook all day long, when you should be working (I’m retired.. on the job injury performing MY job), and listening to Rush and Sean and all the other megalomaniacs that permeate the airwaves all day long? Who’s doing YOUR work.. wise ass? 
 It all comes down to this: You can sit and defend the cuts, and defend the companies that make even deeper cuts, until it comes down to the time when it effects YOU! Then, who will you blame? Labor Unions? Democrats? Come and see the Old Marine and Labor Union Activist then, and... just maybe... we can have a sensible conversation. Just remember this: If it was not for organized labor, you would not have the benefits that you have. 
 Me? I am happy with what I have done to fight for the rights of workers. I’m just saying..... 

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