Labor Protests Yuengling

Don’t buy or drink Yuengling beer.  Dick Yuengling threw the Teamsters out of his Pottsville brewery and now is pushing for a right to work for less bill in Harrisburg.  Organized labor responded today with a large rally in Pottsville.  They marched to the courthouse and remembered the ten Molly Maguires who were convicted and hung for standing up for their rights in 1870.  Six of them were hung at the jail behind the courthouse:

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I cringe every time I see union members and progressives drinking Yuengling.  I even see it at Democratic Party and campaign events.  How do you condone supporting a union buster?  Today several hundred union members marched and rallied with signs saying “Stop Dick.”  I’m just happy I wasn’t at an anti gay pride rally!  Yuengling is a dick though and a lot of those present this morning were Teamsters, the union he disbanded.  Yuengling threatened that if the union didn’t leave he would move his brewery to Mexico.  Have you drunk Mexican beer?  It looks and tastes like piss, that’s why you have to put limes in it.  If he did that he’d have to abandon his slogan “America’s Oldest Brewery.”  His new slogan should be “America’s Biggest Union Buster.”

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Labor Must Counter Balance Corporate Power

On this Labor Day organized labor is more threatened than at any time in my life.  Blamed for our economic ills stupid people forget it was Wall Street and Organized Capital that collapsed the economy driven by greed and short minded selfishness.  Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectionism makes everyone out only for themselves.  Organized Labor, by its very nature, rejects that credo by bringing the power of thousands of individuals together to forge progress for all.

Today we celebrate those victories, reflect on the past and warn everyone of the future.  The War on Workers began in Wisconsin and spread across many states where conservatives gained control of government.  Right to Work laws which really mean the right to work for less threaten everyone’s wages.  Wages are at their lowest levels since 1947 because organized labor is at its lowest level in decades.  Power exists with corporations because they’ve taken it from workers through legislation.  When you vote Republican you vote against your own financial interests.  You vote to reduce your income and gut your retirement.  If gay marriage, abortion and endless wars mean more to you than your own survival you get what you deserve.

Workers fought and died for the right to organize.  From our own Molly Maguires to the massacres at factories a hundred years ago Robber Barons have sought to limit the power of the people to organize.  They are doing it again and Romney/Ryan will continue these attacks.  Wisconsin became the storm center of the anti-worker movement and they want to spread their poison all over the nation.  Labor finally took a stand this week and refused to attend the Democratic National Convention when spineless Party leaders chose to host the event in right to work for less state North Carolina.

Unions brought us the weekend, eight hour work days, sick days, vacations, retirement pensions, health care benefits, the minimum wage, overtime, safe workplaces, child labor laws, unemployment compensation and created a middle class.  Which part of that don’t you like and appreciate when you bash unions?  No it wasn’t easy and sometimes force was used to forge progress just as force was used to thwart these gains.  Corporations employ many more thugs to bust unions, kill workers and threaten families than any union has to protect them.

There is no capital without labor.  It is the product of labor and we must remember that for an accumulation of capital someone labored to make it.  As Abraham Lincoln said “Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”  Progressive Republican Teddy Roosevelt reminded us that organization is the key:  “It is essential that there should be organization of labor. This is an era of organization. Capital organizes and therefore labor must organize.”

If corporations can engage in capitalism then so can workers and that s the essence of organized labor:  the power gained by capitalizing on the collective efforts of all to counter balance the tyranny of Capital.  John Locke said “All wealth is the product of labor.”  If we allow unions to be decimated we all suffer.  Newt Gingrich and others on the presidential campaign trial even called for the abolition of child labor laws this year.  They’re coming for your health care and all the rest of the gains of the Twentieth Century will fall thereafter if we’re not careful.

You’re responsible for your own vote, make it count for something positive.

President Obama: MIA in Labor’s Struggle

by Walter Brasch

           As expected, Michael Moore, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka were in Madison, Wisc., to support and rally the workers in their fight against the union-busting governor and Republican-dominated state legislature.

           But, so were union members Bradley Whitfield, Susan Sarandon, Tony Shaloub, and dozens of musicians and singers, including Peter Yarrow who, as part of Peter, Paul, and Mary, was at almost every major social protest for more than 40 years.

           “This is not merely a protest on the steps of the Capitol here in Madison,” said Shalhoub, “this is the birth of . . . a nationwide movement destined to restore the rights of workers, to safeguard quality education for our children and to reassemble and reconstitute the fragmented and wounded middle class.” Shalhoub, who won three Emmys, was born in Green Bay; his sister is a Wisconsin teacher.

           “Workers,” Sarandon told a crowd of almost 100,000, “had to organize, go on strike, defy the law, defy the courts to create a movement which won the eight-hour workday and caused such a commotion that Congress was forced to pass a minimum wage law, Social Security, unemployment insurance and the right to assemble in collective bargaining.”

           Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) told thousands of cheering protestors they had to “reclaim the essence of economic justice before it is lost on the corporate scaffold.” Former senator Russ Feingold, the only senator brave enough to oppose the PATRIOT Act when it was created, said the actions of the governor and legislature were “an outrageous assault on working people.”

           The people, the workers, were there when newly-elected Gov. Scott Walker first announced, Feb. 11, he was going to demand hard concessions from the public sector unions. They were there when he lied about the budget and his intentions. They were there when the truth came out that at the same time Walker and his Republican cabal were taking away worker rights and demanding more wage and pension sacrifices, they were also assuring significant tax rebates and making innumerable promises to Big Business. They were there when a Wisconsin Policy Research Institute poll revealed that in less than a month Walker’s approval rate had plunged to only 43 percent. And they were there after he signed a bill, March 13, deviously manipulated through the Senate in the middle of the night, to strip collective bargaining rights of public employees.

           But, while the masses protested the shredding of their rights, not at any rally anywhere in Wisconsin were several people who should have been there. Senate minority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.),  House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (R-Calif.), Vice-President Joe Biden, and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis have been conspicuously absent. So are almost all major national Democratic political leaders, obviously afraid to publicly support their largest constituency, the American working class.

           One person, more than any other, needed to be there, if only to prove that campaign rhetoric and one’s promises mean something after the election.

           During the 2008 presidential campaign, Sen. Barack Obama told energized and reinvigorated crowds, both small and large, “If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself [and] I’ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States of America because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner.”

           As president, Obama may be wearing comfortable shoes, but he hasn’t gone to Wisconsin to stand by the workers, nor has he ever walked a picket line at least in the past two years. His only public comments, and even then weak ones, were to call the actions in Wisconsin an “assault upon the workers,” and several days later to add,  “I don’t think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified, or their rights are infringed upon.” It was a statement that could have been said by any Democratic president-and most Republican ones as well.

           There are dozens of reasons and excuses why President Obama is not in Wisconsin. The one that seems to be most probable is that going into a re-election campaign he doesn’t want to alienate any of his constituencies. It’s doubtful, however, that anyone on the extreme right wing will vote for him, no matter what he does or doesn’t do. It’s also probable that the core of the Democratic party-the unions and workers, the youth, the alienated and disenfranchised, and those who believe in social justice, who awakened in 2008 to give him a mandate for change-may give him only lukewarm approval or, worse, be silent in 2012. They have every reason to believe they had been betrayed.

           Good presidents do what is best for the country. Great presidents, however, do not only what is best for the people, but are also willing to speak to the courage of their beliefs, of their principles, even if it may be unpopular among many of their constituencies. They don’t put their “finger in the air” to judge what’s popular. Republican Theodore Roosevelt, and Democrats Franklin Delano Roosevelt and “Give ’em Hell, Harry” Truman were among the great presidents. If Barack Obama doesn’t soon speak out on behalf of the working class, he may find his legacy mired in the struggle to become even a good president.

           [Walter Brasch is an award-winning columnist, and the author of 16 books. You may contact him at walterbrasch@gmail.com]