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.

AFL-CIO: 1.6M Without Photo ID

A day after Carol Aichele maintained the number of Pennsylvanians without photo ID is “about 85,000” an AFL-CIO study it is more like 1.6 million including 43% of Philadelphians.  First the Department of State and Gov. Corbett maintained only about 1% of the state didn’t possess the required ID for voting.  Then the number grew to 758,000.  Then yesterday Aichele told the press that figure was vastly overestimated.  Even the Pennsylvania Dept. of State can’t say for sure what it is so who really knows?

Here’s the bottom line:  if but one eligible, qualified voter is turned away on November 6th this is election fraud.  One vote can decide a local election.  Every vote counts and every voter has a fundamental right to vote.  It matters none that you need an ID to cash a check or, as Aichele said (I plan on checking this) to send a package via UPS.  The difference:  voting is a fundamental, constitutional right.  No one has a constitutional right to use UPS.  A bank is a business and not covered by the Bill of Rights.  The BoR was directed at government and restricts THEIR actions, it has nothing to do with businesses or private individuals.

If we lose our right to vote we lose all of our other freedoms and rights.  Where are the Tea Party hypocrites waving their constitutions?  Why weren’t they there yesterday crying for our lost rights?

From the AFL-CIO:

The number of Pennsylvanians who might not have the photo identification necessary to vote this November has more than doubled: at least 1,636,168 registered voters, or 20 percent of Pennsylvania voters, may not have valid PennDOT-issued ID, according to new data obtained by City Paper. In Philadelphia, an enormous 437,237 people, or 43 percent of city voters, may not possess the valid PennDOT ID necessary to vote under the state’s controversial new law.

The number of voters who will lack proper ID is indeed indeed impossible to determine: Some voters without PennDOT may be inactive, or have a valid form of federal or student identification, while others without proper ID may not have yet registered to vote.

“The database was never meant to say this is how many people don’t have IDs,” says Winkler, emphasizing that this office is focused on ensuring that all Pennsylvanians have the proper ID in November. “You guys want specific numbers that don’t exist, and those numbers change on a daily basis.”

But it is the state’s very inability to determine a final estimate of just how many Pennsylvanians might be impacted by the law that has fueled criticism. Initially, the state said that only 1 percent lacked valid ID. On July 3, that number skyrocketed when the Pennsylvania Secretary of State announced that 758,939 registered voters in the state, or 9 percent, may not have PennDOT IDs. In Philadelphia, 186,830 registered voters were not found in the PennDOT database, or 18 percent.

Whatever the exact number that could lack IDs is, it appears to be many, many times larger than original state estimates.

“The reality is that thousands more Philadelphians will be impacted by the voter ID law than was originally maintained by the State Department,” says Ellen Kaplan of the good government group Committee of Seventy, which is working to help people get valid ID. “Even taking the lowest possible number, it’s a huge hurdle to overcome.”

Pennsylvania’s contentious law has become the centerpiece of a heated national fight over voter suppression ahead of November’s presidential election. And the naked partisanship of Pennsylvania Republicans has contributed to the state law’s national notoriety. Late last month, House Majority leader Mike Turzai boasted (video) that the law is “gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”

And two weeks ago, I broke the news that the Corbett administration had awarded a $250,000 voter ID PR contract to the Bravo Group, a firm run by Mitt Romney fundraiser and longtime state GOP leader Chris Bravacos. On Friday, Talking Points Memo described how six people working on that contract all have GOP ties.

The Department of Justice Pennsylvania inquiry marks an intensification of federal scrutiny of voter ID laws. Justice had already moved to block laws in two Southern states that, because of a Jim Crow-era history of voter suppression, are subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires federal approval of election-rule changes. Pennsylvania is not subject to Section 5 preclearance, but is, like any state, subject to Section 2 of the Act, which “prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color or membership in one of the language minority groups.”

On Friday, state officials seemed in a panic, announcing that new cards only requiring a birth date, Social Security number and two proofs of residency will be made available by the last week of August.

Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele is also coming under scrutiny. During the 2008 elections, Aichele and a fellow Republican Chester County Commissioner were accused of refusing to locate a polling place at historically black Lincoln University in an effort to suppress the vote. The county later settled a federal lawsuit.

“Hundreds of voters,” according to the Delaware County Times, “waited as long as six to eight hours – in the rain at times – to cast their ballots.”

The progressive organization Keystone Progress has called for Aichele’s resignation.

News & Notes May Day Edition

This is my third time writing this today.  Every time I got halfway through Firefox crashed taking the work with it…  Now I’m using Chrome and trying to figure out how it works.  At least Chrome remembers my passwords and saves my tabs (I hope!).  My 64 bit system simply hasn’t worked well with Firefox and after today’s failures I’m fed up.

Today is May Day, the traditional labor celebration day worldwide.  Many general strikes were planned.  Occupy movements are also scheduled to resume as of today.  Occupy Delaware has been broken up though, as of this morning, several tents remained.  Occupy Wilkes-Barre says it will resume.

Vice President Joe Biden is in Easton tomorrow speaking at Lafayette College.  I plan on being there for coverage.

The President is in Afghanistan where 90 minutes ago he and President Karzai signed an agreement for ten years of cooperation after the 2014 U.S. withdrawal.  I’m on a White House conference call about it as I type.  The agreement says the U.S. will not maintain military bases in the country.  

Iraq is buying American fighter jets as the real reasons for our failed invasion there evolve:  it’s all about business.

Last week Pat Toomey joined every other male Republican Senator voting against the Violence Against Women Act.  The renewal expanded coverage to Native Americans, members of the LGBT community and others.  A section written by Bob Casey expands protections for college coeds who are a disproportionate number of the rapes in that age group.  Date rape continues being a problem at colleges and universities.  Why does Pat Toomey hate women?  Though the bill passed the Senate a House version passed today strips LGBT protections.  According to Republicans it’s OK for gays and lesbians to be beaten.

The Pennsylvania ACLU is initiating legal action against Gov. Corbett and the Commonwealth over Voter ID.  The fact PennDOT is insisting on charging people for state issued identity papers for voting makes this a poll tax.  Those have been struck down by the Supreme Court.  This is the first of many legal actions to come caused by Corbett’s radical agenda which taxpayers will forced to cough up dollars to fund.  Instead of educating our children, providing services for the disabled and fixing our roads we’ll be paying lawyers in losing causes.

The AFL-CIO is ridiculing Mitt Romney:

New Mexico Senate candidate Eric Griego has a new ad targeting Heather Wilson on Social Security and Medicare:

This will be an interesting race to watch, New Mexico is a swing state and this open seat is a bellweather.

The Fox/Rupert Murdoch hacking scandal continues unfolding.  James Murdoch stepped down as head of the Fox empire in Britain and today Parliament found Murdoch senior “unfit” to run the company:

Texas efforts to defund Planned Parenthood met a roadblock when their law was declared unconstitutional.  It has already cost the Lone Star State $35 billion in federal Medicaid funding.  Rep. Daryl Metcalfe plans on introducing a similar initiative here soon.  Meanwhile the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down its “fetal personhood” legislation.

Poor Mitt Romney:  just after hiring a communications guru infamous for his sexist Tweets (he scrubbed his Tweets after being hired) Ric Grenell has quit already.  Instead of his horrible sexist comments about women (and, especially Rachel Maddow) being the cause for his exit it is his sexual orientation.  Republican extremists couldn’t bear having  a gay man in that position.

Free Trade Isn’t Free

Free trade has cost Pennsylvania 100,000 jobs.  Millions of Americans have lost their good, middle class supporting jobs and careers to that great sucking sound aptly described by Ross Perot.  As crazy as he was he was right about NAFTA.  Free trade has destroyed America by transferring our manufacturing base overseas.  China is opening fifty new plants a day and employing people in sweatshops.  

Of course one need not go overseas to work in a sweatshop.  Right here Hershey Foods is using foreign students as low wage employees and people slaving at Amazon.com’s distribution center in Lehigh County are being worked to death.  The subcontractor for Amazon hires folks then when they show up for work (after leaving another job) they’re told there’s no job.

Farm worker’s life expectancy is now 49 years and the rich have begun class warfare against poor people blaming them for the country’s problems.  Eight million Americans lost their jobs because of our trade and economic policies and 4.5 million of them lost their homes to foreclosure.  Seven billion was drained from pension funds and retirement accounts wiped out for most working people.

Globalization should have meant raising the standard of living for those in third world countries but instead it is making the U.S. a third world country.  15% of Americans now live in poverty and millions go hungry each day.  Free trade has cost us the American dream.  You can no longer grow up in a small town and have a career working in a neighborhood plant somewhere.  Anywhere.  It used to be every town had its industry:  shoes in New England, furniture in North Carolina, farm equipment in Iowa, autos in Michigan and Ohio and so on.  

When I grew up outside Pottstown, PA we had Firestone, Dana Corporation, Mrs Smith’s Pies, Bethlehem Steel and a myriad of other manufacturing plants.  They are all long gone even the pies.  Each manufacturing job creates four more, two on the supply side and two in distribution.  High tech manufacturing creates 16 additional jobs for every one in a plant.  As we’ve shipped these jobs overseas in a quest for higher corporate profits we’ve wrecked the middle class.  No middle class means no consumers for these products.  It is an endless cycle spinning our civilization into oblivion.

Does it have to be endless?  Why don’t those Amazon.com workers organize?  Perhaps because organized labor has become part of the problem.  Long gone are the days when the Wobblies wouldn’t just strike they’d shut everything down.  It used to be being in any union meant not crossing another’s picket line.  No one even strikes any more and unions are battling each other for dwindling members.  Workers see union leaders coddling management, getting fat and lazy on dues and not fighting for them.

The result is a toothless movement not truly representing working people.  Labor cozies up to a Democratic Party which sold out to corporate America and which is constantly screwing Labor.  They’re just waking up to this fact but have nowhere else to go because they refuse to start their own Labor Party.  So workers are getting screwed while yet another Democratic President is pushing even more free trade deals through Congress.

Free trade isn’t free.  It has cost us our economy, cost millions of hard working people their jobs, homes and retirements, cost us our quality of life, cost us the future for our children.  It’s time someone paid for this debacle.  There can be no more free trade deals and those in force should be eliminated.  The U.S. must withdraw from the WTO and begin rebuilding our manufacturing in a way which also protects workers.  Labor needs to grow some balls and picket places like Amazon.com.  Have there been any union people outside that warehouse this week?

Just try and buy something not made in China, it’s damn near impossible.  China keeps manipulating its currency and there’s little we can do about it because they’re our banker.  We can begin building some protections for our industry without becoming protectionist.  When high tech companies such as Solyndra go under because they aren’t competing on a level playing field with subsidized Chinese solar plants we need to step in and do the same thing as China or place suitable tariffs on Chinese goods.

Trade wars aren’t pretty but starving kids in our towns aren’t either.  Seeing homes for sale on every block isn’t doing anything either while millions of Americans go homeless.  Let’s begin taxing Wall Street for their greed in crashing our economy and use that money to put people back to work rebuilding our infrastructure.  Let’s insist that all materials be American made and American sourced.  Stop shopping at Wal-Mart and other corporations shipping our jobs overseas and build a new political movement truly dedicated to working America.

Free trade isn’t free and we must begin working to make it too expensive for corporate America.

Rally Day In Harrisburg

It was a long day, up and out by 7:30 to get to Harrisburg for two rallies.  Both were directed at Gov. Corbett’s budget cuts.  The first at 10 AM was about $40 million cut for disability services.  The Rotunda steps were filled with people with intellectual disabilities and their care givers.  I’ll have the videos up tomorrow but meanwhile here are the pictures.  

Since the infamous Capitol Cafe is now closed (Aramark chose not to renew following the mouse infestations last year) I walked over to a local pub to grab some lunch and dump the video into my laptop.  That cleared the memory for the 1 PM CLEAR Rally sponsored by the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO.  Fortunately I received a press release yesterday otherwise I wouldn’t have known about this second event.  Seventy buses transported 5,000 union members to the steps of the Capitol.  Ironically a “school choice” rally (people who can choose to be ignorant) was going on simultaneously on the east side of the building.

I ran into former State Representative Rick Taylor at lunch and we had a nice chat during lunch.  Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley stopped by to say hello to Rick but rudely ignored me.  I also met a small group of teachers from Interboro School District while waiting for McGrath’s to open.  The five women and a handsome young guy were going to the CLEAR Rally.

The afternoon was a perfect spring day for a bug rally and the sun shone brightly as I came up State Street after dumping my laptop in the car.  The front of the building was nearly full and the various unions and locals were wearing their colors.  I made my way up to the press area in front of the podium and stood next to Mike Morrill of Keystone Progress as a laborite sang “We Are One” to warm up the crowd.  Various State Reps and Senators joined the event as it went on depending on their schedules.  Quite a few of them were in attendance, no Republicans however.  Not one GOP legislator came out to support the people today.

Steelworkers had erected a huge 250 pound banner atop a building directly across the street which said “Proud to be Union.”  I Tweeted all during the event and you can find them at my Twitter account:  JohnPMorgan.  Again, it will take until tomorrow to upload all the video from both events.  

The rest of the pictures from the labor rally are below the fold.

Liberals and Labor Should Leave Democratic Party

I had a conversation this morning with a friend who is considering options to being a member of the Democratic Party.  I left the Donkey (jackass) Party several years ago.  As a non affiliated voter I’m at the point in my life where I’m sick and tired of voting for the lesser of two evils.  Both major parties are controlled by Wall Street and this Administration especially tells us there’s no one looking out for working people.  The richest keep getting richer and we keep losing ground.  It doesn’t seem to matter of the President is named Reagan, Bush, Clinton or Obama, the results remain the same:  they aren’t on our side.

So what do we do?  I left the Democrats and need a home, a place where I can again be active, organize and vote for candidates who reflect MY values.  In Pennsylvania ballot access is quite difficult.  The two major parties insure this so we cannot replace them and their failed candidates.  Fusion voting and instant runoffs aren’t likely to get anywhere soon.  Anything requiring legislative passage means we have to change who runs Harrisburg.  This means beginning on the local level and reorganizing.

Our greatest opportunity lies with our allies in organized labor.  While Democrats keep stabbing them in the back the unions keep giving them money and boots on the ground.  For what?  What have Democrats done for you?  Nada.  It’s time to rechannel those funds and energies and form our own movement.   The easiest path is through the Green Party which already has some ballot access.  We need to change our registrations to Green and take over each county party.  We share the same values, the same positions on issues.  The Greens need better leadership and good organization.  Labor and progressives can provide those qualities and we can focus on electing House and Senate members ad begin changing Harrisburg.  As we gain votes we can change the voting laws and make this a more progressive state.  The Democratic Party will never do that and they’ve shown we cannot trust them to field good candidates.  Joe Sestak is the only good candidate put forth by Democrats in recent memory.

So what say you?  Are you ready to leave the Democratic Party?  Most of you already have by refusing to vote the past two years.  County Chairs are judged by a major criteria:  voter registration numbers.  If Democrats start losing thousands of members we’ll get their attention quickly.  They face being marginalized as a third party themselves if all they’re left are conservative Catholics who oppose all progressive values.  Go change your voter registration today.  There’s no major primary election in 2012 so you won’t be losing your voice there.  Heck, Democrats don’t listen anyway why why bother?  Let’s rock this state and begin a campaign for real change.

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]

 

Labor $$ Supporting Medaglia

I traveled to Harrisburg yesterday to secure a copy of Larry Medaglia’s campaign finance report.  It is interesting as these always are.  He has only 20 individual supporters.  Other than Peter Giorgi of Giorgio Foods ($15,000) none are significant.  His money is coming from Senator Dominic Pileggi ($25,000) and the Pennsylvania Republican Party ($181,330) in in-kind contributions (direct mail pieces).  When going through Pileggi’s reports I noted dozens of organized labor unions contributing to the Republican Senator.  These include:

AFL-CIO,Carpenters, IBEW, IUPAT, Plumbers and Pipefitters, Steamfitters, SEIU, AFSCME, Teamsters, Plumbers Local 27, Iron Workers, cement masons, Western PA Laborers, Sprinkler Fitters, Bricklayers, Reinforced Iron Workers, IUEC, Asbestos Workers and Sheet Metal Workers.

Pileggi contributed $25,000 to Larry Medaglia.  Republicans all across the nation, in partnership with their GOP Governors, are now trying to attack worker’s rights to organize and engage in collective bargaining.  GOP State Senators in Wisconsin are leading this effort and this special election is going on in the shadow of those union busting efforts.

So why are so many labor unions supporting Republicans?  Their money is now flowing to someone who has avowed to bust public employee union pensions (though Medaglia will accept his own).

Unions & Supporters to Rally Saturday

Rallies will be held tomorrow in every state capitol supporting workers in Wisconsin.  66 rallies in total will be held with 40 organizations co-sponsoring.  We’re one of the participating blogs.  You’ll be able to follow the events online as we’ll be Tweeting and sending Twitpics of the events.

The Wisconsin Assembly (comparable to our State House) voted for the bill stripping union workers of most of their collective bargaining rights yesterday.  This means if a single Democratic Senator is brought back to Madison they can pass the bill.  The legislation would prevent unions from negotiating anything but wage increases and even those cannot rise above the consumer price index.  This prevents unions and workers from negotiating grievance procedures, workplace safety, productivity issues, local rules, and all the other critical benefits workers gain from being organized.  They have already agreed to wage and benefit reductions in spite of the fact these funding shortfalls are the result of decreased corporate taxes.

Teachers and public employees in Wisconsin have agreed to pay for Gov. Walker’s corporate tax cuts from their own pockets and only want to preserve the rights to collective bargaining.  The Republicans are intransigent in their opposition.  The Governor has sent Wisconsin State Police to their homes to forcibly bring them to the State Capitol.  This is why they have fled the state.  Very reasonable compromises have been agreed to by the unions in the face of stonewalling.  This means the entire purpose of this legislation is union busting.  If they are successful in Wisconsin they attempt this elsewhere perhaps here in Pennsylvania.  We must stop them and we can do that with a massive show of support tomorrow.  Wear Badger red to show your support for our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin.

All the rallies commence at noon.

Philadelphia:  Broad St and JFK Blvd

Harrisburg:  Capitol steps

Trenton, NJ:  125 West State Street

Trenton, NJ 08625

Dover:  Legislative Hall/Legislative Mall, Court St. Dover Delaware

Annapolis:  100 State Circle, MD State House Annapolis, MD 21401  

On Wisconsin!

The war on unions which began in Wisconsin has spread.  Lawmakers fled Indiana yesterday and laws breaking unions are being introduced in rust belt states which recently elected Republican Governors.  On Wisconsin is the fight song of the University of Wisconsin Badgers, so we all stand united behind the people and sing together.

The right wing is now excoriating us for using the term “class war” to describe their actions.  I saw a sign which said “it’s only called class war when we fight back.”  How true.  Conservatives have been waging class war upon the people for thirty years.  The decline of the middle class, the ever widening disparity in wealth and incomes, the increasing numbers of people in poverty, those who go hungry and homeless and the insane, indecent amounts of wealth being accumulated by the rich are proof.  This is a class war and the fringe of the GOP has awakened a sleeping giant with this over reach.  Rank and file working Americans screwed by the a system which has negated democracy for oligarchy are angry, frustrated and revolting.  Its about time.  Just keep things peaceful folks.  Let’s take a page from Egypt where their refusal to rsort to force and violence won the day.

Don’t think this won’t happen right here in Pennsylvania.  Gov. Corbett rules over a legislature dominated now by fellow Republicans.  The Senate has a 30-19 Republican advantage with the remaining seat up for grabs on March 15th here in Reading.  Regardless of that outcome however, the GOP could ram a similar bill down our throats because the Democrats cannot kill a quorum call by leaving the Commonwealth.

This doesn’t mean we’re powerless.  Three major rallies in support of organized labor are scheduled, in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh tomorrow and on the steps of the Capitol building at noon on Saturday.  This is the first step.  The Wisconsin AFL-CIO has called a general strike which will likely shut down that state’s economy.  We must do the same thing here.  Businesses fomenting this class warfare must see what the true fruits of their efforts are:  the crippling of their businesses.  I see Teamsters shutting down every major highway in Pennsylvania, blocking all access to Harrisburg while thousands upon thousands of union members, supporters and their families besiege the Capitol building.  If no one can get in or out we’ll get their attention.  If transit systems across the state cease, mills, factories and retail centers go dark, airlines stop flying and so forth we’ll win the day.

This may have begun with attacks upon teachers but it will not end there.  Success breaking that union will only embolden these fringe lunatics to go after everyone else.  Once we lose all of our progressive institutions there will be no opposition to rolling back, not only child labor laws, but minimum wages, overtime, workplace safety, work rules, grievance procedures and all of our wages and benefits.  It will roll America back to the dark days of the nineteenth century with company towns, stores, slave wages, locked factories which are fire traps and everything which gave rise to the union movement.

A revolution is brewing in America.  The richest 1% now control the vast majority of our wealth.  We could take the annual income from the top 3, three, hedge fund managers and pay 300,000 teachers.  What is wrong when teachers average $46,000/year and golfers earn 60 million?  Wall Street bankers earn in the billions every year and pay little to no taxes.  57% of corporations in this country pay no income tax.  Bankers can destroy our economy through fraud, not be prosecuted then take food from your mouth to balance our budgets.

The Stimulus Bill provided revenue sharing (a Nixon concept) to states which helped balance their budgets the past two years.  While Republicans keep repeating the lie that the ARRA was a failure (its only failure was that it was too small and gave GOP tax cuts instead of creating more jobs) we now can see the impact it had on state employees.  While states are facing hundreds of billions in budget shortfalls now that the funds have expired we know, for sure, the bill was successful.  What we need now is a new bill, sufficient in size and scope, to return job creation and revenue sharing to save millions more jobs.

Meanwhile attend one of the rallies this week and insure your voice is heard…singing On Wisconsin!

Update:  Details about the rallies just came in:

>>     PLEASE JOIN US as we rally in support of American working familes and the American Dream

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>>     Today working familes will be standing up in solidarity with Wisconsin workers in

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>>     SCRANTON

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>>     WHAT: Solidarity Rally for Wisconsin Workers

>>     WHEN: 12:00 Noon to 12:30

>>     WHERE:  Labor Leader John Mitchell Statue

>>                   Lackawanna Courthouse (Adams Avenue Side)

>>     CONTACT:  Roxie Pauline Roxiep9@aol.com  570-840-1650

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>>     On Thursday, 2/24, working Americans will be rallying in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.  Details are:

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>>     PHILADELPHIA

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>>     WHAT: Solidarity Rally for the Wisconsin Workers

>>     WHEN: 11:30am

>>     WHERE:  Municipal Services Bldg PlazaAcross from City Hall

>>     CONTACT:  Robin Stelly, 203.216.9719, rstelly@pennaction.org

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>>     PITTSBURGH

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>>     WHAT: Solidarity Rally for the Wisconsin Workers

>>     WHEN: 12:00 pm Noon

>>     WHERE:  United Steelworkers Headquarters

>>     5 Gateway Center, 60 Blvd of the Allies

>>     (Lunch will be provided)

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>>     On Saturday, 2/26, working Americans will be rallying to save the American Dream in Harrisburg. Details are:

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>     SATURDAY, 2/26 IN HARRISBURG

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>     WHAT: Rally to Save the American Dream

>     WHEN: Saturday, 2/26 at NOON

>     WHERE: Capitol Steps, Harrisburg