Metroblog

A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

20 November 2006

Why Unionize?


The WaPo carries an article noting how hard it is to raise interest in unionizing among young miners; from a few days back.

And why should they? Things are good, the pay's high, and Wal-Mart sells the stuff they want a price that's close to anyone's pocketbook. Except that that's not true. Not for everyone. Not by half.

In an echo of the good old days of the 1930's, janitors protesting low wages in Houston were run off—and over—by horseback cops.



Those arrested--who make about $8.50 an hour--had their bail punitively set at $888, 888 each by the Harris Country DA. Clearly a move meant to chill the nascent labour unrest.

Meatpackers at Smithfield, NC, went on strike to protest the treatment of illegal immigrants after the company fired several dozen outright for producing fake social security numbers. About 2/3 of the workers at the plant are hispanic immigrants. Conditions in the plant are known to be dangerous, and the company is known for busting unions.

One reflects that the anti-union cause in America might be helped partly by hiring workers who can't risk being outed as illegals.

Note: The "We made it" on that page refers to the resolution of this strike--the company is still not yet certified.



There is a resurgence in worker politics. The production lines have gotten faster, work's gotten harder, the corporate profits have ballooned from simply good to obscene, and the hours have gotten longer while wages and benefits have been stripped away. Times are good for CEOs while workers are not allowed to even sniff from the same trough. Complainers are kept cowed by the threat that "we'll move your job to India"--although management's often getting ready to do that anyway.



And the current Occupant likes the situation. Richard Stickler--a mine company official whose sole interest in industrial safety is to reduce its scope--was renominated for the head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration. For the fourth time. Stickler currently heads the agency under a thing called a recess appointment, essentially made while Congress' back was turned.

If even the Republicans (not exactly labour friendly at the best of times and still less now) can't back Dubya up on this, should anybody?

Paul DeCamp was renominated to head the wage and hour division of the Department of Labor. Which might inspire less horror if he wasn't an attorney for Wal-Mart who's already tried to exempt workers from being able to be paid overtime.

George Dubya Bush. Friend of the working man.

Confined Space, whom I shall shortly add to my blogroll, is where I found the linked articles above.

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