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Waging War on US Workers

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Waging War on US Workers

Bipartisan federal, state and local governments target unionism to extinction.

by Stephen Lendman

America's war on workers dates from the 19th century. Labor learned the hard way what it takes to win. 

It requires organizing, pressing demands, taking to the streets, going on strike, holding boycotts, battling police and National Guard forces supporting management, as wells paying with blood and lives to get results.

They came. Workers got an eight hour day, a living wage, important benefits, pensions, and passage of the landmark 1935 Wagner Act. For the first time, labor could bargain collectively with management on equal terms.

Grassroots struggles prevailed. Management and government give nothing unless forced to. Today, virtually everything gained was lost. Federal, state and local Republicans and Democrats wage war on worker rights.

Obama did straightaway in office. Serving business ahead of workers became policy. In March 2009, he told auto executives, "We cannot, must not, and will not let this industry vanish."

His message was clear. Business got bailed out. Labor got sold out. Rank and file members were forced to make painful concessions. 

They include permanent job losses, temp or part-time employment in place of full-time work, lower wages, fewer benefits, gutted work rules, forfeited security through pensions and retirement benefits, as well as other sacrifices.

Obama showed Democrats can trash worker rights like Republicans. He wants them treated with 19th century harshness.

Organized labor is a shadow of its former self. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder delivered the latest blow. On December 11, he signed right-to-work legislation. It takes effect in April. More on Michigan below.

Twenty-three other states have similar laws.The 1947 Taft-Hartley Labor-Management Relations Act precipitated labor's decline. It's one-sidedly pro-corporate. 

Harry Truman called it a "slave labor bill." He hypocritically used it 10 times. No president since matched him. It destroyed hard won Wagner Act benefits.

Union violators face stiff penalties. Corporate bosses at most get hand slaps. "Unfair (union) labor practices" were enacted. 

They include jurisdictional strikes (relating to job assignments), secondary boycotts (against firms doing business with companies struck), wildcat strikes, sit-downs, slow-downs, mass-picketing against scabs, closed shops (mandating union membership), and more.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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