"The pension mess in America wasn't caused by workers having gold plated pensions--it was caused by Wall Street taking the gold out of our pensions!"
This declaration made by Leo W. Gerard, United Steel Workers
International President, ended a damning attack on the corporatist
strategic dismantling of our rights as workers--and as Americans.
Speaking before a crowd literally bursting at the seams in
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Gerard gave a blistering indictment against
the corporate policies of the past 30 years.
Tracing the actions of the corporatists--Gerard reminded the crowd about past fiscal crimes, including the savings & loan debacle courtesy of the Bush clan, to the fraud perpetrated by Enron, the 'tech bubble' fiasco where ..."it was easier to borrow money for any hair-brained idea than it was to expand a steel mill,"--to the massive Wall Street fraud via derivatives in 2008 which brought our nation to the brink of bankruptcy.
Gerard's outrage is well placed and so is his worry about public employee pensions. Public employee pensions are currently protected by law in a way that private pensions never were. If a public employer attempts to 'raid' a public pension; they face strict criminal penalties, including jail time.
Now there are several GOP strategists including Newt Gingrich, Governor John Kasich of Ohio, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, several other Tea Party governors and Jeb Bush who are advocating changing the law so individual states can declare bankruptcy--and--subsequently--raid the pension funds in the same manner that Enron used. Gerard is well aware of these unethical attacks. Both Gingrich and Jeb Bush claimed in a 01/27/11 article in Politico that...
"The lucrative pay and benefits packages that government employees have received from obliging politicians over the years are perhaps the most significant hurdles for many states trying to restore fiscal health." (Source: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0111/48291.html)
None of these workers, police officers, firefighters, teachers, public works personnel along with steelworkers, Teamsters, members of SEIU and various civil rights groups were willing to accept blame for the present fiscal crisis. Gerard flatly stated that the fiscal crisis was engineered by outsourcing our manufacturing sector, followed by further outsourcing of any remaining jobs, which combined with tax abatement for corporate entities resulted in the present financial time bomb. In short, these workers refused to be scapegoated for the crimes of Wall Street.
Gerard couldn't have been more timely, as Pittsburgh had been the site of the G20 talks in 2010, hosting Kings, corporate heads, Presidents, and a militarized police which transformed the city into an urban jail for anyone not in the same tax bracket as Bill Gates or David & Charles Koch. (source : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeanine-molloff/a-revolution-of-values-be_b_311264.html) Gerard, like so many other working people were not interested in pretty speeches by President Obama as he conveniently pretended not to see the nation-wide civil disobedience, demanding our rights as workers. It was a Dr. King moment; and the country's first African-American President--was AWOL.
This was the tip of the political iceberg, as rallies took place all over the country--including--San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Boston, Carson City, Nevada, Montgomery, Alabama, Helena, Montana, Austin, Texas, Phoenix, Arizona, Indianapolis, Indiana, Washington, D.C., New York City, and of course--where it all began--MADISON, WISCONSIN.
Workers from both the private and public sector unions were present, as well as progressives from other arenas such as gay rights and pro-choice groups. To put it bluntly; the previously accused 'limousine liberals' had found their work boots and pick up trucks. No social divide here--only the faces of America united against a shared villain--corporatist greed and lust for total power--economic and civil.