What is a person to do? Each week the world seems to be spinning out of control. Terrible U.S. Supreme Court decisions, Justice Kennedy retiring and a very conservative nomination will surely take his place, 5 murdered at their desks in Annapolis, MD., and our government is tearing children out of the arms of their parents.
While the world seems to be coming apart at the seams, I really can’t complain. I am enjoying summer at my sister Robin’s Westhampton, Long Island home, and completing DIY projects on Scout. I am grateful that I no longer work as an advocate (aka Lobbyist) for labor unions, beating my head against a brick wall. I think of my friends and former colleagues each and everyday, still fighting the good fight. I am counting the days until my 65 Medicare birthday!
GUNS: How can we accept people going to school or work and never coming home?
SCOTUS: I spent the vast majority of my career as a “Union Goon”, and proud of it. In the last week of the session the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled 5-4 against public employees and their unions, and upheld Trump’s travel ban. The travel ban got most of the press attention, but the Janus decision will have much greater economic impact on U.S. workers. Simply: American workers just got hit by an uninsured driver. Take Joe, the rural route letter carrier who delivers mail here at my sister’s house. Joe drives a mail truck but doesn’t wear a uniform, because they aren’t provided. He is an employee, with no benefits. Joe likes to complain about getting screwed by the postal service, but refuses to join the rural letter carrier union (yes, there really is a rural letter carrier union). The vast majority of rural letter carriers are like Joe, complain mightily, but won’t join the one organization that could negotiate for better working conditions, pay and benefits. Have you noticed your letter carrier arriving later and later to your mail box, and working late into the night?
US workers are their own worst enemy. They believe in individual rights, not collective action. They vote against their own economic interest. Worst of all workers think they got their pay and benefits by their own hard work. HA! I use to tell Republican Members of Congress they should not hate unions, because labor unions are incubators for new Republicans. As soon as workers rise into the middle class they start voting Republican, Trump is the glaring example of my theory.
In Las Vegas, NV the Culinary union has 95% voluntary membership, because low wage workers know their employer is going to screw them. Who is more powerful the majority or the minority? If only a minority of workers voluntarily join their union, they don’t have much clout. Culinary workers know as individuals they have no bargaining power, but as a majority they have power and can negotiate better pay and benefits. It is ironic that the Culinary union is vastly composed of immigrants and women. Rural letter carriers are predominately white men. Go figure?
Workers who don’t want to join the union, didn’t have to join, but they did have to pay their FAIR-SHARE. The SCOTUS just ruled workers can be FREE-RIDERS, and not pay their fair-share, but still get the benefits of collective bargaining. What will happen is as workers drop their membership, unions will have less and less clout. Less ability to negotiate for better pay and benefits, and even more important social policy for non-union workers.
The law requires drivers to have insurance, but people will try to get away with driving with no insurance. Our insurance premiums are higher because of uninsured drivers, (or people without health insurance). The Janus decision is like telling workers they don’t have to buy insurance and let those of us that do – pay for them, too. It makes me sick!
When unions were at the height of their power (1935) ONLY 35% of American workers were union members. Now union membership is less than 12%. Why don’t workers today have pensions, healthcare, vacation and sick days? Economist and public officials talk about wage stagnation every day. When employers wanted to avoid unions, they matched the union pay and benefit package. Union workers lifted all boats. In the 1970s employers figured it was cheaper and more profitable to kill unions, rather than pay fair wages and benefits. Wonder why wages aren’t keeping pace with CEO pay? Go figure?
I am THANKFUL every day for my union pension that will pay me until I die. Sorry for younger workers who will die before they can retire. Savings and 401Ks will never replace a guaranteed pension – NEVER.
IMMIGRANTS: I spent 15 years of my professional lobbying career working with advocates and even the Chamber of Commerce to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation in Congress. It is heart breaking to see immigrants vilified and treated as criminals. I could write pages, but here is the debate simply put by my FB friend Steven: “NO IMMIGRANT has taken a job from an American worker. You were laid off by a capitalistic corporate employer who is taking advantage of that immigrant to increase profits. Nothing makes him happier than to hear you are an idiot who is blaming the immigrant and not the corporate boss.”
Donald Trump uses immigrant labor in his hotels and built his Las Vegas hotel with steel imported from China. FACTS, not fake news.
Reading the newspaper is depressing, but at least I am reading REAL NEWS and sitting next to a pool with a pleasant ocean breeze. But the events of the past several weeks are difficult to shake. I am privileged and blessed with good health, great family and friends and a beach to walk on. My thoughts are with others less fortunate and grieving.
Thank goodness for my DIY projects! I got the curtains and seat cushions done, my quilt is back from quilting and I am sewing on the edging. Yesterday, I fixed the four drawers, because the very funky cabinet hinges where flying open while towing. Ceiling fans installed. Re-upholstery of the dinette benches, and installing a new TV antenna, and I will be done with Scout and can finally play some golf! I have a great sense of satisfaction when I can Do It Myself!
I plan to read less news, read more fiction and listen to more music.
Stay tuned for pictures of Scout with all her new stuff.