To the Editor:
In his June 28 column, CounterPunch publisher Jeffrey St. Clair gives us more statistics (courtesy of Public Citizen) on the so-called “booming economy.” Thirty-nine percent of Americans have $0 in savings, families put up to 30 percent of their income toward child care, 40 percent of Americans hold a second job and one in four make less than $10 an hour.
In his summer 2019 column in TWU Express, International Secretary-Treasurer Jerome Lafragola reports that union membership declined from 33 percent of workers in 1956 to 10 percent in 2018.
Between 1980 and 2014, income from the bottom half of earners grew by one percent while income from the top one percent, grew by 205 percent.
Lafragola does not say if this was adjusted for inflation.
Because if such an adjustment is made, certainly most New York City and State workers make less. How many city and state union-represented workers have gotten contracts that have kept pace with all inflation they have been hit with since 1980? No need to count when the answer is zero.
Lafragola advocates supporting the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO) of 2019. It was introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).
It would increase penalties for employers who violate workers’ rights, strengthen support for workers who suffer retaliation for exercising their rights to organize and prevent employers from interfering in union elections.
It would also enhance workers’ rights to support secondary boycotts, strikes or other acts of solidarity. It would also ensure that unions can collect “fair-share” fees in so-called “Right-to-Work” states. That would end the freeloading of those who don’t join the union or pay dues but still get union representation.
That part of the proposal would undo the damage of the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act. That was vetoed by President Harry Truman. But a Republican-controlled Congress got enough Democrats to join them to override the veto. Today the media would tell us those Democrats are “moderate” and “electable.”
The PRO Act would also allow collective or class-action litigation against employers who violate their rights and would facilitate initial collective-bargaining agreements by mandating binding arbitration for first contracts if negotiations stalemate.
Considering we now have a Republican-controlled Senate and at the very least the most anti-union President since pre-FDR days, it’s not likely this will be passed now. But we still should show support for it.
We certainly need a Democratic presidential candidate as well as more Democratic Senators and Representatives who will support this.
That means less time letting the media tell us which candidate is “electable” and more time concerning ourselves with whether a candidate is on our side.
Paul Street reports in the June 28 CounterPunch that Medicare-For-All is supported by 70 percent of Americans. This is not surprising considering that most people don’t want to go broke because they get sick and they don’t want their health coverage dependent on their job. They also don’t want employers using health-care costs as an excuse to offer smaller wages.
But at the opening Democratic debate, NBC’s Lester Holt formed a question on Medicare-For-All making it appear that it would take away health coverage when in fact it would expand it. This gives you an idea how the corporate media scares people away from supporting anything that would actually help them.
Studies show Norway, whose workers are well-paid, have more time off, have complete health-care coverage and secure pensions are the happiest people in the world. Other Scandinavian countries have happier populations than us.
But we’re told that capitalism works because the United States produces more wealth. It certainly produces more billionaires, but more poor people as well.
The division of wealth in the U.S. reminds me of the division of food in the Kramden residence. Alice’s mother says, “Alice, you look frail. Are you getting enough to eat?” Alice answers, “You wouldn’t say that if you saw the food bills.” Her mother answers, “I don’t doubt that the bills are high. But how much of the food are you getting?”
Retired transit worker
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