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Wed Feb 13, 2013, 07:21 AM

We Need Higher Wages for Middle Class, Not Just Higher Taxes on the Rich

Last edited Wed Feb 13, 2013, 07:11 PM - Edit history (2)

Redistribution of wealth, what an ugly phrase. It has all the connotations of Socialism and Communism.

In fact, what we need is income fairness. The same fairness we had in 1970's, when America's Middle Class was thriving.

How do we achieve it? The same way we achieved it in the 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's, with a strong union based private employment sector.

The trade imbalance, the outsourcing, the race to the bottom and the reduction in the average wage of American workers can all be traced to the devastation of America's Labor Unions.

When NAFTA and GAT first appeared, the Democrats (or more specifically, Bil Clinton) compromised with the Republicans (Free Trade was a Republican idea). The US Chamber of Commerce were staunch supporters. So were Banks, Multi-Nationals and almost every other organized group in America. Who was opposed? Speaker Dick Gephardt and Independent Ross Perot. But the only united group who warned of the devastation of these trade agreements and the decline of the American economy was organized labor. Now, we, as a group, are being punished for being correct, and the American middle class is suffering.

When we hear of the many individuals and families on food stamps or relying on Medicaid for their health-care, most Americans conjure up in their minds free-loaders and "takers". In fact, a vast majority of people on public assistance work for a living. The problem is that $10 an hour (or less) cannot subsist a family, even at a full-time job. Fewer and fewer businesses provide health care or benefits. Individuals at the work-place have no voice, as labor unions make up less and less of the work-force.

The same voices in the media who would not work a day without a contract, preach a chorus that would deny that same opportunity to the rest of us. I represent waiters and waitresses, bar-tenders, cooks, dishwashers, clerks, money counters and laborers. The average salary is about $15 to $20 an hour with health care paid about 60% by the employer and a 401K contribution. None of these individuals would possibly have those wages and benefits without the ability to collectively bargain for a contract. Can you imagine a help-wanted sign for a waitress or a dish-washer and the applicant going in and trying to establish a contract for his or her services? The only way that can happen is to bargain collectively, to pool our resources to hire an attorney, to elect an advocate from among the work-force, to have an international union with its institutional and political strength to back us up.

Wal-Mart and other "Big Box" stores purposely keep wages low in order to qualify its employees for public assistance. Instead of employees earning a living wage and benefits, they work at a company that makes billions of dollars in profits. Instead of these hard-working individuals paying taxes and being self-sufficient, they work hard and still become a drain on the Treasury. That's not their fault, or even Wal-Mart's, that's ours, because we, as a society, allow it. We're moving backward into the pre-union days of the 1920's. Those same politicians who want to destroy unions, and with it the ability of workers to speak and provide for themselves, also want to cut that life-line that keeps the working poor from living in poverty.

Think how much our deficit would shrink if the huge cooperations paid a living wage to its workers. Think about all our workers making enough money to pay taxes and provide for themselves with full-time jobs that paid a respectable and living wage.

There is, and always has been, only one way for this fairness to be universal in the American economy and that's to encourage workers to belong to a union.

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Arrow 13 replies Author Time Post
Reply We Need Higher Wages for Middle Class, Not Just Higher Taxes on the Rich (Original post)
louis c Feb 2013 OP
louis c Feb 2013 #1
libtodeath Feb 2013 #2
louis c Feb 2013 #6
libtodeath Feb 2013 #7
louis c Feb 2013 #9
libtodeath Feb 2013 #11
louis c Feb 2013 #12
Sherman A1 Feb 2013 #3
Bandit Feb 2013 #4
pampango Feb 2013 #5
meow2u3 Feb 2013 #8
louis c Feb 2013 #10
forestpath Feb 2013 #13

Response to louis c (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 08:11 AM

1. Kick

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 08:24 AM

2. Higher taxes on the rich will lead to higher wages as it will allow for

governments to do the things they need and are supposed to do.
This creates jobs and job competition which requires higher wages to keep employees.

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Response to libtodeath (Reply #2)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 02:27 PM

6. Perhaps I Didn't Make Myself Clear

There should be higher taxes on the wealthy. But, in addition, the major corporations and businesses must increase wages so that the working class (those who depend on their employer for a pay-check) will have a living wage that allows them to provide for themselves and their families

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Response to louis c (Reply #6)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 03:02 PM

7. The question is how does that happen,they will not out of the goodness of their greedy hearts.

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Response to libtodeath (Reply #7)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 07:07 PM

9. UNIONS UNIONS UNIONS

That's the answer. Haven't you been paying attention?

No shitting the cooperations and businesses won't increase benefits and wages on their own.

UNIONS ARE THE ANSWER.

Collectively bargain.

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Response to louis c (Reply #9)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 07:13 PM

11. That is great and no argument but how do you stop the tide of decreasing union membership and

influence?

What is going to make them come back.
Saying it does not make it happen and yes we need to fight for candidates that will fight for them and expansion of unions as well as a truly progressive tax code along with expansion of public employment to create job competition.

My thoughts were that the tax code is something congress can do while expanding union numbers is beyond a law being passed.

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Response to libtodeath (Reply #11)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 07:28 PM

12. Just like everything in life, you have to work at it

I belong to a union at work. It was small and only encompassed the mutuel clerks (of which I'm one) who sold horse racing tickets to racing customers. The computers, as simple as they might be, enabled us to belong to the IBEW.

I ran for president of this small union and then organized the waitresses and waiters. The Bartenders and Cooks. Then the parkers and program sellers. And then everyone else. I used political alliances with Liberal area politicians to assist in contract negotiations.

We then had a staff and an excellent attorney and a strong international Union (IBEW) behind us. We worked with the company to assist in legislation that improved their business.

No one says it's easy. It took us and those who supported our efforts 20 years to get where we are.

When I first was elected (2002) I appointed women as stewards for the first time and hispanics to key union positions in order to translate and organize. First the Laborers and then those who worked with the horses.

Of course, I'm in Massachusetts and the laws here make it easier to organize, but that's because our union brothers and sisters know how to vote and how to elect worker friendly politicians and how to lobby for their rights that make the laws here so friendly.

Again, no one says it's easy, but the Tooth Fairy doesn't bring you a Union. You have to work at it.

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 08:44 AM

3. K&R

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 08:53 AM

4. The taxes on the wealthy during the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70,s were more than three fold what they are

You say you want the same economy as during those times but don.t want to raise taxes on the wealthy....

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 12:31 PM

5. GATT was a Democratic idea. Blame FDR and Truman, not Clinton, for that one.

"When NAFTA and GAT first appeared, the Democrats (or more specifically, Bil Clinton) compromised with the Republicans (Free Trade was a Republican idea). The US Chamber of Commerce were staunch supporters."

The republican party was the party of high tariffs until 1980. Not surprisingly the Chamber supported high tariffs until 1980 as well, believing that the profits of American companies were protected by high tariffs. Maybe Clinton did not adjust to the republican flip-flop under Reagan as quickly as he should have.

"There is, and always has been, only one way for this fairness to be universal in the American economy and that's to encourage workers to belong to a union."

Truer words were never spoken. We have by far the weakest labor laws of any developed country.

"We're moving backward into the pre-union days of the 1920's."

We are indeed. I believe that the percentage the US workforce that is unionized is as low as it was in 1929. And that low percentage in 1929 came after a decade of high republican tariffs (passed in 1921 & 1922). FDR knew that tariffs don't strengthen unions; strong labor laws strengthen unions. The rest of the developed world (particularly the EU, Canada and Australia) understand this is still true.

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 03:29 PM

8. Excellent framing

Redistribution of wealth, what an ugly phrase. It has all the connotations of Socialism and Communism.

In fact, what we need is income fairness. The same fairness we had in 1970's, when America's Middle Class was thriving.


We must stop calling it "redistribution of wealth" and call it "income fairness", or even "income justice" instead.

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Response to meow2u3 (Reply #8)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 07:07 PM

10. Now you've got it

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 07:50 PM

13. K&R

 

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