Sun Dec 25, 2011, 05:30 PM
paulbern77 (46 posts)
Mass Protests for Workers Rights Needed
Worker's Rights and Social Justice
The lack of employment and economic opportunities, the lack of access to healthcare and higher education, plus extreme economic inequality due to a high concentration of American wealth being in the hands of far too few people has turned the USA into a powder-keg. Like the Middle East, America too has become a ticking time bomb of inequality and lack of opportunity. I have written a book on this topic (more about that at the end) whose main premise is that the rights of US workers have been trampled underfoot by the rich multinational corporations and the top 1% who are outsourcing all our jobs overseas as they leave us high and dry. The least common denominator of middle class loss of income due to mass layoffs, the loss of housing due to foreclosure and eviction and the excess of economic inequality due to a disproportional concentration of wealth, is that all three of these comprise the human rights of workers throughout the world, beginning here in America since our country is supposed to be the standard-bearer of freedom and opportunity. If the American worker does not get what he or she is legally and rightfully entitled to, we will organize strikes and other forms of peaceful protest and civil disobedience until we get what we want, up to and including the complete shutdown of the entire country for at least one day. And we will do all of this without firing a single shot, just as the protesters and public demonstrations overseas did before us.
There are also a growing number of employed people who, despite having a job, are still living in poverty. There are at least 15 million workers who now fall into this rapidly growing category. The median US income of $32,390 a year is not going to get you far in today's economy, and half of the country is making less than that. The reason we struggle with these things is because the Economic Elite have robbed us all through the systematic confiscation of middle class wealth and prosperity. This tremendous suffering in the United States of America is literally a crime against humanity, and it is the result of the largest single transfer of wealth in all of human history from the middle class to the rich. And so I came up with what I call in my book “The 8 Fundamental Rights of Mankind”. The first and foremost right is that of all workers.
The basic rights of all workers can be broken down into seven parts; the right to a livelihood and a living wage wage, rights of unemployed persons, right to free vocational re-training for life, right to choice of career path, right to organize, right to a flexible work week, and right to family and maternity leave. I will elaborate on these in order to better explain this new Occupy Movement (which I predicted would happen in my book months before it occurred), what it stands for, and what we want from those in positions of leadership, as well as ways of acquiring these rights in a peaceful and orderly fashion.
The first thing on the list of worker's rights is also the highest priority, that of a fair and realistic minimum wage, and more fundamentally, the basic human right to a livelihood. Unemployment as we have known it must now come to an end forever. What gives wealthy corporate CEO's the right to tell any given man or woman, “Sorry, you are not needed around here anymore. Your skills, experience, and your work ethic no longer matter here.” Who do they think they are? They outsourced many of our jobs overseas so that corporate America could enrich themselves at the expense of their former employees, leaving middle and working class Americans with no way to earn a respectable living and be self-sufficient. The jobs that could not be outsourced were downsized out of existence. Then this same bunch of corporate “leaders” turned around and, with the cooperation of American academia, raised costs for higher education so high that many of us who wish to go back to school and train for a new career are unable to do so for mainly economic reasons. In the end, numerous persons who urgently wish to improve themselves through education are held back from doing so, and that is a social injustice and a civil rights violation worthy of the loudest protests in numerous places throughout our country. The days when aspiring students have to pay for their higher education must come to an end, with corporate America picking up the tab via an all-new tax system that I discussed in a previous posting. For more info, click here.
There is too much imbalance and inequity in the distribution of wealth in the US today. Over 90% of all available liquid cash and assets are in the hands of a maximum of 10% of the US population. And so every day it's steak for them and beans for the rest of us. How much longer are we going to allow this to go on? And so it looks to me like our country is in dire need of some peaceful and orderly wealth redistribution. One very good way to accomplish this would be to send everybody back to school who wants to go free of charge. Who would pick up the tab for the tuition for all those millions of people? Would it be the government? Absolutely not! The bill should instead be presented to corporate America, since it is corporate America who outsourced or downsized all of our jobs in the first place. If they won't let us work for their companies anymore, then they owe it to us to train us to work somewhere else. Anything less is a social injustice and a civil rights issue worthy of a national chorus of protests.
This brings me to the point that I wish to make. In today's world, if the net take-home pay of any given individual does not meet, or just barely meets, that same individuals daily cost of living, then that is tantamount to economic slavery. Let me say that again because this point simply cannot be overemphasized. If your take – home pay won't even take you home, your are a slave. Oh, you are free to move around and to come and go as you choose and take care of business, that is true. But if after you stop at the grocery store, pay the light bill (assuming you are fortunate enough to be able to do that), put gas in your tank (assuming you are lucky enough to still own a car) and set some money aside for next month's rent or mortgage (if you're not already on the street or living with relatives),
and then after all that you peek into your wallet and realize that you have $7.00 left to live on for the whole stinkin' week, that's when you know you are a slave. What happens to the people whose incomes are at or below minimum wage? They go hungry and are often homeless. Many of these newly homeless, formerly middle class people also have kids who have fallen into poverty along with their parents. And this is happening in the United States of America. This is a moral outrage, a social injustice, and it is economic discrimination of the worst kind. Since it is an issue of discrimination, by extension it also becomes a 21st century civil rights issue. This too then is cause for protests, demonstrations, boycotts, general strikes and other forms of peaceful civil disobedience.
On this point alone, there are enough issues on the collective dinner plate of the American people to foster open revolt throughout the land. Never mind everything else that I have written about. Think about it for a minute. How does it feel to be a slave? Makes you feel kind of angry, doesn't it? It make us all feel violated because we have all been slaves, often without realizing it. The time to rise up and say, “No more!” has arrived. It's time for all of us to get out from in front of out TV's and our computers and to get our in the street and start protesting. And that's just for this issue alone. Now allow me to mention the rest of these rights.
The second right under worker's rights is the right to better and more comprehensive unemployment insurance, and to also allow independent contractors to draw unemployment provided certain conditions are met (subject to future legislation). Any worker who has lost his or her job through no fault of their own will be entitled to up to 50 weeks of unemployment compensation instead of the current maximum of 26 weeks. At any time during the worker's period of unemployment he or she will have two other options besides their job search available to them to assist in the development of their careers. The first will be the ability to sign up for a public works project to obtain immediate employment. The worker's second option will be reeducation, and I will touch on that in a minute so please bear with me.
We need a massive public works project to repair America's crumbling infrastructure. I would conservatively estimate that anywhere from 1-3 million people could be employed this way as day laborers, direct employees or subcontractors depending on the need. The fact of the matter is that we need jobs, we need lots of them, and we need them right now! Since our government has failed to act in this regard in spite of an obvious need, we will have to do this ourselves. Let's get this on the ballot for the next general election, and let's also strike and protest for action on this matter until then.
The third human right listed is the right to free vocational retraining for life. Anybody can go back to school and get retrained at will, up to and including a 2 year degree, and under this new system it will all be free of charge. Large, wealthy corporations with robust cash flows, as well as millionaires and the super-rich, will supply the necessary funding through what I call in my book “the excess wealth tax” (you can buy the book to find out the details which include repealing the federal income tax). Since corporate America made the decision to send their factories and all the jobs those factories provided overseas to lower their labor costs, and since this action has caused the reaction of the obliteration of millions of American careers, it will be corporate America who will shoulder the responsibility of retraining these people whose careers evaporated through no fault of their own. If they take your job away, or if they export or downsize your career out of existence like I experienced myself, then it is those same corporate henchmen who must pay for your reeducation. Higher education is a basic, fundamental human right. The day has come when higher education is no longer only for those who can “afford” the tuition. As of today, higher education, and the fundamental right to improve and enrich ourselves, is an American civil right that will be had by all without qualification.
Let me add one more tasty ingredient into this mix. Students in these reeducation programs, or public works project workers who have children, will be given taxpayer-funded day care free of charge so they can get their education without having to worry about their kids. Now I know what some of you are thinking right now – “who's gonna pay for that?” Let me put this into perspective for you. If your US government took all the money that is spent in a single day on the twin wars (or more accurately occupations) in Iraq and Afghanistan plus the clandestine and illegal wars and “black ops” in Pakistan, Libya and Yemen and set it aside in an enormous savings account, there would be enough money to send every American school age kid from the first grade through high school to any college, public or private, or any state university or vocational school to earn their degree of choice with the tuition fully paid for, plus the cost of all their books and supplies, their meals, internet access, and access to public transportation covered as well. So anyone who says we can't afford to send everyone to college with their expenses fully paid, or that the money to accomplish this just isn't there, either doesn't know what they are talking about, or they are elitists and bigots who can't stand to see middle and working class and minority students getting ahead. Access to higher education, and looking after the children of those who are retraining, is an American civil right that should be equally available to all without qualification, not just to those who can afford it.
The fourth human right under worker's rights that I have written about is the choice of career path without penalty. Anyone can be reeducated or obtain higher education choosing any vocation they want. Do you want to become a doctor, a lawyer, a scientist or an astronaut (yes, many astronauts and other space workers will be needed within a decade or two at the most)? Never again will any aspiring high school student be turned away from obtaining an advanced degree for purely financial reasons. Every able-bodied homeless person, newly released prisoners, and the long-term unemployed will be able to be placed in the public works program or the reeducation program that I have just explained without qualification. It should be a crime for somebody to be homeless or jobless just because he or she wants to work but can't find employment.
The fifth right I wrote about is simply the right for all workers to organize. Any American worker who wants to join a union must be allowed to do so, and any group of workers who decide to organize themselves for the purposes of collective bargaining and solidarity must be allowed to do so without interference or fear of retribution. This will include a provision making it illegal for states to outlaw labor unions and prohibiting companies and corporations from preventing unionization. If our country's leadership is unwilling or unable to pass this and other basic rights of all workers that I have mentioned, then we as united American citizens must unite to get this issue on the next ballot by way of popular referendum. American workers will get worse working conditions, not better, if they do not organize. In the meantime, the short-term solution is to take this matter and all others like it into the streets as the Occupy Movement has done. You know, if you haven't joined us yet you really should, it's for your own good and for the future of your country.
The sixth human right that I mentioned is the right to a fair workweek. All workers who work more than 40 hours in a week, and all salaried managers who work more than 50 hours per week, will be entitled to compensation at time and a half. All companies with more than 100 employees will be required to offer either a four day workweek with a ten hour workday, or a five day workweek with an eight hour workday to all its workers. This will save a lot of energy and provide workers with more leisure time.
The right to family leave, which will include maternity leave for women, is the final right for all workers and independent contractors. Every other country in the developed world from Europe to Canada to Japan has paid family leave for its workers – all except for the US. It's time for Congress and the President to bring our country up to speed with the rest of the world in this regard. Furthermore, family and maternity leave should be allowed for up to 3 months per calendar year, and it must be illegal to fire someone from his or her job because that employee has taken family leave.
The right of all individuals to have family or maternity leave must be had by all, without interference or fear of retribution, for the strengthening of our families and the nurturing of our children.
The fundamental rights of workers must be honored and acknowledged by rule of law, and by a culture change that puts people before profits. The days of funneling the company's profits to its shareholders instead of its employees must come to an end forever as corporations gradually become replaced with employee-owned cooperatives. “We the people”, the workers who are the ones who keep things running for the rest of us, are the new business model for the 21st century. This is the new reality we must all embrace if we are to thrive in the 21st century.
This posting is composed of excerpts from my book, “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto” (6x9 softback, 472 pages). For more info and ordering information visit the Second American Revolution website at www.2ndar.org.
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Response to paulbern77 (Original post)
Fri Jan 18, 2013, 12:36 AM
Vic Vinegar (78 posts)
1. Workers must demand a NEW DEAL
Good article. I would say a general strike would be the most effective tool but you would really have to get people involved. Don't stop at workers' rights though! We need to demand a NEW DEAL!
Response to paulbern77 (Original post)
Sun Jan 20, 2013, 12:15 AM
Vic Vinegar (78 posts)
2. Workers' Rights starts with no austerity
I agree to free college loans among everything else here--we could also include easier immigration process for immigrants from Mexico so they can attain legal UNION jobs.
On paying for college; Corporate tax hikes would be crippling to our already disintegrating economy. What we need to tax is not profits but financial transactions between most of these large corporations that have non-bank banking and that of commercial banks partaking in flash trading (trading at millions transactions per second.) These transactions equate to about 4 Quadrillion a year going through the Chicago Exchange and Wall Street. We can get out of the deficit and fund these kinds of no interest loans via a 1% Wall Street Sales Tax!