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Thu Feb 28, 2013, 01:13 AM

American Workers Have Lost Or Given Up Just About Every Gain Made By Unions In

the last 112 years. Workers' rights are like a severely endangered species that could go extinct at any moment. And I believe what is left is hanging by a thread.

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Reply American Workers Have Lost Or Given Up Just About Every Gain Made By Unions In (Original post)
TheMastersNemesis Feb 2013 OP
Suich Feb 2013 #1
TheMastersNemesis Feb 2013 #3
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #4
TheMastersNemesis Feb 2013 #6
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #8
TheMastersNemesis Feb 2013 #10
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #13
winter is coming Feb 2013 #11
TheMastersNemesis Feb 2013 #12
Live and Learn Feb 2013 #14
tpsbmam Feb 2013 #15
aristocles Feb 2013 #2
global1 Feb 2013 #5
Populist_Prole Feb 2013 #7
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #9

Response to TheMastersNemesis (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 01:25 AM

1. Sad, but true.

And it has happened fairly quickly.

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Response to Suich (Reply #1)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 01:37 AM

3. When You Worked At DOL Like I Did You Learn A Lot About The Labor Market.

What's happening in employment goes far beyond what the official stats say. You really end up in a spot where you can see all the trends and practices in the job market.

The best way I can explain the condition of the labor market is compare it to what a healthy lung looks like compared to a 40 year smoker with stage 4 lung cancer. The core of the job market is just gone compared to where it was in 1980.

I realize that the stats supposedly look good and the economy has been growing, but I see a lot of it as an illusion. I see so many horrid abuses happening that it is just sick.

My other view of the labor market is what Hiroshima looked like after the bomb. The problem is that most workers are not able to see or understand because they have been lied to and are being lied to. They also do not have the background to see or recognize what is going on.

It really bothers me to see all the horror stories floating around.

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Response to TheMastersNemesis (Reply #3)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 01:44 AM

4. can you expand on that a bit?


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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #4)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 02:06 AM

6. I Will Try - The Things That Are Going On Are Pervasive.

There is no comparison between the job market up to 1980 and now. What workers have lost is just about all of the social contract. Here is a litany of things that no longer exist. Employers no longer train workers. Career path for most of the work force is gone. Seniority, longevity, consistent pay raises, health care, benefits vacations, sick pay are gone in so many companies. I would say full time employment per capita is the lowest that it has ever been. 40% of the work force is contract work. Another 30% and possibly more are jobs are temp, seasonal, or part time. About 80% of the jobs lost during the recession were jobs in the $30K to $60K range. Almost all of those jobs have been reduced to under $25K a year. Job applicants per job are probably 50X what they were in 1980. Massive layoffs are no longer reported so we do not know how many people are laid of in many cases. So most labor stats are really off or misleading. The average time on the jobs was less than 3 years before the recession. Long term employment now is virtually extinct. And once you are past 40 I would guess you have a 70% chance to be laid off by the time you are 50. And finding work if you are over 40 is extremely difficult particularly if you have had or have an illness. Employers have lass and less commitment to a stable work force. Meaningful enforcement of what labor laws are left is now virtually nonexistent. Wage theft is now pandemic. Age, sex, racial, religious and political discrimination are rampant. And unions are under extreme attack. And there are initiatives to end unemployment, workers compensation, food stamps etc. And we really could go back to a time like the early 1900's where a worker has no protections or rights. In the application process you are stripped of all your privacy. And when you are on the job you are at the mercy as far as work hours. Even part time jobs have you on call at a moments notice. The final straw is that the attack on the minimum wage is more severe than it has ever been. Forget raising it. It could be gone altogether.

A lot of what I am sensitive to goes unreported and ignored in the general scheme of things. If the media does report on the employment picture it distorts it or just plain lies.

In all my years, workers are under attack like I have never seen before. When I compare the job market of today against the market up to 1980 the difference is so drastic. I worked multiple programs as an employment specialist. We really learned about the inner workings of labor and employment. If I could transfer my knowledge to you or someone not immersed in the kind of experience I had you would be speechless and shocked. Then you would get really pissed. Believe me I am just livid about what has been done to the working class over the last 32 years.

Workers today are being severely beaten and whipped psychologicall, socially and economically.

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Response to TheMastersNemesis (Reply #6)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 02:19 AM

8. that is pretty damning. i think you should work up an OP, because knowing this is important.


i have certainly noticed the change since the 80s in my neck of the woods, a small town which used to be heavily unionized, lots of factory work. it was a good place to grow up when i was a kid. today it's basically a rural ghetto -- lots of drugs, mostly scut work with a veneer of professional work (health care, mainly, though even there most of the employment is scut work) -- very white, but unemployment higher than the state average, low wages, temp, contract, all the things you pointed out. also lots of social service agencies which don't really do anything meaningful except monitor & control people and provide jobs to the professional veneer, who are always lamenting how disgusting the people they monitor are.

in fact, the change made me draw analogies between my own community & the process of 'ghettoization' in the inner cities, which also used to be working-class centers of productive activity. the people with the means move on and the residual population is inexorably drawn into self-defeating activity and self-hatred. and when the jobs left, the drugs came in, almost as if by magic.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #8)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 02:38 AM

10. I Used To Work With A Social Service Agency And At A Homeless Shelter

Social service agencies are more underfunded than they ever have been. I was an employment specialist and used to work with social workers and welfare clients. There are scammers, but many I talked to and worked with were trapped by a fraudulent capitalistic system even in the early 1970's, but they had more of a chance than they would have today.

I also worked at a homeless shelter part time for four years and was associated with it for 6 years as well. It depended completely on donations. I knew all the directors and worked with them personally and it was a really tough situation. And there were few resources to get people out of homelessness. My job there was to get day labor jobs for homeless people. It was enough day work for some so they could get a meal because the shelter only served ONE meal a day and that was breakfast using donated food. I dealt with all sorts of people and many severely mentally ill and sometimes physically sick. And you developed what was called "the shelter cough". Your personal safety was ALWAYS at risk in that environment. It took all my wits and experience to know how to deal with these people. And many of them were very very smart. Some were totally insane as well.

I realize that you may believe that social service agencies do not do anything. It really is much different than you think. Social service agencies are under attack like ever before and they are very short of funding and resources. The GOP wants to turn over all the homeless, needy and sick over to the churches and charity. The trouble is the churches do not want them. They might want the money but they don't want the people. Besides it takes a lot of knowledge and experience to deal with the population on a day to day basis. The desperation that you deal with daily is draining to the core.

Recently I passed by a homeless area in downtown Denver. Believe me you would be shocked and speechless seeing all those people that I recently saw. And many of them were young people in their 20's. It was not just old drunks believe me. I worked with such a population and know where these people are coming from. But that is another story.

Also your assessment of your community is what a lot of communities are like today. My home town of Springfield, Illinois is very much like your community. There is nothing there except crap jobs for most workers.

I can tell you get it. The problem is that the GOP plans to make conditions much much much worse.

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Response to TheMastersNemesis (Reply #10)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 03:21 AM

13. What i mean by SS agencies don't do anything is that all they *can* do is provide stopgaps.


A place to sleep for the night. Some drugs. A one-time heating payment. A temporary subsidized job, called 'training,' but mostly just the same low-level work people used to get a real wage for.

But as for the root causes of social distress -- economic, social, psychological -- nothing. It's all a stopgap that for most 'clients' leads nowhere. Because there's no 'there' there. Increasing social immiseration, and the massive damage it causes, is a basic fact of our existence. It can't be 'fixed' with social services. It can barely be remediated, and only temporarily in most cases.

I've had experiences similar to yours, and worked in social service agencies as well, both as employee and volunteer. But I came to believe that there was a big deception involved at a fundamental level in social services. And I increasingly came to feel the pressure of not being able to talk about that with coworkers or clients. The elephant in the room that could not be spoken of except in some rare cases.

But again, I encourage you to do an OP about what you learned about the labor situation. I have had a hard time reconciling what I see on the ground with official statistics and your account lets me know there's some reality to my unease.

And while I agree that the GOP would like everyone to be insecure and working for peanuts, *it's not just the GOP*.

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Response to TheMastersNemesis (Reply #6)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 02:39 AM

11. +1. In 1980, it was still fairly common for someone to work for the same employer for decades.

In pre-1980s business thinking it made sense: if you had an employee who was a good worker and reasonably bright, why get rid of them and gamble on a (possibly cheaper) unknown? Instead, take advantage of that employee's knowledge of your corporate environment and train him/her for new responsibilities as appropriate. It wasn't uncommon for companies to hire the children of their employees, either, the apparent reasoning being that apples don't fall very far from the tree.

Today? We have "Human Resources" instead of "Personnel" and people are treated like office supplies: something fungible, to be obtained as cheaply as possible. My dad could see it happening in the mid-80's and he told me, "Don't fall it love with the company, because the company won't love you back". These days, the company doesn't even see you.

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Response to winter is coming (Reply #11)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 02:42 AM

12. What You Posted Is Why This Country Is Just About Dead. Thank Reagan And The GOP

along with its business allies. If we do not reverse this kiss the kids and grandkids future good bye. There won't be any decent future for them.

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Response to winter is coming (Reply #11)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 04:08 AM

14. +1 nt

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Response to TheMastersNemesis (Reply #6)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 04:42 AM

15. I'm going to second HiPointDem in urging you to work the things you've posted in this thread

into an OP. it's depressing as hell but critical to understand. We need to start working from this reality base and fight like hell against the continued downward spiral. Damn, the prospects for our kids are looking ever bleaker.

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Response to TheMastersNemesis (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 01:31 AM

2. As long as that thread is the eight hour day / 40 hour work week


I'm OK.

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Response to TheMastersNemesis (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 02:03 AM

5. The Time Is Right For A "National Workers Association"......

I'm reposting this every chance I get. Your post made me think that this re-post is appropriate here.

Please check out the link below and see the comments I've gotten on this and a suggestion by one of the respondents to keep re-posting this so that more DU'ers would be exposed to the idea.

If you read the responses I got - you will see that there was support and other posters even made suggestions as to how to improve on it.

Here's the link:


And the following is a description of what my concept of a "National Workers Association" is.

My Concept Of A "National Workers Association"

Given the fact that unions in the U.S. are taking hits and union membership is down and the power of unions has been diminished over the years since the Reagan presidency - I'm thinking that we need to look at the plight of the worker in the United States from a different perspective.

Right-to-work laws have contributed to the decreasing role of unions in the U.S. According to Wikipedia a right-to-work law is a statute in the United States of America that prohibits union security agreements, or agreements between labor unions and employers that govern the extent to which an established union can require employees' membership, payment of union dues, or fees as a condition of employment, either before or after hiring.

"Right-to-work" laws do not, as the short phrase might suggest, aim to provide a general guarantee of employment to people seeking work, but rather are a government regulation of the contractual agreements between employers and labor unions that prevents them from excluding non-union workers.

Because right-to-work laws have impacted the worker and workers rights, wages and unions in the U.S. then it seems to me that we have to come up with a different and new way of promoting workers rights in the U.S. I'm thinking that we need to model a workers rights organization after the National Rifle Association model. The NRA has become a formidable lobbying group for gun owners and proponents of gun rights. The NRA has done this with a membership of 4.3 million. With the population of the U.S. at approximately 312.8 million people this means the NRA membership is approximately 1.37% of the total population of the United States.

Note: This post is not about gun control nor does it have anything to do with the recent Newtown tragedy. This post is about 'workers rights'. Please don't make this a post about gun control - I simply am using the NRA as an example of an effective organization.

According to Wikipedia in June 2009 there were 306, 000, 000 people living in the United States of which there were about 155,000,000 people that are employed. This means that approximate 51% of the U.S. population would be classified as workers.

If we were able to form an organization of workers where workers would pay a membership fee to join - just like the NRA - and if we were able to convince about 26% of the work force to join - an organization of workers could have a membership of 40,000,000 people compared to 4,300,000 million members of the NRA or approximately a 10 fold increase over the number of members in the NRA. If the NRA has been able to become a formidable lobbying force in this country with 4.3 million members - just think what a National Workers Association could become with 40 million members.

Every worker or potential worker would be eligible to become a member of the NWA. Membership dues could be nominal at $35.00 per year per worker. That would net such an organization $1.4 billion dollars. Just think of the power that this amount of money would bring to lobbying for workers and promoting workers rights to combat the push back we as workers are getting from the corporations that are running this country.

Now what would this organization be called and what would it stand for. Here is my first attempt at trying to describe such and organization of workers:

Note: consider this a work in process.

"The National Workers Association of America (NWA) would be organized as an American non-profit 501(c)(4) lobbying group that advocates for the protection of working people in the United States, and the promotion of workers rights including the right to work; free choice of employment; just and favorable conditions of work and unemployment protection. The NWA would support the right to equal treatment, regardless of gender, origin and appearance, religion, sexual orientation. Equal pay for equal work; just and favorable remuneration ensuring the worker and his/her family an existence worthy of human dignity and the right to rest and leisure, with reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

The NWA could have an education component and sponsor training courses in career building, skills training, resume composition, resume posting, interviewing skills and provide assistance with short term vocational training, supportive services to obtain GED placement, vocational rehabilitation. The NWA could provide members with a job registry including job search advice. The NWA would make available salary surveys/advice, human resource and unemployment assistance. It would also be a clearing house for programs that would provide workers career counseling and retraining for new careers. "

Again - looking at the NRA as an example of an effective organization - the NWA could have state and local chapters. It could initially be organized around current unions and they could immediately become the core of such an organization. The NWA could have local, state and national meetings. The NWA could have a monthly journal and newsletter and of course a website - complete with all the social networking tools that are available (i.e., Twitter, Facebook, etc). There could be specialty sections in the NWA that align around groups of workers (i.e., hotel workers; restaurant workers; plumbers; electricians; truckers; etc) in order to give all workers a voice.

The point being is that we as workers need someone to go to bat for us and we need to have the lobbying muscle to compete with the corporations. With the formation of an NWA - we would be going to bat for ourselves.

I'm tired of all the strong rhetoric that goes on before an election and then the 'bait and switch' weaseling that goes on after pols are elected. It's time that we organize and have and apply leverage in order to protect our interests. I'm thinking that our elected officials would take heed and listen to such an organization with such a voice.

I'm throwing this idea out there and am looking for some constructive criticism in the formation of such an entity. It seems to me that we can do anything that we set our mind to and a National Workers Association would go a long way in giving the common worker in the U.S. to prevent any additional erosion of "Jobs In America".

What do my fellow DU'ers out there think about this?

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Response to TheMastersNemesis (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 02:13 AM

7. Ironic how anti-labor jerkweeds use the ever trite "Unions were needed in the past but not now" meme

As if the status-quo was NOT under assault by the same corporatists said anti-labor jerkweeds carry water for.

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Response to Populist_Prole (Reply #7)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 02:23 AM

9. +100. i have heard that so often, as if the abuses of the past had ceased to exist. no, they are


growing. the people who say this (in my experience at least) seem to have stopped paying attention in 1960. they seem to think unions are very powerful and throwing up roadblocks to production right and left, and that the social safety net provides even the most unworthy with a rothschild lifestyle.

it's unreal, because if they took their heads out of their butts for just one moment and looked around it's fairly obvious that half the population in my city is living on the margin.

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