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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?
Posted by global1 | Wed Dec 19, 2012, 05:19 PM (29 replies)
President Obama said this a couple of times in his SOTU Address. "And we know how to fix it". That's the sad thing about this mess that BushCo put us in - we do know how to fix it - but the Repugs are so intent to keep it broke and make Obama a one-term president that they won't let us "fix it".
Other phrases that stood out to me in this speech were:
1. A Return To American Values
2. An America Built to Last
3. America Is Back
How could the Repugs just sit there and ignore these? It's downright "un-American" for them to turn their backs on America.
This speech was filled with common sense ideas and actions put forth by this President. We do know how to fix things. It isn't rocket science.
How anyone can sit there and listen to this speech and think bad of this President and not want this man to represent them over the next 4 years - I just don't understand.
I hear the Repug clown car candidates constantly knock down this President and say things like we need to focus on jobs, etc. But I never hear any of them offer any real ideas as to how to do that.
In this SOTU speech - I heard real and actionable ideas being put forth by this President. Things that can be done to "fix America".
How can Repugs in Congress just sit there and neglect doing anything to help "fix this country"? Why do the Repugs want to destroy this country? Why do the 99%er Repugs, some Indies and Dems want to vote against their best interests?
I just don't get it???????????????????
Posted by global1 | Wed Jan 25, 2012, 04:44 AM (3 replies)
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