Archive for labor issues

"Labor Day: the red-headed stepchild of holidays... to honor not the dead, but the living. Our workforce."


unions labor day gop

Today’s guest post by the one, the only, Will Durst:


Hey, it’s Labor Day, everybody. Woo- hoo. Okay, we’re partying now. Throw your arms in the air and wave them like you just don’t care. Blow up some balloons. Tap a keg. Rip open a bag of chips. Because this isn’t a champagne and caviar kind of thing. This is the very definition of blue collar. If collars be worn at all.

It was 1894 when Labor Day first punched into work. Grover Cleveland signed it into law 6 days after the end of the Pullman Strike during which federal troops killed more than 30 strikers. Cynics saw it as a kind of make-up sex between the government and the American worker. Well, flowers and candy anyhow.

The first Monday of September was specifically picked to bridge the long holiday gap between 4th of July and Thanksgiving and to get as far away from May Day as possible. In the late 19th Century, labor unions were one thing, but Communists were a horse of a different color.

For 120 years, Labor Day has been the red-headed stepchild of holidays. As glamorous as the guy with a shovel following a mule in a parade. Something you roll out to get Child Protective Services off your butt. “Look, we gave you an entire day, now give it a rest, would you? What do you want, cake?”

Goldilocks would have loved Labor Day. Not too hot. Not too cold. Less incendiary than Easter and Christmas, but with a decidedly higher thermal print than the International Talk Like a Pirate Day; fast approaching on September 19. Hard to believe its time to dig out the eye patch, wooden leg and Jolly Roger. Again. Already.

Because of Labor Day’s peculiar calendar placement, it has morphed into not so much a celebration as a seasonal signal flag. Here lies the tired, dried- up body of summer. Time to roll up the garden hose and recharge the snow blower. Bury the swimsuits and exhume the parkas. Watermelon smoothies give way to pumpkin lattes. Weenie roasts on the back deck- no. Tailgating in a dirt parking lot- yes.

The lazy hazy days are over and school and football have kicked off. And this holiday Monday is but one final chance to party in the long light. Meanwhile, the significance of what we’re commemorating has gotten lost in a last gasp blast of beer, baseball and barbecue.

Labor Day is meant to be a day we set aside to honor not the dead, but the living. Our workforce. One single day off so the real nine to five heroes that keep this country humming can hang with their families and friends before squaring their shoulders and getting back to the job of earning a living and carving out the future. And maybe one day at a theme park on someone’s 10th birthday without having to take out a second mortgage.

It’s a day to catch our breath. To celebrate the contributions of all of America’s working folk. From the floor of the stock exchange to the stockroom of Amazon. To recognize the pistons that keep the engine of this country pumping along. And no need to bring gifts, although that whole flowers and candy thing is never a bad idea. And maybe some chips and beer and what the hell… cake. Who doesn’t like cake?

Catch 5 time Emmy nominee, Will Durst’s new one- man show “BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG” every Tuesday until November, at the Marsh, San Francisco. Go to… for more info. Or


1956 GOP platform: "Expansion of social security... Unions have grown... collective bargaining has been strengthened"


eisenhower 1956

Welcome to the 1956 Republican Party of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Here are excerpts from the GOP platform:

We are proud of and shall continue our far-reaching and sound advances in matters of basic human needs—expansion of social security—broadened coverage in unemployment insurance —improved housing—and better health protection for all our people. We are determined that our government remain warmly responsive to the urgent social and economic problems of our people. [...]

We shall continue vigorously to support the United Nations. [...]

That men are created equal needs no affirmation, but they must have equality of opportunity and protection of their civil rights under the law. [...]

America does not prosper unless all Americans prosper.

Government must have a heart as well as a head. [...]

The Federal minimum wage has been raised for more than 2 million workers. Social Security has been extended to an additional 10 million workers and the benefits raised for 6 1/2 million. The protection of unemployment insurance has been brought to 4 million additional workers. There have been increased workmen's compensation benefits for longshoremen and harbor workers, increased retirement benefits for railroad employees, and wage increases and improved welfare and pension plans for federal employees.

In addition, the Eisenhower Administration has enforced more vigorously and effectively than ever before, the laws which protect the working standards of our people.

Workers have benefited by the progress which has been made in carrying out the programs and principles set forth in the 1952 Republican platform. All workers have gained and unions have grown in strength and responsibility, and have increased their membership by 2 millions.

Furthermore, the process of free collective bargaining has been strengthened by the insistence of this Administration that labor and management settle their differences at the bargaining table without the intervention of the Government. This policy has brought to our country an unprecedented period of labor-management peace and understanding. [...]

The Eisenhower Administration will continue to fight for dynamic and progressive programs which, among other things, will:

Assure equal pay for equal work regardless of Sex [...]

Extend the protection of the Federal minimum wage laws to as many more workers as is possible and practicable;

Continue to fight for the elimination of discrimination in employment because of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry or sex;

Provide assistance to improve the economic conditions of areas faced with persistent and substantial unemployment;

Revise and improve the Taft-Hartley Act so as to protect more effectively the rights of labor unions, management, the individual worker, and the public. The protection of the right of workers to organize into unions and to bargain collectively is the firm and permanent policy of the Eisenhower Administration. In 1954, 1955 and again in 1956, President Eisenhower recommended constructive amendments to this Act. [...]

We have provided more than 1200 badly-needed new post office buildings, and are adding two more every day... We have extended city carrier service to millions of new homes in thousands of urban and suburban communities which have grown and spread under the favorable economic conditions brought about by the Eisenhower Administration. [...]

The Republican Party will continue to fight for eagerly desired new advances for Government employees, and realistic reappraisement and adjustment of benefits for our retired civil service personnel.[...]

We favor self-government, national suffrage and representation in the Congress of the United States for residents of the District of Columbia.

We recommend to Congress the submission of a constitutional amendment providing equal rights for men and women. [...]

The Republican Party supports an immigration policy which is in keeping with the traditions of America in providing a haven for oppressed peoples, and which is based on equality of treatment, freedom from implications of discrimination between racial, nationality and religious groups, and flexible enough to conform to changing needs and conditions.

back to the future

H/t: @SherrieGG


"It can’t be long before the entire Republican Party is institutionalized..."


dear gop you are woefully out of touch

Today’s guest post by the one, the only, Will Durst:


This week’s tale is a horror story about lessons learned by the GOP from the 2012 Presidential election. And those teachable moments are… nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada. Empty voids. “Hear the hollow roar of the Pod People. See them lash out at the unknown. Feel their blind terror of a future they don’t understand. It’s Son of the Bride of the Attack of the Robot Amnesiacs! Part 6.”

They say one sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Which means it can’t be long before the entire Republican Party is institutionalized for their own safety shuffling around in shabby bathrobes popping a daily regimen of psychotropic pills in miniature Dixie Cups. Falling asleep during games of checkers. Which, admittedly, is redundant.

The contraction of the party into a hard white stone nugget the size of a peach pit is almost complete. Inclusion? Heresy! Generosity? Hah, we spit on your generosity! And fie on your benevolence. Compassion? Grace? Sympathy? Tolerance? More liberal plots solely designed to destroy the lives of decent God- fearing people. Just like science and education and the EPA.

Fueled by the fiery core of Tea Party Irregulars, the GOP futilely pursues an agenda intended to replicate a simpler time gone past. An imaginary simpler time gone past. Right now, from Texas to Wisconsin to Florida to North Dakota, coordinated efforts are rolling back anything that smells like a societal advance. Voting rights. The control of women over their own bodies. The freedom to marry any person you love. Equal access to health care. The Republicans are undergoing an overhaul to remake themselves the Party of the 50s. The 1750s.

These guys have assumed multiple positions so far on the wrong side of history they probably see dinosaurs chewing on extinct ferns in their back yards. Going to end up with La Brea tar pit fossils as their only friends. Their theme song- straight from the movie “Horsefeathers,” by Groucho Marx “Whatever it is, I’m against it.” Should really adopt the Wooly Mammoth to replace the elephant as their mascot. Maybe the Dodo Bird.

Furthermore, the stated plans of John Boehner’s House majority now involve slowing down immigration reform. Of course, “slowing down” is simply another euphemism for “getting rid of.” “Termination with extreme prejudice.” “Buried so deep in committee, you wouldn’t be able to find it with a thousand Klieg Lights and a molecular microscope.” Not hard to imagine the next order of business is to mandate American housewives wash their clothes in the creek.

One fact never addressed, their record- not really one to write home about. Unless your home is on Failure Avenue. Stubborn Street. Recalcitrant Road. Cantankerous Court. Wayward Way. Think about it. Conservatives have opposed every, single, major advancement in human rights over the last 200 years. Freeing the slaves. Women getting the vote. Minimum wage. Child labor laws. Medicare. Social Security. ObamaCare. Miniskirts. Arugula. Jazz.

So that’s their back-to-the-future track. Morphing into the modern equivalent of the Whig Party. The sepia-toned, Sansabelt-slacks wearing, Tin Pan Alley listening, rabbit-ears adjusting, blacksmithing, coal-powered, buggy-whipped, daguerreotype party. Sitting all by themselves in an outhouse with a Sears catalogue and black and white dreams of separate but equal water fountains as only their companions.

5 time Emmy nominee, Will Durst’s new one- man show “BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG” presented every Tuesday, at the Marsh, San Francisco. Go to… for more info. Or
And don’t forget to listen to the newest edition of the Will & Willie Show on KKSF 910 @ 7pm this Saturday night and 960 KNEW @ 6pm this Sunday night. Or 24/7.

Unions "were put in place to fight for employees, not to protect the employer"


Andy Marquis, reporter for, is our guest blogger of the day. He used to consider himself a Republican but not any more.  He changed his voter registration to Independent in 2011 and says that’s how it will remain. Enjoy (bolding mine):

What the Demonization and Demise of the Union Really Mean

Hostess, maker of Twinkies, is blaming union workers for going on strike for their demise Thursday.  The Reader’s Digest version being sold in the Beltway Media is that those evil union thugs didn’t accept a 32% cut in pay and that’s the reason the company went out of business.  Never mind the fact that Hostess has gone in to bankruptcy twice or the fact that those who have mismanaged the company have recently voted themselves a 300% salary increase, along with other bonuses.  Blame it all on the worker – it’s the American way.

Here's the thing with the unions.  They were put in place to fight for employees, not to protect the employer.

The problem with accepting a 32% pay cut is that there's no guarantee you'll get a pay increase if the company turns around.  That's why Wisconsin stripped collective bargaining rights.  Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker got everything he wanted in Wisconsin.  The teachers unions agreed to pay more in to their pensions and receive less from them (see: pay cut).  But even after that was agreed to, Walker flipped the bird at them and had their collective bargaining rights stripped (illegally) so they couldn't re-negotiate the contract down the road when things were better.

I’m a firm believer in unions.  Yes, there are things they could do differently.  Yes, I think teacher unions are an impediment to educational reform.  But the positives of unions outweigh the negatives.  They fight for the middle class and, as long as they have a seat at the table, we are all better off.

The Industrial Revolution was dark times, and times we are best not to return to.  It was when unions were formed by the employees and when they had a seat at the table that life improved for everyone.  The 40 hour work week, overtime pay, weekends, holidays, sick leave – the unions are to thank for all of these things.

Some people in American politics would rather see the unions not have a seat.  They think the government should work for the businesses.  In reality, the government already does.  If the unions do not have a seat at the table, many of those regulations would be allowed to be cancelled.  Regulations that are designed to protect the poor from being abused by their employers would go away.  And while many employers would act in good faith towards their employees without the unions and regulations, many others would not.

Take the unions out of the process and it’s once more a government working for big business.

See, it’s easy to blame the unions and to claim workers are overpaid.  After all, the unions are blamed for government budget deficits, the downfall of GM and now the downfall of Hostess.

The reason local and state governments are in deficits are because people are out of work and not paying taxes.  The teachers aren’t overpaid – in actual reality, teachers are underpaid.  GM went into bankruptcy because their reputation declined after nearly two decades of building an inferior product while companies like Honda and Toyota were putting quality products on the road.  And Hostess went out of business because of mismanagement.

Blaming the unions for these things happening is just like blaming the Community Reinvestment Act for the recession.  Now, sane and rational people know the Community Reinvestment Act was not responsible for the recession, but it’s made a great scapegoat in the conservative dumbassophere.  Idiots like Rush Limbaugh, who himself has a difficult relationship with reality, has no problem blaming the Community Reinvestment Act.  Why?  Because, in his Oxycontin influenced reality, poor people are always the cause of the problems and government works too hard to protect them.

Let me give an example of how government protects the wealthy at the expense of the poor.

Today, there was another oil rig explosion off the coast of Louisiana.  Fortunately, it does not look like we’re in for another Deepwater Horizon environmental holocaust.  But Deepwater Horizon exposed fundamental flaws.  Oil rigs are not properly inspected because the Minerals Management Agency does not have the proper funding to inspect them.  But when you and I, ordinary average citizens, have to have our car inspected or our home inspected, we have to pay a fee to the government out of pocket.  Corporations do not have to pay those fees for their inspections – instead, the taxpayers do.

Even though the system already favors business and the wealthy, because we are a Capitalist society after all, they want it in their favor more.  After all, it was David and Charles Koch who influenced the union stripping business that many Republican governors have invested their time in.  At the same time as they fought to have unions’ rights taken away, they were also fighting to have a larger say in the political process in the Supreme Court.  And they won both battles.

The demonization of the unions, which is fair criticism in some cases but unfair and biased criticism in others, is not about the unions at all.  It’s really about making sure the American people don’t have a seat at the table anymore.  The unions gave the American people a seat at the table, and now special interests are trying to take those away.

“Class Warfare” is not a minimum wage employee wanting to make a respectable wage to provide for his or her family.  “Class Warfare” is not a teacher wanting to make a wage that matches his or her qualifications.  “Class Warfare” is not employees refusing to take a massive pay cut while the corporation they work for pockets all the money they have before they close down.  “Class Warfare” is not thinking that those who can afford to pay more to contribute to the survival of this union should pay more.  “Class Warfare” is not thinking oil companies should have to pay for inspections of their rigs.  “Class Warfare” is not thinking that the banks should be regulated so they can’t gamble everyone’s’ money away.

The first part of “Class Warfare” is to blame the poor for the recession and the unions for deficitsThe second part is to take away the safety nets that help the poor and to eliminate the unions.  The final part is to deregulate the economy so corporations can once more thrive off the suffering of the working poor.

The United States of America survived for 100 years with the unions having a seat at the table, and life was better off for everyone in America because, when the poor and the middle class are doing better, everyone is doing better including the wealthy.  Yes, the United States needs a strong and prosperous upper-class to survive.  But it also needs a strong middle class to survive, to support the upper class and the entire economy.  And it’s the unions that built a stronger middle class, which in turn, created a stronger upper class.