Workers in this country have taken it on the chin repeatedly over the last 40 years. President Ronald Reagan began the silent war against workers amid loud attacks on Unions. The business community has done a great job marketing their attacks and disguising their messaging so workers don’t even know they are voting against their own benefits, safety, and wages.
All the evidence we need of these attacks can be found in the stagnation we see in our wages and benefits. Has the amount on our checks gone up at the same rate as the cost of gas, milk, or even hamburger? Have your taxes gone down? It is harder and harder to feed our families working the same hours for the same wages.
Currently, President Donald Trump is pushing an anti-worker, pro-business, ego-fueled administration that is doing everything it can to line Trump and his family’s pockets, as well as those of his donors, while bankrupting the nation. In 2017, Trump pushed a tax break for the wealthy that was intended to trickle down to the workers. Has it? The only trickling we are feeling is the trickling away of our rights, our benefits, our wages, and, in this global pandemic, our jobs!
While the House of Representatives has passed bill after bill of stimulus relief for workers hurt by COVID, the U.S. Senate has not acted on any of them for three months. Instead, The Senate has been hard at work stacking the deck against workers. Instead of passing a stimulus bill, they confirmed Marvin Kaplan to the National Labor Relations Board, a man with no knowledge of labor law prior to his appointment.
The Supreme Court confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, the first justice approved under Trump, has been a detriment to workers. Gorsuch was the deciding vote on the Epic Systems case, which helped gut workers’ ability to enforce their rights against wage theft, sexual harassment and racial discrimination. Gorsuch also cast the deciding vote in the Janus v. AFSCME case, which overturned forty years of settled law regarding bargaining rights for millions of public sector employees.
While moving full-steam ahead on filling judgeships with anti-worker lifetime appointees, the U.S. Senate has in turn failed to take up the PRO Act, Protecting the Right to Organize, which was passed by the House of Representatives 224-194 on February 6, 2020. This legislation would give back to workers the rights stripped from them in right-to-work-for-less states over the years. This legislation would help put workers back on the pro-worker path we were on over seventy years ago.
In the 1950s, one in every three workers was a Union member. Those workers made up the middle class. You could raise a family on those wages, buy a new car and purchase a home. Now we need two or three jobs just to get by. We continue to struggle as those hardest hit by economic downturns while the rich get richer. CEOs like Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Elon Musk of Tesla have seen their wealth grow exponentially while millions of workers have been laid off. Workers need to regain their strength.
“Strong Unions have helped reduce inequality, whereas weaker Unions have made it easier for CEOs, sometimes working with market forces that they helped shape, to increase it. The decline in unionization since World War II in the United States has been associated with a pronounced rise in income and wealth inequality.” – Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize-winning economist
The list of attacks on workers by Trump and his administration which are upheld by judges and justices that he has appointed is long:
- Rollbacks in overtime protection
- Scrapped the “fiduciary” rule that required Wall Street firms to act in the best interest of their workers and retirees
- Relaxed rules on coal mine safety inspections
- Trump’s Department of Labor is allowing employers who violate minimum wage, overtime, and other wage laws avoid penalties by volunteering to investigate themselves
- Made it easier to award federal contractor to companies that are repeat violators of wage laws, sexual harassment laws, racial discrimination laws, and laws protecting workers’ rights to organize
When the bosses are allowed free reign to control workers’ wages, health benefits, safety requirements and even oversight of the laws governing these issues, then workers lose. Rights that people fought and died for are being taken away every day, and it could take years for us to get them back.
Trump and his administration have not only been focusing on hurting workers for the benefit of the CEOs, they are using veiled attacks on “regulations” and taxes to hurt those out of work and those who are retired. As a response to COVID, Trump issued an order that workers would not have to pay their Social Security taxes this fall – however, next January they would have to pay all those taxes in full. This will hurt workers next year and will, if made permanent, hurt all retirees.
“Trump has said something else, which is extremely alarming: If re-elected, he will consider doing away with the payroll tax altogether. If that were to occur, and no other revenue source is found to replace it, then we already know the result. Social Security’s chief actuary has testified that if this were to happen, all Social Security Disability benefits would cease in mid-2021, and all Social Security Retirement benefits would cease in mid-2023.” MinnPost – Minneapolis, Sept. 22, 2020
Trump wants to remove our retirement safety net. Trump wants to end the Affordable Care Act. Trump wants anti-Union judges on the Federal Courts and the U.S. Supreme Court. How can one President have so much control? Trump has a team of enablers standing to support every one of these policies and we need to stand up to them, just as we are going to stand up to Trump.
Republican Senator Jodi Ernst has stood arm in arm with Trump on packing the courts with lifetime appointments of anti-union judges. While her own state of Iowa is being ravaged by the pandemic, she has supported Trump and his gutting of the Affordable Care Act, which would remove health care from millions of citizens, many of them seniors, with pre-existing conditions.
In Iowa, working Women and Men need to vote for Theresa Greenfield. Greenfield will stand up for the Affordable Care Act, and the rights of workers. She will focus on the health and safety of workers. Her first husband was an IBEW Lineman who was killed on the job. She understands that safety on the job must be first and foremost in employers’ minds from Linemen, to teachers, to the women and men working in our meat packing industry, who, in Iowa, have been hit the hardest.
Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas sits on the Senate Judiciary committee. He has voted time and again to confirm Trump’s Judicial picks. Partisanship and loyalty to Trump is all that he cares about. Workers need a rational voice who is loyal to the voters and not a party or an individual.
The people of Texas need to elect MJ Hegar, a former combat pilot who was shot down in the line of duty. She knows what it is like to put your life on the line for the common good. She has stood in the face of hostile forces and done everything in her power to help protect those standing beside her. She knows what it is like to be injured on the job and she has the scars to prove it. After MJ was injured during her third tour of duty, the Pentagon denied her the ability to continue serving in the Military. She fought that ruling against Congress and into the courts, and she won. MJ has put her life on the line for all of the people in this nation and stood up for all women serving in combat in the military, and she will continue in that role as U.S. Senator from Texas.
The last four years we have seen monumental shifts against workers, with congress and the courts removing decades of laws that we workers fought and died for. We need to elect people who will move just as quickly to return those rights as President Trump and his cronies worked to take them away. But that isn’t enough. We need to move beyond where we were just four years ago. What this pandemic has shown us is that workers across the board have been taken advantage of for years and that needs to stop. Workers need a living wage, workers need healthcare, and workers need a safety net when the economy comes to a standstill – like we are seeing with COVID-19.
There is a lot of work to be done in the weeks ahead to ensure that workers and OUR issues are addressed by the next Congress and President. If we do nothing else, we must VOTE against Donald Trump and his congressional enablers. We need change. Change only comes from struggle. Forty years of struggle is enough. We need to stop Trump and his wealthy donors and congressional cronies by drawing a line in the sand and saying NO MORE!