Happy Holidays: GOP Delivers Uncertainty to Middle Class

by Leo Gerard

USW President Leo Gerard

USW President Leo Gerard

Apparently, uncertainty is a fate worse than death for a CEO. Billionaires bellyache about it constantly on TV, contending they must know, right now, whether next year’s tax rates will rise. Republicans bewail uncertainty, insisting CEOs must know, right now, whether they’ll get a tax holiday for overseas profits.

Their deep, abiding concern about the ill effects of uncertainty doesn’t extend, however, to the middle class. To Republicans and far too many billionaires and CEOs, weighing down workers with uncertainty about wages, health insurance and retirement is a fate well deserved.

In fact, Republicans in the past two years have gone hog-wild heightening middle class fear and uncertainty. In addition to demanding cuts to programs crucial to middle class certainty like Medicare and Social Security, Republican lawmakers in GOP-controlled states across the country have passed laws prohibiting union security clauses in collective bargaining agreements. This results in weaker unions and lower benefits and wages, not just for union workers but for everyone in union insecurity states. That creates financial insecurity, the worst kind of uncertainty.

Union security clauses give labor organizations some financial certainty. They require any worker who benefits from a collective bargaining agreement to either join and pay dues or to decline membership and pay a smaller fee covering the cost of union services like negotiation and grievance resolution.

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“Right to Work” : A Body Blow, Not a Death Blow

by Street Heat

The signing of “right to work for less” in Michigan is another stark reminder to us all how deep the crisis of labor is. As if we needed another. The fact that the supporters of “right to work” could garner enough votes to pass such a bill in Michigan underscores the determination of our enemies and the extent to which the decline of labor density has weakened labor’s ability to fend off attacks, even in our strongholds.

Right to work will not kill the labor movement in Michigan. If enacted, it will however weaken it substantially. This makes keeping up pressure in the streets, courts and all other points possible to defeat its implementation is essential. There is also still time to mitigate and undo the damage done through a variety of legal and legislative strategies. While the fight is far from ending in Michigan, we must look soberly at our priorities as a movement.

Going forward with the effort to beat back and repeal “right to work” is both necessary and makes sense. The same can be said for the other states who have recently passed or partially passed attacks on the labor movement. In many cases these states will see many of the Republicans who snuck into office in 2010 under false pretenses kicked to the curb in 2014. The energy created by the movements against the attacks on labor and working people represents a movement that has awoken from it’s slumber and this new energy will lead to our taking the offensive both politically and in organizing if our leaderships take advantage of it.

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