Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Labor Day 2013 - Part Three of Three

August 28th 

Comments concerning: 


Frank Shansky

This is the major issue that labor has a vital role in addressing, because it has the principles and structure to address it.

Jim Lange

Reversing income inequality is the key to any success in improving the economy. There must be massive changes to improve the lives of working people.

Dominique Noth

As to income inequality and immigration reform:
Let me answer together since both represent how unions must form coalitions regardless of union or non-union, too long it only worked for its own members while now it must address income inequality for fast food workers and others as a matter of the sort of economic justice that marked the union movement in the 1930s. Let’s stop getting hung up on acronyms and join hands.

Comments Concerning:

EFCA- Employee Free Choice Act – workers simply vote to form a legal – representative union

Frank Shansky

President Obama has been a major disappointment on this issue. He promised to push for it and then never lifted a finger.

Dominque Noth

The question defines the problem – most people don’t know what EFCA is, a simple act by Congress or Constitutional Amendment to protect the choice to join a union against legislative attacks. It’s seldom correctly explained or intelligently defended. Even union members are confused by the arguments. Labor’s operations are remarkably clean and transparent as opposed to how people are given power in corporations or government but it’s been abused and demeaned by big money on the other side and its own internal weakness. The first step it to prove its democracy and self-policing to a doubting public as part of growing support for its core values of fairness for all who work.

Comments Concerning:


Frank Shansky
A critical issue in addressing income equality both in terms of the issues faced by the immigrant community but workers in general. The unification of working people (i.e. immigrants and non-immigrants) will be a key factor in whether we are successful in addressing the key issues of our day.

Jim Lange

Immigration reform is a necessity today let’s get it passed.

Dominique Noth 

Immigration is a similar case. For every “criminal” the right points out there are actually thousands of cases of families we should want in the US. Right now in the push to get reform, even immigration supporters are willing to accept draconian concerns over border security, setting aside more money to protect the Mexican-US border than spent on the entire CIA and FBI combined, which doesn’t address the problem but is excused as a foot in the door. It is worth the price? Would intelligent modification follow or would jackboots attitudes grow? Where does the coalition draw the line? Compromise requires clarity on underlying principles of common sense. The attraction of the right is the attitude of no compromise whether it makes sense or not. Labor as well as Faith has got to not only look smarter but be smarter.

Joan Picard Bleidorn

Regarding immigration reform, those who claim to have any real faith at all should certainly realize that the beatitudes on which our salvation depends, demands that we welcome the stranger in our land, as we ourselves were once strangers, and it will not be well for us if we fail to do this. How far should we go in cooperating with the far right of the Republican Part, in order to get some kind of immigration bill through? I am not sure to what extent here should be cooperation with the drastic compromises they see to demand in order to pass a bill.

Monday, August 26, 2013

LABOR DAY – 2013

I posed some questions and issues to social justice leaders for comment on the Labor Day postings for this year.  There will be three postings: Monday August 26th, Tuesday August 27th and Wednesday August 28th.  The responses are interesting and inspiring.


August 26th
What is the political-economic – moral strength of the labor movement at the present time? 

August 27th

Does Faith have an important role in the Labor Movement?

August 28th

Issues: Income inequality, EFCA. Immigration Reform

The respondents are:

Frank Shansky, Business Manager Local 212 Milwaukee Area Technical College

Jim Lange, retired Steel Worker and labor activist 

Dominique Paul Noth, served as senior editor for all feature coverage at the Milwaukee Journal after decades as its film and drama critic, then was appointed special assistant to the publisher and the company’s first online producer.  For the past decade he was editor of the Milwaukee Labor Press and website, He now writes as an independent journalist on culture and politics.

Joan Picard Bleidorn, retired Milwaukee Area Technical College Professor, Co-founder Local 212 part time professors unit, member of St. Benedict the Moor Roman Catholic Parish

August 26th Question:

What is the political-economic-moral strength of the Labor Movement at the present time?

Frank Shansky

   I’ll let someone else answer the political and economic strength. But the moral strength of the labor movement is its ability to stand up to power, when very few others will. Labor encompasses the vast majority of society, if not in membership, then in principle.

Jim Lange:

   The Labor movement is too weak these days to deal with the onslaught of the companies. That’s why I applaud the AFL-CIO for reaching out and trying to find new ways of doing things.

Dominique Noth:

   Ought to be stronger but is quite weak in public perception despite clear evidence of moral and economic importance.  Some of the wound is inflicted by political excess particularly in Wisconsin and other ideologically right-driven states but some is self-inflicted from naval gazing over protecting its own members.

   Now labor has got to go back to what caused it to grow and vitalize starting a century ago, bringing in workers of like concern whether they hold union cards or not, opening the doors, forming coalitions of like-minded whom, once the issues are explained, may well be a majority. But there also must be an awareness that too many families –

struggling economically and focused on their own children as traditional family units disintegrate geographically, as cultural, educational  and social mores change – require new modes of communication and new tools of information to make them realize the importance of getting off their duffs.
Joan Bleidorn:

   Regarding the political strength of the labor movement at the present time, there is a need for a massive awaking to the importance increased political efforts to deal with the unmitigated attack on the rights of workers in this country.  To begin with, the fact that more than 20 or more U.S. states are almost totally controlled by Republican governors, as well as control of the House and Senate, give the extreme right-wing of the Republican party cart blanch opportunities to crush all rights for workers.  The right- wing strongly supports a ‘Righty to Work’ policy, which translates into, “if you don’t like what the job offers, too bad-leave…you are lucky to have a job at all even at slave wages, so don’t complain because we can have you replaced in a minute.”  We must lay the foundations of justice for workers at the political level first, and make sure that we learn from the effective tactics of the far right.  Those of us who believe in a strong unionized work-force , must make every effort to get our candidates in at first of all, the local level, and build a strong foundation from the ground up.  From control and power at the local level, there must be a move upward to higher levels of government, until recapture of the House and Senate can happen as a matter of course.  We also must make every effort to assure that MOVE TO AMEND the constitution to reverse the damage done by Citizens United gets on the ballot of local government all across the country.  Our work is cut out for us, and it will take real determination to undo the damage created by the far right in this country.  We must not fail to mention our rather ineffectual Democratic president who talks a good fight but seldom delivers.

   Regarding the economic strengths of the labor movement at this time, we must put our money where our mouth is.  Money is power, and consumers have great power, even if their resources are somewhat limited.  We have to shop somewhere.

If we choose to buy Palermo’s pizza then we become part and party to injustice, as we do if we take advantage of buying cheap goods from the local mall.  It is so easy to be sucked into the idea that it is better to have ten sweaters on the cheap, rather than one or two which cost you a fair price to cover the cost of just wages for the workers.  There must be a concerted effort to maintain the unions, which represent the only course of action for justice in the work-place.  Union dues are needed to provide union strength.  The police made a mistake in thinking that Governor Walker cared about their interests when he spared their unions.  After using this gullible group of middle-class cops, he is now in the process of attempting to curtail their union, if not wipe it out completely.  Too soon we get old, and too late we get smart! 

   Regarding the moral strength of the labor movement at this time, individual members must take heart and realize that it is time to dig in our heels and work even harder for justice, in whatever way we can. Refusing to shop at Walmart is a start.  Boycotting the many corporations that produce and sell G.M.O. (Genetically Modified Organism) products is a tactic available to everyone.  One thing that is important is to realize that the labor movement must not be divided, and the far right loves to use a ‘divide and conquer’ policy to defeat its enemies.  Workers must be organized and there is strength in numbers.  There is a moral component to the labor movement, as each individual has the obligation to play a part.  I recently watched a DVD entitled ‘I AM’, the story of wealthy and humorous film producer, Steven Shadyec, who was   hospitalized with mental and physical injuries after a motorcycle accident.  When he was released from the hospital, he took a look at his 17,000 square foot estate, with its two 7,000 foot mansions, and decided he was not happy.  He took a trip around the world to interview wise people like the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Tutu, Noam Chomsky and others and asked them the questions: What is wrong with the world, and what can we do about it?  He came home with the conclusions that what is wrong with the world is ‘I AM’ and what can we do about it.?  ‘I CAN’ (and I must.)  He came to the conclusion that we are not wired for continuous consumerism, but rather, we are hard wired for COMPASSION AND COMMUNITY.  He changed his lifestyle and came to the belief that whatever little we can do to make this a better world, we must do.  We must avoid the pathetic question: ‘Why doesn’t somebody do something?’  We are the somebody.