From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbor's rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own. Carl Schurz

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Demanding your own oppression

The current collective bargaining talks between the city of Toronto and it's inside workers ( CUPE 79) have as usual unleashed the usual venom from those who advocate for their own oppressors.

You've, I'm sure, heard it all before. They should be grateful FIRE ALL THE BUMS, fuckin greedy unions etc, etc.

Much of this venom is rooted in jealousy; I'm not gettin any so no one else should either, but it is also rooted in ignorance.

Much of the propaganda we have been subjected to frames unions members, particularly those in the public sector as greedy and entitled.

The truth however is far different. Private sector workers whether unionised or not have been unable to keep up with the cost of living for decades now.

The reality for most unions today is a fight just to maintain what they have, often unsuccessfully.

On the public side it's not much different.

One under reported fact is that governments at all levels are the largest employers of temporary, part time and contract workers with little or no benefits or pensions.

So you see the reality for most workers whether unionised or not, public or private sector, is much the same. Declining earning power precarious employment and disappearing benefits

An example is the contract negotiated with the city's outside workers  in which the workers gave up job security for a 5% "raise" over four years which fails to keep up with the cost of living, in other words a pay cut.

So in effect what those who attack other workers fail to realise is that we are all in the same boat and that by denying decent wages and benefits to others they are denying them to themselves as well.

The divided are always conquered.


  1. Unfortunately, Kev, facts never seem to matter when it comes to public discourse about unions these days. The collective amnesia about the importance of unions, promoted by the corporate agenda, seems to be working all too well.

    1. I even hear it among unionised workers Lorne That's how thoroughly propagandised we have become

    2. "The collective amnesia about the importance of unions, promoted by the corporate agenda, seems to be working all too well."

      So very true and disheartening. There are some common and very obvious, if not wholly convincing, criticisms of unions that are heard over and over again, but I always have to remind myself what things were like without them.

      I think of events like the Ludlow Massacre of April 20th, 1914 when striking miners of the Rockefeller-owned Colorado Fuel and Iron Company were machine gunned by state militia resulting in the deaths of 26 people including 2 women and 11 children. Before the strike was over, by some accounts, almost 200 people had been killed. The subsequent congressional investigation and report on the incident was influential in the institution of new child labor laws and also led to the 8-hour work day.

      It's hard to imagine these days that something as trivial and commonplace as the 8-hour work day could inspire the US government to condone the murder of children, but it happened, on behalf of people like John D. Rockefeller, heir to perhaps the greatest fortune this world has ever seen. As the saying goes, the rich get richer.

      Much progress has been made since then, but it's important to remember that, if left to their own devices, corporations are still capable of this kind of reckless violence when money is at stake. In fact, in many cases, the violence has merely been relocated to the third world where people still labor hard and dangerous hours at gunpoint barely earning enough for basic survival, if that. Look at practically any Western-owned mining operation in the third world, the Freeport-McMoran run Grasberg Mine in West Papua for example, and you'll clearly see the worst of what humanity has to offer.

      Meanwhile, here in the west, a working class person wanting to earn a few dollars more than minimum wage is seen, by the wealthiest among us, as some kind of imposition, even downright harmful to the health of the economy.

      We are encouraged to snicker at the hard-working folks behind the counters of fast food restaurants, while these kinds of franchises have more or less driven traditionally more respectable (and profitable) methods of food service to near extinction. But god forbid they ask for a livable wage. I mean, the nerve. How dare they?

      Even professional athletes (and the unions they belong to) are labeled as greedy for trying to negotiate for a fair share of the profits they, and only they, make possible from the billionaire team owners. Yeah, it's hard to feel bad for a football or baseball player making tens of millions of dollars a year to play a game, but after all, it is them and their unique talents and physical sacrifice that make these games entertaining to begin with and, ultimately, that's what's generating all these profits. The owners don't have to take devastating hits from middle linebackers or have surgery to rearrange the ligaments in their throwing elbows, so why should they take home the lion's share of the profits these game generate? To me, it's endemic of how our society is encouraged to view the efforts of labor versus the corporate infrastructure that surrounds it. A fair share is already asking too much. That's the message. No sacrifice, be it time or physical well-being, is enough, because there's always another sucker waiting behind you ready to begin his unpaid internship in some vague hope of the potential payday that never seems to come.

  2. I'd like to know how everything is going with this.
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