Wednesday, April 6, 2011

From New Jersey To The Heartland Of America, In Wisconsin And Ohio; The Peasants Are In Need Of Pitchforks In A Spring Of Resistance And Civil Disobedience.

From New Jersey To The Heartland Of America, In Wisconsin And Ohio; The Peasants Are In Need Of Pitchforks In A Spring Of Resistance And Civil Disobedience.


Beck Falsely Claims No Law Protects Public Sector Collective Bargaining Rights

As part of his anti-union campaign, Glenn Beck claimed that collective bargaining for public employees exists only through an "executive order by John Kennedy" because "there was never a law passed." In fact, the U.S. Congress passed the Civil Service Reform Act in 1978 granting federal employees collective bargaining rights, and Wisconsin passed a statute allowing its public sector employees to collectively bargain in 1959.

Beck Claims Collective Bargaining "Was Never A Right" For Public Sector Workers
Beck: "There Was Never A Law Passed" Allowing Public Sector Collective Bargaining.From the April 5 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:

BECK: May I just spend a minute on collective bargaining? 
FDR, the lion of progressivism, was against it for government employees. And that's what we're talking about here. Why was he against it?

Because FDR was not anti-American. He just didn't see America the same way. But he wasn't trying to destroy it entirely. He was going to make it the leader of the world.
He warned about the dangers of government strike, which he called unthinkable and intolerable. Even the president of the AFL-CIO in 1955 said it was impossible to collectively bargain with the government. This was never a right. This was an executive order by John Kennedy. There was never a law passed.

You have two parties negotiating a deal and they're using someone else's money: yours. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 4/5/11]

Beck: "Know The History And Truth Of Your Own Country." Moments after claiming "there was never a law passed" allowing public sector collective bargaining, Beck warned that history is "being hijacked":

BECK: Do you see what's happening? And they're equating that with Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement? It's an abomination.

I told you at the very beginning of this year when I came back from vacation and we met here, I told you about E4. I told you that you were the solution, to stop looking for leaders, to be a leader yourself.

Enlightenment -- find out what you truly believe. Is God important? Educate yourself. Empower yourself.

And then, entrepreneurship -- be part of something creative, not a destructive force. Be a force for good. Know the history and the truth of your own country, it is so important because history is being hijacked. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 4/5/11]

Beck Has Previously Misinformed About Collective Bargaining In Order To Attack Unions. Beck has previously falsely claimed that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said "collective bargaining would destroy us." He has also dismissed the fact that Martin Luther King Jr. died while fighting for labor rights and suggested that unions are using workers to further their planned "destruction of the western way of life." [Media Matters3/1/113/2/113/21/11]

In Fact, Federal Statute Allows Civil Servants To Collectively Bargain

The Civil Service Reform Act Of 1978 Gave Federal Employees Right To Join Unions.From the website of the Federal Labor Relations Authority, an agency set up by the Civil Service Reform Act:

The FLRA is an independent administrative federal agency created by Title VII of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (also known as the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute) (the Statute). ... The Statute allows certain non-postal federal employees to organize, bargain collectively, and participate through labor organizations of their choice in decisions affecting their working lives. The Postal Reorganization Act ... governs labor-management relations in the Postal Service.

The Statute defines and lists the rights of employees, labor organizations, and agencies so as to reflect the public interest demand for the highest standards of employee performance and the efficient accomplishment of Government operations. ... Specifically, the Statute requires that its provisions "should be interpreted in a manner consistent with the requirement of an effective and efficient Government." [Federal Labor Relations Authority, accessed 4/5/11]

The Civil Service Reform Act Of 1978 Grants Federal Employees Right To "Engage In Collective Bargaining." From the Civil Service Reform Act:
Each [federal] employee shall have the right to form, join, or assist any labor organization, or to refrain from any such activity, freely and without fear of penalty or reprisal, and each employee shall be protected in the exercise of such right. Except as otherwise provided under this chapter, such right includes the right --

(1) to act for a labor organization in the capacity of a representative and the right, in that capacity, to present the views of the labor organization to heads of agencies and other officials of the executive branch of the Government, the Congress, or other appropriate authorities, and

(2) to engage in collective bargaining with respect to conditions of employment through representatives chosen by employees under this chapter. [5 U.S.C. § 7102, accessed 4/6/11, via Cornell University Law School]

The Civil Service Reform Act Of 1978 Provides That "Labor Organizations And Collective Bargaining In the Civil Service Are In The Public Interest." From the Civil Service Reform Act:

The Congress finds that --

(1) experience in both private and public employment indicates that the statutory protection of the right of employees to organize, bargain collectively, and participate through labor organizations of their own choosing in decisions which affect them --

(A) safeguards the public interest,

(B) contributes to the effective conduct of public business, and

(C) facilitates and encourages the amicable settlements of disputes between employees and their employers involving conditions of employment.
Therefore, labor organizations and collective bargaining in the civil service are in the public interest. [5 U.S.C. § 7101, accessed 4/6/11, via Cornell University Law School]
Beginning With Wisconsin, States Also Give Public Employees Right To Collectively Bargain
Wisconsin Passed First Law Allowing State Employees To Collectively Bargain In 1959.The Wisconsin Education Association Council reports:

Stories about the 1959 Wisconsin Collective Bargaining Law and how it passed are apocryphal and difficult to verify. Many say Wisconsin's teachers gained their collective bargaining rights rather accidentally, as conservative lawmakers who opposed collective bargaining rights for public employees added teachers to the bill thinking that would convince moderates to vote against it. To the conservatives' chagrin, the bill passed anyway, and apparently did so without the support or even the real notice of the Wisconsin Education Association.

What is not in dispute is that the 1959 law was the first collective bargaining law for public employees in the United States, and the first law of any kind that granted teachers anywhere the right to organize into unions. [Wisconsin Education Association Council, accessed 4/6/11]

Following Wisconsin's Lead, Other States Gave Employees The Power To Join Unions And Collectively Bargain. Before the wave of anti-union legislation, dozens of states permitted at least some state employees to unionize.

[TalkingPointsMemo, 2/18/11] 

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The Peasants Need Pitchforks

A “Working Class Hero,” John Lennon told us in his song of that title, “is something to be/ Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV/ And you think you’re so clever and classless and free/ But you’re still fucking peasants as far as I can see.”

The delusion of a classless America in which opportunity is equally distributed is the most effective deception perpetrated by the moneyed elite that controls all the key levers of power in what passes for our democracy. It is a myth blown away by Nobel Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz in the current issue of Vanity Fair. In an article titled “Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%” Stiglitz states that the top thin layer of the super wealthy controls 40 percent of all wealth in what is now the most sharply class-divided of all developed nations: “Americans have been watching protests against repressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet, in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.”

That is the harsh reality obscured by the media’s focus on celebrity gossip, sports rivalries and lotteries, situations in which the average person can pretend that he or she is plugged into the winning side. The illusion of personal power substitutes consumer sovereignty—which Smartphone to purchase—for real power over the decisions that affect our lives. Even though most Americans accept that the political game is rigged, we have long assumed that the choices we make in the economic sphere as to career and home are matters that respond to our wisdom and will. But the banking tsunami that wiped out so many jobs and so much homeownership has demonstrated that most Americans have no real control over any of that, and while they suffer, the corporate rich reward themselves in direct proportion to the amount of suffering they have caused. 

Instead of taxing the superrich on the bonuses dispensed by top corporations such as Exxon, Bank of America, General Electric, Chevron and Boeing, all of which managed to avoid paying any federal corporate taxes last year, the politicians of both parties in Congress are about to accede to the Republican demand that programs that help ordinary folks be cut to pay for the programs that bailed out the banks.
It is a reality further obscured by the academic elite, led by economists who receive enormous payoffs from Wall Street in speaking and consulting fees, and their less privileged university colleagues who are so often dependent upon wealthy sponsors for their research funding. 

Then there are the media, which are indistinguishable parts of the corporate-owned culture and which with rare exception pretend that we are all in the same lifeboat while they fawn in their coverage of those who bilk us and also dispense fat fees to top pundits. Complementing all that is the dark distraction of the faux populists, led by tea party demagogues, who blame unions and immigrants for the crimes of Wall Street hustlers.

My book on the banking meltdown, “The Great American Stickup,” begins with the following words. “They did it. Yes, there is a ‘they’: the captains of finance, their lobbyists, and allies among leading politicians of both parties, who together destroyed an American regulatory system that had been functioning splendidly. …” They got to rewrite the laws to enable their massive greed over everything from the tax codes to the sale of toxic derivatives over the past quarter century, smashing the American middle class and with it the nation’s experiment in democracy.

The lobbyists are deliberately bipartisan in their bribery, and the authors of our demise are equally marked as Democrats and Republicans. Ronald Reagan first effectively sang the siren song of ending government’s role in corporate crime prevention, but it was Democrat Bill Clinton who accomplished much of that goal. It is the enduring conceit of the top Democratic leaders that they are valiantly holding back the forces of evil when they actually have continuously been complicit.

The veterans of the Clinton years, so prominent in the Obama administration, still deny their role in the disaster of the last 25 years. Yet the sad tale of income inequality that Stiglitz laments is as much a result of their policies as those of their Republican rivals. In one of the best studies of this growing gap in income, economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty found that during Clinton’s tenure in the White House the income of the top 1 percent increased by 10.1 percent per year, while that of the other 99 percent of Americans increased by only 2.4 percent a year. Thanks to President Clinton’s deregulation and the save-the-rich policies of George W. Bush, the situation deteriorated further from 2002 to 2006, a period in which the top 1 percent increased its income 11 percent annually while the rest of Americans had a truly paltry gain of 1 percent per year.

And that was before the meltdown that wiped out the jobs and home values of so many tens of millions of American families. “The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles,” Stiglitz concludes, “but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn. Too late.”

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