Editorial Comments

Union World edition: 
Apr 2012
page: 
4

Labor Under Attack
Salvo after salvo have been launched against trade unionists. These attacks have at times been direct and at other times indirect, disguised as “pro” democratic. Do not be fooled! They are, each and every one, designed to undermine the strength of organized labor and the only structured voice on behalf of all working Americans, the trade union movement.

Liu Under Attack

NYC Comptroller John Liu has been under attack by the Bloomberg Administration and the NY Post for most of the year. Why? Because he does not hide his support of trade unionists. He has been a staunch supporter of the public sector workers and their right to continue to have the pensions they negotiated. This has enraged the Administration and the Post. They have kept up a constant barrage against him and against defined benefit pension plans. They have been pushing 401(k) type plans in lieu of defined benefit pension plans for public workers. Liu has stood with the working New Yorkers that make up the City’s workforce and defended against such attacks. At the same time, Governor Andrew Cuomo has also sought establishment of 401(k) type plans in lieu of defined benefit pension plans for state workers.

Prevailing Wages
Now Bloomberg has gone after the Comptroller’s Offices position regarding the payment of prevailing wages to City employees who are employed in the skilled trades. For over 100 years the City Comptroller has been charged with determining what the prevailing rate of wages will be for City employees employed in the skilled trades. The Comptroller’s office has consistently held that the hourly rate of wages for such employees should mirror those being received by workers doing the same or similar work in the private sector. Hence, they have received the “prevailing rate” for their hourly wage. Because these workers are covered under the Civil Service Law, their benefit structure is different than that in the private sector, but their base wage was always equal.
Bloomberg, by Personnel Order has removed from the Comptroller’s Office the determining of what the City’s skilled trade workers hourly rate will be. Bloomberg says that he believes that the prevailing wage law in NYS does not apply to civil servants and therefore their wages should not be determined by what is paid in the private sector but through collective bargaining. This policy overturns what has been in place over 100 years! Is this in retaliation against Liu. Does the mayor hope to undermine Liu’s support among city employees, private sector unionists and unions in general?

Operating Engineers & Trades Attacked

Mayor Bloomberg has endorsed undermining the Building Trades Operating Engineers and in, effect, the entire NYC Building and Construction Trades unions. How? By seeking changes in legislation and regulation that requires any operator of heavy equipment and cranes to be licensed to operate such equipment by New York City. Present law and regulation requires operators to have apprenticed in New York. He seeks to permit operators licensed by other localities in the nation to be permitted to operate such equipment in New York. In effect, he seeks to open the floodgates so non-union developers and owners can break the building trades by utilizing out-of-town operators on high-rise construction in the five boroughs.

Voter Registration Under Attack

In over 22 state legislatures voter suppression legislation has been introduced. Most, if not all, are designed by an organization backed by the Koch brothers know as ALEC. The reason for this type of legislation is to suppress the ability of trade unionists and other community-based organizations from conducting voter registration drives. Why? Because corporations and other vested interests do not want ordinary people to be able to overturn or challenge their agendas. They know that if the people are made aware of their antics and they have the majority vote, that they can be defeated.
The Koch brothers are the multi-billionaires behind the election of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Nearly every trade unionist is aware of the policies and union-busting intent of this governor. His undermining of collective bargaining and support of voter repression law is renowned. He is where he is because of the Koch brothers. This summer it is hoped by many in Wisconsin that he will be thrown out of office by recall. If this occurs it will be largely because of the trade union movement and other community groups in Wisconsin that organized the collection of recall petitions that forced the recall election. This is precisely why Governor Walker sought passage of voter suppression. He wants to undermine the ability of the people to do such things. He and his backers want to suppress democracy.

Conservative Think Tanks

Think tanks, funded again by the likes of the Koch brothers and corporations, hire “distinguished” intellectuals and people from academia whose sole purpose is to produce “scholarly” reports that support their positions and undermine positions of union members and average working Americans. These reports are then pitched to the general public by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and the Fox Network. Over and over they are referred to as authoritative to the general public when in reality the outcome of the report was determined prior to any research or writing. It is the right’s attempt to consistently “pull the wool over the eyes” of Americans in pursuit of their personal gain and corporate profit.
If it is up to these conservative voices the American people would be without pensions, health care, social security, unemployment insurance or any other means of assisting hard working Americans that may be down on their luck and need a helping hand.

Romney—Anti-Davis-Bacon

On Long Island a popular “blue collar” Congressman, Peter King, is a supporter of the Republican Mitt Romney for President. How does Mr. King square his “blue collar” credentials with a candidate whose first priority upon being elected President, by his own words, is to repeal the federal prevailing wage law, the Davis-Bacon Act?

Union Demonstrators Indicted
In mid-April two trade unionists were indicted by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. This occurred seven or eight months after a demonstration in front of a non-union construction site. At the time there were no arrests. Yet all this time later they are indicted for coercion and attempting to incite a riot! They face up to 7 years in prison if convicted. One has to question why? And can only conclude that the government has determined that the non-union developer’s interests are greater than the workers’ interests and therefore an example must be made so that such street actions do not continue in the future. In effect the government is being used to create a “chilling effect” on the ability of the New York City Building and Construction Trades to defend and fight on behalf of its members.
These are just a few examples of “shots across the bow” against American trade unionists and workers in general. The time for unity is now!
Do not permit hot-button issues to divide you from what is in your and your family’s best interest.
Educate, Educate, Educate. Become knowledgeable about how the adversaries of labor are working ceaselessly to undermine you and the organization that fights for your rights 24/7. YOUR UNION!