Monthly Archives: April 2010

HOW DO YOU TAKE BACK YOUR POWER?


By Penny McQuaig

In my reading through another site [labornotes.org], I found an article about the settlement of a court case between SEIU and National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW).

http://www.labornotes.org/blogs/2010/04/seiu-vs-nuhw-who-owns-union

The  battle between SEIU and NUHW has been settled by the courts instead of its members.  Now I am not a part of  [the dispute] but I do understand the problem.

Perhaps we all need to take a look and a lesson from this.  The problem is that the members of each and every union continues to allow the officers to become so large and detached from the base (members) that it loses control of the one and only power initiated and contained by the members.  The key to regaining control over your union(your lives) is the same as regaining control over your state and your country.  Knowing that neither will happen without your participation and due diligence.  This situation, as it would be with any other similar situation, should have been settled by the members.  But did the members gather the information that they needed to make a decision?  Or did the members use favoritism to decide which side they were on?  The only way to have a voice is to use the voice that you have.  It’s not a trick or sales pitch.  You don’t need to purchase anything.  You already have a voice.  Somehow they are not going to do anything, or there is nothing that I can do, seems to always be in the way of THERE IS NOTHING THAT I WON’T DO TO PROTECT MY RIGHTS TO LIVE COMFORTABLY!  How do we become so disillusioned with what has welcomed us in and allowed us to share in what it had already gained through struggle?  How did us become you?  Why didn’t we feel obligated to fight on,  to maintain and grow what was handed to us when we arrived?  It was left in trust to us and we are not taking very good care of it.  Could it be that we never really knew what it meant.  Well, I looked it up and it says [an act or instance of uniting or joining two or more things together.  A UNIFIED condition]. That means we have to be concerned about and react to the things that are important to all of us not just a few of us.  ONE FOR ALL AND ALL FOR ONE!!  We cannot falter because we are being watched and measured.  Are you willing to give up all of your gains?  They are being taken back from you bit by bit.  You lose by not gaining with  each contract.  The cost of living has risen but your salary has not. The proliferation of the gas bill, the electric bill, the water bill, the food and rent have put a such a stress fracture on our lives while the corporations and government have convinced you that you must cut back for their sake. Yet the only thing that they have cut back on is you.  The media which is own by the few corporate giants have hypnotized you into believing that you are getting unbiased information.  So since it is fair and balanced, you should believe that everyone but the rich needs to cutback.  The country cannot afford to pay you a living wage and give you benefits without layoffs and wage freezes.  The problem is with the illegal immigrants and the poor people.  You should be sick of carrying the weight for them.  While you are stepping on those who are already down, you wont’ {and don’t} pay attention or charge the rich with giving back.  With your help and devotion, they (2% )now own over 50% of the wealth of this nation and all others {the working poor, the immigrant, the unemployed and us}-98%- own the rest combined.  How did this happen?  It happened because we took the easy way out.  We found it easier to fight with one another and to discriminate against someone who has less than us and we did it because we felt we weren’t powerful enough to fight the REAL CORPORATE PROBLEM.   Well I’m here to tell you that we have the power, we just didn’t use it.  We have to start here and NOW.  We must arm ourselves with INFORMATION and PASSION to fight the fight!

We are at the stage of discontent, the burden on hard times lay heavily upon our shoulders.  The demagoguery and corruption of our public officials should have been an insuperable dissent before it was allowed to become invasive.  We should have known that no composition could be worse than to entrust the politicians with control of the wealth-producing machinery of the country.  We the citizens must take control over our lives.  We must never again fall prey to greed by way of our ignorance and complacency.  The dedication and sacrifice and brave actions of those whose shoulders we stand on, should remind us each and every day of our personal responsibilities to stand up for what is right and the central truth that our greatness as union derived from seemingly ordinary people who did extraordinary things.  So today because of them we can say WE ARE UNION.

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SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME!


By Penny McQuaig

While waiting for the search effort of the four coal miners still missing after an explosion that killed 25  of their colleagues in the worst coal mining disaster in two decades, I had to reflect on several issues that I hear repeated over and over again.   The first is that it is the worst disaster…it seems to me that it is always the worst until the next one. 

This W. Virginian mine is owned by Massey Energy Co., which has been sited for numerous safety violations.  CEO Don Blankenship has disputed accusations from miners that he puts profit ahead of safety….Sound familar?   The problem is that the miners who work for Massey Energy Co. do not have a Union, which is my second issue.  Coal miners used to be 98% union.  They are now 27%.  I then looked further into who was Don Blankenship and found that he is well-known as a right-wing crackpot and global warming denier, but in order to give a brief picture of him in relation to this disaster,  I’ll start with a description of Don by Rolling Stone Magazine:

“The country’s highest-paid coal executive, Blankenship is a villain ripped straight from the comic books: a jowly, mustache-sporting, union-busting coal baron who uses his fortune to bend politics to his will. He recently financed a $3.5 million campaign to oust a state Supreme Court justice who frequently ruled against his company, and he hung out on the French Riviera with another judge who was weighing an appeal by Massey. “Don Blankenship would actually be less powerful if he were in elected office,” Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia once observed. “He would be twice as accountable and half as feared.”

Take notice of the UNION-BUSTING for this seems to be the flavor of the day by the haves against the have-nots.  We as union have not taken on the fight with the same vigor that the opposition has.  This is not only a danger to the entity we know as Union but it is costing lives such as those in W. Virginia.

A report from the March 28, 2007, hearing on Protecting the Health and Safety of America’s Mine Workers released by the House Committee on Education and Labor contains the following statistics for the five-year period of 2002-2006:

Underground coal injuries: 19,282

In union mines: 5,362 (or 27.8% of total)

Underground coal fatalities: 109

In union mines: 22 (or 20.2%)

According to the United Mine Workers of America, in 2007-2009, there were 45 underground coal-mining fatalities. Six of these were in union mines. Thus, for the 15-year period, less than one-fifth of the fatalities occurred in union mine.

We must begin as soon as yesterday, to be on watch and be concerned, interested and willing to learn new ways to fight back, and how to stand up for one another as UNION.  The right and the rich are fighting with all the monies and rhetoric they have.  We as Union have  lost a lot of ground in the last 20 years.  The corporations, knowing that we are only concerned about our union, our backyard,etc.,  has begun to pick us off one by one.  We must think Nationally, Internationally as the Brotherhood of One, if we are to survive this assault called UNION BUSTING!  If we don’t stand up for union rights internationally, the corporations will continue to send your work overseas to places that they control and can therefore pay slave wages.  This brings down wages and safety standards for everyone,  everywhere.  But for now,  I can surely say that I am glad that I have someone (UNION) to watch over me!!!!

THE MIS-EDUCATION OF THE UNION WORKER


By Penny McQuaig

Yes, I know that there is high-octane discontent with UNION.  The corruption,  the indifference and ignorance has been a huge offense against the union community.  The UNION HAS SOLD US OUT AGAIN with the last offer from Verizon.  I hear the cry of the brotherhood, here they go again..always a disappointment, but from whose eyes do I see this reticence of members about the perceived injustice being done to them by their very own unions?  Do I interpret these views of arrogance and weakness from an emotional base or do I dare examine OUR intellectual self-defense?  

If we challenge from an emotional outlook then all we seem to see is ourselves as victims of a hierarchy that we elected time after time. With this reference, our only temporary remedy is the sound of our own dissent and hopelessness. 

I believe that we need to challenge our own INTELLECTUAL SELF DEFENSE, or lack thereof.  What Verizon offered may seem like a sizable amount on the surface but at what cost on the back-end?  Have we looked both ways-past and future of Verizon?  Have they ever offered anything of benefit to us without an ulterior motive?  Do we know what was discussed between our Union and Verizon?

I know that they sent us an email about Health Care that tells us if we read between the lines, that they were trying to convince us that with the new bill they will have to ask us to pay into our health care and especially retirees.  Well congress wasn’t even satisfied with that one(see previous post).

I know that they WOULD NOT insure the discontinuance of further layoffs if the Union was able to get 12,000 members to take what was being offered.    Since when does Verizon bypass the Union and appeals directly to its members?  I smell a Rat!  I say Verizon has tried to exploit our discontent with our union.  But the only problem with that is that we have not let Verizon hear and feel our discontent with them.

We have to arm ourselves for a momentous fight with this company.  We cannot win if we are not ORGANIZED and in SOLIDARITY.  Verizon has already appealed to a wink link in our armor and we verified our weakness by our response to their appeal.  Imagine how strong we would be if we were EDUCATED, INFORMED and ORGANIZED!  These factors not only strengthen and revitalizes us as members, but it also teaches us how to demand respect and trust from our union officials.  We must build an INTELLECTUAL  DEFENSE against what has been an ongoing onslaught against UNION! 

I will try to bring to you the tools and information that you need and hope that you will do the same for me.  But we must all be open to receive the information and critique of our actions.  Doing the same thing and getting the same result is no longer acceptable.  “Our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared”,  so let us make it a new DAWN for union, before union IS NO MORE!!!

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