I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.
Thomas Jefferson

On August 7th, 2011, 45,000 Verizon workers — 35,000 represented by the union Communications Workers of America, 10,000 by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers — went on strike in defense of middle-class jobs.  The strikers received major support from the other unions such as DC37 whose headquarters are across the street from Verizon Headquarters in NYC.  They provided a place for the strikers to rest, use bathroom facilities, picket and supplied them with food, water and much support.  There are no words to describe the warmth!  The picketers were also greeted and supported by TWU, AFSCME, PSC-CUNY, AFTRA, UFT–who took out a full-page ad in The New York Daily News, in support of the CWA/IBEW strikers–The Teamsters, just to name a few.

The politicians,  NYC Council member Christine Quinn, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Congressman Jerry Nadler and Queens NYS Senator Malcolm Smith, all arrived to express their support.  The public on the streets and in their vehicles showed support by waving, nodding their heads and honking their horns, which gave the strikers strength when fatigue was setting in.

The media was in full force on day 1.   Fox News  Channel already declaring that the union was being greedy because they make on average 65,000 a year.  While the newscaster that stated this makes more than that for just [4] hours of talking and yet she felt that a Verizon worker didn’t deserve to receive that amount in wages for their labor. That figure would soon swell to $91,000 and $50,000 in benefits.  Day 2 received just a smidgen of updated reports on the strike.  By then they must have gotten the word….do not cover the strikers, just mention the strike and tell Verizon’s story, for after day 2, the public received showings of day 1 interviews with the strikers and daily updates and reports of sabotage from Verizon spokespersons.

Mark C. Reed, Verizon’s executive vice president of human resources, called the outcome of the unions’ actions “regrettable” for customers and employees.

“We will continue to do our part to reach a new contract that reflects today’s economic realities in our wireline business and addresses the needs of all parties,” he said in a statement.

The trouble begins when V.P. Mark Reed disconnects the fact that if Verizon was concerned about the needs of its employees, they would be at work and not on a picket line.  The “regrettable” issue is that Verizon is part of the corporate global effort to minimize the value of the worker and maximize the importance of profit over people.  The only economic reality of the wireline business is that Verizon used the profits of the wireline business to launch its wireless division and continues to use the skill of its workers in the wireline business to maintain the wireline circuits in the cell sites that gives the signals for cell service while making record profits.

The strikers were the center of it all.  The whistles, the noise makers, the chants directed at the scabs and management, “Rif,rif, your job is next, they took your pension, took your medical, your job is next!  Better organize, better organize cause your job is next!”  Hours and hours of union chants, “Who are we?, CWA!   Who are we?, CWA!  What do we want? Contract!  When do we want it?  Now!”

The tireless dedication of the Chief Stewards and Stewards, there every day for up to 12 and more each day.  When the picketers seemed to grow weary, they injected new energy by starting the chants and giving pep talk.  Day after day, for almost 2 weeks, August 7th through August 20th, when all received word from CWA that they had reached an agreement with Verizon on how bargaining would  proceed and how it would be restructured moving forward, and there is now a 30 day cooling off period.  They stated that the major issues remain to be discussed, but overall, issues are now ” focused and narrowed.”

Although they do not have a new contract, the union membership can use this time out to re-group and re-evaluate their strength and their strategy.  This is a time to tweak the plan….or for those who didn’t know the plan, to find out what the plan was and is.  For this is not just a Verizon issue, this fight is much bigger.  This is Wisconsin!  Verizon is the representative of the global corporate capitalists who sees unions as the only impediment between their conquest of global cheap labor and serfdom.

It is union that brings the message to the public that for as much as the elite sends out the message that this is a natural, normal progression of society, it is not natural or equitable.  It was a deliberate blueprint that while the huge increase in productivity over the last 34 years (1973-2007), the median wage declined in constant dollars.  To make up for that loss, the typical worker worked longer hours, additional family members worked and credit cards were maxed out, trying to maintain the same standard of living that they had become accustomed to….the middle class life, the American dream.  But all of the benefits of the productivity gains went to those who were least in need of it.  It went to the wealthiest 10% who now own over 90% of all business equity and over 90% of all stocks and bonds.  By 2007, the total compensation of U.S. corporate CEO’s was over 475 times the average worker.  The number of jobs with pay below the poverty threshold increased to 29.4 million, or 22 percent of all jobs, in 2006 from 24.7 million, or 19 percent of all jobs, in 2002.  Poverty-wage jobs increased in part because 2.5 million new jobs paid poverty wages; additionally 2.2 million jobs that paid greater than poverty wages in 2002 became poverty-wage jobs by 2006, as pay failed to keep up with the cost of living according to a report by The Working Poor Families Project, based on an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

In this age of global corporate giants, they have become the devouring beasts that the founding father President Thomas Jefferson advised us to beware of.  Jefferson had a deep distrust of concentrated power as well as his compunction for the monopolizing of economic power by banks, and those who put their faith in what the third president called “the selfish spirit of commerce (that) knows no country, and feels no passion or principle but that of gain.” This is the soul of globalization!

Jefferson might not have wanted a lot of government,  as the Tea Party often touts.  But he did want enough government to assert the sovereignty of citizens over corporations–the Citizens United V. Federal Election Commission case in 2010 changed the definition of citizen to include corporations under the interpretation of the First Amendment–which the Tea Party fails to include in their rendering education about the founders.

In the meantime corporate mergers and acquisitions continue their process of eliminating competition and consolidating core power as we are told in each case that it will result in increase efficiency, enhanced competition, and benefit the consumer, most recently AT&T’s merger with T-Mobile, which is now being held up by the U. S. Justice Dept.  Actually, the only certain winners, were and continue to be the deal makers who receive the commissions and the top managers who reward themselves with additional bonus.  The shareholder is in many instances the loser unless he holds a substantial amount of the stock, and always the consumer loses while the corporate global economy continues to create unprecedented financial wealth built on illusions and bubbles.  This is allowed at an intolerable cost to the worker and on a broader base, the country because the worker is a valuable asset to the country, and the worker is systematically being neutralized.

The union membership must now turn this assault into a movement.  They must begin to figure out how to change this path of democratic destruction from having a job, which benefits only the employer, to making a living, which benefits the worker and society at large.  On this Labor Day, lets remind America that it can celebrate this holiday with a day off, thanks to the union worker who fought for paid holidays.  You can celebrate all of the labor workers who make this country run, from the Police, Firefighters, Sanitation worker and Telephone Company worker who has made sure that you can communicate with one another to make this Labor Day special for you.



Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.
Abraham Lincoln

The Republican Party and their pals in the corporate owned media have been sending a constant message out to the public that unions are a problem and a drain on the economy.  They claim that the states are broke and it’s due to how much they give union workers.  These claims are being hailed and repeated over and over as it indoctrinates the public[ including union workers] that we, the working class, are now making too much in wages and benefits and we must help the government clamp down by paying for more ourselves.  Now lets examine how the working class can manage to do this.

According to the Monthly Labor Review, unions made the middle class strong by fighting for and winning a workers right to  have a strong voice in both the market and in our democracy. When unions are strong they are able to ensure that workers are paid fair wages, receive the training they need to advance to the middle class, and are considered in corporate decision-making processes. Unions also promote political participation among all Americans, and help workers secure government policies that support the middle class, such as Social Security, family leave,  the 40 hour work week and the minimum wage.

But as unions became weaker over the past forty years, they were less and less able to perform these functions—and the middle class withered. Their numbers steadily declined largely because politically driven legislation prevents private-sector workers from freely exercising their right to join or not to join a union. Membership in private-sector unions are now 7 percent, from around 30 percent in the late 1960s. Public-sector unionization remained stable for decades—it was 37 percent in 1979 and is 36 percent today, but they are now designing the illusion that it has grown out of control over the years which makes it seem as if their attacks on them from conservative political opposition are justifiable and reducing their numbers is warranted.  The total union workforce is now less than 12 percent , and this percentage is likely to continue hemorrhaging unless we do something to stop the bleeding and heal the wound.

It amazes me as to why no one has asked the Congress and the Senate to take a pay and benefits cut.  The rank and file members of the House and Senate are $174,000.00 per year.  The House and Senate Leaders [Majority and Minority] are paid $193,400.00 per year.  The Speaker of the House earns $223,500.00 per year.  Each member gets an automatic COLA every year unless Congress votes not to accept it.  Let’s wait on that to happen.  Members pay 1.3 percent of their salaries into their retirement plans and 6.2 percent of wages into Social Security taxes, with an annual wage maximum of $106,800.00. They are eligible for a pension  at age 50 after completing 20 years of service or after completing 25 years of service at any age or after the age of 62.  You would have had to service 5 years to receive any pension.  The amount that the member gets depends on the years of service and the average amount of the highest 3 years of his or her salary.  Their salaries also affect the salaries for federal judges and other senior government executives. They receive the same health benefits available to other federal employees.  Is this shared sacrifice?

Without the counterbalance of workers united together in unions, the middle class withers, the economy and politics tend to be dominated by the rich and powerful, and as we are now seeing, this leads to an even greater flow of money in our economy to the top of the income scale. As union membership declines the middle class wages declines and all working class wages and benefits declines.  But if we pull together and give up some more of our pay increases and pay more into our health care and pension benefits, we can continue to support the tax breaks for the top 1 percent and the CEOs can continue to see an increase in their million dollar salaries.  I’m sure that will keep a smile on the face of shareholders and maybe next budget they will allow us take to the streets and beg as the rich goes by, so that we can pay what they charge for our rents, mortgages, food and most of all health care.

In recent years, the middle class accounted for the smallest share of the nation’s income ever since the end of World War II, when this data was first began being collected. 60 percent of all Americans, received only 46 percent of the nation’s income in 2009, down from around 53 percent in 1969.

The middle class weakened over the past several decades because the rich secured the lion’s share of the economy’s gains. The share of pretax income earned by the richest 1 percent of Americans more than doubled between 1974 and 2007, climbing to 18 percent from 8 percent. And for the richest of the rich—the top 0.1 percent—the gains have been even more astronomical—quadrupling over this period, rising to 12.3 percent of all income from 2.7 percent.  CEO pay has gone up an average 20 percent just in 2010 according to an article in the New York Times.

With all of the earnings of the richest 1 percent, this group was given several tax cuts in addition to the tax loop holes they used to avoid taxes.  In 2010 GE reported 5.2 billion U.S. profit but got a refund of approximately 3 billion..  Bank of America has 2.2 trillion in assets, yet it pays less percentage in taxes than the average American household, as Verizon who reported 24.2 billion in pre-tax U.S. income and claimed a Federal  corporate refund of over 1 billion.  The tax rate is 35 percent yet these corporations pay less  than 10 percent in taxes.  But instead of the corporate tax cheats that are bankrupting America, they use union as the resource of our political arena.  They wouldn’t dare attack their corporate sponsor Citigroup who were the largest recipient of bailout monies [476 billion] but paid no taxes for the last 4 years.  Instead the quote by the republican party is ” America doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem.”  Yet the more tax breaks they get, the more jobs they send overseas.

I contend that when Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s [Chairman of the House Budget Committee]  sells the Path to Prosperity  budget agenda, it is meant to continue to facilitate the corporate oligarchy plan of socializing losses and privatizing gains.  The gains that were made because of our labor. After all the tax cuts and profits, he wants to reduce taxes on the wealthy by another 10 percent [ from 35% to 25%] while continuing to cut entitlements for the poor and seniors who are on fixed incomes.  They have succeeded in convincing the public through their corporate owned media, that you run a government budget the same way as you would run your household budget.  At the same time the push to privatize every government function on the premise that the private sector who are experienced in running businesses can do these functions better than the government.  Well as we see with our health insurance companies [premiums are skyrocketing and you and I are not getting anymore for our money], our military [Xe Services…previously known as Blackwater USA gets over $600.00 up to $10,000.00 a day, depending on who you are guarding, contractor or diplomat and how well you negotiate] and our prisons, in each case our tax dollars pay for it while the corporations reap the benefits.  As for our health care, our taxes funds the research and the companies patent the breakthroughs [socializing the risk and privatizing the profits].  You cannot run a government the same way you do a household budget…capitalism is not designed that way.  A government is going to always have debt and revenue.  It has a different function than a household has.

We must make up our minds to win and not be divided or distracted from our goal.  We must not let them throw in the public union making more than the private union scam [not true] to divide union against union and non-union against union.  We must not let them throw in the lie that it’s the migrant worker who is stealing your jobs, because there has always been immigrants coming to this country legally and illegally.  It’s just that the ones that have not come by way of Europe are not given many visas, just work permits to come and work the fields and be exploited by their rich employers.  We must not let them tell us that the person on welfare is why we are going broke, because the fact is that AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) and Food Stamps take up only 1% each of federal and state budgets.  When they put out these illusions, it is for the sole purpose of making us [and they know that we will] turn on the victim like we always do.  I say victim because what is being done to us now has already been  done to them tenfold by the same corporations.  We must not let them pit the workers in the right to work states against union, because through their propaganda, they have taught those people that union workers would hurt the economy because if they pay them the salaries and benefits that they demand, then they can only afford to hire less than 1/2 of  the amount of workers and therefore they would be out of work or they would have to pay them less for their labor.  They also threaten to close down saying that they can’t stay competitive.  Who are they competing with, themselves?  It’s the same players in the global markets.  In the meantime those workers have not done their homework on the benefits of being a union worker.  For instance, according to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, in 2003, states with right-to-work laws in general had a higher rate of workplace fatalities per 100,000 workers.

We must begin to EDUCATE, EDUCATE, EDUCATE.  We must educate ourselves, our families, our neighbors, even our co-workers who want to believe that they could be a part of the aristocrats if it weren’t for those lazy workers, or the so-called illegal immigrant.  The immigrant, who if they come from Europe they are your sonogram and mammogram imaging technician, but if they are non-white they are systematically and automatically looked upon as illegal.  But without the immigrant in the past, wages nor opportunity would not have ever increased for the American worker.  We must be educated enough to know that in the words of Pres. James Madison,  America was indebted to immigration for her settlement and prosperity. That part of America which had encouraged them most had advanced most rapidly in population, agriculture and the arts.  So let them not win by playing to our prejudices small mindedness, and lack of education because the RICH are counting on our ignorance.

Let us understand our VALUE.  WE AS THE WORKING CLASS ARE THE MOST VALUABLE ASSET TO THIS COUNTRY, CORPORATIONS AND THE WORLD. We are the reason that the wealthy have their wealth.  We must stand up and fight for our rights to a living wage and pension.  We must DEMAND our rightful share of the wealth that WE CREATED. We must fight for our right to WORK and RETIRE with DIGNITY because WE EARNED IT!

Penny McQuaig


But while they prate of economic laws, men and women are starving. We must lay hold of the fact that economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Well the Republican Governors have seized an opportunity of a recession to bust the back of unions.  This poor economy is not due to Labor Unions who have given back under each and every contract so that they would not have to pay in full for health care,  while Corporate America has been given tax break after tax break since Pres. Ronald Reagan under the guise that it keeps them competitive.  Well, while they are being competitive off of our tax dollars, they are steadily sending our jobs overseas for SLAVE WAGES.   These tactics have allowed Corporate America to make in the third quarter of 2010, the biggest profit in the history of the United States.  How do we reward them for such wealth?  We give them more tax breaks while we ask the working class and the poor to give up some more of their earnings in salary and benefits at the same time we are calling the unions greedy and evil.  Is there no end to this extortion?  We must fight to bring back the middle class by restoring the tax laws that first created the middle-class, otherwise we will forever ride this merry-go-round of making the working class pay for the excesses of the rich.

The average CEO in the United States makes over 400 times as much as the average worker.  They are not working 400 times as hard as you and I.  And they are certainly not 400 times as smart as you and I, that’s impossible.  This means that for every CEO  a company pays that kind of salary to, that is 400 workers that they cannot hire unless they pay them poverty-level wages.  Yet we still have to give these corporations tax breaks so that they can do business in our states instead of for example India, which they are doing anyway.

Why Wisconsin?  Wisconsin is the birth of the Labor Movement.  The first union – the bricklayers was formed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1847 followed by the carpenters in 1848.  The shoemakers founded the Knights of St. Crispin in 1867 which became the first national trade union organization and grew to become the largest union in the nation.  Talks intensified across the nation in the 1880s and the Eight Hour League (formerly Milwaukee Labor Reform Association) was formed to agitate for the eight-hour work day that we now take for granted.  On May 5, 1886 demonstrators were attacked by troops called out by Gov. Jeremiah Rusk.  Five people were killed and four wounded as the troops open fired on the crowd of protesters.  We eventually achieved the 40 hour work week.  In 1911 Wisconsin then passed the Workman’s Compensation Law.  Labor unions continued to agitate and won unemployment compensation in 1932 and The Employment Relations Act in 1937 to support THE RIGHT OF WORKERS TO ORGANIZE and now Gov. Walker wants to take that right away.

What Gov. Walker is asking of the union members is to give up their right to have a representative of the union bargain for anything more than wages on their behalf.  No more bargaining for benefits, because he wants the public to believe that what they give in benefits to the workers is the reason that the states are running these huge deficits, which according to the  State CBO (Congressional Budget Office), Madison is not one of those whose deficit is so large that it demands a swift cut.  As a matter of fact, Madison’s General Fund  reported a surplus in 2010.  There is a $137 million dollar shortfall in Wisconsin.  It’s the $137 MILLION DOLLAR TAX CUT that was given to the corporations.

I think what we need to follow the money that backed the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker coming from Wall Street Hedge Fund managers and the Koch brothers of Koch Industries.  The Pension funds for public pensions are pre-funded, they are in good shape.  The politicians have dipped into the pension funds for their own use, such as New Jersey, borrowed from the Pension fund to give tax breaks to the wealthy and some states just failed to fund them like they were suppose to, so what did they do with that money?   You have a small few whose pension fund managers invested a portion of that money in Hedge Funds on Wall Street and was scammed.  If the pension funds are losing monies, it is not because of the public employee.

This is an all out assault campaign to bust unions because since the Citizens United case, the unions are the only competition to the corporate funded Republican Party.  Of the top ten contributors to the political parties, three of them are unions [#5 SEIU, #6 AFSCME and #9 NEA].  So if the Governor is successful in Wisconsin, then Ohio and Indiana are next, and UNIONS begin to fall like dominoes.  They have already reduced private unions.  Union membership has declined steadily from 13% in 2000 to less than 11.9% now.  6.9% is private unions and 36.2% of workers are public unions according to the U.S. Dept. Of Labor Statistics.  My hope is that we can now see that it has to be one for all and all for one.  We can never reach our greatest heights unless we heed this call for unity and solidarity.  If the corporate sponsored Governor Walker and his Tea Party activists can convince the public that the unions are taking up all of the states wealth and not the consistent billion dollar tax breaks that are given to corporate interests such as Koch Industries to continue to create more and more jobs overseas at the expense of the American Worker using American tax breaks and slave labor from China, Sri Lanka, Africa to make themselves richer and furthering the divide between rich and poor greater, then we have lost the war.  We must use the facts against them.  We cannot sustain this fight if the members of unions are uninformed, because they will begin to be convinced by the media coverage that the very union that protects them is the enemy.  They will be convinced that it is okay to create the deficits by constant tax breaks to the wealthy since Ronald Reagan.

In the last 10 years, the average salary for workers have declined by $2000.  The gap between rich and poor is at its greatest.  The Robber-Barons are winning.  We are in the 2nd Gilded Age.

Now is the time to STAND AND FIGHT!  When they tell you it’s the Unions fault, DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE!  Tell your mothers, Tell your daughters, your sons and neighbors.  Tell them your story and get them to stand with you and union because if they are part of your community, they are in the same boat as you.  GET AND SPREAD THE FACTS!  STAND TOGETHER AND BEAT THE REPUBLICAN AND CORPORATE UNION BUSTING ACT!

Penny McQuaig


“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

Martin Luther King ,jr.

On January 17th, 2011, the nation will honor the birthday of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.  What will this day truly mean to us?  As union, we should remember, extol and inform the membership of the service he gave to union members. He understood that a living wage was a civil right.

During the 1960s, King had committed himself to building a bridge between the civil rights and labor movements.  He was invited to address the AFL-CIO’s annual convention in 1961, King observed that “the labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed of levels of production. Those who today attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them.”

In 1968, King and the SCLC [Southern Christian Leadership Conference] organized the “Poor People’s Campaign” to address issues of economic injustice.  This campaign culminated in a march on Washington, D.C. demanding economic aid to the poorest communities of the  nation.  King traveled around the  country assembling a multiracial coalition of activist for the poor that would march on Washington and engage in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Capitol until Congress created a bill of rights for poor Americans.

Many Americans today know that Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was killed in 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, but few know why he was there.

Several major unions, including the United Auto Workers and the International Ladies Garment Workers, supported the civil rights groups, their sit-ins, freedom rides and helped organize the famous 1963 March on Washington, where King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.  The Memphis’ civil rights and union leaders invited King to their city to help draw national attention to the garbage strike.

The strike began over the mistreatment of 22 sewer workers who reported for work on January 31, 1968, and were sent home when it began raining.  White employees were not sent home.  When the rain stopped after an hour or so, they continued to work and were paid for the full day, while the black workers lost a day’s pay.  The next day, two sanitation workers, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, were crushed to death by a malfunctioning city garbage truck compressor.  The reason the workers were crushed, was because they had to ride the back of the truck.  As African-Americans, they were not allowed to sit in the truck.

These two incidents were typical representations of the workers’ long-standing grievances.  Wages averaged about $1.70 per hour.  40% of the workers also qualified for welfare to supplement their poverty-level salaries. There were no  health care benefits, pensions, or vacations.  They worked in filthy conditions, and lacked the basics, like a place to eat and shower.  They were required to haul leaky garbage cans that spilled maggots and debris on them.  White supervisors called them “boy” and arbitrarily sent them home without pay for minor violations that they overlooked when white workers did the same thing.

On February 12, 1,300 black sanitation workers walked off their jobs, demanding that the city recognize their union (the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFSCME) and negotiate to resolve their grievances.  They also demanded a pay increase to $2.35 an hour, overtime pay, and merit promotions without regard to race.

The city, while using non-union workers and supervisors to pick up garbage downtown, from hospitals, and in residential areas, still could not keep up with garbage pick up and it resulted in thousands of tons of backed up garbage.   The NAACP sponsored all-night vigils and pickets at City Hall.  On February 23, 1,500 people — strikers and their supporters — packed City Hall chambers, but the all-white city council voted to back the mayor’s refusal to recognize the union.

Local ministers formed a citywide group to support the strikers.  500 white labor unionists from Memphis and other Tennessee cities joined black ministers and sanitation workers in their daily march downtown.

On several occasions, the police attacked the strikers with clubs and mace.  They  even arrested strike leaders for jaywalking.  On March 5, 117 strikers and supporters were arrested for sitting in at city hall.  Six days later, hundreds of students skipped high school to participate in a march led by black ministers.  Two students were arrested.

The protest was escalating, yet the city establishment dug in its heels.  Mayor Loeb and City Attorney Frank B. Gianotti convinced a local judge to issue an injunction prohibiting the strike and picketing.  The union and its supporters  refused to end their protests.  Several union leaders — AFSCME’s international president Jerry Wurf, Local 1733 President T.O. Jones, and national staffers William Lucy and P. J. Ciampa — were cited for contempt, sentenced to 10 days in jail, fined $50, and freed pending appeal.

With tensions rising and no compromise in sight, local ministers and AFSCME invited Dr. King to Memphis to stimulate the local movement, lift the strikers’ dwindling spirits, and encourage them to remain nonviolent.  March 18, King spoke at a rally attended by 17,000 people calling for a citywide march. His speech triggered national media attention, and became the catalyst for the rest of the labor movement to expand its support for the strikers.

King returned to Memphis on Thursday, March 28, to lead the march.  The police moved into crowds with night sticks, mace, tear gas, and gunfire.  The police arrested 280 people, 60 were injured and a 16-year-old boy, Larry Payne, was shot to death.  The state legislature authorized a 7 p.m. curfew and 4,000 National Guardsmen moved in.  The next day, 300 sanitation workers and supporters marched peacefully and silently to City Hall — escorted by five armored personnel carriers, five jeeps, three large military trucks, and dozens of Guardsmen with bayonets fixed.  President Lyndon Johnson and AFL-CIO President George Meany offered their help in resolving the dispute, but Mayor Loeb turned them down.

King then went to Washington D.C. and gave a speech on March 31, 1968 at the National Cathedral **, before returning to Memphis on Wednesday, April 3 rd to address a rally to pressure city officials to negotiate a compromise solution to the strike. That night, at the Mason Temple — packed with over 10,000 black workers and residents, ministers, white union members, white liberals, and students — King delivered what would turn out to be his last speech***. He emphasized the linked fate of the civil rights and labor movements:

Memphis Negroes are almost entirely a working people. Our needs are identical with labor’s needs — decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community. That is why Negroes support labor’s demands and fight laws which curb labor. That is why the labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth.



The next day, James Earl Ray assassinated King as he stood on the balcony outside his room at the Lorraine Hotel.

As Time magazine noted at the time: “Ironically, it was the violence of Martin Luther King’s death rather than the nonviolence of his methods that ultimately broke the city’s resistance” and led to the strike settlement.  President Johnson ordered federal troops to Memphis and instructed Undersecretary of Labor James Reynolds to mediate the conflict and settle the strike.  The following week, Coretta Scott King, and dozens of national figures led a peaceful memorial march through downtown Memphis in tribute to Dr. King and in support of the strike.  Local business leaders, tired of the boycott and demonstrations, urged Loeb to settle with the strikers.  On April 16, union leaders and city officials reached an agreement.  The city council passed a resolution recognizing the union.  The contract included union dues check-off, a grievance procedure, and wage increases of 10 cents per hour, starting May 1 and another five cents in September.  Members of AFSCME Local 1733 approved the agreement and unanimously ended their strike.

Labor has now become the new Negro exiled in his own land, living  in “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift“.  But “change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.  And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom.  A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.”

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

Labor has now been given that promissory note, that bad check that came back marked “insufficient funds”.  We are now up against a corporate controlled government who uses its’ owned media  to drip from its’ lips the words “interposition” and “nullification”.  But we must still have that hope, that faith, that dream.

Dr. King would want us to honor his memory by continuing the struggle for human dignity, workers’ rights, living wages and social justice everywhere!

Penny McQuaig


“This is our moment.  To reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth; that out of many, we are one.  That while we breathe, we hope and where we are met with cynicism and doubt and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes We Can.”

President Barack Obama

In order to understand solidarity and how to achieve it, we must first identify the enemy.  The enemy is that hostile unit or force that is harmful to our cohesion – THE CORPORATION.  How did we go from the labor movement, civil rights movement, economic fairness, the endeavor to achieve social justice and opportunity for all, to the supplantation of new breeds of cynical hustlers who trade in fear: color-coded fear of foreign terror; fear of losing your job, home, health insurance, fear for fear itself? What happened to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?  When did it get replaced by torture, repression of dissent and the pursuit of an empire?  We need to know because it happened on our watch.

How did “We the people” become “They the corporations“? How did it happen?  How did the scaremonger-striving to impose both a right-wing and corporate agenda-convince us to listen to their scary worldview story that other people are evil strangers and are to be treated with distrust?    No more Love thy neighbor.” What is also essential to the formula is the notion of every man for himself, and everyone must grab as much as they can, as quickly as they can-while the grabbing [getting] is good.

So the plutocrats, autocrats, theocrats and kleptocrats spin the tales of aggrandized barons of free trade; the rise of dot-com, Enron and derivative billionaires, while their newspapers, radio and television stations – privately owned by only 6 corporations* – extolled the privatization of all things public; while unionists and environmentalists are trivialized and now demonized.  They have now zeroed in and ramped up the attack on Public Unions, by outright lying about their salaries and pensions, calling them greedy and robbers.   Yet they wallow steadfastly in stories of “family values,” while proselytizing against socialistic concerns for the larger human family.  This is to distract the public into believing that its okay to take from the union worker, your neighbor, your brother, your sister, your mother, your father etc., to disguise the tax breaks to the rich while union workers wages have actually been stagnate for the last decade.  So now New York Gov. Cuomo comes in and freezes the pay of the public worker for 1 year.  Yet we still haven’t stood up, so I can assure  you that Private unions  are next.

How did we sit on the side lines and watch while “The Powers That Be” and their political enablers continue to turn out carefully constructed, focus-group-tested reports that maintain fear?  It’s only aspiration is to make us think that what they want is the same as what we want. So where are our voices as the progressive story of America?  Where is the ongoing message that will lead us toward a just and hope filled society?  Barack Obama came along and re-awakened that sense of justice and hope not seen since the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have A dream Speech.  But once he became President Barack Obama, we again became the bewildered herd, listening again to sound bites of engineered news passed off to us as “BREAKING NEWS:” The Pres. fails to…. or  Obama angers…. or No compromise….etc.In the mist of all of this manipulation, the citizenry repeats, what has been sold to them as news, to the next unsuspecting recipient who will then defend it with vim and vigor, while passing it on as fact instead of propaganda.

The sentiment went from hope to “I think I’m going to vote for a republican this time because he didn’t keep his promise.”  While giving this administration less than 2 years to undo the damage started by President Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts and deregulation and system breakdown under the final onslaught of tax cuts and deregulation by Pres. Bush , 29 million of us did not bother to go to the polls to vote in the mid-term elections so that he could continue to work on what he promised.  Neither did we begin to understand that he cannot accomplish this without our involvement.  Government is not a spectator sport.  We must be involved in the process.The people at the top who are the puppeteers of Corporate America and the Republican party continue to manipulate the truth through media, in order to advance their suppressive, covetous, and anti-democratic agenda.  We have to begin to plan to take back our government from these corporations that now control them. In order to do so, I believe that we have to remove the corporate money from our U.S. Congress and Senate.  Since the U.S. Supreme Court has now given personhood to corporations, now allowing unlimited amounts of money to be spent in the corruption of our government, the only way to undo that damage would be to amend the constitution which we are not YET united enough to do.  So in the meantime we must begin to push and insist on campaign finance reform.  With this method equal amounts of our tax dollars are given to each qualified candidate and they must use that money to build a campaign. Since the airwaves belong to the commons, they should receive free air time (to be explained later) so that the public can hear their message. This way the congress and senate can be about the business that we sent them to Washington to do and not spend 5-6 hours out of each working day on the phone raising monies from these corporations as they do now in order to be re-elected.

Simultaneously, we must push for card check [The Employee Free Choice Act]  to be passed.  Our membership is dwindling by the day, and there are millions of workers who want to establish a union.  This bill would allow a union to be certified as the official union to bargain with the employer if they get a majority of signatures from the workers.  This would take away the right of the employer to demand additional, separate ballots from over half the employees who had already signed the petition.  It would also require employers and unions to enter binding arbitration to produce a collective agreement at least 120 days after a union has been recognized.  And lastly, the bill would increase penalties for employers who discriminate against an employee for union involvement.

These two must be at the TOP of OUR agenda because you cannot get anything done when Corporate money controls the people who you send to represent your needs.

On January 5, 2011 the 112th congress will be in session.  New rules will be voted on by the Republican majority.  Among those new rules: each new piece of legislation will now have to include a statement regarding its constitutionality – (it would behoove us to get a copy of the constitution*) – while the Democrats previous rule known as PAYGO requiring all new legislation to be paid for by cuts to other programs – will be dismantled to exclude tax cuts for rich people having to be paid for.  But the most brazen new rule created by the Republican majority is one that gives the new Republicans Chairman of the Budget Committee, Paul Ryan, “stunning and unprecedented” powers, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Under this new rule – if there is a disagreement between the House and Senate Budget Resolutions – which is likely this year in a divided Congress – then Chairman Ryan will have the power to set spending levels completely on his own – without debate. Ryan has already made his intentions clear – he published a memo entitled “Roadmap for America’s Future” in which he calls for the privatization of Medicare and Social Security, handing both over to Wall Street who helped fund his election campaign.  If these new rules pass – Paul Ryan will become one of the most powerful men in congress.  He will be able to carry out his corporate agenda with just the stroke of the pen and without debate.


These are the things we must pay attention to.  These are the need to know things.  We need to know how the corporation -[the enemy] – works in confluence with our government to get legislation written to favor their dominance through deregulation and union destruction.  I will be showing a documentary that explains the inner workings of a corporation and is ironically called  “The Corporation”.  When you see this film you will get an unprecedented inside view of the purpose, functionality and morality of the corporation.  You will then begin to understand what we are up against and then become part of the planning to WIN.  So lets hear your opinion on these issues.  Do you agree or disagree?  Do you have ideas?  We are in this together and we must learn together.  WHAT’S YOUR OPINION?


** Our entire media (newspaper, radio and  television/cable/satellite) is owned by these 6 corporations: Disney Corp., CBS Corp.(old Viacom/CBS), GE(General Electric Corp.), Time Warner Inc., News Corp. (Rupert Murdoch/Fox Broadcasting Co.) and National Amusements (new Viacom).

If we don’t stop this control over our information, we can soon add the internet to the list!


What are you thinking? Lets hear it!


Penny McQuaig


Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

HOW DO WE WIN?  WHY DID WE LOSE OUR WAY?  We need to go back in order to move forward.  We need to reflect on where we took that wrong turn.  We need  to know why we continue to reject information that is vital to our strength and survival.  We need to be informed so why don’t we have the time or will?  Why is the Jets game more important than a Union meeting?  Why is shopping more necessary than getting educated about union issues?  These are the things we need to examine.  Why have union members become so detached from our wholeness as members?  Why do they only respond to union when they feel that they have been overlooked for overtime or wrongly disciplined?

We had a general membership meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 23rd, 2010, and for the first time we had standing room only attendance.  The membership attended out of anger and frustration.  How did things get so far out of hand where the membership is now drawn into accusations of corruption by the E-Board?  How did the E-Board get so far out of control where it no longer realizes that it speaks to its membership [its employer] with outright disdain?  When the E-Board loses respect for its members and the members loses trust in its E-Board, the only winner here can be the CORPORATION.  So why did we [the members] wait so long to get involved?  We got the right to vote line by line but only when the E-Board mails them out.  Why didn’t anyone ask the E-Board why it was insistent on doing things against what their members wanted?  We must answer these questions in order to move forward with purpose and an understanding of where we want to go and how do we get there.

I previously spoke of the role of the media and the information that we are not getting in order to make informed decisions.  We now need to link that with union.  Each and every day the pundits on the networks and cable stations speak of how displeased they are with union.  “The unions have to give back”, “the unions are the problem” and the best one is, “he’s strong, he stands up to union”.  Not one of them ever points out when it is said that [the “unions have to give back”], that the wages have been suppressed for years and now spends like the 1970’s when adjusted for inflation.  The union worker is now doing the job of 3-4 workers (due to downsizing and offered retirement packages) for less pay.  What more does he have to give?  Why must his lifestyle be diminished even more?  When they say “he’s strong, he stands up to union”, not one of the pundits ever asks what they are standing up to?  Are they saying that the union worker doesn’t deserve a living wage while the corporate CEO’s salary increased 400 times that of the union worker and is still increasing?  The New York Times reported that U.S. corporate profits hit a record high of $1.659 trillion dollars in the 3rd quarter of 2010, showing the growth chart.   Yet they require the unions to give back.

This is the biggest profit in the history of America yet they want UNIONS to give back. These profits are not being kept a secret yet each day they talk about what the unions need to do to help the economy.  They get away with this because they purposely want the non-union worker to believe that their trouble is not only the illegal immigrant and welfare queen, but it’s also the union worker who the corporations have to give too much in pay and benefits so that they can’t hire new workers.  Those same corporations own the media so they put this message out over and over again and the public (including union workers) believe it.  Those that don’t, believe some of it and feel marginalized.  Why do they keep attacking union?  They do it because union is the last barrier to totally controlling the public thought and actions.  Once they get rid of what is left of the unions, the non-union worker is totally at their mercy or [lack of].  They can then do away with minimum wage and health benefits.  They can even get rid of the 40hr work week, overtime pay and pensions.  These are gains that were done by union organizing.  Once they have the public believing that the U.S. worker [in order to be more competitive in the global market] must work longer more productive hours like China, Sri Lanka and now Africa, they have won this drive to complete globalization of low wage workers.  Yet we [union] are silent, and go about our day as if all is well or takeover is inevitable.

This is why I believe that we must arm ourselves with information so that we do not fall prey to the lies and distortion planned and delivered through corporatism.  We have to understand that the union and democratic policies represent our collective will.  We cannot blame others if we choose not to fight.  We cannot blame others if we choose  not to be informed, not to consciously seek ANY and ALL information that will allow us to refresh, restart and rebuild.  The public needs us to stand up and rise to the challenge.  Lets begin to channel the anger and discontent into a network of useful information and informers.  We must begin to learn how the system works, how it affects each and every one of us and how we can direct and construct a system that works for us.

Let us start the New Year with a commitment/resolution to create a union like they have never seen before.  Let’s begin by making a pledge to LEARN, TEACH and REACH the membership.  And never give up on our RESPONSIBILITY  to those who came before us.  For it was they who built and negotiated a way of life [middle class] which we SELFISHLY ENJOYED and never built upon, but let diminish.  [I] will make that pledge to you!

*************HAPPY HOLIDAYS*************

Penny McQuaig


“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people… They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”

Thomas Jefferson


We were left with the executorship of the union, which we received intact and on which we were trusted to continue to build upon.  But we  allowed it to decay and dwindle because we forgot about the brotherhood of union.  The alliance that got us higher wages to purchase the homes, cars, and the ability to send our children to college. We left behind the harmony that would have informed,  protected and cultivated us even when our consciousness waned.  That amalgam that was our leadership and activism. We put aside our strength, our conviction, and with it our demand for justice and the  ability to shape legislation from the streets.  We left behind the very essence that made us soar.  But most important , we left behind the memory of those who fought and died so that we [union] may exist.

I point out these enigmas to expose the possibilities.  We have come a long way in material advances, but lagged behind spiritually and morally, so we are losing ground on our gains.  We have failed to make a brotherhood.  We let our materialism, prejudices and immaturity  uplift the oppressor [ Corporate America] and gave oppression momentum and power.  Now we must transform our thinking and renew our ideals.  Our allegiance  must  not be to the powerful but to the deserved.

Union helped build a great productive system, which made us the richest nation.  But we failed to protect the balance needed to keep a democracy, instead we have allowed it to become a plutocracy.  This type of governance has taken us from a manufacturing economy to a service economy.This causes us to make a living instead of a life.  We have allowed them [corporate executives] to live a life of gross materialism and exploitation, taking necessity from the masses to give luxury to the classes. They have sold us a form of regime through the idea of free trade [free market], when we knew that nothing is free.  Even freedom ain’t free.   When we did not speak out against exploitation of overseas laborers, a new form of slavery, we now find ourselves being the exploited by corporate globalization.  They now take our taxes in the form of subsidies and 20 year tax abatements, to fund the shipment of our jobs overseas and to pay for lobbyist to convince our Congress and Senate to write new laws to support it.  We slept while an alliance was building between the world’s largest corporations and the most powerful governments.  This covenant, supported by the privilege of money, is allowing the alliance to begin to incorporate the world’s national economies into one, borderless global economy for the sole use and purpose of the mega-corporations to freely move goods and money throughout the world with maximum profits and no governmental regulations.  This leaves us, our children, our grandchildren, vulnerable to exploitation and propaganda because this pact allowed ownership of our entire media. We abandoned our standards because we had new [diversions] position and things.  We have now found that selfishness is blinding.  We must now begin to learn so that we can teach.  We can’t fix it if we don’t know what and how it happened.

We begin with first the acknowledgement that corporations are now ruling the world.  In the name of globalization, corporations are maneuvering power from governments who are responsible for the public good and toward a small group of corporations and financial institutions with a single agenda, short-term financial gain.

We sit in a constant state of agitation and confusion because those same corporations own the media and therefore the message.  They bombard us continually with interpretations of the occurrence through the eyes of the power holder.  The message to us is that government regulations are the source of our distress and globalization [free trade] is the answer and it is a historical inevitability and a blessing to our human family.  In fact, these are fabrications to justify their insatiable greed.  If we had paid attention, remembered  history and England’s Tudor Plan, we would have said no to free trade.  We must have a domestic industrial base.

The mid-term elections are the most important, because we are electing the people who make laws.  Do you wonder why your friends and co-workers don’t know that they have received the largest middle-class tax cuts in American History?  Why aren’t we aware that this resulted in a creation of over 3 millions jobs?  The answer is MEDIA! They report to you that President Obama’s plan has failed to create jobs when in fact it has…..probably tens of millions.  But they failed to inform the public that thanks to corporate exploitation and greed, those millions of jobs were created mostly in China.They fail to tell you the truth because those same corporations who shifts your jobs overseas, are the same monies that own the media.

From the 1920’s when radio was king, until President Ronald Reagan in 1987, federal communications law required a certain amount of “public service” programming from television and radio stations as a condition of retaining their broadcast licenses from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  In exchange for the media owner’s license, they had to serve the public interest first.  At renewal time, public hearings on the license renewal were held.  The public could vote against the renewal.

They had public service announcements (PSAs) for local nonprofit groups, charities and community calendars.  They also had to abide by the Fairness Doctrine, which made it compulsory for the owners to air diverse viewpoints on issues of controversy.  During election campaigns, the broadcaster had to give equal airtime to rival candidates [the Equal Time Rule].

The most important proof of providing a public service , meeting the requirements of the Fairness Doctrine, was by broadcasting the news.  Local, national, and international news produced by real professional journalists.  News didn’t make money or get huge ratings like entertainment television did, but it was more important.  It drew tens of millions of watchers and radio listeners, and that made all the other money-making things possible even though the news lost money due to the expense of producing the news.

Once Ronald Reagan repealed the Fairness Doctrine, we got the rise of hate-speech talk radio and President Clinton gave us the Telecommunications Act in 1996, which further deregulated the broadcast industry.  The benefit that they believe they gave us is mindless entertainment.  So we now take for granted that the media is obliged to give us what we want to entertain us instead of what we need to inform us.  Investigative journalism that would have exposed corporate transgressions vanished.  In its place we have news operations promoting lies and distortions.We no longer get, demand or expect real news…the kind that citizens in a democracy need to know.

This keeps the public from managing their own government, because the information is narrow, inflexible and controlled.  The public must have the means to participate in a meaningful way in the management of their own governance.  In order for that to occur, the means of information must be open and free.

This is the way in which we are now being trained to work in the service of the masters [the people who own the society], while they assault organizations (unions) because organizations undermines their commitment to control the public mind.  The Creel Committee of 1917 [engineering of consent] already proved to them that public relations work.  It succeeded and grew through the 1920s and became so extreme that it was investigated by Congressional committees as we entered the 1930s.

In the 1930s the nation again found itself in a quagmire, the great depression and historic labor organizing.  Labor won it’s largest legislative victory, the right to organize, with the passage of the Wagner Act in 1935.  To the “special class”, the “Deweyites”, this meant that democracy was misfunctioning.  “The bewildered herd” was winning legislative victories.  It was becoming possible for people to organize.  That was not supposed to happen, they had public relations which was supposed to diminish the thinking of the mindless public.  The people were suppose to be fragmented and insulated.  “If they organize they might become more than just spectators. They might actually participate in the political arena.  That is threatening to [corporate] dominance.  So they set out to ensure that this would be the last legislative victory for labor and the end of this democratic deviation of popular organization.  IT WORKED!  That was the last legislative victory for labor.  The unions capacity to act began its steadfast decline.  The corporate money worked through the public relations industry.

The industry got a chance to try it out on the Steel strike in Johnstown Pennsylvania in 1937.  They presented the strikers as disrupters and harmful to the public, which makes them against the public interest.  They painted the strikers as agitators and against American idealism  and not wanting to work with them (corporate executives).  They convinced the public that corporate executives and the person who cleans the floors all have the same interest and could work together if it were not for the rabble-rousers (strikers).  IT WORKED!  In fact it worked so well they later named it the “Mohawk Valley formula”.  They used this scientific method of breaking strikes over and over again while they effectively shaped public opinion by using empty concepts [slogans] like Americanism, yellow ribbons or support our troops.  The concept is completely vacuous.  Who could be against it.  Its like asking someone if they support the people of New York.  Can you say yes or no?  It’s not even a question.  It intentionally doesn’t mean anything.  The point of propaganda is to keep the people from thinking about the issue.  They must keep “the bewildered herd” distracted with empty slogans, violent movies and the Playoffs, etc… In the meantime we have the steady decline of union which in turn is decaying a working class (the middle-class) culture that came as a result of the birth of unions.  It has been replaced by a corporate run society.

We need to go back in order to move forward.  We need intellectual information that is essential to the health and strength of our democracy.  We need educated and informed citizens to participate in our democratic institutions, elections and unions, and we’re not going to get there if we allow them to continue to dumb down the news and continue to give people only what they want, mindless entertainment (ex: Maury, reality shows, etc..) and none of what they and society need.

Now that the Supreme Court has allowed a corporation to be a person, the money faucet is wide open, producing ads through the Chamber of Commerce, to influence the mid-term elections.  They are now able to do this without disclosing where the money is from.

They are now boldly announcing their plans to get rid of unions, the minimum wage, unemployment insurance and in the process privatize social security and repeal the Healthcare reform bill.  They are now mentioning doing away with free public schools.

They are now declaring that they know that we will not come out and vote in the mid-term elections, because we haven’t done so in 20 years.  They believe that again the “Creel Committee” has worked.  Propaganda has convinced the “bewildered herd” to put back in office the same mindset that got us here in the first place, so that they can continue their agenda.

I will continue to address the history and direction of the media because it is relevant to our rebuilding union and the middle-class.   But for now I must make clear the importance and magnitude that our vote on November 2, 2010, will have.  The consequences of not being counted is not only our livelihood but our DEMOCRACY!

Penny McQuaig