Monday, April 28, 2008

The Decline of Unions

I encourage everyone to get the new book entitled The Big Squeeze by Steven Greenhouse, the labour correspondent for the New York Times. Mr. Greenhouse makes many great points concerning the pressure felt by US workers in this contemporary economy. These includes the fact that over the past thirty years the riches one percent of US citizens went from making eight percent of the wages to over twenty five percent of the wages. The US is the only industrialized nation in which the federal government does not guarantee workers any sick days, any maternity leave, and no vacation days. Most interestingly Greenhouse shows how the impoverishment of US workers (particularly in relation to European workers) is in direct ratio to the decline of unionization. Anyone who thinks that unions are unnecessary today should look again at the way the US is becoming more and more like a third world nation specifically because unions are in decline.

And in consideration of the decline in the power of unions I point you to the Toronto Transit workers strike over this past weekend. Transit Workers, in a legal strike position, were able to stay on strike for less than two days before the despicable Liberal government of Ontario was able to hold a special session of the legislature and put through back to work legislation with, and here is the kicker, UNANOMOUS CONSENT of the house!! Yes folks, you heard it correctly; every NDP MPP voted to legislate the transit workers back to work so that there could be business as usual in Ontario’s capital city on Monday morning.
In the final stages of any Empire’s decline the rich reach greater and greater heights of wealth and the average people become ever more impoverished. Thus it should not be forgotten that although my recent posting talked of the decline of Marxism, if we look carefully a great deal of Marx’s analysis concerning the nuts and bolts of the capitalist economy is becoming more relevant all the time.

I submit, for your consideration, my letter to Howard Hampton, the leader of the Ontario NDP who yesterday abandoned the principle of collective bargaining and proved that he is on the side of Capitalism rather than the workers.

Dear Mr Hampton

I have been a federal NDP supporter all of my life and have voted for the provincial NDP ever since I came to Ontario. I will tell you honestly that I have voted for the Ontario NDP only with a certain degree of trepidation given your personal involvement in the Government of Bob Rae and your failure to properly oppose the horrible Social Contract legislation. I believe that you and the Party have consistently failed to condemn the gist and intention of this legislation in a way that would make it clear that the Ontario NDP stands for workers rights and principles of justice. Now, with your support for back to work legislation for the TTC workers, you have made it clear that you never abandoned the politics that motivated the Social Contract. I am appalled and disgusted by this blatant abandonment of principle. You have finally made it very clear that you are not a man of the people but that you are little more than a suit with vacuous analysis of the social relations at the heart of contemporary. You have enjoyed your high salary and job security for far too long to understand the plight of real workers. But more than this you have abandoned the principles of collective bargaining and the rights of workers to stand up for themselves and for future generations. I urge you to join the Liberal party as your former boss did and take your place among the other high-flying suits that have lost touch with working people. It is a tragic waste that you are helping to destroy one of the only true social democratic parties in North America. You have joined the ranks of the worst capitalist and your support for this legislation proves that you would not be out of place in Conservative Party

As the politics of Western democracies has shifted gradually to the right, political leaders have been dragged right along with this shift. Social democratic parties have played a central role in the protection of collective bargaining rights but their principles are being eroded. And, saddest of all, they are being eroded by men like you that parade about legislative houses feigning genuine concern for social principles. You see, Mr. Hampton, the true test of a constitutional democracy only comes at moments of crisis. Only at the very darkest times will we really know whether our constitution can truly stand up for freedom of speech and minority rights. Similarly, the true test for a left-wing social democrat only comes in episodes of crisis such as labour unrest. Only then can we see whether someone who purports to be left-wing will stand up for the rights of working people. Well, you have failed this essential test now on more than one occasion and you have been exposed to the core supporters of the New Democratic Party for the loathsome Liberal that you really are. As you have made it clear that you do not believe in the principles of collective bargaining and workers rights, I urge you to step aside and leave the party to people who really believe in its principles.

Kirby Evans

No comments: