On Strike! - Nation's Ultimate Labor-Management Dispute
From: GovAccess.229 http://www.cpsr.org/cpsr/states/california/govaccess [Woke up with this perverse twitch in my mind. Now that we are about a week away from beginning our next annual half-year of indentured servitude to pay for government whims, here's a slightly different perspective on the temporary partial shutdown of a small part of the federal bureaucracy.] What we have in Washington is a classic labor-management dispute (but without the most crucial rules that protect all the rest of the nation's workers). The White House is the executive suite. Clinton is our CEO - and he behaves exactly like one. He makes rosy speeches and promises to the rank and file - we tax-payers who slave under his yoke of oppression - but he renigs on his promises, again and again. He has his own corporate jet, that makes anything used by the most arrogant multi-national corporate president look puny in comparison. He has his company police force - and he doesn't hesitate to use them to coerce, threaten, kidnap, chain and steal from us - we tax-payers - if we don't toe the line and give him whatever he demands. If we work at all, he demands that we give him about half of everything that we earn so he can spend it however he and his management team chooses. Yep, it's 19th Century corporate management, all over again. Our CEO's management team are his loyal supporters in Congress. They have demanded evermore from we workers. [They're in both parties, but have - in the 40-year majority - been Democrats] They sit in fat-cat offices, work only whenever and however they choose, sometimes chase their secretaries around the desk, pay themselves massive salaries, have weaseled themselves magnificant percs and "retirement" benefits, too-often make personal millions from their management activities, take long vacations (but also sometimes work long hours when we workers become unruly), and have fancy company limosines chauffer them to and from their offices, fat-cat dinners and snooty country-club golf courses. We Workers Elected Decades' of Union Stewards that were Co-op'ed by Management For the last forty years, we dumb, docile workers have elected as our union stewards - for our tax-payers' union - reps who were wimps, who have been obedient lackeys of management (and they were handsomely rewarded for sucking up to senior management, too). Although we workers have worked longer and longer, and harder and harder - just to make ends meet - decade after decade, our union representatives sold us out to the corporate [government] bosses, and year after year, we've received less and less take-home pay [purchasing power] to spend as we choose. True - our shop stewards did negotiate some paltry percs for our union's poorest members ... some medical care for our oldest workers, some cheap school lunches for the kids of our poorest members, maybe some run-down housing in the most dangerous neighborhoods for those at the absolute bottom of our union -- and company-run schools who's teachers have sucked-up to management, lined their own pockets for short work-years at the expense of the rest of us, and are inflicting worse and worse "education" on our kids ... at *our* massive expense. Rank and File Finally Woke Up and Spotted the Rip-off Well, by God, in our *last* union elections, we finally elected some union stewards who'd stand up to management - well, at least some of 'em have. And, boy!, did our bosses howl! Last spring, our new representatives finally stood up on their hind legs and demanded fair treatment for we who's labors produce everything the company has: * Our reps demanded more take-home pay for us. Our CEO said no, then yes, then maybe - but we can never tell what he really means. He lies to us a lot. * They demanded a 7-year contract. So the CEO scratched out a few sheets of paper and threw it at our union stewards. But it was so irrational that not even a single member of the CEO's own management team would support it. Lacking Management Leadership, *Somebody* Had to Act Responsibly So, stone-walled by our CEO, and with nothing but opposition from his management team, our inexperienced new union reps rolled up their sleeves and tried to draft their own contract. I mean, hell -- *somebody* had to take responsibility; all our CEO and his managers would do is sit in their fancy offices and pout. * It took our reps ten months, but they finally finished a huge 7-year contract proposal -- with absolutely no help or cooperation from management, much less from our playboy CEO. The contract proposal certainly wasn't perfect -- it gave *way* too many breaks to some of our union reps' best friends (so what's new?), and it didn't take care of some of our poorer members. But at least it offered a chance to stop the multi-decade slide in our rank and file purchasing power. (Of course, management steadfastly refuses to allow we workers to actually vote on whether to accept or reject *any* contract. So, the only option we have is to *hope* that our shop stewards will *finally* start doin' right by us.) Management Ignored Our Just Demands Our union stewards submitted their contract proposal to the CEO -- who had refused to offer any alternative at all (at least, none that was acceptable even to his own management team). The CEO snarled that it wasn't good enough; tossed it in our reps' faces, and told them to come up with a better offer. The CEO and his managers didn't offer any alternative. They just pouted, postured and snarled. Lacking Usual Worker Protections, Strike Was Our Only Remaining Option Now, ya gotta understand. Unlike all other unions in the nation, we can't go to court and force the CEO to negotiate in good faith. So our reps did the only thing they could do -- they shut down some of the nonessential portions of the CEO's favorite corporate divisions. Of course, the CEO made sure that it was as painful as possible for all the rest of us in the rank and file. He withheld benefits checks and needed travel papers. He wouldn't even let our state affiliates keep our playgrounds open using state playground staff; he *wanted* to make it hard on us. But the CEO finally signed an agreement to negotiate in good faith, working out a 7-year contract with our representatives using some real-world projections of our workforce well-being. But our much-too-naive union reps called off the limited shutdown before requiring the CEO to *do* anything to honor his committment. Boy!, were they dumb. The CEO's agreement wasn't worth the paper his signature was on. Our reps should have known better than to trust this CEO - he has lied to us, over and over. But they were naive and inexperienced. Lacking Worker Rights to Good Faith Negotiations, Another Strike Was Only Option Almost a month passed, and the CEO wouldn't even come to the bargaining table. (He chose that time to share some of his toy soldiers with his wealthy European playmates, even though he'd had three years when he *could* have gone to play with them.) Our union stewards had made a completely detailed contract offer, but the CEO wouldn't even talk to them, much less make any specific counter-offer. Again unlike all other U.S. unions, we couldn't take this to court. Under U.S. labor law, *any* judge would have *immediately* found that management had failed to negotiate in good faith (refusing to come to the table, refusing to offer a specific counter-proposal). So, when all else failed, our union reps again shut down an even smaller part of the CEO's favorite divisions. And the CEO -- who had failed even to come to the table, much less make any legitimate counter-offer -- blamed the shutdown on *our* representatives! But, I guess that's how arrogant management has always manipulated its workers. Fear Management Will [Again!] Co-opt Rank and Files Elected Reps I sure hope our union stewards stand their ground. (Unfortunately, once we elect them, management often seduces them into opposing our needs and desires, here in the rank and file -- making them into obedient lap-dogs of our bosses.) Workers Prohibited from Voting on Salary and Working Conditions Contracts Maybe someday, we peons in the rank and file will get to vote on whether to accept or reject the salary and working conditions that our reps agree to, but that seems unlikely. Our bosses aren't likely to give up their power. Small wonder - for they *know* what we workers would do if we had any power: * Polls in our state affiliates have repeatedly shown that we'd limit our managers' tenure, instead of letting them entrench themselves for life as almost unremovable fat-cat barricades to our workers' progress and union well-being. * And numerous other polls of our members have shown overwhelmingly, that we want management to stop plunging the company deeper and deeper in debt. More and more of us finally realize that its we workers who bear the total cost of the company's endless interest payments (on about $5,000,000,000,000,000.00 and rising fast), to say nothing of the cost of perhaps paying off some of the actual debt, someday. But management would never allow us to vote directly on such contract issues. Small Wonder that Company Enforcers Seek to Disarm Us & Wiretap Our Homes And if we rioted, the company cops would kill us - no doubt about it. No wonder they're trying to take away even the small arms that the corporation still begrudgingly allows us to keep; management obviously wants to make sure that only the company's enforcers are able to defend themselves. And just to make sure they can permanently control we workers, management is now installing a $500-million national wiretap system. They have said [October Federal Register] that, by 1998, they will *require* a "maximum capacity" of enough circuits to *simultaneously* spy on 1 call in 400 anywhere in the nation, and 1 call in 100 in various urban areas. Just think of how Hitler, Stalin and Mao could have controlled *their* corporations' workers, if they'd had our corporation's modern technology.