Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education

12.11 This For-Profit College Is Leaving Students With Lots of Debt and No Degrees [It's a Trump University World]

Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

12.12 In Early Holiday 'Gift to Polluters,' Trump Guts Protections for 60 Percent of Nation's Streams, Wetlands, and Waterways

12.12 An Indication of What's Coming': Melting at North and South Poles Worse Than Previously Thought [4:47 video]

12.11 The will of the people is to halt climate change, what about politicians? [Excellent!]

12.11 'We live in a lobstocracy': Maine town is feeling the effects of climate change [Do you care?]

12.11 Protesters disrupt pro-fossil fuel event at COP24 – video [Do you care?]

12.11 'It's a sad reality': a troubling trend sees a 97% decline in monarch butterflies [Do you care?]

12.10 The new abnormal: why fires like Paradise will happen again and again

12.10 Extinction Rebellion goes global in run-up to week of international civil disobedience [13:38 video]

12.08 The Planet Has Seen Sudden Warming Before. It Wiped Out Almost Everything.

News Media Matters

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

12.12 Trump reportedly flicked a folder and scattered papers in anger after his fiery debate with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer [His obsession for a $6 billion border wall is childish, considering all the better uses for such investment.]

12.12 How the IRS Was Gutted

12.12 Here's a map showing how Trump's approval ratings in each state have changed since he took office

12.12 'We Can't Enact Our Agenda Without Seats at the Table': Tens of Thousands Sign Petition Demanding Powerful Ways and Means Committee Seat for Ocasio-Cortez

12.12 In Major Victory for Progressives, Democratic Leadership Abandons Tax Rule That Would Have Made Bold Agenda Impossible

12.12 The Sanders Institute's Gathering Was About Saving the World, But It Was Not About Bernie Sanders [a more detailed account]

12.11 There’s a great anti-poverty bill in the Senate. Why haven’t we heard more about it?

12.11 Trump’s Inner Circle Shrinks But Grows Even More Corrupt with Kelly Exit

12.11 2018 was by far the worst year on record for gun violence in schools [obviously, most politicians only care about "donations"]

12.11 Trump’s controversial “public charge” proposal that could change the face of legal immigration, explained

12.11 'We Gonna Rise Up, Rise Up 'Til It's Won!': 140+ Arrested at Pelosi and Hoyer Offices as Youth-Led Protests Demand Green New Deal on Capitol Hill [Political Inaction or Citizen Rebellion, take your pick]

12.10 John Kelly, the White House Chief of Staff, Is Finally Leaving “Crazytown”

12.10 Paul Ryan’s long con

Justice Matters

12.08 Mob mentality: how Mueller is working to turn Trump's troops

12.08 Mueller’s sentencing memo for Michael Cohen is very ominous for Trump

12.08 Read: Mueller’s new filing accusing Paul Manafort of lying to the government

High Crimes?
Economics, Crony Capitalism

12.10 Tackle climate or face financial crash, say world's biggest investors

12.10 Group led by Thomas Piketty presents plan for ‘a fairer Europe’

12.08 America’s Rigged Tax Collection System

International & Futurism

12.12 Why women have better sex under socialism, according to an anthropologist

12.10 Smaller Democracies Grapple with the Threat of Russian Interference

12.10 US and Russia ally with Saudi Arabia to water down climate pledge [The Oil Mafias lobby for more insanity]

12.08 'I don't want to go back': what's next for the Central American migrant caravan?

12.08 Paris on lockdown for gilets jaunes protests - live updates

12.07 How US billionaires are fuelling the hard-right cause in Britain

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  In America, Selfishness and Lack of Solidarity Know No Bounds
Newspaper logo

COMMENTARY:

In America, Selfishness and Lack of Solidarity Know No Bounds

by Dave Lindorff
Originally published in This Can't Be Happening earlier today, 8 November 2009

As the strike by transit workers in Philadelphia enters its fifth day, it is clear why unions have such a tough time in the United States, where fewer than one in eight workers is covered by a union contract.

Although the average pay of transit workers is just $50,000 a year (that represents take-home pay of less than $35,000 after taxes or less than $3000 a month to live on for a typical family of four), the suburbanites who feel put out because they have to brave huge traffic jams to get to and from work in the city are grousing that the transit workers are greedy for holding out for a slightly-less-than 4% per year pay increase over the three years of their contract.

I just got into a debate at the local YMCA gym with an older guy who probably makes over $100,000 a year and whose children are already grown, who was incensed that the "greedy bus and subway drivers" were asking for a raise at this time "with the economy in such a mess."

But I also noticed, as I drove my son into school this week in the traffic crush, that these same suburbanites are, for the most part, continuing to drive to work one to a car. What a lack of creativity!

In Italy, it's understood that when one group of workers fights for better pay or working conditions, everyone benefits in the end.

My wife, who frequently travels to Rome to do research, has on several occasions landed in that city during one of its frequent transit strikes. She reports that the people of this ancient city take these job actions in stride, getting out their bicycles, taking leisurely walks to school, or simply going on holiday for the duration. People don't get mad at the workers. In Italy, it's understood that when one group of workers fights for better pay or working conditions, everyone benefits in the end.

This fellow I was arguing with about the Philly transit strike, said, "It's not like this is the 1920s or '30s, when unions were really needed because people were being exploited."

"Oh really?" I said. "You don't think the workers at Wal-Mart or in your local supermarket are being exploited?" The truth is that working conditions for American workers have been getting progressively worse in recent years, while pay has actually been falling in real dollars, because union representation has been falling for several decades from a high of over 35% back in the early 1950s. Those unions, like the transit workers union in Philadelphia, which are still fighting the good fight, are really all that stands between ordinary American workers and a truly nightmarish return to a Dickensian era.

Does anyone believe that the type of manager that we have seen pillaging the economy on Wall Street, or stealing jobs and already earned pay from workers at Republic Window & Door in Chicago, is an exception to the rule? Hell no. American managers are congenitally ruthless exploiters of human beings constrained only by unions or their fear of unions, and by the protective legislation, such as minimum wage laws, occupational safety and health laws, etc., which Congress has grudgingly passed because of the pressure from unions and their workers.

We should all be cheering the workers of the Transport Workers Union Local 234 in Philadelphia for their grit and determination in standing up to the management of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. Their fight is our fight. They like us are struggling to pay rent or mortgage bills, to buy food for their families, and to pay their medical bills.

Workers all around the Philadelphia area should be organizing car-pools, getting their bikes out of the garage, and collectively telling their own bosses to cut them some slack if they're late to work or have to stay home for the day because of the strike.

We should all be writing letters condemning the bias of the local media in Philadelphia, which have as a group focused entirely on the hardship to commuters caused by the strike, and not at all on the issues confronted by the transit workers themselves.

We should also all be writing letters condemning the bias of the local media in Philadelphia, which have as a group focused entirely on the hardship to commuters caused by the strike, and not at all on the issues confronted by the transit workers themselves.

Furthermore, it is not the fault of the SEPTA workers in Philadelphia that bus and subway fares are too high. Nor is it their responsibility to accept low wages to subsidize lower fares. It is the responsibility of the state of Pennsylvania to keep those fares affordable. Mass transit cannot and should not be self-financing. It is a social good. It helps protect the environment by reducing air pollution from cars, reduces wear and tear on roadways, and helps reduce the nation's dependence upon oil imports.

Instead of complaining about the union for calling a strike, we should all be cheering them on. America needs more labor militancy, not less.


Dave Lindorff in Washington

About the author: Philadelphia journalist Dave Lindorff is a 34-year veteran, an award-winning journalist, a former New York Times contributor, a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, a two-time Journalism Fulbright Scholar, and the co-author, with Barbara Olshansky, of a well-regarded book on impeachment, The Case for Impeachment. His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net.



Copyright © 2009 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on November 8, 2009.
 

Public Service Ads: