Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Labor Day And After

One day after the big Labor Day Holiday. How many times did you thank a union worker for ringing up your groceries? The firemen for battling the summer fires? Or the driver of the bus taking you to your destination?

There are these people all around us, sometimes called the "salt of the earth," doing their best to bring home the daily bread with dignity and good working conditions guaranteed by a labor contract. Because labor laws exist, America's middle class wage earners have been able to raise and support healthy families with a decent paycheck.

America's post-WWII middle class boomed in the 50's and 60's. My stockbroker Dad raised a family of 12!

You are to be honored. Many have fought for the eight hour day and 40 hour work week. Some actually died in the struggle for economic justice. It is fully legal to join your fellow workers in a petition for a union vote at work.

Beginning with the Reagan era, all sorts of messages have been spreading throughout our culture about the importance of capital and how American businesses need tax breaks and special trade policies. For our own good.

But I dare you to find voices today equally loud on behalf of the labor issues for the working man or woman. If you want to suggest one who is a loud pro-labor voice, please email me:
CentralCoastNewsMission (at) gmail (dot) com. --Newsstand Greg

Central Coast Labor issues which continue to make headlines this summer:

Minimum wage raised by $2.10 per hour; vote supported by Congressperson Lois Capps. It was the first increase in the federal minimum wage in almost a decade. By the summer of 2009, all minimum-wage jobs will pay no less than $7.25 an hour.
Nurses working at Tenet Health Care’s Sierra Vista and Twin Cities hospitals have a new contract that includes a respectable 25 percent raise over four years. Other hospital staff are still negotiating what they call "a fair increase."
Sometimes the labor disputes are more public. Perhaps you've seen in Santa Maria, the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters has hired people to hold up large banners at the Broadway Street location of Community Bank of Santa Maria.
The signs proclaim, "Shame On Community Bank, Santa Maria."
This union only wants to draw attention to the fact that the bank's dry wall contractor is not paying the prevailing wage (between $14 and $33 per hour with benefits) at the Lompoc construction site. Right in my own backyard, so to speak.

The Santa Barbara News-Press labor dispute will wind its way through the courts for some time. One can only hope the brave group of reporters can stay employed and defend themselves at the same time. You can read about it at The Independent, the LA Times, The Tribune in San Luis Obispo and the Santa Maria Times and the Lompoc Record.

But, in my view, you'll never get an unbiased story printed about it in the SB News-Press itself.

[If you want to add to this list of Central Coast labor issues, snap me an email at the above address, and thanks!]

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