By guest blogger Cassandra Pax.
Today, Monday, July 2nd, 2018, the New York Times reports on the most recent Supreme Court decision “striking down mandatory union fees for government workers”. Obama, who had promised the unions, did not implement the “Card Check” (whereby the union dues and fees would be directly deducted from the workers’ paycheck and remitted to unions) and did not support any of the demands of the unions, while the unions had contributed tremendously to his campaign and the majority of the members had voted for him and other Democrats. The attack on unions has been continually increasing since 1980. And now this pro-market, anti-worker, anti-union Supreme Court has struck another blow to the survival of unions.
Why is it that the Democratic Party leaders and their supporters are not making the defense of the unions and American workers one of the most important topics of the day? Why aren’t there huge demonstrations by these bleading-heart liberals in support of the American workers? Why are all of them following the dictate of the Democratic Party leadership in defining what is the important issue of the day? Why are all the big demonstrations formed for defense of the right of undocumented immigrants, but not one word about the rights of the poor American citizens? I believe that the ruling class, whether in the Democratic Party or the Republican Party, are united in defeating the unions and reducing the rights of the American workers while supporting the 1%. The majority of the Democrats in power, for example in the Congress, belong to the 1%. So, without offering any tangible solution for the plight of the undocumented immigrants, Democrats and their apologists use the crocodile tears for the poor Latin American people crossing the American border as a smokescreen diverting the attention of the American people from all the atrocities that are happening in the Supreme Court and the American congress against the American peoples’ rights and livelihood. They are redefining the meaning of freedom of speech, granting it to the corporations and denying it to the unions. Citing freedom of religion, they have granted to corporations and other organizations a right of refusal of health services to women. And they have mounted many other attacks on the rights that the American workers, American women, and American minorities have won, sometimes at the expense of their lives, in their movements in the 20th Century. American workers were killed in the Haymarket uprising in Chicago and in the West Virginia mining towns and in the textile factories all over America to win the right to unionize. Where are the tears for the blood of the American worker?
It is an undeniable fact that since the victory of the Reagan Revolution in the 80’s and the implementation of the neoliberal economic policies, and the rise in the power of the religious right, which is economically in cahoots with the neoliberal policies, many rights won by the American people in the workplace and in their private lives (e. g. the right of women to legal abortion and coverage of their family planning by their health insurance), have been restricted. For example, the rise of the power of corporations has imposed contracts of employment that deny the workers some of their basic constitutional rights, such as their access to the courts by imposing mediation and excluding class actions. American workers are increasingly subjected to drug tests in professions where drugs are not related to their performance (public transport drivers and pilots subjected to drug testing is required for the security of the public). Many employers these days require a good credit rating for job applicants, while the unemployed may not have a good credit rating because they have been unemployed and poor. And why is it the Equifax firm, which violates the privacy of vital information of 140 million Americans, has the right to determine the creditworthiness of an American worker and affect the employment opportunity of that American worker?
The Supreme Court decision that gives the right to the American employee to choose not to pay fees for a contract that he benefits from weakens the union by reducing its revenue, which is already minuscule compared to the wealth of the corporations fighting against such employee. In an environment where a worker who accepts an employment contract gives up many of his rights, the Supreme Court says that if that same contract includes benefits negotiated by a union, the employee can refuse to pay the union fee. The Supreme Court has recently used the American constitution’s First Amendment in defense of corporations, such as in the Citizen’s United decision, while on the other hand using that same First Amendment to limit the power of unions, which represent the American workers.
Another danger that I see in this most recent Supreme Court decision is that it is another step in the process of eliminating all safety nets for the poor working-class Americans. There has been a long history of the powers on the Right to push for restricting Social Security and Medicare by privatizing them and in the final analysis, killing them. While for a long time, they warn us that Social Security may become bankrupt, yet they take absolutely no steps to prevent the bankruptcy so that the poor Americans would at least have the small Social Security benefits in their old age. Up to now, when a person accepted employment in a unionized workplace, they would accept as part of their employment contract, the payment of union fees. But the new decision has given them a right to reject that portion of their contract while benefiting from the result of it. The political Right will hold that if the constitution gives the American employee the right to not pay fees for services received under a union contract as a part of their employment contract, they will extend that logic to the imposition of payment of FICA (Social Security and Medicare). This compulsory fee is imposed by Federal law across the country on workers in private industry and those who work for states and municipalities. So what is it to prevent them from challenging that in the Supreme Court?
Despite this tremendous danger facing the majority of Americans, who depend on their day-to-day paycheck to live, and whose paycheck has been decreasing over the last forty years, I do not see an outcry or huge demonstrations by the liberals and “progressives”. And I don’t see the so-called “liberal” media (e. g. NPR) spending much time on the issues of the working Americans. Again, I want to emphasize that these so-called liberals and “progressives” always follow the agenda set by the leaders of the Democratic Party. Since the Democratic Party sees the issue of undocumented immigrants as a tool to use against the Trump administration, they raise cries and voices and demonstrations and accusations about this one topic while completely ignoring all the draconian attacks on the great majority of Americans, who are working Americans. Why do the liberals and the “progressive” activists follow the agenda of the ruling class? Why is it that they have no strategic plan in defense of the poor and the working Americans?