Friday, February 12, 2010

False Labor: After Elaine Chao, You Owe Us

Name me one Republican congressperson who backs the unions.  Name me one who has EVER backed the unions.  Now give me one good reason why any of us who support unions and equity in the work force should be hopeful that they will see the light and give Big Business the business for undermining and ultimately destroying the lives of millions and millions and millions of Americans.

They're not going to do it.  All of our hopes and prayers and groveling and kowtowing will do nothing to change their minds.  The country is falling down around us and they're still concerned with "death taxes" and keeping the business climate sunny with no chance of annoying precipitation.  Unemployment figures mean nothing to them, except as proof of the effectiveness of downsizing, under-employing and off-shoring.  Lean and mean.  That's the way to do it.

Each and every one of them got to where they are by appealing to the rank-and-file members of the work force and getting them to cast their ballots for them.  They couldn't have won without them.  You might say they've turned into ungrateful bastards. I might say "Told you so." They lied, they lied again, and they're still lying.

We couldn't bid high enough so they sold out to the highest bidder.  And before you get all huffy and tell me the Democrats aren't much better, let me just say this about the Democrats: they're not much better. (I qualify it because some of them are much, much better.  Nobody listens to them is all.) 

Here's how I see the Democrats:  There they are hiding behind the trees while the marauders are out there slashing and burning.  They're wringing their hands, muttering, "This can't be right. . .".    Some of them turn tail and run.  Others of them haul out the white flags and surrender.  Even others of them see profit in them thar hills and make a mad, friendly dash to the other side.  So we're left with a ragtag handful of good souls trying to fend them all off with the only ammunition available:  a need to serve a suffering people and a clear vision of what that means.

So the Republicans have now refused to approve the nomination of Craig Becker, President Obama's choice for the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) on the grounds that, as a former labor union lawyer, he's biased toward labor.  No, really.

This is what the NLRB does: 

What We Do

The National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1935 to administer the National Labor Relations Act, the primary law governing relations between unions and employers in the private sector. The statute guarantees the right of employees to organize and to bargain collectively with their employers, and to engage in other protected concerted activity with or without a union, or to refrain from all such activity.

So is it too much to ask, in this climate so sunny for all but the masses, that the very agency set up to protect the workers would be administered by someone from LABOR???

The Republicans cry "foul", but, according to a great post by Adele Stan, AlterNet's Washington Bureau chief, Bush used the recess seven times to stack the NLRB with business-friendly members.

There was Peter N. Kirsanow, who "[represented] management in employment-related litigation, as well as in contract negotiations, NLRB proceedings, EEO matters, and arbitration."

There was Ronald E. Meisburg,  a member of the Employment Lawyers Advisory Council of the National Association of Manufacturers, a group that, as Stan reminds us, is about as anti-union as you can get.

There was Michael J. Bartlett,  director of Labor Law policy at the U. S. Chamber of Commerce  (Wait.  I take back what I said about the NAM being as anti-union as you can get.  The USCC tops them and wins, hands down.)

Stan has more to say about this, so please go on over and read the rest.   It wouldn't hurt to pass it along, either.

So maybe you're wondering about my title.  About Elaine Chao and how she fits in here.  Elaine Chao, wife of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, and an unabashed pro-business cheerleader, was Labor Secretary under George W. Bush for eight lo-o-o-o-n-g years.  She was recruited from the Heritage Foundation, where her claim to fame was the constant denunciation of Affirmative Action.  She was praised by the U.S Chamber of Commerce (see above) for supporting "the limited role of government" and "free-market principals".  John Sweeney, former head of the AFL-CIO said of her,  "I have never seen a Labor Secretary who is so anti-labor".

She tried to water down OSHA practices, kept her distance from labor advocates, argued that Homeland Security employees shouldn't be union members because it would cause them not to be able to protect Americans sufficiently, and all around kept those damned labor protections from harming her best buds.

She now stumps for Big Business, talking against any measures that might ease the burden of the working people of this country.  Increased taxes, increased government mandates, increased government regulations.  Her solution?  Stop the health care reforms and cancel scheduled tax increases, including the estate tax.  She says, with passion, "This economy needs to be free from the shackles (voice cracks here) of government regulations and government mandates and government regulations." 

So labor people (and former labor people, and wannabe labor people) could you kindly throw boulders at the Republicans and lob a few bricks at the Democrats and help us get this country back on its feet?

It's not like there's nothing in it for you.


  1. As usual, thoroughly thought out and presented. I'm not sure it is possible to get a labor-supportive administration ever again... not when even the most remote suggestion of support of the American worker is tagged "Socialist" which means, what?, "twin brother of Karl Marx"?

    As to Ms. Chao, she not only represented the total shift in Government relations with Organized Labor, she made the Republican Congressional hierarchy, through McConnell, into the beast that could terrify any ordinary Democrat.

    If I thought we would really see a change come into being now, as I did when we elected Obama, I would be much less depressed.

    Under The LobsterScope

  2. I hear you, Bill. These are not normal times. We don't have time to wait for niceties. After what we've been through the last eight to 12--and now 13--years, what we need about now is a battering ram.

  3. I agree, we don't have time for the social political games anymore. Repubs never play them when they are in charge. But they insist on being obstructionist when they are not. As for Ms. Chou, she'll say anything, as will all Repubs, that make any well thought out decision that does not favor the Rightwing nuts, or their big business profits. It was OK when Bush was a socialist and bailed out the banks without any strings attached. But when we try to support the common people with some money, then we're being socialist. They are so hypocritical, they should be called on the carpet and made to answer for their treasonous behaviors.
    Sorry, I got a little carried away there....

  4. Stan, don't apologize for giving your opinion. It matters.

    I don't understand why the hypocrites get away with so much, either. They've done so much damage, and it's all been documented--and lived through. And yet they're still riding high, with no alteration to their lifestyles. It drives me nuts!

  5. It's simply becasue they don't care. They will say anything to make this administration and the Democrats look bad. Anything. They don't care if it's true or not. They are banking on the short memory of the American people and that for teh most part, our people prefer sound bites to facts. They capitalize on that like no where else in the world. All the years they failed to support education in this country have finally paid off. We have a nation of short attention spanned, instant gratification seekers, perfect for the kind of fodder that Repubs and Conservatives like to spew. Our own apathy as a society works to their advantage. It's going to take a hard, cold, slap in the face for most of us to wake up and see the reality behind the rhetoric. Most of our population act like children instead of resonsible adults. SP's behavior is more of a high school prom queen than a (former) governor. And yet, she has minions. She can't even remember three simple things without writing them on her hand, but she has minions!

  6. Now you're really depressing me. And on Valentine's Day! You know, apathy worked okay when we had a huge surplus instead of a screaming deficit, when we all had jobs and when we weren't being scammed by the corporatocracy everywhere we turned. We could afford to be a little apathetic. But we're in a crisis now and the word doesn't seem to be getting out.

    When nearly half the country follows Palin/Limbaugh/Beck you know they're not serious about fixing things. They think their form of armchair anarchy is entertainment, while the rest of us see the country going down for the count. I don't know how to get through to them before it's too late. Their stupidity is too broad a barrier, and we haven't yet found the magic words to break the spell.


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