Join march to protect public-service unions

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Tom Broderick

After instituting a war on poverty as part of his Great Society, President Lyndon Johnson squandered this drive to eliminate poverty in the world's most affluent nation to pursue a brutal war against the people of Vietnam.

President Ronald Reagan opened war on the poor, employing a myth about a "welfare queen" who had 80 names, 30 addresses and 12 Social Security numbers. He accused her of collecting benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands, stealing $150,000 from the American taxpayers. The person he was referring to had been convicted of using two aliases to steal $8,000. Reporters repeatedly presented him with the facts, but President Reagan continued to ply his version to push a policy of punishing the poor for being poor.

Not satisfied with attacking the poor, President Reagan fired more than 12,000 striking air traffic controllers. These public-service workers were members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization. As government employees, they were striking illegally. Other government workers had struck without being permanently replaced, but President Reagan had an agenda. His action sent a message to the private sector that they could permanently replace workers who went on strike. The U.S. labor movement has yet to recover.

During his presidential campaign, Reagan floated the idea of a North American trade agreement. The beginnings of the North American Free Trade Agreement were implemented in 1994 under President Bill Clinton, and the final parts were set in place in 2008, as President Barack Obama took office. NAFTA has improved the lives of some of the have mores, while destroying much of America's manufacturing industry. NAFTA has forced competition to the bottom for workers in this country and abroad.

Gus Lubin of Business Insider writes that "The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Cliché, sure, but it's also more true than at any time since the Gilded Age ... wages are falling behind inflation, and social mobility is at an all time low. If you're in that top 1 percent, life is grand."

The poor are barely mentioned today. We don't speak of the working class. Now the focus of pundits and politicians is the middle class. America became the first middle class country in the world because of the labor movement — workers organizing to improve their lives. Additionally, after World War II, the G.I. Bill allowed many Americans to attend schools of higher education. American people and businesses benefited from this shared wealth.

The attack on the poor, the working class and the middle class in America has reached a new level with the move to destroy the public service unions in states like Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio. How to respond to this drive to squeeze and impoverish most of America? Fight now. Right now.

Join the We are One March and Rally hosted by the Chicago Federation of Labor and the Illinois AFL-CIO at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 9, at the Daley Plaza at the corner of Clark and Washington.

Tom Broderick is an Oak Park resident and co-chairman of the Oak Park Democratic Socialists of America.

Reader Comments

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Support Taxpayers! from River Forest  

Posted: April 11th, 2011 3:51 PM

Tom from RF - I don't think this is a right/left issue. It is an employer/employee issue. Why are union dues used for political purposes, only? I wish I could influence my boss with that kind of cash! Not to mention, the unions throw around way more $$$ than the banks. All subsidies are bad - energy, oil, farm and defense.

Tom from River Forest  

Posted: April 11th, 2011 2:01 PM

Support Taxpayers! from River Forest - Why is that the right only talks about moral hazard when it relates to those who support Democrats. Is there no moral hazard in the ability of banks to contribute to the chairs of the House Banking Committee in order to get him water down the Financial Reform bill. How about Exxon and the other oil companies contributing to Joe Barton in order to preserve the billions in tax subsidies that they receive?

tjk from Oak Park  

Posted: April 11th, 2011 10:11 AM

Unions have brought the war on themselves. They are as corrupt as any corporation. Archaic work rules (ask anyone who's ever worked a convention at McCormick Place), pensions at retirement ages that would make Greece blush, tenure for poor performers... And why shouldn't Regan have fired the controllers? They jeopardized the safety of the American people. Would you have wanted your child to fly on a flight tracked by a replacement? And I voted yes on the referrendum.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: April 10th, 2011 10:00 PM

We all need to commit to never responding to any post over 500 characters. Oops!

OP Resident  

Posted: April 10th, 2011 9:46 PM

500 words or less?

Support Taxpayers! from River Forest  

Posted: April 10th, 2011 1:25 PM

An interesting article that leaves out the fact that public employee unions are the major contributors to the entity that employs them. It is a moral hazard of the highest order. This is a particular irony in Oak Park, where no tax is too small. And, once again, instead of fiscal discipline to solve a problem, the residents turn to increased spending to the benefit of the union members.

I Support Unions  

Posted: April 6th, 2011 5:34 PM

Inflexible public service union contracts just forced Oak Park parents to choose between a tax hike and compromising their children's education to the tune of $380 per $10K. I'll consider that my personal contribution to union members' lifestyles and vice versa.

tom broderick from oak park  

Posted: April 6th, 2011 5:12 PM

Hello Brian, while in the 500 word limit I had in this One View, I focused on Presidents. Of the four mentioned, three were Democrats. The attack on workers is more pronounced now in states where the Governors are Republican, but I agree that both parties have made their peace with capitalism.

brian slowiak from oak park  

Posted: April 6th, 2011 3:29 PM

i guess the Socialist forgot the attack on the middle class by the Democrats. In 1974, then Dem. Cong. Dan Rostenkowski, pushed thru legislation to deny police, fire fighters and teachers their fair share of their Social Security benefits. Even though I have paid in 40 quarters, I being a retired police officer will only get a 19% to 26 % SocialSecurity. benefit. Now that I am in the public sector, I still pay into Social Security 100% and will own get a 19% to 26% benefit.

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