Abraham Lincoln understood what labor meant:
“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first
existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.” Lincoln’s First Annual Message to Congress,
December 3, 1861.
Harry Truman, maybe not exactly on Labor, but on Labor’s #1 enemy:
“Republicans approve of the American farmer, but they are willing to help him go broke. They stand four-square for the American home–but not for housing. They are strong for labor–but they are stronger for restricting labor’s rights. They favor minimum wage–the smaller the minimum wage the better. They endorse educational opportunity for all–but they won’t spend money for teachers or for schools. They think modern medical care and hospitals are fine–for people who can afford them. They consider electrical power a great blessing–but only when the private power companies get their rake-off. They think American standard of living is a fine thing–so long as it doesn’t spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it.”
From Barack Obama:
It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today. The 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans. The cornerstones of the middle-class security all bear the union label.
Those who would destroy or further limit the rights of organized labor–those who would cripple collective bargaining or prevent organization of the unorganized–do a disservice to the cause of democracy.
Fifty years or so ago the American Labor Movement was little more than a group of dreamers, and look at it now. From coast to coast, in factories, stores, warehouse and business establishments of all kinds, industrial democracy is at work.
Employees, represented by free and democratic trade unions of their own choosing, participate actively in determining their wages, hours and working conditions. Their living standards are the highest in the world. Their job rights are protected by collective bargaining agreements. They have fringe benefits that were unheard of less than a generation ago.
Our labor unions are not narrow, self-seeking groups. They have raised wages, shortened hours and provided supplemental benefits. Through collective bargaining and grievance procedures, they have brought justice and democracy to the shop floor. But their work goes beyond their own jobs, and even beyond our borders.
Our unions have fought for aid to education, for better housing, for development of our national resources and for saving the family-sized farms. They have spoken, not for narrow self-interest, but for the public interest and for the people
– John F. Kennedy, Aug. 30, 1960
I need to remind folks that there is another side of the fence. I think the infamous Jay Gould quote on his disdain for laborers really encapsulates capital’s feelings on Labor:
“I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.”
Traditionally this was the start of political campaigns and the end of summer vacation for school age kids. Now politics goes all year long and nearly every aspect of our lives has been politicized by the right, including how we choose to use our own bodies and what we believe or don’t believe spiritually. Kids have been in school for weeks now. No doubt the 12 month school year is probably on the horizon.
Labor is having somewhat of a resurgence, but is far from recovering from the blow delivered by the Gipper, one of America’s worst presidents ever.
Many of today’s questions will focus on labor, to remind us that labor has never had an easy row to hoe.
1) In a meeting that just came to light this week, Tea Party senate candidate Joni Ernst paid homage to who for making her campaign viable?
2) 1842 is crucial to labor history in the US. In the case Commonwealth v. Hunt settled the legality of what entity?
3) An American was killed last weekend fighting for ISIS in Syria. He had what patriotic sounding name?
4) Samuel Gompers is one of the most recognized names in Labor history. What Labor organization did Gompers head?
5) A reclassification by the Drug Enforcement Administration will make it much harder for patients to get what popular and addicting pain killer?
6) What Iowa born Labor leader was head of the mine workers union from 1920 to 1960 and helped form and the lead the CIO?
7) The largest university in Iowa welcomed over 34,000 students last week. Which university is Iowa’s largest?
8) Governor Branstad, in an odd linkage, blamed layoffs at Deere on who?
9) In 1955, a merger of major Labor unions brought together what two unions?
10) In what may become known as the “Branstad Tax” the governor proposed what to replace the gas tax?
11) A poll commissioned by two Republican groups found what demographic thought Republicans to be “stuck in the past”,”intolerant” and “lacking compassion?”
12) A proposed merger will join what Canadian fast fooder with what American fast fooder?
13) Of all the silly things to cover this week, ESPN had a segment on the after work showering habits of what person?
14) Can you name the 3 largest unions in the US based on number of members?
15) Using government powers to make sure an organization does what it says it will. What Iowa elected official wants the government to monitor the ALS foundation to verify it uses money raised by the ice bucket challenge for research?
My project for this weekend is to get all available immigration documentation about my grandparents in case Republicans win both houses. I am only 3rd generation American and I am not sure if that will be enough under their auspices. If they cut the date off at 1900, I may have a problem.
1) Charles and David Koch and the group of funders they put together.
3) Douglas MacArthur McCain
4) American Federation of Labor (AFL).
6) John L. Lewis
7) Iowa State
8) the EPA. Odd for many reasons. Remember Joni Ernst has signed on to oppose renewable energy with Exxon.
9) AFL and the CIO
10) a sales tax on gas.
12) Tim Horton’s (Canada) and Burger King (US). This is so Burger King can avoid US taxes. So I avoid Burger King.
13) Michael Sam, the rookie pro footballer who came out as gay.
14) The NEA, the SEIU and AFSCME
15) Charles Grassley. Look out for the Tea Party with attitudes like that, Chuck!
We want to encourage folks to please use the letters sections of their newspapers to try to get folks to understand that all of us have a stake in this election. Turning any governmental body to Republicans is not in the interest of the average Iowan.
“If I were running for my sixth term of Governor of Iowa, and I was telling the citizens of Iowa how proud I am of my record, I would welcome debating my opponent, Jack Hatch, every chance I could.
If I were running for my sixth term of Governor of Iowa, I would be debating my opponent, Jack Hatch, in every media market in Iowa. I would not limit the debates to three of the smallest markets in Iowa.
If I were running for my sixth term of Governor of Iowa and I have repeatedly said how important and ready my Lt. Governor was, I would have her debating her opponent, Monica Vernon, every chance they could.
If I did not want the voters of Iowa to hear that my last term was riddled with scandals and my attempts to limit free and independent judgments and decisions, I would limit the number of debates.
If I did not want the voters of Iowa to hear how my opponent, Jack Hatch, has new, fresh ideas on how to strengthen Iowa’s economy and move it forward while improving the economic security of Iowa’s middle class, I would conduct the debates in the smallest markets limiting the number of potential voters yearning for change.
If I did not want voters of Iowa to hear my opponent’s choice for Lt. Governor, Monica Vernon, debate my Lt. Governor, I would veto the idea of the Lt. Governors debating each other.”
2014 is the 120th national celebration of labor in the United States. During that time, labor has seldom had true respect in this country. The way history is taught in this country many folks believe that labor strife ended with Samuel Gompers and the advent of Labor Day. But as any true historian will tell you, Labor Day was merely a recognition of the power the labor movement had achieved, but was hardly a cessation in the war against labor as waged by the ownership class in this country.
Since 1894, the US has seen constant and continuing attempts by capitalists to incapacitate and neuter the labor movement in this country. Considering that all of us but those at the very top are laborers of some sort, this is a war on most Americans and their ability to earn a living and provide for their families.
Over the decades labor won some battles. When one thinks of what has become a “standard” work week, one thinks of 40 hours, 8 hours a day with a couple of coffee breaks and a lunch period, with overtime above 40 hours in a week. Many take such an arrangement for granted, almost as if it always existed. However, as many have been learning since the ascendancy of Ronald Reagan, none of what we take as standard is written in stone. All these rules and many more which we have come to believe as standard were won through hard negotiation and job actions which were often met with violence and loss of jobs.
Since the ascendancy of Reagan, the balance of power between labor and capital has dramatically shifted to the capital side of the coin. I daresay there has never been a time when Labor was in charge. For a time there was some balance, but the election of Reagan put an end to that.
Whether the Reagan administration was looking for a battle against labor to hang its hat on, or if the strike by the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) was actually a narrow battle of the day, the firing of of the strikers by Reagan became a true watershed moment in Labor relations. In short, Labor has never recovered and management has seen victory after victory especially in congresses which have become increasingly management friendly.
To keep the price of labor low, which is one of the major goals, labor must be treated as a commodity and as such an excess must always be available. This is the logic behind Republicans, acting for management, pushing legislation that aids moving jobs offshore, trying to raise retirement age, cuts back on retirement benefits and even the ridiculous suggestion to put children back into the labor force.
The scariest recent development in the labor front is automation. Automation has of course been around for years, but with the digital revolution the possibility of replacing jobs never before thought possible. It is not hard to imagine 3D printers replacing some highly skilled jobs. Even McDonald’s claims that if their cost of labor gets too high it will make automating their restaurants cost effective.
The Labor movement has always been steeped in conflict, usually against management, but sometimes within its own walls. The future looks quite challenging. Even if you are in management or are a professional who believes you are untouchable, you would be smart to keep an eye on and support Labor’s struggles. What happens to them will eventually happen to you. When once you got raises and benefits as Labor’s fortunes rose, so, too, will your fortunes fall as theirs do.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Matt Sinovic
Phone: (515) 423-0530
An alarming number of Iowa beaches are rated ‘Swimming Not Recommended’ due to E. coli — Iowans can call (319) 353-2613 for the latest swimming advisories
DES MOINES — Citizens for a Healthy Iowa today issued a message of caution to every family that is considering a visit to Iowa’s beaches and lakes this Labor Day weekend. A number of beaches are rated ‘Swimming Not Recommended’ by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) due to high levels of E. coli. At least one dozen beaches received that rating, and nearly fifty are local beaches with no information about the level of E. coli available.
“My children and I used to swim in the Raccoon River. Now there is no way I would let my grandkids swim in the Raccoon River or at our beaches without checking the beach safety hotline first,” said Mike Delaney, President of Citizens for a Healthy Iowa. “Every family should be aware of the dangerous levels of E. coli in many of our lakes before planning their Labor Day activities. Under Governor Branstad’s failed leadership, we’ve seen our water quality drop tremendously. From our kitchen sink to the beaches we swim in, Iowa water just isn’t what it used to be.”
With at least one heavily polluted lake, river or stream in each of Iowa’s 99 counties – over 600 impaired waterways in all – Iowa’s rivers and lakes are more polluted than they’ve ever been. Governor Branstad vetoed $20 million in state funding that would have provided additional resources for the DNR & IDALS to improve water quality and prevent pollution from Iowa farms from getting into Iowa waterways.
Citizens for a Healthy Iowa recommends that families swimming at any of Iowa’s beaches should call the Iowa DNR’s Beach Monitoring Hotline at (319) 353-2613 for the latest swimming advisories.
Citizens for a Healthy Iowa is an Iowa-based non-profit organization that works to promote sustainable public health, agricultural, economic development and environmental policy.
I have been collecting pictures to use in these posts for a while. Some never get posted but should.Thus, I have been toying with the idea of an occasional picture thread. Today I decided to do a short test picture thread.
The kids across the street got a new above ground pool 2 weeks ago. From morning until sundown the neighborhood was filled with shrieks and giggles and all other sorts of joyful noises. It sounded wonderful. Then Wednesday it was painfully quiet in the neighborhood. The Grinch that stole summer (aka school) reappeared after a 3 month absence and made his presence known.
As sure as day follows night, school follows summer. We hope most kids had as cheerful of a summer as the neighbor kids did. This summer will never happen again, but let us hope they can replay the joy in their minds years from now. Tempus fugit.
And speaking of tempus fugiting, were you paying attention before last week fugited? Let’s see:
1) The official tornado season has ended in Iowa. This year Iowa counted 52 tornadoes. Is this more or less than normal?
2) Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol did something few humans have done. What did they do?
3) Mo’ne Davis had quite a week. What did she do?
4) The annual Harkin steak fry announced its headline guests for its last event. Who are the headliners for the last Harkin steak fry?
5) The Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati came out against the ice bucket challenge. Why?
6) James Foley was captured and executed while covering Islamist unrest in what country?
7) A third baby was turned over to the Iowa state DHS under the safe haven law this year. The law has been in effect since 2001. How many babies have been turned over in that time?
8) Climate change is blamed for an increase in insects in Iowa. This increase in insects has led to a dramatic increase in what two insect-borne diseases in Iowa?
9) Wikileaks founder Julian Asange said he would be leaving his embassy asylum “soon.” What country has offered Asange asylum for the past two years?
10) Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon drew ire when he announced he would not replace who in the Michael Brown case?
11) Ferguson, Missouri was visited by what high ranking official Wednesday?
12) The rich get richer. In a surprise move the NFL asked potential Super Bowl halftime acts for what?
13) I had Chris Christie in the ‘next governor to be indicted by a grand jury pool”, but this guy beat him out. What governor got indicted last week?
14) Remember the trip that John McCain took to Syria last year to support the rebels? Those rebels have turned out to be what now well known group?
15) Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, or PEDV, a killer of millions of piglets in the past year has been discovered to travel through what?
Sarah Palin seems to want to take some credit for Tina Fey’s success. Seriously Palin? Like a tick taking credit for the deer.
1) a bit more. Normal is 46.
2) survived ebola. Both released from an Atlanta hospital this week.
3) First girl to throw a shutout in the Little League World Series, Mo’ne became the first little leaguer on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
4) The Clintons, Bill and Hillary
5) Because it benefits ALS. ALS researchers use embryonic stem cells in research.
8) Lyme disease and West Nile virus
10) St. Louis county prosecutor Robert McCulloch
11) US AG Eric Holder.
12) Money. The NFL wants a cut of post-Super Bowl tour money made by acts.
13) Rick Perry of Texas
14) ISIS or ISIL
15) livestock feed.
Iowa’s Policy Project’s Peter Fisher is one of the best around these woods for ferreting out the utter BS that is being peddled by the business lobby to make themselves seem like a picked on group. To me, Peter is Iowa’s version of David Kay Johnston. Johnston as many of you know has exposed the grip that business has on America’s legislators.
Mike Owen, Iowa Policy Project Director, sent out a little teaser on Fisher’s work. As Owen notes in his blog:
“Iowa’s business lobby appears to be preparing a new assault on the ability of our state to provide public services.
It would be the latest in a long campaign, in which lobbyists target one tax at a time under a general — and inaccurate — message about taxes that we will not repeat here.
Suffice to say, Iowa taxes on business are low already. Many breaks provided to businesses are rarely reviewed in any meaningful way to make sure that taxpayers are getting value for those dollars spent, ostensibly, to encourage economic growth. Rarely can success be demonstrated.
The Iowa Taxpayers Association is holding a “policy summit” this week and promoting a new report by the Tax Foundation to recycle old arguments that are no better now than they have been for the last decade.
Fortunately in Iowa, we know where to turn to understand claims from the Tax Foundation, and that resource is Peter Fisher, our research director at the Iowa Policy Project. Fisher has written two books on the so-called “business climate” rankings by the Tax Foundation and others, and is a widely acknowledged authority on the faults in various measures of supposed “business climates” in the states.”
Owen then links to a summary of one of Dr. Fisher’s works where we find this gem:
Washington, D.C. (Nov. 28, 2012) — A new study finds that state tax and regulatory policies recommended by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) fail to promote stronger job creation or income growth, and actually predict a worse performance.
Since ALEC first published its annual Rich States, Poor States study with its Economic Outlook Ranking in 2007, states that were rated better have actually done worse economically.
Those are the key findings of “Selling Snake Oil to the States,” a study published today by Good Jobs First and the Iowa Policy Project and freely available online at http://www.goodjobsfirst.org/snakeoiltothestates. It was released at a press conference the same week ALEC holds its annual fall meeting in Washington, D.C.
“We tested ALEC’s claims against actual economic results,” said Dr. Peter Fisher, research director of the Iowa Policy Project and primary author of the study. “We conclude that eliminating progressive taxes, suppressing wages, and cutting public services are actually a recipe for economic inequality, declining incomes, and undermining public infrastructure and education that really matter for long-term economic growth.”
The Iowa Policy Project should be mandatory reading for legislators who have the good of all Iowans in mind.
Mitch has an itch. His itch is to be leader of the senate once again so he can force President Obama into a bad choice for America of signing bills that would disrupt policy or if not, shut down the government. Remember all that stuff you learned in grade school about Congress compromising and working for the best for its citizens? Throw it out the window, it is about to become the stuff of legend.
With his partner, Smokin’ John Boehner, the alcoholic Speaker of the House, McConnell plans on attaching amendments changing policy to spending bills. This will then force the President to sign bills that will change policies (I doubt for the better) or stop the government as the money will not have been appropriated to run the government.
Then McConnell and Boehner will claim that it is the President who has chosen to shut down the government by refusing to give in to Republican blackmail.
You may recognize this as a variation on the debt ceiling blackmail shutdown led by that great American, Ted Cruz (do I need to say sarcasm?) last fall. The Republicans promised not to hold the debt ceiling hostage for a while and they aren’t. They are holding Americans, both citizens and businesses, hostage this time. It will be Obama’s fault if he chooses not to pay the ransom.
And the bet that the Republicans are making is that Americans are too stupid to figure out what they are doing. No doubt, they plan on a captive and compliant press to sell this as Obama’s fault. They did so in their last phony crisis.
What role do Iowans play in this game? Well, we have one of those senate races that McConnell and his cohorts are counting on to put Republicans in charge of the senate. Remember, even if McConnell loses his senate seat, the next Republican leader will do exactly the same.
Iowa’s senate race is of course Bruce Braley vs. Joni Ernst. Anyone who has been paying attention so far can easily see a very distinct difference between Braley and Ernst.
- Braley has a proven track record of working for Iowans. In a short career, Braley is one of the most respected member of the House.
- Ernst has lined up with the most extreme elements of the right wing in the country. She cares little about Iowa or Iowans. Her focus is to undo all social policy from FDR forward. She has come out against Social Security and Medicare. She has come out in favor of impeaching President Obama for no specific reason. Make no doubt that McConnell’s scheme fits right in with Ernst’s plan. In short she will be little more than a an automatic vote for McConnell.
So if you want the government to stop, if you want confrontation that will probably once more kill the economy, if you are part of the 1% you have reason to vote for Ernst. If you want to end Medicare, Social Security (and Medicaid although that hasn’t been expressed) vote for Ernst.
But if you believe that government can be a force for good and you want a person to represent the state and not a ideological fringe, vote for Braley. The choice is pretty stark.
Oh and by the way, Boehner wouldn’t be speaker if he didn’t have a majority. We could really dent that majority by sending Loebsack, Murphy, Appel and Mowrer to the House.