Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Conservative Assault On American Workers, Recapitulation


The Fugue is made up of three sections, an exposition, a development, and a recapitulation containing the return of the subject in the fugue's tonic key (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fugue.  Our Exposition explained the plight of workers' wages and 401Ks; the Development on why Conservatives don't want to create jobs; and today's Recapitulation brings us to the present with two stories -- with parenthetical explanations --  showing that the Conservatives are not, and will never be, the working man's friend:  first, "Court Bars Notice to Workers on Right to Unionize" and second, "House Approves Bill To Change Overtime Pay Law."


The first article from The New York Times by Steven Greenhouse:



"A federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down a National Labor Relations Board rule requiring most private sector employers to post a notice informing employees of their right to unionize.

"Ever since the labor board proposed the rule in December 2010, business groups have asserted that the move exceeded the board’s authority and was an improper imposition on nearly six million employers, most of them small businesses.

"In its decision, the (hanging judges at the) United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit concluded that the N.L.R.B.’s rule violated a federal law that bars the board from punishing an employer for expressing its views so long as those statements do not constitute threats of retaliation or force.

"The labor board had originally said that an employer’s failure to post the notice would be considered an unfair labor practice, resulting in penalties, but the circuit court said the board would be acting illegally to punish an employer for expressing a statement or in this case, for failing to post a statement under orders by the labor board.

"The labor board’s rule told employers to post a notice, informing workers of their right to form or join a union, to strike, to bargain collectively and to act together to improve working conditions.

"The federal circuit court issued an injunction in April 2012, suspending the labor board’s rule, after two (one obviously more competent than the other) lower courts differed on whether the board had overstepped its powers.



"The circuit court (desperately) several Supreme Court rulings to reach its decision that employers have a right to disseminate views as well as a right not to disseminate views. The court relied on First Amendment rulings that prohibit the government from telling people what they must say, like telling schoolchildren they must recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

"Many businesses (read: Conservative propagandists) asserted (lied and said) that the labor board’s proposed poster was one-sided and pro-union, although the board said the poster was neutral.

"The (Conservative front group) National Association of Manufacturers applauded the court’s ruling, calling it 'an important victory in the fight against an activist N.L.R.B. and its aggressive agenda (that protected workingmen's rights).'

“'The poster rule is a prime example of a government agency that seeks to fundamentally change the way employers and employees communicate,' the manufacturers’ association said. 'The ultimate result of the N.L.R.B.’s intrusion would be to create hostile work environments (that don't exist) where none exist.'

"The A.F.L.-C.I.O. attacked the ruling. 'The Republican judges of the D.C. Circuit continue to wreak havoc on workers’ rights,' (in the Conservative judiciary continuing war against American workers) its president, Richard L. Trumka, said. The labor federation, like the Obama administration, was already upset with the circuit court for ruling in January that President Obama’s recess appointments to the labor board were illegal and that the board thus did not have a quorum needed to operate. The Obama administration has appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.

"Mr. Trumka questioned the sweep of Tuesday’s ruling, saying: 'In today’s workplace, employers are required to display posters explaining wage and hour rights, health and safety and discrimination laws, even emergency escape routes. The circuit court’s ruling suggests that courts should strike down hundreds of notice requirements, not only those that inform workers about their rights and warn them of hazards, but also those on cigarette packages, in home mortgages and many other areas' (Which is obviously what Conservatives desire more than anything else to enhance their profits).

"(In a brilliant display of Double Speak) In holding that the labor board could not punish employers for failing to post the notice, the court decided to vacate the rule altogether, saying that the labor board would not have wanted to propose a merely voluntary rule that it could not enforce.

"In a statement, the labor board said it was reviewing Tuesday’s ruling and would 'make a decision on further proceedings at the appropriate time.' It noted that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals was also reviewing the legality of the poster rule."



And from the second article, "House Approves Bill To Change Overtime Pay Law," by Sam Hananel at the Associated Press:

"The Republican-led House on Wednesday approved a measure that would give private sector workers the 'option' (quotation marks ours) of trading overtime pay for extra time off weeks or months later.

"The bill, approved on a 223-204 vote, would allow employees who work more than 40 hours a week to save up to 160 hours of earned time off for future use. GOP (lying) lawmakers say they want to give busy working parents at private firms the same flexibility that public sector workers have to take time off to spend with their children or care for aging parents.

"Democrats and worker advocacy groups say it opens the door for employers to pressure workers not to take overtime pay. And they warn there is no guarantee workers would be able to take the extra time off when they want.

"The bill has little chance of success in the Democratic-controlled Senate. President Barack Obama has threatened a veto, saying the bill would not prevent employers from slashing overtime hours and doesn't offer enough protection for workers who may not want to receive compensatory time off instead of overtime pay.

"The measure is part of a broader Republican agenda aimed at expanding the party's political appeal by offering conservative ideas to help (destroy) average Americans on issues like economic growth and job creation.

"'legislation simply removes an outdated federal policy that denies private sector workers the flexibility they need to better balance family and work,' Minnesota Rep. John Kline, head of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said (i.e., lied) in a floor speech.

"The plan would change the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which requires covered employees to receive time-and-a-half pay for every hour over 40 within a work week. The proposal would allow workers to bank up to 160 hours of comp time per year that could be used to take time off for any reason.

"Current law only allows private sector workers to swap comp time for overtime pay within a single pay period. The time can't be saved up for use later in the year.

"The GOP measure (pretends that it) would let an employee decide to cash out their stored comp time at any point and forbids employers from coercing workers to take comp time instead of cash.



"Democrats say it's not fair to compare the legislation to similar flexibility that is offered to public sector employees because many government workers are unionized and have civil service protections against potential abuse by employers.

Opponents say the reason public sector workers were given the option to take time off instead of overtime pay in 1985 was to save cash-strapped governments money. They say that's why business groups are lobbying in favor of the bill, not to protect workers.

"'This isn't women-friendly, this isn't mom-friendly, this isn't family-friendly,' said California Rep. George Miller, top Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce committee. 'This is friendly to people who want to get rid of overtime and bring down the 40-hour week that protects families so they're not working all the time.'

"Critics also say the bill lets employers decide whether to grant a specific request to use comp time, so workers have no guarantee of when they could use the time. Even if workers can collect their unused time as cash at the end of the year, opponents argue that essentially gives employers an interest-free loan from employees."



The key phrases in the AP story are, of course, "...it opens the door for employers to pressure workers not to take overtime pay. And they warn there is no guarantee workers would be able to take the extra time off when they want...would not prevent employers from slashing overtime hours and doesn't offer enough protection for workers who may not want to receive compensatory time off instead of overtime pay... it's not fair to compare the legislation to similar flexibility that is offered to public sector employees because many government workers are unionized and have civil service protections against potential abuse by employers...business groups are lobbying in favor of the bill, not to protect workers (but to enhance bottom line profits for corporations)...This isn't women-friendly, this isn't mom-friendly, this isn't family-friendly...'This is friendly to people who want to get rid of overtime and bring down the 40-hour week that protects families so they're not working all the time'...the bill lets employers decide whether to grant a specific request to use comp time, so workers have no guarantee of when they could use the time. Even if workers can collect their unused time as cash at the end of the year, opponents argue that essentially gives employers an interest-free loan from employees.

Reading political current events stories is easy when we keep in mind Jefferson's explanation of the basic differences between parties: "Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties: 1. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. 2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depositary of the public interests. In every country these two parties exist, and in every one where they are free to think, speak, and write, they will declare themselves. Call them, therefore, Liberals and Serviles, Jacobins and Ultras, Whigs and Tories, Republicans and Federalists, Aristocrats and Democrats, or by whatever name you please, they are the same parties still and pursue the same object. The last one of Aristocrats and Democrats is the true one expressing the essence of all." --Thomas Jefferson to Henry Lee, 1824.




A little reading about unions and simple search for "war against labor" will provide us with enough material about the battle between workers and greedy employers for years, and it is time to acknowledge that the Conservatives have alway been would-be Aristocrats in our democratic system with a relentless goal of creating a New American Feudalism through criminal means and prostituting the Constitution, and they must be erased from the political landscape before they succeed.


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"A triumph of the embalmer's art"

Gore Vidal on Ronald Reagan


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