Leveling the Battlefield in the GOP’s War on the Middle Class
America’s middle class has been under assault for thirty years now, and there is no end in sight.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has represented the interests of America’s largest corporations, and their profits, since 1912. That’s fine but, while doing so, they have fought relentlessly to keep the rest of us from banding together in our interests. Hypocrisy, anyone? Since Ronald Reagan fired the air traffic controllers in 1981, America’s union members have endured one battering after another of our legal rights to organize our workplaces. Union membership has declined accordingly.
Today, we face our hardest fight ever.
The AFL-CIO is the largest federation of labor unions in the United States. People don’t belong to the AFL-CIO; unions do. Those 56 unions represent more than nine million union members.
Working America is the AFL-CIO’s public arm, and represents 3.2 million Americans who don’t belong to labor unions. Its membership is open to all. Yes, even you. The group monitors state and national issues affecting your power to support and educate your family. It researches social, economic, and political trends and organizes, advocates, and lobbies for you and your interests. Working America represents all Americans in the fight against government and corporate corruption and for our working rights.Membership is free, and donations are accepted. Benefits include mortgage and debt management counseling, a retirement planning center, free legal consultations and discounts on legal services, access to the AFL-CIO’s Community Services Network, and many discounts on national goods and services. What’s more, Working America can connect you with opportunities to ACT – to join with the 31 million unemployed Americans and to fight for your family’s life.
Unemployment Lifeline is a project of Working America. It offers the latest news on federal and state benefits extensions, links to online and community information and services, and forums to talk with others in the same boat. It’s available to anyone, whether you’re a member or not. Go ahead, try it.UL can help you find health insurance and file an appeal when your insurance company denies a health claim.UL can help you find job training, resume building, and other unemployment services.UL can help you find food, clothing, shelter, childcare, health, education, financial, utility, transportation, senior citizen, veterans, and other services in your community.
All you have to do is show up.
For more than two centuries, America has been more than a country. It has been a symbol, a goal, and an inspiration for billions of people throughout the years and throughout the world. America is more than a place. America is an idea.
I asked my Grandma once why she left her home, her family, and her life in Ireland to travel alone on an enormous ship full of strangers, to reach a big, dirty, smelly city full of more strangers. She looked at me as though I was crazy, and said, “Because the streets were paved with gold.”
Grandma never found the golden streets, but she did find Grandpa. Ten years later, the Great Depression found them. They worked hard. They raised a family. Their children did well. Their grandchildren are doing better. The two most important factors in the O’Malley family success are Grandpa’s fifty years of membership in the Steamfitter’s Union Local 449, and the family’s respect for education. Those two factors put us, and tens of millions of other families, smack into the heart of the American middle class. We don’t yet know what will happen to their great-grandchildren. That’s why I joined Working America.
Today, the Republican Party, and particularly the Republican Governors Association, is smack in the middle of their plan to destroy my family, and yours. No, this is not hype. This is not my opinion. This is not my imagination.
The Republithugs want nothing more than to revert to the golden days of the robber barons, when children worked in mines and mills and sweatshops for pennies each day, until they were too old and too sick and too broken to work anymore. They want to destroy the minimum wage, fair labor standards, workplace health, safety, discrimination, and environmental laws, and your ability to join with your colleagues to work against their greed and corruption – all of the things that the unions accomplished. And they want to do it all so that they can have more money.
Ten people died in the Battle of Homestead in 1892 fighting this same fight. How many more times do we have to fight these same battles?
Last week, the Michigan Legislature passed a measure giving its governor the power to appoint a person or a corporation to walk into any city or town in the state, disband the local government, and take over government operations. Without any discussion or oversight, the governor can fire the democratically elected public officials and hijack the will of the people.
Last week, Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Corbett released his budget proposal, which cuts more than one billion dollars from public education, forcing local school districts to choose between raising property taxes or to stop educating children.
The Battle of Wisconsin is just about a month old now, with no end in sight.
If the Republithugs haven’t gotten to your state yet, just wait. They’re coming.
Those on the front lines in Madison have the courage to go on because they know they’re not alone. They know we’re out here rooting for them. Our solidarity keeps them going and gives them strength.In unity, there is strength. We Are One.
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