Saturday, July 6, 2013

Joe Hill Is Dead


Joe Hill is dead and gone. I tip my age as well as my life's connection to an earlier part of this country's history when I bring up his name which I guarantee younger readers of this blog will not recognize. But why would they? Young people today have been brought up in an atmosphere actively hostile to organized labor. Nobody knows history anymore, so how would they know all the blood that was shed and all the outrages perpetrated by the "capitalist class" (as the Wobblies called it) on common working people trying to organize simply to obtain basic rights? All you have to know about him is that he was a labor organizer. There's more about him in this Wikipedia article if you're curious. And he's the connection to the title and to what follows.
A half century ago America’s largest private-sector employer was General Motors, whose full-time workers earned an average hourly wage of around $50, in today’s dollars, including health and pension benefits. Today, America’s largest employer is Wal-Mart, whose average employee earns $8.81 an hour. A third of Wal-Mart’s employees work less than 28 hours per week and don’t qualify for benefits. There are many reasons for the difference—including globalization and technological changes that have shrunk employment in American manufacturing while enlarging it in sectors involving personal services, such as retail. But one reason, closely related to this seismic shift, is the decline of labor unions in the United States. In the 1950s, over a third of private-sector workers belonged to a union. Today fewer than 7 percent do. As a result, the typical American worker no longer has the bargaining clout to get a sizable share of corporate profits. (Source)
 Lamestream media, the Supreme Court, and your basic ignorant American all contend (or pretend) that organized labor is somehow a huge threat to the "proper" operation of the free market. It's a crock, like most of the nonsensical assertions of the defenders of the American way.  
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