Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny: Labor Pains

Is this where I put in key words such as sex, lesbians, vampires, Christopher Lloyd and others things to which this blog do not pertain, but by putting them here, I may get hits from all the Christoper Lloyd lesbian vampire fans (and you know who you are)? This is the primarily humorous and occasionally rambling writings of Leon Tchaikovsky, humor writer. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Labor Pains

The Bush Administration has successfully curtailed the rights of working people. This Administration has appointed so many people to the National Labor Relations Board who tilt so much towards management that the NLRB has become an effective voice for management suppression of labor rights. Employers have been able to retaliate against employees and to replace strikers with permanent replacement employees with great ease. If this continues, the labor weapon of striking will be effectively removed, thus allowing management powerful abilities to disregard the rights of workers. This is not the balance between the rights or labor and management that is the proper mission of the NLRB. We need to demand the Administration and Congress to provide a more balanced NLRB.

We instead should be working to strengthen the rights of employees. As Governor Howard Dean correctly proposed, employers should be limited to just one challenge as to whether a union is valid. Constantly brining this challenge slows the process to reexamine dead issues and is designed to divert union defenders into re-fighting already decided battles rather than concentrating on the issues at hand.

The unemployment compensation system needs serious reorganizing. Unemployment compensation is supposed to provide temporary assistance to employees who lose their jobs while they seek and find new jobs. Unfortunately, only about one fifth of laid off employees receive unemployment compensation, according to a study by Warne Vroman that was published by the Urban Institute. Employees and employers are paying taxes into a system that is not operating as it should.

Unemployment compensation is meant as a safety net that is letting too many people fall through. The determination of who is eligible for benefits must be widened so more part-time, seasonal, and low wage employees, now excluded from benefits, may be helped by this system. Further, we must increase our efforts to help those without jobs find jobs, and those who need to learn new skills to qualify for the jobs that are available, to obtain those skills.

We need to work in cooperation with our schools, colleges, and employers to see that skill enhancement programs exist so that employees may obtain progressively better employment. A serious mistake would be to allow people to find low wage employment, and then let them remain there for the long term with slim chances for advancement. Universities and business organizations can forecast skills that a changing economy will need and to specify where employment opportunities will shift as business expand or contract. With these forecasts, we need to coordinate our job training and job placement efforts to maximum their usefulness. Labor and business organizations have joined in calling for a national skills development corporation, yet the Bush Administration has refused to act upon this excellent concept. We do not need government that just helps people when they are down: we need government that will help people get back on their feet in even better jobs.

Our employees hardest hit by the economy deserve fairer treatment. It used to be that unemployment compensation benefits were not subject to federal income taxes. People are finding it harder to survive on these benefits, and then face further difficulties when they’re taxed on this meager support. We should except from taxation these benefits. Some in Congress have proposed exempting the first $2,500 of unemployment compensation benefits, which is a good first step.

For our lowest paid employees, those working for the minimum wage, they deserve a raise. Since the last time the minimum wage was increased, just about every other category of employee has experience wage increases. Employers who claim they can’t afford to raise the salaries of their least paid workers are only seeking to take advantage of their weakest, non-union employees. A person working full time, year round at the minimum wage does not meet the poverty level. This is a national disgrace. Not only should the minimum wage be increased, further increases should be indexed to economic conditions (i.e. the Consumer Price Index) so their wage increases are automatic rather than relying on a bitter legislative fight for another future raise.

Labor laws regarding industrial homework should be strengthened, not weakened, as many Congressional Republicans seek. Industrial homework does not prevent someone from working at home. It prevents someone from establishing and operating industrial equipment, usually without proper supervision, in a home. Labor and safety inspectors would not be able to properly monitor whether these operations are conducted with proper safety, with correct ventilation, that child labor is not being illegally used, and that employees are not being paid illegally low rates for long hours of work. Many industrial homework sites have been found to be using exploited labor, often from foreign countries using workers who are unaware of American labor rights. We should not allow Congressional Republicans to permit more abusive employers to flood our markets with items made by exploited labor.

We have labor laws that make our nation proud. We must defend these laws and improve them. Those who wish to diminish these laws only diminish our nation.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Listed on BlogShares