Monday, September 4, 2006

Labor Day

Labor Day - I told LeAnn today in an e-mail that I think we should declare Labor Day dead and have a funeral parade because what is there to celebrate about Labor these days? I read on the internet that this week Dupont cut its pension benefits by two-thirds and that's for the older retirees. New hires won't even be offered a guaranteed pension. Dupont will also no longer offer its retirees health care. And is Dupont being forced to do this because they are in financial trouble? Nope, they're just doing it because they can.

Even in little old Wabash County, the County Council decided to rescind its employees' longevity after this year. Longevity is a one-time annual payment based on salary and years of service to Wabash County, a sort of "loyalty bonus". For people with several years of seniority, losing their longevity will be a pay-cut even after whatever raise they may be given. It used to be that employees hung in with working for government because, though it normally didn't pay as well as the private sector, it usually offered job security and some other perks that made up for lower salaries, such as more holidays and longevity. But give-backs are the way of the world these days....

And as these give-backs happen, the cost of living continues to rise. Gas prices, as we all know too well, have soared. It costs more to send your kids to school - primary or secondary. My car insurance increased significantly this year although I've had no tickets or accidents. Food prices are up. So most employers are in the position of watching their employees sink economically but I guess they don't care. I wonder what they think the logical end to all this will be?

You'd think at least younger people would look for other jobs. I mean, the 4.7 percent unemployment rate is essentially considered "full employment" and that implies it should be an employee's market but we all know its not. Because that 4.7 rate is about as honest as a professional wrestling match. The game is rigged - Savage CEO is going to beat the stuffing out of Little Labor every time in the political environment as it currently exists.

If the 4.7 percent unemployment rate were accurate, would Wal-mart open a store near Chicago and having 325 job openings, call forth over 25,000 applicants? Are all these people dying to leave Ford and G.M. because they just think its so darn much fun to work at Walmart?

The Labor Department reports that for the first time since its been keeping records, the top fifth of Americans are receiving over half of all the nation's national income. That same top fifth owns 83 percent of all shares in the stock market and of that, 53 percent is owned by the top one percent! Incidentally (or maybe not incidentally), at the same time Dupont was slashing its employees' pensions, it increased the pension of its CEO to $2.1 million per year.

On the internet, they call us "the sheeple" because we are like sheep being led to market, unprotesting, accepting our lot in life as unchangeable. Maybe it is, but our forefathers didn't think so when they fought and died to create an American middle-class. The fact is that politics rules. We should ask every political candidate what their positions are on the issues that affect working people and vote only for those who give us acceptable answers. The only advantage we have is our numbers.