Views in brief
A greedy Con man
IN RESPONSE to "The battle heats up at Con Ed": As a member of Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2 and a locked-out employee of Con-man Edison, I feel like Con Edison is slapping every person in New York in the face with its demands to the union to agree on a contract that is unfair and unjust.
The people of New York pay the highest rates of any utility in the entire country, and all the money goes into the CEOs and big shots at Con-man Ed, not to the men and woman who deserve it--the hard working union members of Local 1-2. Con Ed's demands are ones you'd expect of company in danger of going broke, but Con Ed breaks records every year to the prior one in revenues and profits for the company.
Why kill your employees when your company is making billions each year? Why? GREEEEEEDYYY CON-MAN EDISON
Anthony, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Working in the UPS sweatshop
IN RESPONSE to "Death on the job at UPS": I work for the Earth City UPS hub, and we have the SAME PROBLEMS...How do we get in on this action???
I've been heat sick, only to be taken outside under a "cooling fan" and then put back to work! We have not had any deaths YET, but it will happen, and I want UPS to be held accountable for worker safety, not the employees. We sweat more than we could even dream of drinking to replace. We can only drink so much water before we make ourselves sick. Then we get to work, sweat it all out within an hour, and from then on, it's a struggle to stay hydrated enough to sweat!
Not to mention, you got it wrong--unloaders don't handle just 800-1,500 or more in a four-hour shift. It's MORE LIKE 800-1,500 PER HOUR that unloaders are expected to do!!!!
Anonymous, St. Charles, Mo.
Wisconsin's hard lessons
IN RESPONSE to "The lessons of Wisconsin": Wisconsin was a defeat for the Democrats, not the unions. It was also another hard lesson for working people proving that:
1) Democrats are just as much our enemies as Republicans--both bust unions, impose austerity, refuse to give us socialized medicine, want to slash Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, approve trillions in gifts for the banksters and a pittance for unemployment relief, homelessness and food stamp programs.
2) That elections in a banana republic like the U.S. are essentially rigged by the vast wealth of the 0.01 percent who own both parties and who have passed enough anti-democratic laws, beginning with the Electoral College, to keep the left off the ballot.
3) That change--real, fundamental, revolutionary change--doesn't come from elections but from mass movements and from mass actions, in particular general strikes. In the spring of 2011, shortly after Walker escalated his attack on unions, the South Central Federation of Labor (SCFL-Wisconsin) voted to support a general strike if the legislation was passed and signed. It took the combined efforts of the AFL-CIO leadership and Democratic scabs to block the strike, and instead, they proposed the electoral farce whose results we see today.
The goal for unions and the union left and our allies in the Occupy movements has to be to continue to press for the unleashing of the AFL-CIO's Labor Party and other independent political action groups; to use elections for the only thing they're good for, education and organizing; and to promote and plan for general strikes as a big step on the road to our ultimate goal--the creation of a government exclusively of, by and for working people.
Bill Perdue, Railroad Workers United, Transportation Communications Union, International Association of Machinists, Las Vegas, Nev.
Why did labor abandon mass action?
IN RESPONSE to "The lessons of Wisconsin": There are several issues here to which I want to respond.
First, the labor movement abandoned mass action when the conservative leadership of the unions decided to do so. Without mass action, there would be no real pressure on Walker and his allies.
Second, the support of workers for Barrett was a mistake. As mayor of Milwaukee, he compiled a moderately anti-labor record and did not pick up on the issues of attacks on workers. Instead, he talked about corruption in the Walker administration.
Third, too many labor bureaucrats whine about all the outside money that poured into Wisconsin from right-wing sources. They moan about the effects of Citizens United. Well, this ought to be a wake-up call to these "leaders": defenders of privilege almost always outspend workers. However, with proper leadership and militant grassroots organization, workers can win.
Mark Weber, Solon, Ohio