Having just returned from Philadelphia and an NALC Convention that was inspiring. I am struck by the fact that Letter Carrier solidarity towards our political fight for survival has continued to strengthen since our last convention in 2012. What has also increased in intensity is the national war on workers. Battlegrounds were all around us, many speakers at the convention relayed stories about attacks on worker rights and when we stepped outside we saw visible proof with the Carpenters Union picketing the convention center and UNITE HERE picketing the Radisson Warwick Blu which was one of our host hotels. Clearly all our grievances are connected.
Senator Bernie Sanders delivered a fiery speech which was interrupted multiple times with standing ovations by the nearly 7000 delegates.”Well, I’ve got a message for Mr. Donahoe,” Sanders said. “At a time when the middle class is disappearing and the number of Americans living in poverty is at an all-time high, do not destroy middle-class jobs at the Postal Service. At a time when senior citizens and small businesses depend on the Postal Service operating six-days a week, do not end Saturday mail. At a time when the Postal Service is competing with the instantaneous communications of e-mail and high-speed Internet services, do not slow down the delivery of mail, speed it up. And do not dismantle the Postal Service by shutting down a quarter of the mail processing plants left in this country.”
The address by National Postal Mail Handlers Union President John Hegarty stressed the importance of the newly signed postal alliance which has all four postal unions working together to save the Postal Service. “The Postal Union Alliance puts it out there for all to see; we are united and we can’t be defeated.”
Outside the convention center was a group of locked out carpenters. The Carpenters union which was locked out seems to have a valid grievance and is currently in court trying to end their lock out. By some reports the Carpenters have been vigilant in contract enforcement and this may have played a role in the hard-line stand from the convention center. In the spirit of solidarity the carpenters were enthusiastic participants with Letter Carriers and community groups in the Stop Staples rally held on Wednesday. The most contentious issue in their negotiations was a clause to allow increased low wage temporary workers.
A mile away UNITE HERE organized a boisterous rally at the Radisson Warwick Blu Hotel on Friday. The contagious spirit was reminiscent of early OWS in NYC . The workers are in difficult contract negotiations looking for a fair contract with job security. Workers are looking for protection from contracting out their jobs to low wage workers. For a company that is making millions of dollars a year giving its workers a fair contract should not be an issue. This is the latest example that corporate greed is always an obstacle to fairness.
All these workers realize that prosperity spreads from the middle class out not from the top down. If trickle down economics works we would be flooded in jobs at the present time. The wealthy have not owned such a high percentage of our nations wealth since before the Great Depression of the 20’s. With the extreme wealthy making money at unparalleled rate why wouldn’t they pay their workers a fair wage.
At a workshop local fast food workers outlined their plight against the reckless greed that has run rampant through their industry. A moving presentation from a fast food worker who was fired last week from his job for participating in activism to raise the minimum wage. It was eye-opening. He has two small children and was trying to survive on $7.25 an hour. In reality he had no choice but to fight to raise the wage. He had nothing to lose.
Corporate owned politicians are hell-bent on eliminating public services and replacing those union middle class jobs with low pay, no benefit, non-union jobs. It is accelerating the race to the bottom. In the private sector turning middle class jobs into temp jobs is happening at an alarming rate. How can the ultra wealthy not comprehend they are creating an unsustainable economic structure?
Our economic system can either make many people prosper for a long period of time or a few prosper for a short time. Judging by the building wave of economic discontent the clock is starting to run out on our plutocracy.