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As Storm Approaches New England, FairPoint Struggles with Service Issues

Fairness At Fairpoint

Complaints from FairPoint customers have spiked since telecom company provoked 41-day-old strike

Some FairPoint customers in Maine have been without service since Nor’easter of November 2nd

FairPoint strikers say company’s attack on skilled workers is hurting region; workers calling for Fair Deal for New England

The winter storm approaching New England threatens to make existing service problems for FairPoint customers even worse. Forty-one days into the strike at FairPoint, the company’s replacement workers are struggling to maintain the telecom company’s northern New England network.

“FairPoint started this strike saying they had a contingency plan in place, but they’re failing our customers,” said Peter McLaughlin, chair of System Council T-9 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Complaints about FairPoint service have been mounting ever since the strike began on October 17. FairPoint, based in North Carolina, is the largest telecom provider in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

MAINE SERVICE PROBLEMS: In mid-November, Maine Public Advocate Tim Schneider said complaints to his office about FairPoint had spiked since the strike began. Schneider told the Bangor Daily News that his office may have received five calls a month about FairPoint before the strike. He said it was getting three to five calls a day since then.

VERMONT SERVICE PROBLEMS: Early last week, Vermont’s Department of Public Service reported that it had received 271 complaints from FairPoint customers since the strike began. That is a significant increase over the normal number of complaints, an agency official told Vermont Public Radio.

NEW HAMPSHIRE SERVICE PROBLEMS: Granite State media has filed multiple stories about FairPoint’s failing service and even criminal behavior by the company’s replacement workers. Dozens of FairPoint customers in New Hampshire have also reported service problems on a website maintained by the striking workers.

New Hampshire’s Public Utilities Commission has not yet released figures on the number of FairPoint-related complaints it has received in recent months. But IBEW Local 2320 of New Hampshire will file a formal request today asking that those numbers be made public.

“FairPoint hasn’t even recovered from the last major storm,” said Don Trementozzi, president of CWA Local 1400. “We’re hearing daily reports of poles and lines still down all over our region. Their unqualified contractors just aren’t up to the job of maintaining our network during a New England winter.”

The FairPoint workers have been in contentious talks with the company for a new contract since April. In August, FairPoint officials abruptly ended negotiations and imposed proposals that slash all workers’ benefits, cut pay for most new employees by more than 20 percent, and make it easier to outsource good jobs to low-wage contractors. Before going on strike in October, the workers spent nearly two months trying to reopen talks with the company.

The workers have offered more than $200 million in cost-saving compromises during the talks. But the company has not altered its initial demand for $700 million in deep and damaging cuts.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T-9 includes local unions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont and represents nearly 1,700 employees at FairPoint Communications. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400 represents nearly 300 FairPoint employees in the three states. For more information, visit www.FairnessAtFairpoint.com.

IBEW-CWA Solidarity Fund: Help FairPoint workers fight for a fair deal

fairness at Fairpoint strikers

This is a repost from Union Plus

“We are the IBEW and the CWA. We are your friends, your neighbors, and your family…We believe a hard day’s work deserves a living wage.”

The excerpt comes from the IBEW-CWA Solidarity Fund donation page, a fund to help support union workers who are facing financial hardship as they strike against FairPoint Communications for a fair deal.

On October 17, nearly 2,000 members of the Electrical Workers (IBEW) and Communications Workers of America (CWA) struck FairPoint Communications in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont in reaction to FairPoint Communication’s unwillingness to bargain in good faith.

These union members have been on strike for over a month now and Thanksgiving will be hard for their families. Here’s what you can do:

 

Statement By AFL-CIO Pres. Trumka On OUR Walmart Black Friday Protests

Image via WikiCommon

www.BlackFridayProtests.org

As the Walton family indulges in their own Thanksgiving meal, many Walmart workers who help keep them rich can’t afford food for their families. On Black Friday, the entire labor movement will proudly stand with the brave workers at Walmart as they lead the largest mobilization to date for better wages and schedules. Their courage is inspiring and powerful in the fight for all workers.

The low-down, low-cost, low-wage, low-road Walmart model is wrecking America, causing real pain for workers, and it’s wrong. In an economy where too many people who work still can’t make ends meet, it’s the economic and moral responsibility of businesses to step up. Walmart can continue its dangerous business model or it can lead the way to family-sustaining jobs.

The Walton family is worth $150 billion, but that isn’t enough to silence working people or keep us from fighting for what’s right. Local labor movements across the country join with community groups and allies to amplify Walmart workers’ call for the company to publicly commit to $15 an hour and full-time, consistent hours. There comes a time when we’ve got to stand for justice, for good pay, for good jobs, for our future, for our families and for each other. And that time is now, so all Americans can have a Happy Thanksgiving.

In Midst of FairPoint Strike, Unnamed Company Luring Telecom Workers to New England with $300,000 Offer

Screen shot 2014-11-24 at 1.35.41 PM

 In “confidential” job posting on Monster.com, unidentified company offering telecom workers $5,000-$6,000 a week to come to New England

Job ad appears more than a month into strike in which FairPoint has struggled to provide service with unqualified contractors

The ad offers a wage that’s more than three times the average salary of striking FairPoint workers

An unidentified company is advertising for telecom workers and offering to pay them more than $300,000 a year to come work in northern New England. Many wonder if the unnamed company is FairPoint, the telecommunications firm that has struggled to maintain service during a strike now in its 39th day.

“FairPoint has been saying we make too much money, but now it looks like they’re offering people more than three times what we make,” said Peter McLaughlin, chair of System Council T-9 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. “Instead of settling a fair deal with its skilled workers, FairPoint is squandering tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars on replacement workers who can’t do our jobs.”

Screen shot 2014-11-24 at 1.35.41 PM

Screen shot from MONSTER.COM job listing

In a “confidential” posting on Monster.com, the unidentified company lists the job location as “Merrimack, NH.” The striking workers of FairPoint provide service in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont. The full ad can be seen here: http://tinyurl.com/n7v43zg

In statements to the media, FairPoint has complained about the salaries of its skilled union workers. FairPoint claims that those workers make an average salary of $82,000 a year. The $5,000 to 6,000 a week salary being offered in the Monster.com ad would amount to annual pay of up to $312,000 a year.

The ad from the unidentified company calls for workers who “are comfortable working at customer premise locations including large banks, hospitals, cellular towers, etc. ” FairPoint maintains service at all those locations.

“It looks like FairPoint is finally learning the real value of its experienced workforce,” said Don Trementozzi, president of Communication Workers of America Local 1400. “Now that they know what we’re worth, it’s time for them to stop wasting money on unqualified workers from out of state and reach a fair deal for New England.”

IN OTHER FAIRPOINT STRIKE NEWS: FairPoint workers will continue their wave of actions for a fair deal today in Washington, D.C. Dozens of demonstrators will hold another protest against the company’s biggest shareholder, Angelo, Gordon & Co.

An official from the Wall Street hedge fund, which owns more than 20 percent of FairPoint stock, will be making a presentation at the National Multifamily Conference and Expo at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Washingon. FairPoint workers and their allies will be on the street outside ensuring that the public is fully aware of Angelo, Gordon’s role in the attack on northern New England workers.

Angelo, Gordon manages billions of dollars in assets for public pension funds, but it has refused to publicly intervene as FairPoint has moved to gut the pensions and benefits of its employees.

WASHINGTON ACTION DETAILS

WHEN: Monday, Nov. 25, 5 p.m. – 6 p.m.

WHERE: JW Marriott Hotel, 1331 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T-9 includes local unions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont and represents nearly 1,700 employees at FairPoint Communications. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400 represents nearly 300 FairPoint employees in the three states. For more information, visit www.FairnessAtFairpoint.com.

My Question To The Walton Family: How Much Is Enough?

Walmart Black Friday

 

How much money is enough? Do you stop being a greedy capitalist when you no longer care what anything costs? Do you stop when you become one of the named people on the “Richest People In America” lists?  Do you stop when your company make $8.5 million dollars a day in dividends alone? Some people would say, “Never! I will never stop until I own everything!”

This is exactly the case of the Walton Family.  Sam Walton built an empire in Walmart by keeping costs down and providing people with everything they needed in one store.  Somewhere along the way, Sam’s Walmart became WALMART (dun-dun-dah), the monstrous corporation with over one million employees that drives the entire retail industry.  They force other retail shops to compete with their unscrupulous tactics like forcing employees to work on Thanksgiving, paying workers the absolute minimum, and making the majority of employees part-time to avoid having to offer any type of health benefits (forget about retirement – good luck funding that 401k on $7.25 an hour).

The Walton’s still own Walmart and they could be doing so much more for their workers, their communities and their country.  They could pay every worker $15 an hour without having raise any prices or lose out on any profits.  Yet they refuse to pay workers a living wage. In fact the Walmart corporation is one of the biggest opponents to raising the minimum wage.

Lets not forget that we as American taxpayers are subsidizing these low wages with our tax dollars.  Research from the Economic Policy Institute shows that the government spends more than $13 billion dollars a year subsidizing the retail industry’s low wages.  With a poverty rate of low-wage workers pushing over 10%, it is no wonder Walmart does food drives for their own employees.

So again I will ask how much money is enough? 

_________________________

The UFCW and Robert Reich teamed up to make this great video (http://youtu.be/_-SMetMkcVI) explaining how Walmart could give millions of Americans a raise right now, if they chose to.

Please watch this video and support a Black Friday Protest near you, visit BlackFridayProtest.org

When It Comes To The FairPoint Strike, Follow The Money

NHLN Logo .jpg

This letter was sent to us from Joe Gallager, a long time union activist and labor leader from the Insulators Union.  Emphasis has been added by editors. 

Follow the Money

I went down to the Fairpoint picket line in Manchester today. There was a very large turnout of workers. I have been to many labor rallies over the years and I have learned to follow the money.

Fairpoint is not a local corporate community anchor, their workers are the community. Back when Fairpoint purchased Verizon the alarms should have gone off (just like the labor leaders foretold), it was like the corner superette going out and purchasing a major food market chain.

Then a number years back, Fairpoint was on the ropes facing bankruptcy, the community of union workers pitched in to avert this disaster.

Now we have a company from North Carolina partially owned by hedge funds that are trying to squeeze dollars from the communities in which the workers live. Note I said money from communities! This is not so much union and management but taking working class money and moving such to a some entity that is richer than all of the workers.

If taking the profit from our community does not work, then the business executive’s run the company into the ground  to take advantage of capital losses that only benefit the hedge funds.

What remains of the company?

Once again follow the money, it is going to leave our communities. When a community is short changed everyone suffers.

The math of a fair contract is simple:

  1. A living wage which is not using your neighbors tax dollars to live on.
  2. A health care benefit is prosperity for the community health industry and without or a reduced benefit the community is forced to step up and absorb the uninsured liabilities as they do not leave the community.
  3. A retirement benefit that keeps one from the need of public assistance and younger generations struggling to spend into a premature cycle of their own life expenses.

So as this company brings in under paid contractors from outside the community, sends jobs out of the USA, and prolongs a work stoppage, pick up the napkin and write the amount of money to follow that is leaving the community. And if your that person who hates union workers with such a passion, please hope for a settlement. If that union worker who lives next to you loses his home, try the math of a foreclosure in your neighborhood against your own home value.

Joe Gallager
Manchester, NH

Workers Deserve Respect In The Workplace: UNITE HERE Hold Massive Rally Against Station Casinos

Culinary 226 Station Casino Vider ScreenShot

This is what union solidarity looks like! Community activists, union members, and members of the local faith community gathered in the streets of Las Vegas to protest the illegal anti-union tactics by Station Casinos.

Station Casinos is the worst labor law violator in the history of the Nevada gaming industry. Station Casinos was found to have broken labor law and violated its employees’ rights 88 times by two administrative law judges of the National Labor Relations Board.

Queen Ruiz, a guest room attendant at Red Rock Resort and Casino wants “Station Casinos to stop treating us like we are second-class citizen(s). We are not second-class workers. We want them to respect us.”

A majority of Station workers — in classifications represented by the Culinary and Bartenders Unions — have signed a petition calling for a fair process to decide whether to unionize free from management interference, intimidation, bullying, and litigation.

Station Casinos is the fourth largest private-sector employer in Las Vegas. It has nine large hotel-casinos located throughout Las Vegas. There is a major labor dispute at: Red Rock Resort, Green Valley Ranch, Boulder Station, Santa Fe Station, Sunset Station, Palace Station, Texas Station, Fiesta Rancho, and Fiesta Henderson.

The Culinary Union has created an online resource about the on-going labor dispute at these Station properties: www.VegasTravelAlert.org/Stations. The public and event and conference planners are urged to contact the union to discuss labor-peaceful alternatives to utilizing these properties.

It does not matter is you clean rooms, collect trash, deal cards, or serve food, everyone deserves respect from their employer.  Station Casinos should stop their illegal interference in UNITE HERE’s organizing efforts and let the workers decide if they want to join the union.

View this video on YouTube

Culinary Workers Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165, Nevada affiliates of UNITE HERE, represent over 55,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno, including at most casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. The Culinary is one of the fastest growing private sector local unions in the U.S. and has just concluded negotiations for 44,000 workers on the Las Vegas Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas. UNITE HERE represents 270,000 workers in gaming, hotel, and food service industries in North America.

Wave of Actions by FairPoint Strikers Continues Friday in Manchester

FairPoint Communications

FairPoint strikers converge on company’s Elm Street offices calling for good jobs, quality service, and a Fair Deal for New England

Workers escalating their campaign after negotiators from North Carolina-based FairPoint made no movement at meeting earlier this week

Manchester protest marks the third major action by FairPoint strikers in two days, following events Thursday in Montpelier and Boston

WHEN: Friday, November 21, Noon – 1:00 p.m.

WHERE: 770 Elm Street, Manchester, N.H.

Fairness at Fairpoint BannerMANCHESTER — A wave of actions by striking FairPoint workers continues Friday in Manchester. Strikers and supporters from across New England are rallying on the picket line outside FairPoint’s Elm Street offices.

The striking workers are calling on the company, which is headquartered in North Carolina, to reach a Fair Deal for New England. They say that deep and damaging cuts the company is seeking in negotiations would make it impossible to deliver quality service to customers.

“The executives back in North Carolina don’t get it, but they’ve created a crisis here in New England,” said Glenn Brackett, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2320, which represents FairPoint workers in New Hampshire. “By attacking their skilled workers, FairPoint has left our customers relying on unqualified contractors who can’t do the work.”

The Manchester protest will mark the strikers’ third major action against FairPoint in two days. On Thursday morning, a delegation of strikers and supporters protested against FairPoint’s biggest shareholder — Wall Street hedge fund Angelo, Gordon & Co. — at an investor conference in Boston. At noon, the strikers held a major rally at the Vermont state capitol in Montpelier.

Earlier this week, union representatives participated in an effort to jump-start the deadlocked talks. They attended a meeting Tuesday with the company arranged by a federal mediator. But the meeting broke up quickly after FairPoint officials refused to modify demands for severe cuts that they’ve been seeking since bargaining began this spring.

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan issued a statement after Tuesday’s meeting, saying, “I know that FairPoint workers, who stood by the company throughout its bankruptcy proceedings, have brought a constructive approach to the table and offered real concessions, and I encourage FairPoint’s leadership in North Carolina to do the same.”

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin spoke at Thursday’s rally in Montpelier, and said he had talked to the CEO of FairPoint two days earlier. Shumlin said he had urged the CEO to return to the table with the FairPoint strikers so they could “get service back to a level that is acceptable.”

Since the strike began on October 17, FairPoint has been struggling to maintain its northern New England systems with replacement workers hired from out of state. On Monday, Vermont’s Department of Public Service reported that it has received 271 complaints from Fairpoint customers during the strike, a significant increase.

The negotiations for a new contract at FairPoint began in April, and from the outset company officials pressed to increase outsourcing, cut pay for new workers and slash benefits for all employees. The workers have offered more than $200 million in cost-saving compromises during the talks. But the company has not altered its initial demand for $700 million in deep and damaging cuts.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T-9 includes local unions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont and represents nearly 1,700 employees at FairPoint Communications. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400 represents nearly 300 FairPoint employees in the three states. For more information, visit www.FairnessAtFairpoint.com.

FairPoint Strikers Hold Two Thursday Actions: Montpelier Rally, Boston Protest

fairness at Fairpoint strikers

IBEW President Edwin D. Hill headlines major rally in Montpelier; strikers and allies target FairPoint’s biggest shareholder in Boston

Strike by 1,700 FairPoint workers for good jobs and quality service becoming national story as walkout enters its second month

Officials in Vermont and elsewhere report that customer complaints against FairPoint have spiked since strike began

FairPoint strikers are mounting two actions on Thursday. IBEW President Edwin D. Hill is headlining a major rally in Montpelier, and a delegation of workers and allies are in Boston protesting against the telecom company’s biggest shareholder.

The 1,700 FairPoint workers of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine have been on strike for more than a month. Strikers say that damaging cuts the company is seeking would make it impossible for them to provide quality service to their New England customers.

“FairPoint is tearing up the foundations of the American middle class – all just to line the pockets of hedge fund managers and Wall Street raiders,” said IBEW President Edwin D. Hill. “FairPoint workers have made many sacrifices to help save this company through tough times in the past. It’s time for FairPoint to end this strike by returning to the negotiating table and giving its employees a fair deal.”

Hill is leading the rally on the State House Lawn, and is being joined by supporters from across the Northeast. The presence of Hill and other high-profile leaders and allies marks a major escalation in the fight to win a fair deal for New England.

“These hard-working men and women are fighting for good middle-class jobs across our region,” said Frank J. Carroll, Vice President of IBEW’s Second District, which includes New England. “This struggle isn’t just about FairPoint. It’s about the entire telecommunications industry. Whether it’s FairPoint or Verizon, we will not let these companies hurt the customers we serve by driving down standards and outsourcing jobs to low-wage temp workers.”

Since the strike began on October 17, FairPoint, which is headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., has been struggling to maintain its system with replacement workers hired from outside northern New England. On Monday, Vermont’s Department of Public Service reported that it has received 271 complaints from FairPoint customers during the strike, a significant increase.

In Boston, a delegation of strikers is gathering outside an investors’ conference attended by officials of Angelo, Gordon & Co., the Wall Street hedge fund that owns more than 20 percent of FairPoint’s stock. The strikers are being joined by dozens of Boston-area union members and activists, all of whom are calling on Angelo, Gordon to intervene in the FairPoint strike.

Angelo, Gordon manages billions of dollars in public pension funds, yet has refused to publicly intervene as FairPoint has moved to gut the pension and benefits of its workers.

“Wherever we’ve taken this fight, from Charlotte to New York to Boston, we’ve received tremendous support from fellow union members and the public,” said Diane Winton, President of IBEW Local 2327 in Maine. “They understand that we’re not just fighting for ourselves, we’re standing up for the good pay and benefits that every worker deserves.”

The strikers and their allies are protesting outside the Taj Hotel, where Angelo, Gordon officials are briefing attendees at the North American Family Office Conference. The conference is billed as “the leading, private meeting for ultra-affluent families in North America.” The Boston protest follows a similar rally last week in Manhattan, where Angelo, Gordon executives attended a conference for investment managers. Nearly 60 activists greeted attendees at that November 12 meeting.

“No matter how far FairPoint executives and shareholders travel, we’re going to be there,” said Don Trementozzi, president of Communications Workers Local 1400. “We will not let this North Carolina company and its Wall Street investors evade their responsibilities to the people of New England.”

The negotiations for a new contract began in April, and from the outset FairPoint pressed to increase outsourcing, cut pay for new workers and slash benefits for all employees. The workers have offered more than $200 million in cost-saving compromises during the talks. But the company has not altered its initial demand for $700 million in deep and damaging cuts.

FairPoint officials did attend talks Tuesday in Boston arranged by a federal mediator. But once again the company refused to modify its demands.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T-9 includes local unions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont and represents nearly 1,700 employees at FairPoint Communications. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400 represents nearly 300 FairPoint employees in the three states. For more information, visit www.FairnessAtFairpoint.com.

Striking New England Workers, and the American Economy

Image from Fairness at Fairpoint

 

Image from Fairness at Fairpoint

Image from Fairness at Fairpoint

By Carol Driscoll

As a person who grew up in New England in a union household, I was very stirred to learn that on October 17 nearly 2,000 New England telecommunication workers—members of the IBEW and CWA—walked off their jobs in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, in a protest against unfair labor practices. They struck against FairPoint Communications, based in North Carolina and owned by five Wall Street hedge funds. At the expiration of their union contracts this past August, the company adamantly refused to sit down and negotiate, despite the unions’ willingness to do so. According to the Kennebec Journal, FairPoint “…asked the unions for $700 million in concessions, mostly by freezing pensions, eliminating health coverage for retirees and asking employees to contribute…20 percent to their health care costs.”

 Why They Went on Strike

The company’s demands are patently ridiculous. The persons in this unionized workforce are skilled, productive men and women who perform some of the most grueling and dangerous work—telephone line repairs and installations—including in all kinds of weather. They have a sense of their value, and refused to accept the company’s offensive “offers.” The fact that FairPoint did not want to continue negotiations is telling. In recent years slashing labor costs by eliminating union workers is a prime function of hedge funds, and to achieve this they must kill the unions’ collective bargaining agreements. Peter Keefe, the unions’ bargaining chair, explained: “The money they’re trying to cut out of our contracts will go right back to the hedge funds. This is a Main Street versus Wall Street fight. It’s not just telecommunications and FairPoint. This is what’s going on in America today.”

Another big issue in the negotiations is job security. The company wants to outsource the jobs of these workers to out-of-state and foreign contractors. “The main reason we are standing out here,” said Randall Curtis on a picket line, “is because we are trying to keep good jobs in Maine. The company wants the ability to outsource all of our work…and we’re fighting to keep those jobs here, to keep them local.”

What’s Going On in America Today?

It’s heartening to me that union officials are aligning their struggles with those of Main Street Americans. However, what the fight is really about needs to be seen more clearly. I say this as a person who worked nearly 25 years for unions on the international and local levels. I love what they represent: their large meaning for the life of every American. I’m deeply grateful for what I’ve been learning these years about unions and the American economy from my study of Aesthetic Realism, the comprehensive education founded in 1941 by Eli Siegel. I learned, for example, that profit economics is based on contempt: on using the labor of working men and women to enrich owners and shareholders—who do not do the work—at the expense of these workers. In the instance of FairPoint, the majority of profits from the labor of nearly 2,000 individuals goes to five Wall Street investors, and when profits go down, the people who do the work are asked to give concessions. To hell with this! Why should these workers have to forfeit their hard-won benefits that they earned day in and day out, year after year?

I’ve learned that unions, from their very beginning, have been a force for ethics and against this contempt. Union workers fought for—and sometimes died for–an honest seeing of what people deserve, and their struggles courageously go on. As a union member in Waterville put it, “You have to fight for what’s right, and it isn’t always easy…but it’s absolutely worth it.”

One of my most ardent wishes is that every union official study what Ellen Reiss, Aesthetic Realism Chairman of Education, has explained about our economy, the role of unions, and the fierce efforts to destroy them. For instance, in her commentary to The Battle of Insistences she writes:

Beginning in 1970, Mr. Siegel explained that an economy based on the profit motive—on seeing people in terms of how much financial gain one can extract from them—was no longer able to carry on successfully. The profit system would never recover, though it might be made to limp along at the cost of enormous pain to people. Profit economics is a form of contempt. It arises from this assumption, which is also an insistence: certain people should own much more of the world than others, and can use those others to aggrandize themselves.

However, by the 1970s, another insistence had, as Mr. Siegel said come to a tangibility. He called it the force of ethics. And this ethical insistence, working through history, had made it so that by the end of the 20th century private profits were much more difficult to obtain….In the last years, I have been describing the following fact: those who insist that the profit way must be the basis of our economy have been trying to do the one thing that can now keep it going. That one thing is: make Americans work for less and less pay, so more and more of the money they earn with their labor can go into the pockets of the owners, who don’t do the work. Only by increasingly impoverishing the American people can the profit system now go on. Of course, to pay people less and less, to impoverish them successfully, one must try to annihilate unions. Unions—which have fought for and won better economic lives for people over the decades, are one of the biggest embodiments of ethics as a force.

A personal note: It very much affects me that some of the strong actions on behalf of ethics are taking place in Maine. My husband, photographer Harvey Spears and I spend time there every year.  I love its vastness, its beautiful landscapes, and its rocky coastlines. But I’ve also seen firsthand the hurtful effects of profit economics, showing in low wages, which make food pantries shamefully necessary in places both urban and rural.

Eli Siegel asked this kind, crucial question about economics: What does a person deserve by being a person? When this is answered honestly, the folks in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and everywhere else in the U.S. will have a new economy, one that is based on ethics—and one they rightly deserve.

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