CONTRIBUTION · 7th August 2011
Friends,End note by the Terrace Daily
From time to time, someone under 30 will ask me, "When did this all begin, America's downward slide?" They say they've heard of a time when working people could raise a family and send the kids to college on just one parent's income (and that college in states like California and New York was almost free).
That anyone who wanted a decent paying job could get one. That people only worked five days a week, eight hours a day, got the whole weekend off and had a paid vacation every summer. That many jobs were union jobs, from baggers at the grocery store to the guy painting your house, and this meant that no matter how "lowly" your job was you had guarantees of a pension, occasional raises, health insurance and someone to stick up for you if you were unfairly treated.
Young people have heard of this mythical time - but it was no myth, it was real. And when they ask, "When did this all end?” I say, "It ended on this day: August 5th, 1981."
Beginning on this date, 30 years ago, Big Business and the Right Wing decided to "go for it" - to see if they could actually destroy the middle class so that they could become richer themselves.
And they've succeeded.
On August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan fired every member of the air traffic controllers union (PATCO) who'd defied his order to return to work and declared their union illegal. They had been on strike for just two days.
It was a bold and brash move. No one had ever tried it. What made it even bolder was that PATCO was one of only three unions that had endorsed Reagan for president! It sent a shock wave through workers across the country. If he would do this to the people who were with him, what would he do to us?
Reagan had been backed by Wall Street in his run for the White House and they, along with right-wing Christians, wanted to restructure America and turn back the tide that President Franklin D. Roosevelt started -- a tide that was intended to make life better for the average working person. The rich hated paying better wages and providing benefits. They hated paying taxes even more. And they despised unions. The right-wing Christians hated anything that sounded like socialism or holding out a helping hand to minorities or women.
Reagan promised to end all that. So when the air traffic controllers went on strike, he seized the moment. In getting rid of every single last one of them and outlawing their union, he sent a clear and strong message: The days of everyone having a comfortable middle class life were over. America, from now on, would be run this way:
* The super-rich will make more, much much more, and the rest of you will scramble for the crumbs that are left.
* Everyone must work! Mom, Dad, the teenagers in the house! Dad, you work a second job! Kids, here's your latch-key! Your parents might be home in time to put you to bed.
* 50 million of you must go without health insurance! And health insurance companies: you go ahead and decide who you want to help - or not.
* Unions are evil! You will not belong to a union! You do not need an advocate! Shut up and get back to work! No, you can't leave now, we're not done. Your kids can make their own dinner.
* You want to go to college? No problem - just sign here and be in hock to a bank for the next 20 years!
* What's "a raise"? Get back to work and shut up!
And so it went. But Reagan could not have pulled this off by himself in 1981. He had some big help:
The biggest organization of unions in America told its members to cross the picket lines of the air traffic controllers and go to work. And that's just what these union members did. Union pilots, flight attendants, delivery truck drivers, baggage handlers - they all crossed the line and helped to break the strike. And union members of all stripes crossed the picket lines and continued to fly.
Reagan and Wall Street could not believe their eyes! Hundreds of thousands of working people and union members endorsing the firing of fellow union members. It was Christmas in August for Corporate America.
And that was the beginning of the end.
Reagan and the Republicans knew they could get away with anything - and they did. They slashed taxes on the rich. They made it harder for you to start a union at your workplace. They eliminated safety regulations on the job. They ignored the monopoly laws and allowed thousands of companies to merge or be bought out and closed down. Corporations froze wages and threatened to move overseas if the workers didn't accept lower pay and less benefits. And when the workers agreed to work for less, they moved the jobs overseas anyway.
And at every step along the way, the majority of Americans went along with this. There was little opposition or fight-back. The "masses" did not rise up and protect their jobs, their homes, their schools (which used to be the best in the world). They just accepted their fate and took the beating.
I have often wondered what would have happened had we all just stopped flying, period, back in 1981. What if all the unions had said to Reagan, "Give those controllers their jobs back or we're shutting the country down!"? You know what would have happened. The corporate elite and their boy Reagan would have buckled.
But we didn't do it.
And so, bit by bit, piece by piece, in the ensuing 30 years, those in power have destroyed the middle class of our country and, in turn, have wrecked the future for our young people. Wages have remained stagnant for 30 years. Take a look at the statistics and you can see that every decline we're now suffering with had its beginning in 1981 (here's a little scene to illustrate that from my last movie).
It all began on this day, 30 years ago. One of the darkest days in American history. And we let it happen to us. Yes, they had the money, and the media and the cops. But we had 200 million of us. Ever wonder what it would look like if 200 million got truly upset and wanted their country, their life, their job, their weekend, their time with their kids back?
Have we all just given up? What are we waiting for? Forget about the 20% who support the Tea Party - we are the other 80%!
This decline will only end when we demand it. And not through an online petition or a tweet. We are going to have to turn the TV and the computer and the video games off and get out in the streets (like they've done in Wisconsin). Some of you need to run for local office next year. We need to demand that the Democrats either get a spine and stop taking corporate money - or step aside.
When is enough, enough? The middle class dream will not just magically reappear. Wall Street's plan is clear: America is to be a nation of Haves and Have Nothings. Is that OK for you?
Why not use today to pause and think about the little steps you can take to turn this around in your neighborhood, at your workplace, in your school? Is there any better day to start than today?
MichaelMoore.comRead more from Michael Moore HereEND NOTE BY THE TERRACE DAILY
Two years later, after Reagans economic hit was proven to be effective and unstoppable the same measures were foisted on BC. The government of BC introduced a series of Bills to take away almost all the rights of working people. Jack Munro, President of the IWA, betrayed every British Columbian and the hundreds of thousands who stood in solidarity against these measures. He met privately with the BC Premier, Bill Bennett, at his home in Kelowna and secretly made a special deal. Without discussing the details with any other Union leader or even any other head of the united movement of Union and non-Union groups, the TV cameras were called in to film these two on Bennett’s deck announcing a deal had been struck, that everyone should go back to work. It was a lie and a betrayal by the media and Munro. The population is still being betrayed and the media continues to lie.
In 1980 you could buy a three bedroom home for $40,000 in Elkford, a prosperous mining community. A brand new top end F150 4X4 fully loaded; every bell and whistle (step side with a fancy paint job), could be bought for $11,000. The Journeyman wage was $19/hr.
Today that home sells for between $250,000 and $300,000, about seven times as much as in 1980. That brand new F150 4X4 is at least 4 to 5 times the money $44,000 to $55,000. A Journeyman wage today is not even twice the money. One is lucky to be paid $30 to $35/hr.
But that’s not the end of the extremist right wing agenda ruining the finances of the western world. Taxes and service fees have skyrocketed making the value of the ‘less than doubling of the wages’ insignificant. Looking back, the argument that the Unions have caused all the financial hardship, can only be supported by the most unintelligent and uninformed.
The cause of the decimation of the western world economy is clearly due to these unfortunate, misguided, right wing policies. And the people keep voting these idiots in; to their own detriment. Guess that is why the education system was attacked first. Keep them stupid!
On July 7, 1983, 26 bills were introduced by the newly elected Social Credit government. This is now the same organization, the same backroom boys, that run the BC Liberal Party. These Bills were based on Ronald Reagans program of; ‘kill the unions’ along with killing the social and individual rights of the citizens. Since then it has only gotten worse. Here are 18 of them.Bill 2
wiped out the right of unionized government employees to negotiate such basic issues as major overtime, scheduling, hours of work, seniority and job security.Bill 3
gave public employers the right to terminate employees "without cause," regardless of seniority.Bill 5
eliminated rent controls, closed down the Rentalsman's office that reviewed landlord-tenant disputes and allowed landlords to evict tenants at will.Bill 6
gave extraordinary control over local school-board budgets to the minister of education.Bill 8
dissolved the Alcohol and Drug Commission.Bill 9
declared regional district plans null and void, permitting individual municipalities to ignore regional planning.Bill 11
extended the government's wage-control program for the public sector indefinitely, allowing wages to be determined by an employer's "ability to pay."Bill 15
increased the sales tax from 6 to 7 per cent.Bill 18
reduced pension entitlements for employees who are laid off.Bill 19
gave the government widespread control over the B.C. Institute of Technology, erasing student, faculty and staff representatives on the BCIT board.Bill 20
extended government control over community colleges, including course content and budgets.Bill 21
disbanded a legislative committee that scrutinized Crown corporations.Bill 23
eliminated mandatory vehicle inspections and closed motor-vehicle testing branches across the province.Bill 24
allowed doctors to opt out of medicare, while at the same time restricting how much doctors in the system could bill. User fees were increased and opportunities for doctors to "extra bill" were enhanced.Bill 25
ended the life of the Harbours Board.Bill 26
wiped out the Employment Standards Board, transferring complaints over labour standards to the courts.Bill 27
abolished the Human Rights Branch and the Human Rights Commission. Staff were fired immediately, ordered out onto the street, their keys snatched from them before they left. A clause banning "discrimination without reasonable cause" was missing from the new Human Rights Act.Bill 28
centralized control and authority over borrowing by government and Crown corporations.
America got Reagan, Britain got Thatcher, Canada got Mulroney, and the working person and families got screwed.
The rich get richer
Comment by Gerry Hummel on 29th August 2011
Corporate Greed has killed the Forest Industry and unions in BC! Where a company used to care for their workers now they only care for their shareholders who are either sitting on Wall Street or on boards of directors seats in China! Every time I take that 1/2 hour drive to Terrace I get passed by at least 5 to 10 loaded logging trucks sending raw logs to be shipped out of the north either to the States or overseas to China! The mill in Kitimat is being dismantled and only a little bit of broken cement remains of the wood mills in Terrace. The unemployment rate in the north is soaring, you see homeless people here, who ever in their wildest dreams ever imagined that in the 50's and 60's when everything looked so bright! A few fallers and Truckers is all that's left of this once proud provinces Forest industry! Kitimat is booming HAH.... what a load of crap, a bunch of out of towners here for awhile, the only thing I've noticed is you gotta get to the grocery store early or all the fresh veggies are gone! Drive to PG railcar after railcar load of chips once headed to Kitimat, they're there, but headed in the opposite direction! All these government bills have taken away the power of the common working man (which this province used to be about) and given it all to the Corporate power Mongers, specially here in the north! They did it by taking away the power of the unions to the point they were able to close forest industry mills and ship the raw logs overseas to be processed. The workingman's dream of a decent wage, some health benefits and a decent pension are gone. A few government insiders and the RICH get richer and the poor class of this province gets bigger every day!
Comment by Stacey Tyers on 10th August 2011
I spent many years not liking what unions were doing. I was sick of garbage not being collected in vacouver. I was sick to death of it interefering with my daughter's education. I was So pissed at nurses always rocking the boat. You have good jobs, good wages making more than most STOP WHINING.
And then it hit me, Unions are singlehandedly saving the middle class. I started to educate myself more, learn more etc... Look around you. Unions are the ONLY thing left of middle class.
The government legislated postal workers back to work at a LOWER wage than the previous offer from Canada Post. This is NOT acceptable.
As the divide between Rich and Poor gros... Unions are the only middle ground. Killing our unions, ceases to protect workers, our neighbours, our families. It drives an economy into the ground. The more money people make, the more they spend. It's proven time and time again. If you don't have it to spend, you can't SPEND it.
But when government ceases to allow unions to strike, to collectively bargain and when we as the public permit this to happen we are essentially telling workers all over this country that as long as *I'M* okay...I don't really give a crap what's happening to you. But eventually it will be ALL jobs. What's left in this country for jobs anyway.
Please do NOT blame unions for higher prices. That boils down to share holder greed. When they realize you will pay more they charge more. Lets not be foolish and blame it on anything other than capitalism and greed.
just so maggie jo
Comment by Don Bruce on 9th August 2011
Pogo said in 52, we have met the enemy he is us!
My 7 yr old threw her arms up in disgust!
Comment by MaggieJo on 9th August 2011
My young daughter has questioned this before...but the other day while en route from McDonalds where she had just obtained a Happy Meal with toy, she utterly threw her hands up in disgust - tossing her toy aside...demanding to know..."AAAARGGGH! Not again! China this. China that! Why is EVERYTHING made in CHINA?!!! "
I pulled over to the side of the road and turned off the engine.
I removed my seatbelt to turn towards her. She quietly looked over at me while she placed her Happy Meal on the seat. I paused to choose the right words to explain the reasoning to her.
I was ashamed when I told her why.
Why was I ashamed? Because I learned a valuable lesson trying to explain to my young daughter the reason why "everything" is made in China.
Because we are a lazy people in protesting. Because we take advantage of people in sweat shops to make an extra buck or two million. Because we are lazy in holding our Gov'ts accountable. Because we fail to support our own Countryfolk by pulling the "cheaper" way out. We throw in the towel way too soon without even a fight, while the Government pads their own personal retirement funds knowing their country women/men will rarely challenge them in the interim as we tend to leave that to others to fight for us.
Why is everything made in China? Well, I closed the conversation with my daughter by simply stating...."Because we let it happen."
We were both quiet the rest of the drive home.
And another thought.
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 8th August 2011
Once labor unions are gone, who will speak for the workers interests? Haven't we been there before?
Comment by bill braam on 8th August 2011
It's unionized employees actually scheduling days off to use up their 'sick days'. This is greedy and dishonest and when they are public employees, teachers, etc they are stealing from the tax paying population. On another point: as an non union automotive technician I hear complaints as to the hourly rate a person pays for my services. Perhaps there is also an 'hourly rate' that it costs for a student to be taught and that's factoring in all those phoney 'non instructional' days. I suspect that the number would be quite remarkable. Times are changing for unionized excesses. Management and labour both are guilty of taking too much for too long and that in my estimation led to Reagan forcing the air traffic controllers back to work.
For Bill Braam
Comment by Sticky Icky on 8th August 2011
It would help if you explained what you mean by people taking sick days off when they are never sick. Do you mean people calling into work saying they're sick when they are not? If this is the case, workers caught ripping off their employers ought to be punished, and I have a feeling they are punished if they get caught. However, not all unionized workers get paid sick days, so you can't generalize in this way.
The idea of accumulating sick time (which in most places is capped to a certain number of hours) is to cover short term disability until long term disability kicks in, and provide an employee a short term off work to get better if they need it. It's a benefit the union and the employer agreed on, so the employer is equally to blame for it. Do you want to see a nurse, teacher, care aid, grocer, etc... coming to work sick with spots all over them because they had to choose between a week off work without pay and health?
tough crowd to crack here :)
Comment by bill braam on 8th August 2011
I see I am alone in my personal views of union influence. So just for a moment take a look at the whole picture around you if you work in a union shop and try to see the excesses that exist. These excesses will soon be targetted by the bean counters on the employers side of the next labour rate negotiations. If the labour side does not take an honest look at what they are being excessive with they will loose it and much more. Perhaps some one can explain why unionized people can take 'sick days' off when they are never sick, this is greediness. If I don't work, I don't get paid and that is the way it should be, thank you.
Comment by terry reinert on 7th August 2011
WELL SAID HELMUT
Put another way..
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 7th August 2011
The total labor cost of a new vehicle produced in the United States is about $2,400. I guess we could start building them in sweatshops?
Which means Bill...
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 7th August 2011
...that you will eventually also be working for less. If Unionized workers no longer set a bar for what is considered a fair wage, what do you think employers will pay non union workers?
Maybe you missed the point
Comment by Merv on 7th August 2011
That $55,000 pick up was priced that way long after most of the Detroit plants were closed and the Unions were decimated. Most of the parts and pieces are now made off shore or in Mexico. I think you are still living in the 70's and 80's when those arguments were popular with the right wing crowd. Today this is just foolish talk. A two parent family has to work overtime just to keep food on the table with no union support because it is all basically outlawed.
Ask yourself why is it that all the minerals and resources get extracted from our soil, Canada, and the corporations that do this leave nothing behind to support the country and land they are taking those resources from.
I believe the Liberal/Conservative crowd are so indoctrinated with the lies of the right wing media that they can not see the forest for the trees.
I understand Michael Moore has a bit of an agenda but you should really watch everyone of them before you continue. "Sicko" is a good one as is "Capitalism, A Love Story." "Roger and Me" is the one about the decimation of the auto industry, the one regarding the $55,000 pick up. Really, you should watch them. And then watch "Out Foxed" and "Loose Change".
Maybe these documentaries might provide some alternative perspective. Really. It would be worth your time.
Victim has become the bloated aggressor
Comment by bill braam on 7th August 2011
That overpriced F150 Merv mentions got overpriced by having to support the workers' wage, pension plan, health plan, paid sick days (whether he actually is sick or not), too many weeks of paid vacation,his predeceasors bloated pension, and on and on. Why do workers still get their 'sick days' off even when they are perfectly healthy. The glory days of unions taking too much are over because the requests for more got too greedy. An unsustainable environment has resulted. Now the pendulum is swinging the other way and new agreements are only destined to get leaner.
On Unions and Manufacturing
Comment by Lul Katz on 7th August 2011
Union wages are generally higher than non union, but with or without unions corporations offshore manufacturing. We can't compete on labour in countries with fewer environmental regulations, and the cost of living is 1% of ours.
70% of Toyota workers in Japan are unionized. BMW and VW workers in Germany are unionized, and the fact is, American vehicles made by unionized workers cost less than non union made vehicles from overseas competitors which are also manufactured in North America.
The unions in other countries survive because of protectionism for their market by their governments. The USA and Canada will offer huge tax incentives or welfare to corporations in the hope they will use the money locally, but will never rescind it if a corporation uses the money to close a factory and open one in another market, or take bailout money and invest it in the stock market.
Other fields which are not unionized have been off-shored like crazy, including IT support, Call Centers, Accounting, Insurance, software development, Drafting, etc... The only thing stopping the majority of HR from being off-shored is Canada's privacy laws, in particular the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, but there are ways around this.
Globalism, not union activism has hollowed out our domestic manufacturing and industry. Some day the various boards of directors chasing the almighty dollar will realize the most expensive part of their operation is their domestic management, who can be replaced by people overseas with equivalent or better management degrees, will do the job for much less money, and will give them access to foreign markets.
This is a big problem with capitalism; the bottom line is the only thing which matters. It costs tens of thousands of dollars for a degree in Canada, in other parts of the world it costs nothing. Sooner or later our colleges and universities will run out of gas as people run out of credit to borrow their way into a chance at a job which will enable them to spend the next 20 years of their life paying off their loans, provided their job isn't outsourced along the way.
Not to say unions are without fault, most unions you see today are more interested in social causes than lifting a finger to help the workers forced to pay into them, they are more or less a protection racket.
A fundamental truth of globalism is that capital is the only thing which is truly global. Workers are confined to geo-political cages. Capitalism is like cancer, it needs to grow for the sake of growing in order to survive. When it runs out of places to expand, the host dies.
Comment by Don Bruce on 7th August 2011
I think this latest opinion by M.M. fits very well with Merv`s "Hippies had it right article". Remember B.C.s Expo 86 and how C.E.O. Jim Pattinson called in the non-union contractors?
It won`t be the rich bullies feeling the pain in this next recession.
Was that tongue in cheek?
Comment by Rick Smith on 7th August 2011
Before the 'union busting' tactics of the 80's the manufacturing and industrial sectors were thriving. It was only after the free trade and privatization efforts of the Reagan/Thatcher/Mulroney era that the economic engine tanked.
The last 30 years should be enough evidence. The previous 30 years - 1950 to 1980 when Unions and free collective bargaining was allowed the economy was in steady growth. Pension plans grew, medical services got better as did education and social infrastructure.
So Bill, please tell us your comment was meant to be humorous. I am just chuckling when I think about that, "the unions got to strong?" ROTFLMAO
yes Bill but.....
Comment by Don Bruce on 7th August 2011
Did you ever read about what wages and working conditions were like before the advent of unions? I recommend Pierre Burtons descriptions of early coal miners in Canada. At any rate to talk only of employers vs. employees is waay too simple. This is about golden rulers and their toadies and sycophants and the Gordon Geiko`s statement greed is good! don bruce
Comment by bill braam on 6th August 2011
Unions did get too strong, forever preaching confrontation, forcing employers to pay way too much. Now the north american manafacturing heartland is a ghost town, way to go unions.