I go back to teaching tomorrow, but I am bound and determined not to martyr myself to my job anymore. Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," Labor Day 2012!
The Labor Movement was begun to combat extremely long working hours, bad working conditions, and child labor. Out of the moral struggles of working people came the 40 hour work week, regulations for safety and health, and revised ages for child labor. Anyone who put in a 40 hour week had to be given health care benefits and a pension plan (most everyone, that is). Workers could bargain, i.e. negotiate in their best interests.
Corporate interests have found sneaky ways around all of these provisions in almost every profession except public sector employment. Take it from me, the public sector is also under siege.
Let's look at what corporate America has done to undermine workers' rights:
1. Instead of working people too long, they work them not long enough. If you hire someone at 28 hours a week, you don't have to pay them benefits.
2. Instead of putting people on the payroll, they hire "contract workers" who have no benefits beyond what they, as contractors, can afford to buy.
3. Cheap child labor produces goods abroad, where countries set their own labor laws.
4. Blue collar work has been sent to foreign countries where laborers are subjected to long hours and dangerous working conditions.
5. Coal mining now employs fewer people who use machinery to knock down the mountains, resulting in widespread environmental destruction.
6. Renewable energy sources will not flourish until the finite fossil fuels are exhausted, leaving environmental destruction behind.
Basically, business tycoons have figured out how to bust unions. First they moved factories from one part of the country to another, then they just sent the factories abroad.
Would you be willing to pay more for goods if everything was produced in America, by workers who were covered for health and pension benefits? I will answer that question for you. Of course you would, because you would be one of those workers who had health and pension benefits.
But then some people wouldn't get richer than God at your expense.
I petition the bored gods to afflict the comfortable and to restore American workers' rights. Now, there's a job for some really mighty deities!