In Search of a Working Class Agenda

July 11, 2017
By Joe Maniscalco
Reporter’s Notebook

Who's working hard for workers?

Brooklyn, NY - Choking off union funding, gutting prevailing wage, undermining workplace elections, out-sourcing, sub-contracting, misclassifying and so much worse — the American worker cannot turn around today, without being whacked on the head with some sort of new anti-worker scheme or another designed to keep him or down and desperate. So, where’s the overarching pro-worker agenda that working people need? 

It’s an important question to ask, because, if the American working class had the dedicated allies relentlessly championing their interests that corporate plutocrats enjoy - we’d actually be able to lift our heads above water and a take a quick breath. 

One only needs to look at the debacle in California and the Democratic Party's failure to get single payer done to understand how bad things are for the working class. 

Why is it that all the energy, tenacity and, yes, creativity, holding sway over virtually every level of government resides in the hands of the ideological agents of the right? 

Why do worker advocates continually find themselves on their back heels, constantly playing defense against a concerted onslaught of anti-worker initiatives that are always both well-coordinated and sustained? 

Why is it that only the skimpiest of pro-worker measures ever garner any kind of substantial support? 

It took five long years for low-wage workers fighitng for a measly $15 an hour minimum wage to begin celebrating gians they alread knew would, at best, be marginal. 

But it didn’t matter how tepid the demand actually was; corporate plutocrats have answered back with the same ferocity they always do, introducing preemption bills in state legislatures across the land to nullify whatever meager wage and paid leave victories the working class has managed to achieve.

A couple of months ago, New York City actually did something that began to approach addressing the real, everyday needs of working men and women in a significant, multi-faceted with passage of Fair Work Week legislation. 

Although still limited in scope, the package of bills does call for a stop to the pernicious practices of on-call scheduling and "clopening" - or forcing workers to both open and close a business. 

The Fast Food Empowerment Act, meanwhile, offers a strategy for unionizing minimum wage workers in the notoriously exploitative multi-billion-dollar industry. 

“As the Trump Administration and Republicans in Washington are pushing legislation and regulation that is disastrous for working people, we have been proud to be part of the resistance, standing with New York City fast-food workers in the fight for good jobs,” 32BJ SEIU President Hector Figeuroa said at the time. 

It didn’t take long for the “resistance”, however, to meet even greater resistance at the state level where talk of preempting Fair Work Week legislation immediately cropped up well ahead of November when the package of bills is set to go into effect. 

The answer, of course, to why corporate plutocrats maintain the upper hand in this broken Democracy is money. The one-percent pays well to keep its agenda intact. 

To truly overcome the anti-worker assault, workers are going to have press for advocates who are every bit as tenacious as the flunkies who represent the bullies in the pinstripe suits. 


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