Municipal Government

The Storm Clouds Are Gathering

September 8, 2015
By Thomas J. Mackell, Jr., Ed.D.

There are some who say that a hostile environment for business can lead to the vulnerability of a society. I maintain that an environment that is hostile to workers is more inclined to destroy a society. But there is more to it. Political inertia, corporate greed as it manifests itself on Wall Street, and wayward policies slanted too far in any one direction can erode economic vigor. They can sap an empire's vitality.

Our society is in the midst of a dramatic shift that does not bode well for American working people.

Wages keep heading down, benefits have been crushed, productivity is up but the worker is viewed as a commodity to be cast aside when no longer needed, and automation's ugly head threatens every worker.

He/she works hard all day, everyday and without recognition. That recognition should be that they have an opportunity to share in the proceeds of their labor.

The only strength that a worker has to fight back is the collective action of a labor union that offers representation at the workplace. It truly is the last vestige for social change, namely, the ability to negotiate wages, hours, terms and conditions of the employment relationship.

People are still reticent to recognize that, but, it will come. Failure to seek union representation will leave millions of workers at the mercy of a tormented, vicious and uncaring marketplace where the almighty dollar rules. A place where workers receive no glory, no wage increases and little recognition for their hard-earned, back-breaking work.

This must come to an end. The leaders of unions, community-based  and religious-based organizations and media are joining forces.

Students who realize that their education may not necessarily guarantee a meaningful paying job are beginning to get it. Some politicians, although a very small number, are beginning to get it.

Some enlightened corporate leaders also recognize that this spiraling downward trend of our workforce will ultimately destroy society and our economy.

It will take all of the energy of those mentioned above to turn this around. The trend of worker destruction is like a giant supertanker that will take miles to change course. There is no alternative. We must band together. Workers, unions, academics, religious and community leaders, students, political leaders and anyone else who gives a damn about where this nation is headed. We must fall into lock-step and take our country back from the oligarchs and political elites who are driven to grind us down into a wasteland where the American Dream becomes a thing of the past.

Don't go to bed every night praying to God that he will turn things around. Faith alone will not turn things around and make them right.

Use your spiritual strength and realistic internal fibre and courage that each of us has within and fight back. We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow.

In a letter written by George Washington, he wrote: "If we consider ourselves, or wish to be considered by Others as a United people, why not adopt the measures that are characteristic of it–Act as a Nation."

It appears that our vacuous leaders today have forgotten this sage advice.

Let's blow those storm clouds in another direction and work harder for a brighter day for all American workers.

*** Thomas J. Mackell, Jr.. Ed.D. is a Special Advisor to the President of the International Longshoremen's Association, and can be reached at 202 297 1935 or tmackell@ilaunion.org.

September 8, 2015

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