Ed Ott, Executive Director of NY Central Labor Council: Lifting the bottom can avert the collapse of the middle class

“Unless we lift the floor, the ceiling is going to collapse,” “Some of the mainstream labor movement is all about fending for yourself as opposed to working together to raise conditions across the board for all workers.” -Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the Taxi Workers Alliance


Patrick Andrade for The New York Times

All union workers’ gains are vulnerable, says Ed Ott of the New York City Central Labor Council.

From "Labor Needs to Improve Conditions for Nonunion Workers, Official Warns" By Steven Greenhouse in the NY Times (excerpt 6/23/08) :
Ed Ott, the executive director of the New York City Central Labor Council, an umbrella group for the city’s labor unions, has an unexpected and unnerving warning for New York’s more than one million union members.

He warns that their wages and living standards will be threatened unless the city’s unions do far more to lift the incomes and living standards of the city’s nonunion working poor, including restaurant workers, supermarket cashiers and taxi drivers.

“Going forward, if we don’t raise the standards for the lowest-paid workers in the city, and there are literally hundreds of thousands of them, our own levels that we achieved — of wages, pensions and time off — they’re not sustainable,” said Mr. Ott, whose group is a federation of 400 union locals. “For a working class that is going to be making minimum wage or slightly above, what’s going to happen is that as taxpayers, that will create a social base for an attack on our own standards.”

Mr. Ott’s remarks, made in a recent speech at City University and in a follow-up interview, were an impassioned plea as well what he said was a “wake-up call” to the city’s labor movement. New York’s union movement has far more members than any other city’s, although it is widely viewed as less aggressive in unionizing and helping low-wage workers than the labor movements in Los Angeles and several other cities.

He said that many low-income workers who receive no paid vacation or sick days were bound to ask why many municipal workers are entitled to 40 days off per year — combining vacation days, personal days and sick days — in their first year on the job.

“There’s a danger that in the eyes of the majority of people we might be seen as too expensive,”
You can read the entire article at the New York Times

The bottom has lowered

I have always said that labor should be working from the bottom up, but at the time it was Burger King and McDonald's that were the bottom. Labor was ineffectual against the multi-billion dollar anti-union lawyers and campaigns against organizing in that sector. I always felt that if we didn't start at the bottom, get those into unions and covered with medical(BK, Mickey D's, etc. routinely keep their employees part timers keeping them at a tier without benefits), actually be able to get a career out if those type of jobs, we would always be at a disadvantage.

The onslaught against the American worker by the employers and corporations, and the total inefficient immigration policies and utter neglect of legal policies of governing bodies that are supposed to stop the illegal emigration into the US have created a new divide between workers in the US. The bottom has fallen further.

Big money rules the governing agencies, and it seems that only when a company who has tolerated, in fact encouraged, the use of illegal immigrant labor, is in fear of a union organizing drive is when ICE pops up at the door, is it a coincidence?

Take a look around, give me an ICE investigator for a day and I can point out many, many workplaces where workers are undocumented. How do i know? I ask. Even in the bagel store I shop in the workers are getting paid $7 an hour for 12 hours work with no overtime pay. Would they want to unionize? Hell, they are getting a lot more than the average warehouse worker in Brooklyn who gets less than $4 an hour for 80+ hours a week, and are in a less dangerous occupation than a cement laborer who is lucky if he makes $10 an hour and is afraid to speak up on safety issues.

Middle class tolerates investing against it's own interests

Remember when these employers do not provide the simplest necessities, such as workers compensation insurance, and the employee is told to go to the emergency room and say it happened on the soccer field, the burden of payment winds up directly on the tax payer. This is just one case in point.

The bottom line is that the legitimate working class are directly subsidizing the employers legally bound responsibilities, while creating a tremendous wedge between workers on both sides of the equation.

So how bad is it going to get?

If we don't act, it can get worse, in fact the writings on the wall, theres bills and laws sprouting up across the country that are making the slave class a legal entity.

Did you know that in Kansas, there is a bill that has been passed before its Senate that will exclude punishment for the employers of undocumented workers, but would fine a union who lets the worker into it's ranks. You got that? They do not blame the employers, they want to stop anyone from helping the workers.

Of course it took the vote of 19 Republicans in Kansas to pass the bill, you can read the entire article here entitled "KS: State passes bill that will encourage more illegal immigration and punishes unions who try to help the workers"(4/20/08):
This is a new low for the Kansas Senate. A majority of them are happy to turn a blind eye to the hiring of illegal aliens and will use immigration reform to bust unions.

So here is the scenario:
  • An employer, knowing that he will not be punished for hiring an illegal, puts the illegal alien to work side by side with unionized American workers.
  • The union, believing that the employer would not hire illegal aliens (that is illegal, you know), signs the employee up as a member of the union.
  • The union is now subject to criminal action and fines even though the union has no ability to verify the legal status of a worker
How much longer before this type of law spreads into your state?

The bought off politicians are speaking drivel about border fences and absolutely doing nothing in reality about it, creating a wedge issue for the upcoming election, while the last 8 years has proven that the current administration has encouraged the slave class here in the United States.

Over 140 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, and 40 years after the death of Martin Luther King, there is more slavery in the United States than ever before, whether it be working without absolutely no rights, visa and legal immigration systems that deny employees a voice, credit debt that you shouldn't have been issued in the first place or the indentured servitude that usually flies under the radar.

Remember the surest form of conquest is divide and conquer, and multi-national corporations which control the main-stream media help to further the agenda. Human nature, fear and ignorance add to it.

Ed Ott says what he means, and acts on it. How many of you out there are going to try and change the world? How many of you are going to stand up on your feet and fight before you will be dragged down to the bottom and live on your knees?

Turn off the TV and open your mind

"By means of shrewd lies, unremittingly repeated, it is possible to make people believe that heaven is hell - and hell heaven. The greater the lie, the more readily it will be believed." - Adolph Hitler

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State." - Joseph Goebbels, Hitlers propagandist

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