Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hats off for the overworked this Christmas

It's become something of a ritual. Our two boys run to the window to wave goodbye to mama in the morning as she heads off to work. She usually works long hours anyway, to help keep the family afloat. But during the Christmas season those work hours are magnified in the lead up to Christmas.

A lot has been said about those without jobs this time of year.

So right now I'd like to give a shout out to all those people who do have jobs that barely keep up with the cost of necessities. The folks out there this holiday season working to keep their micro-businesses afloat working 60 to 70+ hours for a pittance, or the ones working two or three minimum wage jobs, always running from job to job just to make ends meet.

Many of those people are working hard to support a family amidst calls of even greater austerity for low wage earners. CEOs and elected officials are calling to slash or freeze wages, cutting back on middle class wages in the name of job growth, while at the same time demanding the wealthiest 2% get MORE the name of job growth.

According to a pay study done by the nonprofit United for a Fair Economy, the average CEO at a Fortune 500 American company earned around $11 million, or 364 times the pay of the average worker. A similar Economic Policy Institute study of historic CEO pay levels relative to the average worker found that in 1965 top executives earned 24 times as much as the average worker. By 1989 the ratio had increased to 71; it tripled to 300 in 2001.


From the start, RWDSU union organizer Peter Montalbano explained, DPS management tried to intimidate workers, going so far as banning union emblems in the plant. The home office made it clear that its last, best and final offer was the $1.50 an hour pay cut as well as a freeze on pension benefits, and that it was not going to budge. Even coming off of an impressively profitable year, even by demanding Wall Street standards, and especially so relative to 2008 when the then newly spun off company suffered losses, DPS was set on getting the Mott's workers to accept lower wages, Montalbano said. Specifically, the conglomerate sought to get the Mott's workers in line with what similar factory workers in Western New York earned per hour, he said.


"Executive pay is not relevant to discussions about hourly wages for bargaining unit employees," DPS's Barnes said. "Regardless, we strive to pay all employees a competitive wage or salary based on local market and industry norms."

Meanwhile husbands and wives rarely see one another, or need to part as one can only find a job on the other side of the country, and the other can only find work where they currently live...and both salaries are required to pay for necessities.

Or children rarely see their overworked mothers or fathers.

Or single individuals must work so much they don't have time to socialize, sometimes working off medical expenses. They spend their holidays alone, often working.

Tens of millions of Americans can't find work.

And tens of millions more are overworked, and cling to multiple low wage jobs just to get by.

These aren't two different issues. These issues are The Same.

Just three days ago we saw our congress give more money to the richest 2% in the name of job growth, at the same time we're looking at reducing money to the middle class in the name of job growth.

Funny how that works. More money for rich = job growth. Less money for everybody else = jog growth. See? It's easy.

The entire Republican caucus in the US Senate was so single-mindedly obsessed with giving more money to the richest 2% that they filibustered and shot down legislation giving health benefits for sick and dying 9/11 responders.

This nonsense has to stop.

The nonsense can end pretty quickly with a increased minimum wage, and an outright refusal to accept cuts in social security or medicare.

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