Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The End of Work

ast night, as I drove by the offices of the AFL/CIO, there was a large picnic in their parking lot, just a few yards from the front lawn of the Texas state capitol. With Labor Day just around the corner, and with everyone talking about jobs, jobs, jobs, and practically no one doing anything about it, it, it, it seems like a timely subject to think about.

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a "workingmen's holiday" on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit.

By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

But today, the glory days of labor are long gone. Almost 36% of American workers were represented by unions in 1945.

Today, the union membership rate--the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of a union--is 11.9 percent, down from 12.3 percent a year earlier. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions declined by 612,000 to 14.7 million. In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent, and there were 17.7 million union workers.

In 2010, 7.6 million public sector employees belonged to a union, compared with 7.1 million union workers in the private sector. The union membership rate for public sector workers (36.2 percent) was substantially higher than the rate for private sector workers (6.9 percent). Within the public sector, local government workers had the highest union membership rate, 42.3 percent. This group includes workers in heavily unionized occupations, such as teachers, police officers, and fire fighters.

Private sector industries with high unionization rates included transportation and utilities (21.8 percent), telecommunications (15.8 percent), and construction (13.1percent).

Today most unions are aligned with one of two larger umbrella organizations: the AFL-CIO created in 1955 and the Change to Win Federation, which split from the AFL-CIO in 2005. Both advocate policies and legislation on behalf of workers in the United States and Canada, and take an active role in politics. The AFL-CIO is especially concerned with global trade issues.

Personally, I like Richard Trumka the President of the AFL-CIO. He's got the traits of Hoffa without the dumpster. His speech for Obama during the 08 campaign was a remarkable feat.

Ever since they passed the Taft Hartley Act, the R's have attacked unions. They are still doing it today. The would probably repeal Labor Day if they could. Instead, they will content themselves taking labor's rights away wherever they can, diminishing pensions whenever possible.

In a just world, unions might not be necessary. Or it could be argued they would be essential.

It used to be that it was in the best interests of Capital to build up a strong middle class with workers sending their sons and daughters to college to become lawyers and doctors. This kind of leavening of the society would bring more prosperity for all.

But the big markets are no longer primarily in US or in Europe. They are in China and India. And that means even tougher times for Trumka and his workers, as American bosses seek to compete in those burgeoning markets.

Sure, I wish the president would put everyone who wants to work to work-building fast trains, and renewable energy supplies, and fair housing, and all the other things that would bring us true prosperity and well being.

But if you didn't want to work, you should be given a minimum national salary, much like that socialist Richard Nixon proposed when he was president.

I suspect that won't happen.

For we have forgotten greatness,

And our super ego has us hypnotized.

For the End of Work

Is upon us.

We just don't know it yet.

Its a big job.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

In our complex society of today money represents labor done that can be stored up and traded to satisfy future needs. The calculated manipulation of our monetary system by banks and other financial powers have raided the average human beings store house of labor that was in the form of money or things that money can buy, such as homes, cars, electronic devices and so on. So clever has been this raid on working people's assets that not only have they lost their stored labor represented by their homes and other things they owned they have lost the fruits of their future labor which will be required to pay off the debt created by the down turn of the economic system mainly caused by the money elite.
I submit that our current economic crisis was not caused by stupidity or serial bad judgments. It is my belief ,and to great extent my observation, that the current down turn of the economy was deliberately caused as a coup against the average hard working persons who are the real creators of wealth. The push for privatization of the commons is an attempt to bring all the existing wealth under the control of the few and with that wealth exercise a power that will confiscate all future wealth as it is created by people who labor. Taking our streets, parks ,buildings, lands and natural resources away from the people is a giant step toward enslavement carried out by monetary means.In our society these commonly owned things are a necessity of life . Without a public street you are a prisoner of the owner of the street. Common areas are the peoples podium from which we address our government. Our future labor is already mortgaged by the debt we owe therefore those who own the mortgage on our labor own us, because we need to eat and the power elite are poised to tell us just how much of our own labor we can keep in order to get by so that we can keep working for them the rest of our lives..

The dollar is hardly a safe haven for the preservation of wealth but I do not agree that some natural law requires that the only way back to a solid base is the loss of every thing that ordinary people own in order to have a solid base. The base will always be what most profits the powerful. Their is no system so good that bad people cannot corrupt it nor any system so bad that good people can't make it work.

I am optimistic about the evolution of man. Most people would be content with being loved and feeling useful, and it is so easy to do by being kind to all living things until we developed a heart that knows that all things are living and that all life is love. Best of all for me to be happy it only requires that I do it.


7:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The ultimate thing of value and the ultimate power trip are both derived from being able to command the labor of others. Even land and natural resources derive their social value from labor. Iron, oil, coal or gold are not part of the economy until the addition of the labor of man to either discover it or remove it from its natural place of repose and use it. The energy output, or usefulness, of the resources of the earth are enhanced by crafting them into devices that leverage the original human energy expended in their creation. A diesel powered locomotive that can do the work of a hundred thousand men is merely an expansion of human labor.

Knowledge is another way to leverage the fruits of individual labor. Knowledge is most often gained in institutions that require physical resources. Buildings have to be built, material gathered,milled, mined and transported to house the centers of learning. The physical facilities have to be heated cooled and maintained. All of this requires labor whether directly from humans or from machines that humans have built. Gaining the knowledge offered in these institutions requires that the student forgo the use of his labor pursuits though he remains in need of the necessities of life that often must be supplied by the labor of others and secured by mortgaging the student's future labor..

The point is whether it is knowledge, gold, goods or services, human labor is involved and he who can command labor or control its fruits rules the world. We are currently seeing a resurgence of the war on labor fueled by the same mindset that has given us slaves and indentured servants all through history. It is through this prism that I view the machinations of the world economy particularly US banks and The Federal Reserve.

Every made thing on earth and all of the accumulated knowledge of mankind is the result of labor done, and not one single iota of it was created by the new born babe who will often grow up claiming to have been self sufficient sense birth. Look at what is going on in the world today and you will see a pattern of the strong trying to take the labor of others, both in terms of labor done which constitutes the entire wealth of the world now in existence or the potential labor of living people who will create future wealth. (contiued in second comment) In our complex society

8:03 PM  

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