Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Growing Movement

My son Craig posted the following on his Facebook page September 3rd:
In 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “If I were a factory worker, I’d join a union.” No president has uttered those words since – at least not until yesterday, when President Obama told a Labor Day gathering, “if I were looking for a good job that lets me build some security for my job, I’d join a union. If I were busting my butt in the service industry and wanted an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, I’d join a union.” Obama also endorsed the “Fight for $15” fast-food worker’s movement, which is planning strikes Thursday in 150 cities.

Whether through unionization or legislation raising the minimum wage, or both, the movement is growing. Thirteen states have raised their minimum wage since January 1st. According to a new report from the Labor Department, job growth in these states has been faster this year than in states that didn’t raise their minimums. That's because raising the minimum puts more money into the pockets of people who will spend it, thereby creating jobs. Low-wage workers deserve a raise. It's good for them and good for the economy.

Craig forwarded this, written by Robert Reich (author, political economist) on inequality, which was on Reich's Facebook page:

"United Airlines reports it’s outsourcing 630 gate agent jobs at 12 airports to companies paying near-poverty level wages. Employees who have been with the company for years, earning middle-class wages of $50,000 a year, will be replaced by people paid between $9.50 and $12 per hour. United says it must do this to cut costs and raise its profits relative to other airlines. But United CEO Jeff Smisek gave himself $8.1 million this year. If he cut his salary just $2 million (in line with the CEO of the more successful Southwest Airlines, who gets $4 million), United would save about as much as it will by cutting the pay of those 630 employees.

The problem in America isn’t that typical workers are paid more than they’re 'worth' in the market. It’s that they have no bargaining power, while too many CEOs and other top executives have the power to pay themselves almost whatever they want. How to redress this power imbalance? Some call for stronger unions and greater shareholder say over CEO pay, but I'm increasingly of the view we have to change the organization of the corporation so that it has to respond to all stakeholders -- not just its shareholders but also its workers and affected communities.

Craig then commented, "I so look forward to Reich serving in another Clinton administration."
Thomas Jefferson's views at the time of The Declaration of Independence ~ "...Aristocracy, founded on banking institutions and monied in corporations...riding and ruling over the plundered ploughman and beggared yeomanry." 

On the Fourth of July weekend I watched the following program on PBS. Bill Moyers discusses the growing movement(s) in the United States. It brought to mind the blog post I wrote in 2011 We Are The 99%. I've wondered where the Occupy Wall Street movement went. As I pondered, I realize it is still alive and well (see Occupy Wall Street) among the activists in our country, and encompasses the different crises America faces today -- as Bill Moyers and Jim Hightower, progressive political activist and former Texas Agriculture Commissioner, discuss in this video.

Since 2008, 90% of the American people have lost income and wealth. The latest statistics on the distribution of wealth among the citizens in the United States shows "...the top 3-percent holding 54.4 percent of all net worth in 2013, up from 51.8 percent in 2007 and 44.8 percent in 1989." Federal Survey  (I guess this now makes most of us the 97%) There shouldn't be any question why so many are now involved in movements around the country, often using civil disobedience to draw attention to their plight. The wonder is why it hasn't brought on more protests. As the groups begin to mobilize and realize the power in joining one another, there just might be another American Revolution. Hopefully of the nonviolent kind.

I, too, "take greater heart" after hearing Jim Hightower speak and watching some of the protests taking place today in America.

American history is rife with successful movements for change. It is past time for more changes in our country. Please take the time to watch this thoughtful interview, and I believe you will agree with me. I only wish I were younger so I could take part in peaceful protests. My words will have to do.

Peace and Love,


  1. Excellent words from Craig and you as well, Marilyn. I'm very concerned about this country and direction we have been headed for some time with rich getting richer and the poor much poorer as well as the disappearing middle class. I support unions and wish there were more of them in Oklahoma.

  2. The U.S. Bureau of Labor reports that union membership declined across the nation in 2012, but membership in Texas increased by 65,000 - mostly in the private sector. Texas still remains a "Right To Work" state, which some critics say was formed to fight the unions. Unions have done a lot to promote fair treatment of workers in the U.S.