Republicans want to run America like a business. How about replacing workers who refuse to do work?
I’m sure you’ve heard this: “In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.” If only it were true.
In 1981 President Reagan used this, the Taft-Hartley Act, to close the air traffic controllers’ union when they made the mistake of striking. The strike was crippling interstate commerce and, invoking the Taft-Hartley Act, Reagan ordered the strikers to return to work. When only 10 percent did so, the rest of the workers were replaced, the union was decertified, and the strikers were locked out of their own jobs and all other civil service jobs for years.
Funny thing about the Taft-Hartley Act. It penalizes unions when their actions interfere with interstate commerce or public services. But the law doesn’t apply to Congress. Do any laws apply to Congress? Congress can go on strike against the whole of the United States government, refusing to pay for bills that Congress itself wrote and passed, even though the people have already paid the taxes to fund their government. And we have to wait until 2014 to fire any of them, because the Taft-Hartley Act doesn’t apply to Congress.
We can’t even ask that if Congress doesn’t fund the government, it would include their own paychecks.
Still, I take comfort from believing that the idea that the law should apply to all equally is as widely respected as it is, because I trust that in time people will appreciate the full meaning of that proposition, and those congressmen will get the pink slips they deserve, in accordance with the spirit of the Taft-Hartley Act they themselves so love.
Speaking of air traffic, the SeaTac $15-an-hour minimum wage initiative is still going to be voted on in November, the last I heard. There’s a good example of the equality of law working properly. The idea of minimum wage itself is a concept well designed to protect rich and poor alike.
The rich should welcome a higher minimum wage, for the assurance it brings to them that the work they do will never be undervalued, and they will always be able to trust that they will be able to afford food, shelter and housing.
Speaking of air up in my Cheetos, I have been asked to say something concerning the potential grocery workers’ strikes of local supermarkets.
I hate talking about things that haven’t happened yet. I’m sitting back here at least five days ago, maybe even 11 days ago, depending on when in the week you bought this paper, and it just feels awkward to go on about something that may have boiled over completely, for all I know.
But in this case I can find a thread of connection with ongoing events. Some store owners don’t want to give employees sick pay. Combined with the fact that the stores favor hiring on a part-time basis and are trying to keep wages from rising, that means that employees with colds and worse have no choice but to work through them.
Fair is easy to understand. Can the CEOs of these grocery store companies take sick days? I think so. Do the CEOs like working in environments where sick people aren’t able to stay home? No, I’m sure they don’t. So what’s the problem here?
Meanwhile, in other local news this morning, they’re saying that crabbers may not be able to join the Alaska crab harvest this year because Congress won’t let clerical workers be paid to issue crab licenses.
Bear in mind that if the grocery store workers strike, the strikes will target only a few stores and consumers will have plenty of options. This just makes me think of a broader principle.
Why is Congress being allowed to strike against the whole country? Think about the inequality at work here. When the air traffic controllers walked off the job in 1981, they didn’t do a fraction of the damage to the national economy that Congress currently is doing.
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