Organized Workers Taking It to the 1%

In yesterday’s NYT there was a good article entitled “In a Strong Economy, Why Are So Many Workers on Strike?” It reported that from Chicago teachers, to GM workers, to Marriot International Hotel employees, labor is taking it to the capitalists through collective action. Even flight attendants and airplane mechanics are finding creative ways of sabotage (which they unconvincingly deny) due to the fact that they cannot legally strike without federal approval. It’s as D. Taylor, president of the UNITE HERE hospitality workers union, is quoted in the story saying:

“It’s about: ‘OK, the government is not going in to take care of us. Business is not going to take care of us. We’ve got to take care of ourselves.”

Why? The American worker took cuts to their pay and benefits in the wake of the Great Recession ten-years ago, but now their capitalist masters are making billions and billions while the proletariat is getting shafted. Due to the austerity measures they pitched in with during the 2007-2008 economic crisis which remain in place, they are not getting anything back as their wages remain stagnant in comparison to the ridiculous amounts of profits gained by Wall St.
It’s as D. Taylor is further quoted stating:


“It’s been bubbling up for some time. Now it’s come up to the surface.”

The American worker needs to keep up the fight against their rich masters with strikes and sabotage. Organized labor, from Marx and Engels to the Russian Soviets, is an essential force with which to gain leverage over the bourgeoisie. Remember, the 1% are winning the class war while most of the 99% don’t even recognize that it’s taking place.

More STL Graphics!

Here are this weeks five uploaded images and graphics to inspire the movement. Look back here every Friday for more updates.

To view all pics/images/graphics you may have missed in the past, follow the below link to the full collection over at Google Photos:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/TUomKrYbsYCMEWC59

Social Protest Lit.: Robert G. Ingersoll

indexA statement by Robert G. Ingersoll, American lecturer and free-thought spokesman. This piece is an excerpt is from Book V called “Revolt.” This chapter pertains to “The struggle to abolish injustice; the battle cries of the new army which is gathering for the deliverance of humanity.”

Whoever produces anything by weary labor, does not need a revelation from heaven to teach him that he has the right to the thing produced.

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Countering the Right: Right-Wing Scare Tactics on Seattle Minimum Wage Increase

Every once in a while a news headline on Yahoo’s home page catches my eye, mostly because it seems completely ridiculous.  Yesterday was no exception when I saw the ominous headline “Restaurants in Seattle Going Dark as $15 an Hour Minimum Wage Looms“.  A scary headline for an article with content that shouldn’t scare anyone that made it past kindergarten.

When it comes to right-wing scare tactics on minimum wage increases in general, one is forced to accept a fallacy that would crush their argument if they ever had to address it.  The fallacy is this: people making minimum wage would not spend the extra money they would make from a wage increase.  In other words, the money would simply be paid to them and then find its way into a black hole, never to be heard from again.  There would be no increase in consumer spending on basic products or other goods and services and no increase in the sales and production of residual businesses not paying their workers minimum wage.  The article linked is no exception as it feeds the reader the fallacy and makes no mention of the reality of minimum wage increases. 

Another right-wing tactic is to always focus on restaurants and how they will fail if the minimum wage is ever increased.  This is nothing more than using a convenient target to try to sway the uninformed.  Depending on what statistics you use, the failure rate of restaurants in the first three years is generally accepted at roughly 60%.  In other words, most restaurants will fail regardless of the minimum wage so its an easy but deceiving target for the right to use when arguing their absurd points.

While this is no surprise, there is another snippet of info given in the piece that deserves further analysis.  The article gives us some numbers that seem scary on the surface when read:

Washington Restaurant Association’s Anthony Anton puts it this way: “It’s not a political problem; it’s a math problem.”

“He estimates that a common budget breakdown among sustaining Seattle restaurants so far has been the following: 36 percent of funds are devoted to labor, 30 percent to food costs and 30 percent go to everything else (all other operational costs). The remaining 4 percent has been the profit margin, and as a result, in a $700,000 restaurant, he estimates that the average restauranteur in Seattle has been making $28,000 a year.

Gasp!  The owner only making $28k a year on a $700k a year restaurant?  Sounds horrific…unless we choose to do some math.  Let’s play this game.

$700k divided by 365 days gives us an average daily revenue of $1918.  Let’s assume the restaurant is open on average 12 hours a day (10 am-10 pm, for example, lunch and dinner).  $1918 divided by 12 gives us roughly $160 per hour.  Assuming the average customer spends $10 per meal and drink, we get 16 customers per hour.  If a restaurant in a major city like Seattle is only getting that many customers per hour, they are clearly on their way to closing their doors anyway.  But wait, there’s more.

As is noted, 36% of funds are devoted to labor.  36% of $700k is 252000.  A 36-hour per week worker (6 days, 6 hours per in this scenario) making Washington’s minimum wage ($9.47) makes $17,725 a year.  $252k divided by $17,725 gives us roughly 14 workers.  With a 12 hour day, you would need a minimum of two workers per position.  That gives us 2 hosts/hostesses (assuming you need it), 2 cooks, 2 kitchen preps, 2 dishwashers, 1 additional manager, and 5 servers (who apparently make the state minimum wage in Washington).  Here’s where an important reality comes to light in their numbers given.

With 5 servers, you would have 3 working half of the time to split the previously derived 16 customers per hour, which is completely ridiculous in terms of being grossly overstaffed.  Assuming the 16 customers are 8 couples dining together, this means a little less than 3 tables per hour per server.  As someone who was once an atrocious excuse for a server in my earlier working days and can speak from experience, a server can easily handle 6-7 tables per hour without breaking much of a sweat.  And that’s if you’re terrible at your job, like I was.

In other words, the restaurant in the example given is clearly overstaffed and badly run on top of not getting enough foot traffic in the first place.  If we were to bring the server situation down to a more appropriate level, what happens with the owner’s $28k a year takeaway on a $700k restaurant?  What if you take away 1 or both hosts/hostesses because they aren’t needed due to the light customer traffic?  If we take out 4 workers, we suddenly get an additional $70k.  Obviously, some of this would go to the additional manager and (hopefully) some raises, but the owner is likely taking a good chunk of this home.  What happens to that $28k per year?  Exactly.

If the right wants to scare the country into believing the minimum wage should not be increased or should go away entirely, they should probably use a better hypothetical example than a badly run, overstaffed restaurant with too little of a customer base to survive in such a big city.

Right-To-Work Should Give Up Union Gains

110308_labor_unions_ap_328According to an article by the AP, the Right-To-Work movement across the U.S. is gaining more and more momentum as GOP governors and statehouses move to disable union rights by making it illegal to require workers to pay union dues .

The highest profile battle over a Right-To-Work bill over the last few years has been in Wisconsin. When a failed attempt to recall Governor Scott Walker occurred (he is also a leading GOP presidential candidate) for attacking unions beginning back in 2011, he signed one of these new anti-union bill earlier this week making Wisconsin the 25th state to do so.

Nearly 800 union-related bills have been proposed in statehouses this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Reports also show that union membership has been steadily declining since the 1980s, when it measured at 20 percent of all workers. In 2014, only 11.1 percent nationally belonged to a union.

Now let us be honest in this assumption, if that makes sense: These workers do not want to pay union dues while receiving all the monumental advances won through blood and hardship by organized labor. The labor/owner struggle over the past centuries should not be afforded to ungrateful employees who want to take advantage of modern salary contract negotiations. So here is a list that should apply to workers who do not want to pay union dues according to the Right-To-Work laws:

1) 16 hour work days are mandatory

2) 6-day work weeks are mandatory

3) No breaks are afforded

4) No workers’ compensation for those injured on the job

5) Pennies on the current dollar should be afforded for work-wages for they will not be negotiated by a union

6) No OSHA laws should be observed which protect workers from dangerous working conditions

7) Employees can be fired off-hand without any given reason with no recourse to union appeals processes

8) You have to bring your children to work everyday so their little hands and fingers can work small pieces machines that may indeed allow them to lose those little hands and fingers

Need To Organize at Work More Now Than Ever!

union_yesI was reading an excerpt from author Marianne Cooper’s book today called “Cut Adrift: Families in Insecure Times” at Salon.com (According to the Amazon summary, “Cut Adrift makes an important and original contribution to the national conversation about inequality and risk in American society.”) and I began to think about the decline of unions and unionizing in America today.  Part of it reads below:

In this new [employment] environment, unions are struggling. Although manufacturing workers have a long history of labor organizing, service sector workers such as restaurant and retail employees [which makes up 80% of occupations in America today] do not, making it harder for service employee unions to grow. Moreover, globalization, technological changes, and the spread of flexible work arrangements have combined to enable employers to make an end run around unions by moving jobs to countries or parts of the United States where anti-union attitudes and laws predominate. As a consequence of these developments, union membership has steadily declined.

A productive workers’ organization is a must for a good quality working-life. Before unions there were 6-day workweeks, 16-hour days, and unspeakably dangerous conditions. There was no OSHA, no breaks, and you could be fired swiftly and without recourse. And during our darkest days you could be badly beaten, or killed by a group of Pinkerton detectives for even being perceived as organizing. There were even war-like firefights between workers and local deputies hired by boss-capitalists at times like the one during The Battle for Blair Mountain.

This led me to another interesting piece of information I found from February 20, 2014 at the Pew Research Center:

In a Pew Research Center survey conducted in June 2013, about half (51%) of Americans said they had favorable opinions of labor unions, versus 42% who said they had unfavorable opinions about them. That was the highest favorability rating since 2007, though still below the 63% who said they were favorably disposed toward unions in 2001. In a separate 2012 survey, 64% of Americans agreed that unions were necessary to protect working people (though 57% also agreed that unions had “too much power”).

So what this tells me is that there is a real, perceived value in union organizing today. But how do we get back there to 1954 when 28% of all workers in the country belonged to unions at it’s peak? I am afraid that I do not have the answer at this moment, nor probably for many afterward. But unionizing is the biggest threat to capitalism as it runs more and more rampant across the globe and almost completely unbridled here in the United States.

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An Updated History of Recent Presidents and Unemployment

It should be noted that the one decrease for a Republican, Reagan, is also the president with the highest sustained double-digit unemployment of any of these.

 

Unemploy

Wal-Mart Protests

Walmart workers on strikeMany protests occurred at Wal-Mart stores yesterday on Black Friday with protesters demanding “…wages of at least $25,000, more full-time openings and an end to retaliation against workers who speak out about their conditions.”

Read Here.

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