Page 11


A Public Service Message and 35th Anniversary Greeting from Otto Mullinax and L.N.D. Wells, Jr. support of trade unionists who find themselves locked in a vital struggle with an employer, and to do so while such help can still make a difference. At Eastern Air Lines, at Pittston Coal Company and at NYNEX, you have helped sustain the cause of workers against forces in the service of greed and arbitrary power, bent on the evasion or destruction of the collective bargaining process. These and other struggles give the lie to the proposition advanced, year in and year out, by the flacks of corporate America, that unions are “no longer necessary” in this new age of warm and cuddly management. If so, why are they so dumb as to waste so much of their treasure and deploy such an army of costly mercenaries against us? The demise of trade unions at the hands of advancing technology and a changing workforce is one of the great myths that we’ve had to live with throughout our existence. Years ago, that myth held that unions were only for the highly-skilled and that mass production workers would never organize. Then there was the myth that public employees did not want or need unions. Similar myths have been advanced about immigrant workers, white collar workers, women and minorities. Today, the prediction that trade unionism will have no role in post-industrial America brings to mind the wishful thinking of a certain turn-of-the-century businessman, who said: “The rights and interests of the laboring man will be protected and cared for not by the labor agitators, but by the Christian gentlemen to whom God has given control of the property rights of the country and upon the successful management of which so much depend.” That idiot’s doctrine is still alive and well. It reveals itself daily in the deprivation of people who toil for povertylevel wages and live on the brink of homelessness. For them, as for so many millions who lifted themselves from despair in this century, hope translates into one thing and one thing only: trade unionism. We insist that there are no jobs which natural law ordains as inherently poorly paid and devoid of benefits or security. Before trade unionism brought civilization to the mines and mills of America, those jobs were just as cheap and just as bad as those in what is now called the “low-paid service sector.” Not management enlightenment but trade unionism made the difference. In this century, the trade union movement, more than any other force or factor, has been the author of America’s quality of life, by organizing the working masses, building their ladder into the middle class, and creating a market based on good wages and conditions that is the mercantile target of the world. We have fueled the engine of upward mobility as generations of trade unionists gave birth and schooling to the members of today’s educated class. They too should be with us and in growing numbers they are. Those who advance the theory that the “individualism” of these workers conflicts with the principle of solidarity simply do not know the territory. The desire of workers to organize does not arise from a longing to submerge their individual identities, but to enhance them. The collective power of workers through their unions has liberated people and given them opportunities for individual freedom, expression and participation which they could otherwise never realize. They need it now more than ever in an era when the legacy of the Reagan years is exacting its cost in all walks of life. We never fell for the con game, otherwise known as Reagan’s “Riverboat Gamble,” inherent in the idea that the nation’s problems could be solved by throwing money and license at the rich and powerful, doubling the national debt, and dismantling the government’s role, regulation and oversight. We resisted it steadfastly, but in vain. Now the number of those who are finding out, the hard way, that we were right all along grows with each shocking revelation. The bills are coming due and the ticking time bombs are going off. Three hundred billion dollars to rescue the nation’s savings and loans from an orgy of greed and speculation. Another hundred billion to fix the neglected nuclear weapons plants that imperil workers and communities. HUD corrupted into a political grab bag while the homeless line the street. How many billions of dollars will it take to repair our rotting public infrastructure our highways, bridges and public facilities to say nothing of the vast social decay in the widening gap between rich and poor? The “City on the Hill” is overrun with drug dealers and addicts, plagued by deteriorating public schools, baffled by its overflowing prisons and its homeless, and saddled with the paralysis of a federal government so deep into hock that few dare to suggest the most feeble attempts at addressing these and other pressing national problems. It is “morning after in America.” I suppose there is one small sign of progress. Over 200 years ago, our first president, George Washington, is said to have thrown a silver dollar across the Rappahannock River. A few days ago, our latest exPresident, Ronald Reagan, caught $2 million dollars across the Pacific Ocean. But he is just the star in a bipartisan galaxy of individuals who have transformed public service into a finishing school for foreign agents and corporate fixers, where they prepare to get rich quick selling the inside knowledge, the influence and access they acquire and cultivate while working on the people’s payroll. What we see is the fleecing of America, with the guidance and protection of some of our most privileged and honored citizens. Sooner or later, those who buy America will run America and our “best and brightest” will be their Quislings. But that bleak prospect is overshadowed by the activities of the financial manipulators and skimmers, corporate raiders and other parasites who feed off America’s productive capacity in the current rampage of mergers, acquisitions and leveraged buyouts. Last year, the price of these transactions soared to more than a quarter of a trillion dollars, without producing one new or better product, service or job. That figure doesn’t even include the assumption of billions more in debt by corporations that are trying to prevent hostile takeovers from happening to them. These sharks have discovered how to buy a company with its own money and credit, turn equity into debt, strip assets and saddle the burden of servicing that debt on the back of a shrunken and weakened workforce. They finance these deals by erecting a junk-bond tower of jello whose every wiggle makes Wall Street quake. wawssossaessaWp THE TEXAS OBSERVER 45