Sharing the wealth? In 1965, CEOs made 44 times the average factory worker’s salary. Today, CEOs make 212 times the average worker’s pay. While hundreds of thousands of workers were laid off in 1995, the CEOs of the 20 companies with the largest announced layoffs saw their salaries and bonuses increase by 25%. has meant a 15% decline in real wages. Factory pay up Source; Economic Policy Institute 1980 1995 Kev in Krenec k the monthly pension for a 30-years-and-out retiree go from $1,000 a month in 1990 to $2,000 now and it will go to $3,000 a month after the strike. Would UPS have added a cent to that pension if you’d been controlling the benefits? Pardon us while we laugh. You haven’t raised the part-time $8 an hour starting wage in 15 years and you want to freeze it for another five. Oh, and you want to have our people in your UPS health plan. That’s rich, considering you barely recognize work injuries as a problem and have even made it impossible for OSHA to collect data on how you’re hurting your workers. Two facts you know well: Last year you hired 180,000 partiimers to fill 40,000 slots because most people couldn’t keep up with the pace and quit. Now, in your health plan, you demand that health insurance kick in only after six months. In other words, the bulk of your employees won’t have any health coverage. And we do know that the injury rate at UPS in 1996 was 33.8 per 100 workers, based on a 2,000-hour working year. That’s two and a half times the industry average. Shouldn’t we be asking for some accountability from companies like UPS for what they put their workers through? If UPS knowingly puts unliftable weights into their system, destroys OSHA standards, enforcement and even data collection, are not subsequent medical costs something for which you and your colleagues should be held accountable? So quit lecturing us, and be open about the one thing you and you colleagues won’t talk about: Why the full-time drivers are preparedand unitedto fight for the parttimers against the system you’ve help build. Alexander Cockburn is a contributor to The Nation, a syndicated columnist, and co-editor of CounterPunch, a Washington, D.C. -based newsletter. Labor’s Comeback In late summer of 1986 Larry Beevers sat in his office at the Port Arthur OCAW union hall and told me how he felt about Merlin Breaux necktie. Beevers was then a representative for the 0i4 Chemical and Atomic Workers Union in Port Arthur,. where union membership had fallen from 8 000 in the early ’70s to .3000 in the mid-’80s. Breaux was a former Gulf Oil President who had moved on to a low level advison’s job with the Reagan Administration, then returned to Beaumont in 1986 as director of the John Gray Institute a management-labor think tank housed at Lamar University. It would be a lot easier for me to swallow these goddamned eggs if I wasn’t looking at that White House tie,” Beevers had said at a breakfast meeting with Breaux. Within a few years Beevers’ gut reaction to Breaux, his tie, and the John Gray Institute proved to be right. However, that ‘a Reagan Administration official would be hired to direct an organization that received state support to improve relations between labor and management was a sign of the times. Reagan was up, labor was down, and there was Breaux telling the Beaumont Rotary Club that “at least unions are learning to be more flexible.” For unions, the Reagan Administration’s labor policy had always been hard to swallow. Ronald Reagan was in the first year of his presidency when the nation’s 13,000 air traffic controllers went out on strike. He broke the strike, brought in replacements, then banned all striking members of the air traffic controllers’ union from ever again working for the federal government demonstrating just how flexible unions could be. As labor economist Mark Levinson recently wrote on the opinion page of The New York Times, Reagan’s response to the PATCO strike sent a clear signal to employers everywhere. Since 1981, management has frequently used either replacement workers or the threat of replacement workers to undermine unions. Reporter Jacob Bernstein finds that Crown Petroleum has taken the tactic to a bizarre extreme in Pasadena \(see “Locked Out,” years since 1981 have seen the greatest decline in labor membership and political power in the history of the American labor movement, along with an enormous redistribution of wealth from the poor and middle class to the rich. Reagan’s union-busting only increased his popularity. When he broke the PATCO strike, 51 percent of the public supported See “Labor,” p. 13. AUGUST 29, 1997 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5
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