New Hampshire GOP’s War On Lunch Breaks Shows Why We Need Unions

The attack on unions is nothing new. Unions have been under assault since their inception, but the attack was put on steroids thirty years ago. The argument that many average Americans make is that since we have laws to protect the worker, so we no longer need unions. Unions had their place, but now with these laws on the books, unions are irrelevant and actually an obstacle to job creation.

Well, for those of you who believe that unions are no longer needed, take a look at New Hampshire. According to the Concord Monitor, the Republicans are looking to eliminate a law mandating a lunch break after five hours of work.

They are putting their faith in employers to do the right thing and give their employees a lunch break. While that is probably true in most cases, there is also a reason why the law mandating lunch breaks exists.

Given the circumstances of their work an employer may tell you one day, “no lunch today” we are on a tight schedule. We need this job done. Before lunch breaks were legally required this is the way it used to be, and if Republicans get their way, this is the way it will be again.

Those who believe that laws are enough need to understand that all laws can be eliminated, all it would take is one congressional action followed by a presidential signature to repeal OSHA, and we would no longer have oversight of safety in the workplace. We can repeal minimum wage and other laws that protect workers. Nothing is permanent in a democracy anything is subject to change or elimination, given the right circumstances.

When we forget history, we are doomed to repeat it. Labor laws exist because of past actions against workers and without unions there would be no one pressuring lawmakers to pass laws to protect workers.

Image: Chron.com

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25 Replies to “New Hampshire GOP’s War On Lunch Breaks Shows Why We Need Unions”

  1. I hope tea baggies like holding their pee in, because they won’t be getting bathroom breaks either. But I forget that most of them are on social security and don’t work. They want us to support them working as slaves. Typical teabagger position. I got mine, screw you!

  2. Ending paid lunch breaks, mandatory off-the-clock OT, scaling back health and safety regulations, pushing for child labor, trying to raise the retirement age….

    These cons are literally trying to turn everyone into serfs for rich corporate overlords. Can anyone deny their blatant class warfare on working people any longer?

  3. I have said it 1 million times. Without unions you are going to lose all of your benefits, all of the little perks like lunchtime( which will be held at the discretion of the company), health insurance and regular wages.

    When I moved down here to Tennessee it was because my company in Michigan bought out a company here. The people working at the company had not received a raise in five years and their working conditions were pretty tough. Our facility up in Michigan was unionized and all of the people at the Tennessee facility were immediately given the same rights and wage increases that the union shop got. Without unions all of the people who are now crying out against unions are going to be crying for them to come back because it doesn’t matter if if you are hourly or salary. You might be a secretary, a janitor or even a middle manager, you will see a difference was Republicans in charge and I can guarantee you that you’re not going to like it. That goes especially for Ron Paul who keep saying the word liberty but would taken away from you in the workplace in a heartbeat

    How do you like being slaves? Remember that your state legislature, and if it’s Republican the people that you vote for, can take away everything you enjoy right now.

  4. Yeah, clearly they don’t work in any hospitality field. While it’s gotten better because more employees know their rights (and are filing complaints and suing), there’s still rampant abuse of these laws and the general attitude of “shut up and be grateful” still pervades.

    As a former server, I have personally worked 13 hour shifts in which I did not receive even a 5 minute break to have a coke and collect my thoughts. I waitressed while pregnant and was bullied by managers for asserting my break rights. Ultimately I had to file a labor board complaint and get a doctor’s note before I was even allowed 5 minutes off my feet during my shift.

    As recently as 2 years ago, I attended a forum in which representatives from a large, national food purveyor advised cooks-in-training to NEVER expect a break (unless it’s a smoke break). And to always report to work, no matter how sick. All in violation of state and federal labor and health code laws.

    What does change these things? Lawsuits and unions. In many cases, you have to push the labor board to intercede on your behalf. Because the companies fund them.

    And there’s no question teabaggers have that “you ar emy slave” mentality. Recently a chain of 5 restaurants closed down with no notice, citing the myriad of fines and back taxes levied against them as the reason. This employer had a history of withholding and then pocketing taxes from its workers (in other words stealing), not paying overtime, hiring illegals for less money, etc. In other words, they’re criminals.

    Plenty of teatard types posted about how business unfriendly our state is, how these job creators are being harrassed and, of course, how they don’t care how employees are abused, as long as the end product costs less.

  5. Shiva–what’s even scarier about those people in TN is that they probably persuaded themselves that their company was awesome, had their best interests in mind and were completely loyal.

    I briefly worked for a small tech school (Republican owned, with many very conservative employees). Most of the employees never received raises and were paid near slave wages. The only employment plus was a fair amount of PTO, but only because of school breaks (and I suspect someone had threatened them awhile back–plus they would’ve had to pay UI during those times, anyway). Yet everyone stayed there, uncomplaining…even though there were minimal advancement opportunities and the compensation was absurdly low.

  6. Truth be told, most of them were uneducated. Very hard workers considering they were in a plastics factory in the Tennessee heat, but many probably couldn’t fill out a job application to save their lives. When my company bought this company, it started to pay for people to become educated and at least learn to read and write. Fortunately we had worked under the QS 9000 and ISo 16 949 quality system so we recognize that people are as good as gold. Also at the same time factories in the area were closing during the Bush administration and there was no place else for them to go

  7. So when did going home become a fringe benefit? Vote these assholes out this year and keep them out PLEASE!

  8. Okay — we know what they’re doing. The question is what are we going to do about it? Will we sit around and piss and moan or will we begin organizing in our own states and working against this sort of legal enslavement at all levels?

    We as a society got in this mess having a general attitude of not wanting to get off our comfortable couches and be active in movements while pointing the finger and saying “Someone needs to take care of this.”

    People WE are the ones who need to take care of it and if WE do not, then we are as much at fault as the conservatives are.

    If you work in a non-union shop, get in touch with a union and begin investigating how to begin a campaign. If you already work in a union shop, be active in your local and insist they represent you while taking part in recruiting drives and protests. Put regular — daily if necessary — pressure on your elected officials to support workers’ rights and do NOT support any one who doesn’t.

    This threat isn’t going to go away and it’s not going to get any better. We are going to have to show some guts, some determination and the complete refusal accept anything but complete victory over slavery.

  9. Shiva,

    Today is the first time I realized you were in Tennessee…what part? Eastern?

    My biggest gripe here is the Right-To-Be-Terminated-For-No-Reason and Work-For-The-Lowest-Wages-Possible laws………ie, right to work.

    My profession of 35 years has gone down from an average of $42,000 salary with 401k, fully paid insurance, to $10-$12/hour, no benefits since 2008. Nashville has become an AWFUL place to work or find work if you are not willing to work for $10/hour, no benefits and longer hours, no overtime. This is what lawyers are doing in Music City, USA and age discrimination is rampant.

    I live closer to Clarksville and this week there are 1,000 soldiers returning to Fort Campbell, Kentucky (101st Airborne, Air Assault) and many will be leaving the military but want to stay here – so they are really getting riled up about NO JOBS, LOW PAY and horrendous working conditions – yeah, the RePigs here really Support the Troops.

    This is going to get worse until these Right To Work laws are removed. They are the most UNFAIR laws in the workplace today.

  10. GOP won’t be happy until they take us back to the days of “The Jungle”!
    I say demand a hourly wage and OT or else take them to the labor board.
    FedEx pays ground & home drivers by the PIECE!
    They are supposed to be paid by the hour, with breaks, lunch and OT.
    FedEx is a Rethug company.
    They have been successfully sued…
    Now the “At will” law, I don’t know how you can get around that? B/c they can fire for any reason or no reason. That is a law that needs to be changed at least in cali for sure.
    Unions, if your in a union you are safer.

  11. This is terrible. I can not believe this is happening in the USA.

    WHAT’S NEXT???!!! Repeal of Civil Rights,SCHIP, 40 hour work week, Family Leave Act,( the so-called pro-family groups did not raise a an objection to this), Child Labor Laws???

    The Koch-addicted Republican Party wants to Repeal the 20th Century.

    God help us.

  12. I used to work at Best Plastics in Michigan.

    One day a plant meeting was called, and the owner was ranting “I don’t have to give you people lunch breaks. I don’t even have to give you potty breaks !”

    I thought that was impossible, but it turns out the Unions had always taken care of those things, so no law was on the books.

    The only law we have is that anybody under 18 has to get a lunch break after six hours.

    Nothing about “potty breaks” at all.

    Aren’t Republicans just the sweetest little darlings? This guy was upset that people were coming back in from lunch when the buzzer went off.

    Why?

    Well, the contract said the buzzer would sound, and you come in, and stand at your station, ready. Then the buzzer would sound again and you start working.

    That’s what people were doing.

    But see, the dufus in the office didn’t bother resetting the timer on the buzzer after the shifts got re-arranged.

    And the boss, of course, blamed the workers.

  13. I wonder how the GI’s will feel, coming back to Tennessee.

    In Iraq, they were shot at, and risked their lives on a daily basis.

    The government doesn’t pay much, but they had health care, insurance, and air conditioners running full blast everywhere.

    Back home, there will be no such consideration for their service.

  14. Stupid libtards! Just shut up and be glad you have a job.

    My dog is perfectly happy that I feed him twice. And if I decide not to let him out to pee for 16 hours, well, he freakin’ HOLDS IT for 16 hours. My dog is loyal to me. He accepts whatever treatment I decide to give him. He is grateful for the kindness that my magnanimity deems fitting.

    Why are you so different? Who are stupid ass peon workers to want any differently? After all, don’t I always feed my dog, even if every other day on some occasions? The point is, you have a nice metal crate to sleep in; you get fed every now and then. You usually get let out to potty.

    It’s a good life. What more could you possibly want?

  15. I can tell you how some of them feel. The ones in the national guard that lost their homes while they were away and their wife and kid is living with mom and dad

    They arnt going to be happy

    After WW2 we were presented with many young men who were looking for kicks after being in Europe. We got the Hell Angels. What will largee groups of homeless and unemployed troops do now?

  16. The south is the most backwards minded area of the country and for good reason too. Slavery is no longer about race. It now keeps all workers in a state of perpetual servitude via low wages. This is also the same area where most people adhere to fundamentalist Christianity too. The two go hand in hand.

  17. Way before the Constitution, there was the Magna Carta. Even though it was written long before anyone named Amerigo Vespucci was alive, it was written to end serfdom. Why do these guys want to bring back something that was let go of 800 years ago?

  18. They must be taking a clue from some of the shops I had as customers in this “right to screw employees” state.

    No lunch break… there were shops where you ate while you worked, and God help you if you screwed up anything (or got food on what you were working on). Paid lunch breaks? I’ve only been in a couple of places/situations where that was the case. You were off the clock for lunch (the norm).

    How about bathroom breaks? I had a few customers that locked the bathroom for the “floor” employees except during lunch. Of course, the head office bathrooms were unlocked the whole time, but the floor employees (skilled labor) were not permitted to use them (or even violate the sacrosanct front offices except in an emergency or when someone was being fired). One customer didn’t like to stock T-Paper or soap, except during the lunch break. Another took the doors off the stalls so that nobody could “waste time” or “read” on the pot. Both of those also refused to pay anyone to clean the “shop” bathrooms – the employees had to do it themselves if they wanted a decent place to go.

    Then there were the shops that didn’t allow chairs on the floor, even though their employees might be welding large metal structures that required them to squat while welding (neither safe or comfortable) or operating complex and dangerous machinery (that didn’t require standing). I had quite a fight with one such company… they didn’t want me to have a chair either because (quote) “You’ll set a bad example for the employees and they’ll start wanting chairs while they work too!”. I told them there was no way I could work on complicated electronic equipment while squatting or standing and that if they wanted their machinery fixed, they would get me a chair, or I’d give them a bill for wasting my time and leave. The owner griped and grumbled about it, but I did get my chair (he griped about it every time I had to fix their equipment – they were rough on stuff because they didn’t want to pay for the time required to maintain or clean their machines – or to keep them cool and dry!). Oh… and that was a place that also locked the bathrooms and employees weren’t allowed in the air conditioned front office area.

    Safe work environment? How about 140 degrees in the shade in the Florida summer (95 degrees – 90% humidity outside) with only a few fans and inadequate ventilation (reason for 140 degrees)… and that company threatened me with a lawsuit when I told them that I couldn’t do anything because the environment was outside the operating range of the controls – and that caused them to fail. I pointed out the documented limits for the machines (no environment above 90 degrees and 40-50% humidity) and the owner pitched a screaming fit. He said that putting air conditioning would only be mollycoddling his employees (who all were dripping wet with sweat before noon). Of course, he was sitting in a nice air conditioned office. I ended walking out of the place with the owner yelling at my back. (I’m glad that was before they all learned I was American Indian – otherwise he might have shot me!) I don’t know how their equipment lasted the few years it did, that environment was hell on earth!

    I encountered another customer who had the same environment, but in their case I was able to convince them that the reason their machine kept crashing was because it was too hot. They put an enclosure around the control with a window for the operator to reach in and run the machine – and air conditioned the control only. That was another place I avoided. You can’t think or function in that sort of heat and humidity!

    Then there was the customer who had equipment that was always close to failing – he’d rigged up basins to catch the leaking hydraulic and poured it back into the machine – a machine full of close tolerance hydraulics! If the hydraulics failed at the wrong time, someone could die. I couldn’t get him to shut the thing down and repair it properly “because I’ll loose profits!”.

    Then another company who had machines which were jury-rigged and very old. I got called in to do an emergency modification on one – the operator had somehow jammed the one (obsolete) safety and a power glitch caused it to fire – cutting off some fingers (he’d had his hands in it while it was still on). I just hope nobody else lost fingers or hands on the others, which were never modified. Oh – another shop without AC in the Florida heat.

    What was funny is that so many Florida plant owners refused to put in air conditioning… although I showed many of them that by keeping the machines cool and in controlled humidity, they lasted longer and didn’t break down a fraction as often – and by keeping the employees comfortable, their productivity increased. They claimed that in spite of it all, it wasn’t worth the added expense of air conditioning any more space than the head office area. I guess it was the same old “I’m the boss so I get the good stuff, you’re the laborers – slaves – so you have to be miserable”.

    I’ll only mention the “Good Christian” boss I had who beat me up for interrupting a conversation (when I was a brainwashed kid) – I have the scar to show for it, or the one who sent me out to do work covered by another company under contract (I could have gone to jail as I later found out), or the one who was going to dock our pay (all of the employees) for a mistake SHE made.

    THAT is the reality of a “right to work” state.

  19. Again, you catch the attitude perfectly.

    (I’m just surprised we haven’t had any of the “Be satisfied with what ‘GOD’ has given you and you’re a sinner bound for hell if you aren’t!!!” crowd coming in here and ranting at us!)

  20. They are not talking about paid lunch breaks. They are required to let you have a half hour to eat a lunch — unpaid time, but time to refresh for the rest of the day.

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