On a day set aside to honor America’s labor force and the labor movement’s incalculable contributions it has made to build this country into the richest on Earth, it is obvious that Republicans will not be participating in any ceremony to give workers the recognition they deserve. In fact, over the past 80 years in general, and the past six in particular, Republicans have sought every possible means to punish and dishonor American labor by crusading to eliminate every New Deal provision targeting workforce protections.
Although there is a renewed push to help American workers coming solely from a limited number of Democrats, especially during an extremely long presidential campaign season, it is important to note that since January 21 2009, President Barack Obama has been at the forefront of advocating for the American worker; one specific profession receives less Presidential support than any other, but more on that later. However, with his tenure in the White House coming to a close sooner than most Democrats would like, the President has “been pursuing an aggressive campaign to restore protections for workers” that conservative governance, corporate lobbyists, and wealthy business organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have successfully eroded over the last decade, at least.
There has been little reporting in mainstream media, but over just the past two months President Obama has “introduced a series of regulatory changes” to help highly-productive, over-worked, and underpaid American workers. One very substantial rule change will make about 13 million workers eligible for overtime pay, and another contains guidelines to stop employers who have been deliberately misclassifying workers as “private contractors” to deny them any federal or state workplace protections such as worker’s compensation for on-the-job injuries, overtime pay, days off, regular schedules, lunch breaks, or unemployment compensation.
The President’s strong advocacy for labor has also contributed to a federal appeals court affirming the legality of another Obama action that grants millions of “previously exempted” home care workers the right to earn the federal minimum wage and overtime protections; something Republicans believe is an abomination. Remember, many Republicans want the entire American workforce exempted from qualifying for minimum wage, and they passed legislation in the House that died in the previously Democratic Senate that eliminated overtime pay across the board.
Just over a week ago, the President’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) appointees enacted a monumentally important presidential ruling that makes it simpler for employees of private sector contractors and franchises to bargain collectively with the specific corporation, known as a “parent company,” that controls day-to-day operations; up until now the parent company was exempted from any kind of “employer designation” to avoid dealing with underpaid and overworked employees. The new rules, and regulations, are the first updates to rein in businesses, particularly corporate businesses, that have taken advantage of the, desperate for a job, workforce and contributed to the ever-growing income inequality threatening the American economy.
According to a professor at Harvard Law School and the former assistant general counsel for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Benjamin Sachs, President Obama’s “moves constitute the most impressive and laudable attempt to update labor and employment law in many decades. The goal is to keep pace with changes in the structure of the labor market and the way work is organized.” Of course, the idea of changing anything is anathema to Republicans and their corporate masters, but they consider it a personal affront if any kind of change might possibly help America’s workforce. Republicans hate American workers and hold them in contempt for expecting to be paid for their work, especially one sector predominated by professional women.
It is really simple to comprehend why Republicans detest public school teachers; it hardly makes any sense, but they are reasons unique to conservatives. For one thing, public school teachers enjoy union representation and maybe the only thing Republicans hate more than women, minorities, paying wages, or the New Deal’s workplace protections are unions. For dog’s sake the Koch-anointed Republican presidential hopeful Scott Walker compares them to Muslim extremists in ISIS, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announces proudly that he wants to “punch them in their faces.” If those two utterances do not represent a level of hatred for public school teachers and their unions that rival Republican hatred of taxes, government, and people of color, nothing does. It is possible that if public school teachers and their unions gave robust electoral support to Republicans, they may not hold them in contempt but even that is doubtful due to the fact that a great majority of school teachers are women. Let’s face it, the idea of well-educated women frightens the life out of conservatives, and the fact their high level of education allows them to earn a middle class income is contrary to everything this nation’s misogynists, patriarchal conservatives, and religious fanatics believe in.
Republicans hate teachers and preach that the downfall of American society is “the result of their union representation.” All Republicans claim that if, according to the Koch brothers, public education was turned over to corporations and free market forces and not restricted by teachers expecting to be paid, there would be full employment and all Americans would become millionaires. However, as noted here and here, charter schools regularly underperform traditional public schools and cost taxpayers substantially more than “real” schools. It leads one to wonder why on Earth President Obama is a fierce advocate for corporate-run charter schools and why he does not advocate for public school teachers with the same energy that he promotes increasing the number of for-profit charter schools run by corporations.
In fact, it was President Obama who singlehandedly, and with the unanimous support and consent of the Koch brothers and Republicans, changed “National Teacher Appreciation Week” and “Teacher Appreciation Day” to “National Charter Schools Week.” It could not even be a ‘national charter school teacher week‘ because teachers are predominately women and their worth is secondary to corporate-run for-profit “charter schools.” It is also noteworthy, that while Koch acolyte Scott Walker was assaulting teachers and their collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin, neither the President nor his corporate Education Secretary Arne Duncan spoke out in support of teachers or their union representation. As an aside, Americans should take note that Republicans never attack law enforcement, correction officers, or firefighters’ union representation because those professions are predominated by men.
The truth is that American workers, men and women, are highly productive and deserve to be compensated with a living wage and protected from America’s naturally-predatory business community; particularly the corporate business community. It is beyond refute that President Obama has, save public school teachers, been a fierce advocate for workers’ rights, safety, and their worth to the nation and the greedy business sector that profits from their labor. It is difficult to quantify hatred for anything, but it is safe to conclude that of all the things Republicans hate in, and about, this country, there is nothing they hate more than American workers. They hate American workers because they do not work for free and they still have a minimal number of workplace protections that only President Barack Obama has sought to preserve and when it is within his purview, expand.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.