One might think there is some sort of irony in the news that Republicans and their Koch-funded belief tanks are attacking America’s labor force on the federal Labor Day holiday, but with an anti-labor government, it isn’t ironic, it is expected. If Republicans had any scruples, they would make themselves scarce today and avoid public celebrations of Labor Day like plague, but since they don’t have any scruples, they will likely show their greedy faces and offer worthless platitudes to the American worker.
Labor Day was created to acknowledge the organized labor movement (unions) and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It is allegedly meant to be a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
However, now that Republicans and the Koch brothers control the government, workers are facing some seriously barbaric assaults on any and everything to do with labor. Republicans and the Kochs have been on a tear to demolish workers’ rights and wages for nigh onto two decades. But now they have the means and authority to send the American workforce back to the early 20th Century. To achieve that important Koch goal, they recently announced a vicious assault on organized labor to accompany their attack on workers’ rights – including the right to a living wage.
According to several reports, as expected, a Koch-funded and ALEC-affiliated network of 67 conservative ‘belief’ tanks with activists in all 50 states announced a “breakthrough campaign” devised to “strike a mortal blow against the American left.” And they will commence their attack by “defunding and defanging” organized labor as an important first step “towards ensuring the permanent collapse of progressive politics;” and any labor protections for American workers.
The outfit taking the lead in assaulting the labor force is the State Policy Network (SPN). SPN is a national conservative organization closely tied to the Kochs, Americans for Prosperity, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It consists of 67 different “non-profit foundations” in the states with a mission, in its own words, to be “idea factories” for state-based conservative policies. However, they are “idea factories” pushing the Koch and GOP’s national anti-government policies to “innocent sounding state foundations” that pretend they came up with ideas of their own accord. The Center for Media and Democracy’s ‘Source Watch’ reported:
“In the states, SPN groups increasingly peddle cookie-cutter ‘studies’ to back the cookie-cutter ALEC agenda, spinning that agenda as indigenous to the state and giving it the aura of academic legitimacy. Many SPN groups have been accused of lobbying in their states in violation of IRS rules for non-profit ‘charitable’ organizations.”
The big push to abolish union labor will be spearheaded with a monumental attempt at passing right to work prohibitions in all 50 states, and the “right to work” crusade will sound appealing to the stupid people who dependably elect Republicans. However, besides lowering wages, the goal is to destroy unions, and with no unions the concept of “prevailing wage” will vanish. Oh there will no doubt be a “prevailing wage,” but instead of a living wage that lifts other workers’ pay, it will do the opposite and bring all wages down in line with whatever Republicans and Kochs decide is best for corporate profits.
No American should think this is an isolated attack on labor. In Missouri this past week the minimum wage workforce in cities that raised the minimum to $10 per hour saw their hourly rate slashed to $7.70 as dictated by the state’s Republican legislature and governor. Not to be outdone, wealthy business failure Trump cut a raise for federal workers.
Republicans in Congress have done their best to keep wages low by refusing to entertain a federal minimum wage hike, and some have called for abolishing the minimum altogether and allow corporations to set the minimum wage. A couple of years ago, House Republicans attempted to pass legislation eliminating overtime pay, and in Wisconsin, Republicans eliminated weekends to allow employers to work their employees without a day off to rest.
In fact, when Republicans get rolling, they will eliminate every worker benefit and labor protection going back to the New Deal. Without unions, living wages, benefits, and worker protections would have never been enacted; the Koch crusade to “defund and defang” unions is a critical step in taking America’s labor back to dire workplace conditions prior to the New Deal.
It isn’t clear if the Kochs, ALEC, Americans for Prosperity, and the State Policy Network believe that destroying unions and cutting wages to poverty level is going to make people stupid like the typical Republican voter, but that appears to be their strategy. Of course their goal, if accomplished, might deprive the left of support from organized labor, but it doesn’t seem reasonable that driving more of the population into poverty is going to endear them to vote for Republicans and against their own best self-interests. However, although Americans have demonstrated they are a productive workforce, they definitely aren’t the wisest voters. If they had any sense of self-preservation they would not continue electing Republicans to cut their wages, eliminate their weekends off and overtime pay, and eliminate their ability and right to collectively bargain with corporations for a living wage.
Workers should enjoy this Labor Day, and reflect on why they have lunch breaks, bathroom privileges, overtime pay, industrial accident coverage, weekends off, and a forty-hour work week; it is because of unions. It is difficult to know if there will be any reason to celebrate Labor Day next year. If the Koch brothers, ALEC, Republicans, and the State Policy Network have their way, the first Monday in September will be just another day Americans have to work for slave wages and without any workplace protections; it is exactly what the labor force has to look forward to with the Kochs and Republicans running the government.