COMMENTARY: Looking to 2020 — Put your Vote to WORK!
Ray Curry | 1/8/2020, 8:56 p.m.
If you work for a living but are somewhat up in the air about who to vote for in 2020 or for that matter, if you should even bother getting to that crowded polling place, I’d like to ask that you indulge me for a minute.
Because I’ve got a story to tell you that might help with your decision. A story of working people and politicians who are working against all of us — everyday.
I’d like to go back to 1980, the year that Ronald Reagan was campaigning to the 40th president of the United States. Much of his rhetoric was designed to appeal to labor and the working men and women of this country, promising to protect jobs, to support policies that would create more jobs and put unemployed Americans back to work.
The reality of his presidency and his policies came down somewhat differently.
In fact, President Reagan’s eight years in office were devastating for labor and the middle class. He was a champion of deregulation, which systematically weakened workplace safety standards and record-keeping. He specifically went after labor by appointing three management-friendly National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) members, causing the NLRB to depart from its legal obligation to actively promote collective bargaining — the constitutional right and underlying principle for the existence of unions. During his presidency, NLRB caseloads were drastically cut and the cases that did go forward went from the recent 33 percent finding in favor of employers to 75 percent favoring employers.
His economic policies shifted the tax burden away from the wealthy and onto the back of middle-class Americans.
So, why am I bringing up this sad history here in the last days of 2019?
Because Ronald Reagan, who turned his back on organized labor and started America’s middle-class into a tailspin from which it has never recovered, has recently been voted by this administration’s hand-picked NLRB into the Labor Hall of Fame. I think that speaks volumes. Clearly, they have taken a page from the Old Gipper’s playbook. And clearly, it should serve as a dire warning of what is to come should we continue with the status quo.
Stacked against us
Today, an NLRB even more conservative than President Reagan’s has moved as fast as it could to make it more difficult for unions to organize.
In December of 2017, the board overturned a rule that had made it easier to organize smaller units of workers in big factories and stores.
Another decision made it tougher for workers at fast-food restaurants and other franchised operations to unionize. What’s more, this board is further encroaching on labor by looking to slow unionization elections, a move that, as we all know too well, would give corporations more time to pressure workers to vote NO.
Here at the UAW, we saw those stalling hijinks in action in Chattanooga this summer with the effort to organize Volkswagen and give its workers a real say in their work lives.
This administration hasn’t stopped at turning the NLRB into the Chamber of Commerce. Let’s look at the Supreme Court.