The Republican Model for Labor in America

No matter what your opinion on the auto bailout, one lasting image of that fight was Mitch McConnell, and his fellow facist neo-con flock "informing" Americans how we are too fat and sassy because we strive to create, and sustain a viable middle-class. Yes, the same group that supports bailing out the bankers, and for outrageous CEO pay that milks the very companies they run were telling us that the real problem were the greedy American workers, who god forbid want fair wages and some kind of benefits for their efforts.

This is the same group that actually WANTS the outsourcing of American middle-class jobs because the American worker won't work for peanuts. They tell us that we have overpriced our labor and destroyed our companies.

The question is, what exactly is their model for labor, and what exactly do they want us to emulate in America??? The answers are easily found, and quite disturbing.

Progressives in Kentucky like to joke that Mitch McConnell is the Senator from Communist China. Unfortunately, this isn't far from the truth as McConnell seems more determined to represent China's Communist government and businesses over the workers of Kentucky and indeed America. Lets look at how McConnell and his cohorts think that American workers should behave:

As millions of children in the West prepare to open billions of dollars worth of Christmas gifts later this month, a study by an Asian labor watch group is reminding parents and trade policy wonks alike that most of their gifts came from China - a nation with preferential trade status that features "abysmal" factory conditions like the kind abolished in the U.S. early last century.

Worse, the report states, many of the factories are owned by Chinese companies subcontracting to U.S.-based firms.

Workers are often required to put in 16 hour days for six, sometimes seven, days a week and are being paid the equivalent of $50 per month.

The center's report said after the women "leave their village, they can only continue to live in the city because of the contract with their employer, who at times confiscates their papers to prevent them from quitting. As soon as they reach 25, they are considered too old to work. They often turn to prostitution so as not to return to their birthplace, where they are no longer respected."

Due to preferential trade agreements between China and the U.S., the abuse is likely to continue unabated. Last year, the U.S. trade deficit was more than $370 billion, according to the Department of Commerce, and nearly one-third of that amount - more than $84 billion - came from America's trade imbalance with China. e.asp?ARTICLE_ID=25567

But it does not end in China. Other countries "benefit" from the Republican model of labor relations:

Malaysia recently announced plans to introduce new legislation that would restrict migrants to their workplace or living quarters. Such measures violate workers' right to freedom of movement. The resulting isolation would also put them at risk of other abuses, as demonstrated in the case of the approximately 300,000 migrant domestic workers in Malaysia. Many domestic workers already confront restrictions on their movement and communication.

"Instead of improving the situation, Malaysia's proposed foreign worker bill will make it dramatically worse," said Nisha Varia, senior researcher on women's rights in Asia for Human Rights Watch. "It's shocking that Malaysia is even considering a proposal that would give employers freedom to lock up workers."

As Human Rights Watch reported in "Help Wanted: Abuses against Female Migrant Domestic Workers in Indonesia and Malaysia," Indonesian domestic workers in Malaysia often work grueling 16 to 18 hour days, seven days a week, and earn less than 25 US cents per hour. Some suffer physical or sexual abuse. These workers are excluded from key protections in Malaysia's main labor laws, and nongovernmental organizations and the Indonesian mission in Malaysia have received thousands of complaints from domestic workers in recent years.

In Indonesia, labor agents often subject prospective workers to extortion, discriminatory hiring processes, and months-long confinement in overcrowded training centers. In Malaysia, some labor agents turn a deaf ear to women's complaints about abusive treatment and pleas to return home.

The two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in May 2006 to regulate migration of domestic workers. Positive measures included the introduction of a standard contract and protections against cutting workers' salaries to repay fees borne by the employer. However, it allows employers to keep workers' passports, prohibits workers from marrying, and fails to introduce clear standards on a minimum wage, a weekly day off, or monitoring mechanisms for labor agencies. donesia-malaysia-overhaul-labor-agreemen t-domestic-workers

So, what about the Republican model for labor in the Western Hemisphere?? Just see this hypothetical story from Mexico, a place where the Republicans love to ship American jobs:

Patricia Gomez wakes up at 4 a.m. She prepares breakfast. She readies her husband's clothes for when he awakes at 5 to go to his work as a vegetable vendor. The couple relocated from Chiapas to Tehuacán four months ago. Although they miss their families in Chiapas, Ms. Gomez hopes the relocation will provide them with the income that they could not earn in the country.

She enters work at 7 a.m. Fabric particles fill the air, and the workers leaving the night shift cough and wheeze from hours of breathing in the poorly ventilated room. The factory where she works employs women to sew, like Ms. Gomez, mostly between the ages of 15 and 23. It is owned by a family from Mexico City; the plant managers are all men. She will work a twelve hour shift. The owners allow two bathroom breaks per day and twenty minutes for lunch.

She will sew the waistbands on over 100 pairs of jeans an hour. For this work, she is paid the equivalent of $5.20 each day. Ms. Gomez completes her work quickly in order to meet the quota of 80 pairs per hour - any additional work becomes a bonus for her. The jeans Ms. Gomez completes will be shipped back to the U.S. and sold with the WC? label. They retail for $54 in department stores. Including her labor, the jeans will cost WC? $12 to produce.

Since she is a fast worker, the bosses never yell at her like they do some of the women who cannot make the quota. She is concerned, however, that her work rate will slow due to recent numbness she has experienced in her fingers towards the end of the day. (The managers fired co-workers who experienced similar numbness.) She worries about breathing the contaminated air as well, as well as other hazards her fellow workers have warned her about. hod/vandergrift2.html

You see, as usual Mitch McConnell and his facist neo-con ilk have it all wrong. They see an enlightened society as a detrement to the profits of the greediest and least patriotic among us, themselves included. They believe that profits are more important than people, because those profits go into their pockets.

The problem is not that American workers make too much money, and have too many benefits. The problem is that men like McConnell allow the exploitation of people all over the world to protect their profits. Their solution is to make America more like the unenlightened third world. The fact of the matter is that American workers don't need to make less money and give up generations of rights they fought and died for. The real solution is that wages and working conditions need to be improved in the third world, and America should quit making her workers compete with exploited oppressed people who make slave wages and are treated worse than pack animals are in America.

This is the greatest fight we can embark upon in this brave new world, and we can expect to fight the greed and idiocy of the modern Republican Party all along the way. I for one, am ready to fight for workers everwhere who just want to have a comfortable life for themselves and their families from their labors.

Tags: china, communism, facism, Indonesia, malaysia, Mexico, Mitch McConnell, Republicans, Third World, Union workers, Worker Exploitation (all tags)



Re: The Republican Model for Labor in America

Excellent diary, RD.

by TomP 2009-01-07 08:36AM | 0 recs
Re: The Republican Model for Labor in America

Great post, RD. I like your statement that the middle class has, in effect, always been an artifical creation of government policy. When "free" enterprise gets too free, the middle class disappears and all that is left is a population that consists of a few ultra-wealthy plutocrats, with the remaining 98 or 99 percent of the citzenry living in abject poverty. I know, this scenario has been the GOP's goal and dream for the last 30 years. I am hoping that maybe we as a nation can now begin to slowly turn things around, and hopefully tip the balance back toward workers and middle class people. It is certainly a change in direction that is long, long overdue.

by Poll Addict 2009-01-07 03:40PM | 0 recs


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