Viewpoint: Workers must stand united to fight corporate greed
By G. T. Mormann August 26, 2012 2:50AM
G. T. Mormann SUBMITTED PHOTO
Updated: September 27, 2012 11:02AM
Upon hearing a new, promising proposal for New Deal legislation, Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “You’ve convinced me. Now go out and make me do it.”
The year of 1937 heard the chants of labor reform to the tune of 4,470 strikes. The summer of 2012 heard some 800 union workers — veteran and novice laborers alike — all of whom picketed in solidarity against a new contract that reflected a suffering corporation, not the cash-raking powerhouse that Caterpillar truly is.
The concessionary contract was proposed and cast down; replacement employees were brought in, and as the strike trudged on few striking laborers felt the weight of crushing finances upon their already beleaguered shoulders. So, they made the choice of returning to their posts. Ultimately, the concessions were reticently accepted by the laborers.
Earlier this year in London, Ontario, a Caterpillar electro-motive diesel locomotive plant was shut down after workers voiced their disapproval of 50 percent wage decreases, and benefits reductions similar to those our local Caterpillar laborers faced. Those 450 laborers were locked out of the factory by Caterpillar itself. Their jobs will soon be transplanted to Muncie, Ind., where 36 hours before the move was announced, Gov. Mitch Daniels had passed right-to-work legislation.
The state of Indiana might spin this as a small victory of bringing a few hundred jobs available to its citizens; those workers inevitably will be subject to the cost-skimming measures taken by Caterpillar against its current workforce, plus the added difficulty of organizing a union under Daniels’ new right-to-work terms.
Isolated upheavals in response to acts of corporate greed at the cost laborers cannot sustain alone. One after another, these strikes and outcries will be defeated, unless a greater presence of disapproval, spanning not just a single contingent of workers — but their town, their county, their state, and beyond — stand in support of their cause. The corporations and our government are only as powerful as we, the American public, allow, as we are the consumers and the governed.
If we are to convince them, we must make them do what it is we demand. If we are afraid to speak up when they reduce, cut, and refuse what it is we feel entitled to, the corporate powers will abuse us even more severely.
Again, it was FDR who said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
It is our responsibility to convince them en masse. Fear of unemployment and a poor economy is what we are fed by the media. But, fear need not be a shroud preventing us from fighting to keep what we had worked for, lest the corporations flourish and we suffer.
G.T. Mormann is a Crest Hill resident.