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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Working Family Agenda

I got this at my last meeting with the Central Oklahoma Labor Federation. I believe it to be the basis for a contract with America's working families. Let me know what you think:

In an effort to improve the lives of working families, within the jurisdiction of the Central Oklahoma Labor Federation, we submit these issues as our Working Family Agenda:

1, All workers must have the right to join a union without the fear of intimidation. We support legislation that will allow more freedom to join a union. We also support efforts to make employers bargain in good faith with unions and recognize public employee unions with binding arbitration on contracts and grievances.

2. Workers have a right to a Living Wage. We support living wage ordinances and laws at all levels of government. No full time worker should live below the poverty level and government should not use tax dollars to fund poverty.

3. Support Public Education. We will continue to support teachers and support personnel within the school districts in their efforts to improve public education for our kids.

4. More access to healthcare. Working families deserve access to affordable, quality healthcare. We will work with our unions and community allies to make sure workers receive access to quality healthcare.

5. Economic Development with Good Jobs. We will work to assure that economic development includes the creation of good jobs with living wages.

6. Repeal the So Called Right to Work Law. This law was sold as a way to bring in good jobs and increase pay for working families. Neither has been the case. Oklahoma has actually lost jobs since the passage of State Question 695 in 2001. (Note: This affects Oklahoma and about 25 other states, most of whom have lower average wages than the non-"right to work" states.)

7. Increase the State Minimum Wage. The federal minimum wage has not been raised since the early 1990’s. If the federal government won’t act on low wage workers’ behalf state legislatures must.

Along with these specific issues, the Central Oklahoma Labor Federation is committed to work with the National AFL-CIO and the Oklahoma State AFL-CIO on working family legislation at the federal and state levels.

Let it be known to all that we will fight against harmful legislation or acts against working families. We can no longer allow anti-worker groups or politicians sell the public a bill of goods like so called Right to Work and Workers Compensation Reforms that take away the rights of workers.


JTapp said...

Nor can we allow labor unions to sell us misinformation, and bad economic data. Right to Work laws are good for everyone. The freedom to choose whether you join a union or not should be considered a basic right. By not having these laws, a worker at certain companies will lose his/her job if he/she decides she no longer wants to pay union dues to his/her inefficient labor boss.

Among other things. Show me the data.

Lynn Green said...

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers who live in states with Right to Work for Less laws earn an average of nearly $5,000 less a year than workers elsewhere.

JTapp said...

You posted on my blog that wage rates have increased less in OK than the national average. Wage rates in OK have increased more than wage rates in NON right-to-work states. The non RTW states bring down the national average.

The unemployment rate in OK is still quite less than the national average, and is currently decreasing. Post-recessionary corrections are a fact of life, but factories can now transition and make adjustments much easier than before. Eventually you'll have more non-farm jobs, and will see your wage rates grow rather faster due to competition.

Yes, workers in RTW states do initially make less money. But, there are more jobs to go around because of it. Union workers essentially negotiate for too high contracts, and that's why factories can't afford to hire more workers. Thus, unemployment tends to be higher in these states.
(and don't get me started on how unions fleece governments by overcharging for services due to "prevailing wage" laws). That's YOUR tax $ being fleeced.

Workers in RTW states have more disposable income simply virtue of the fact that they don't have to pay union dues. By obliging workers to pay these fees to keep their jobs, you essentially give the union bosses monopoly power.

In RTW states, Unions tend to be more efficient because they have to compete to earn the trust and $ of workers they represent.

It's all about freedom to choose.

At any rate, Oklahoma's economy is much better off than Kentucky's. Every study done has pointed to RTW as a viable solution to test there. Passing more pro-union laws hasn't seemed to work.

Lynn Green said...

According to your line of reasoning, the solution for workers is for them to accept lower wages, in other words, to accept as a condition for employment permanent penury. This hardly seems like a just solution. Remember that a business becomes a union because the employees VOTE to join a union. Unions cannot impose themselves on a business. Not only that, but the rules under which unions are certified are among the least democratic rules governing any type of election. They wouldn't even pass the standards the United States sets for free and open elections in 3rd world countries.
Now, forgive me for believing that majority rules, but it seems to me that if a majority of workers in a business want to have a union, and a majority vote to do so after all the threats and blocks corporate bosses put in their place, then the all the employees in that business should join the union.
That is what we call DEMOCRACY!

JTapp said...

According to the Bureau of Labor Stats 2005 3rd quarter report: Oklahoma posted a 1.1% growth, good enough for 19th in the country.

Oklahoma also ranks 9TH(!) in the country in per-capita income! (same source, I just looked it up).

Lynn Green said...

Wrong-o. More like 35th or even lower now.


Lynn Green said...

You might also note which states are at the top. Anti-scab states tend to beat out right-to-work for less states.

This is the result of solidarity and democracy at work.