Archive for August, 2011

Small measure requires employers to inform employees of union rights

The National Labor relations board this past week handed down a regulation requiring all employers to post literature on their bulletin boards informing employees of their rights to form labor unions and to collectively bargain, according to a Bloomberg article.

As AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka pointed out:

Just as employers are required to notify their employees of their rights around health and safety, wages and discrimination on the job, this rule gives clear information to employees about their rights under this fundamental labor law so that workers are better equipped to exercise and enforce them

Peter Colavito, Director of governmental Relations at the Service Employees International Union declared that

The NLRB rule simply brings the National Labor Relations Act in line with other workplace laws that require employers to post a notice in the workplace of their employees’ rights

Of course, there is plenty of hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing in reaction to the newly announced regulation. Peter Schaumber, the former NLRB Chairman appointed by George W Bush, stated “it’s arbitrary, it’s capricious . . . It just shows how activist they’re prepared to be”.

Another source of the consternation over this “job-killing” measure is none other than Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government website. Titled “Obama’ Job-Killing NLRB Strikes Again! All Employers Must Post Union Notices”, the article blasted the ruling, stating

Barack Obama’s union appointees at the National Labor Relations Board are continuing their assault on America’s job creators with yet another attempt at doing union bosses’ bidding by skirting Congress to require all employers covered by the National Labor Relations Act to post union notices in the workplace to advise employees of their ability to unionize their company.

If you want a good laugh, or a chance to facepalm, take a look at the comments below the article. Then, redstate.com linked to it in what looked like breathlessly repeating the article.

What exactly are opponents of this measure afraid of? Please explain what is so dangerous about a simple regulation stating that employers must post rules reminding or informing employees of their right to form a union and collectively bargain at the workplace. Would you prefer that employees not be informed of their right to unionize? If you are against this, do you also advocate striking down the regulations mandating employers post literature on billboards in company commons about employees’ rights regarding the minimum wage, discrimination, family leave, or sexual harassment?

I suspect that you don’t have a good, sound argument against this new regulation, and have nothing to fall back on other than your classic trigger phrases – “job killing”, “burdensome regulation”, “Democrats doing the bidding of union bosses”. You could make your efforts simpler by just screeching “Socialism! Communism! Big, nanny-state government! RAW! RAW! RAW! RAW! RAW!”

Workers banding together to protect their own interests at the workplace is a fundamental right. It’s called freedom of association, or, as described in the Constitution “the right of the people to peacefully assemble”. Business executives band together to advocate for their interests and have their own lobbyists in Congress too. They form their own unions just like middle and working class folks do. One of those organizations is called the US Chamber of Commerce. But somehow it’s a grave danger to America’s economic health and an egregious assault on liberty for those without six or more zeroes at the end of their salary number to try to do likewise.

Bertrand Russell was known most for his arguments against religious dogma, but he had this to say about the capitalist system:

Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate

Linda Harvey solves the “gay problem” with one simple declaration

There’s no such thing as a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered person. No, really.

http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/harvey-theres-no-proof-lgbt-people-exist

What inspired her to enlighten us with this? The GLSEN Sports Project, which is

Changing the Game: The GLSEN Sports Project is an education and advocacy initiative focused on addressing LGBT issues in K-12 school-based athletic and physical education programs. The Sport Project’s mission is to assist K-12 schools in creating and maintaining an athletic and physical education climate that is based on the core principles of respect, safety and equal access for all students, teachers and coaches regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression and integrating these efforts into overall school plans to ensure a safe, respectful school climate and culture.

We just can’t have this, especially since there really are no LGBT people.

There’s one big fact that’s not backed up. There is no proof that there’s ever anything like a gay, lesbian or bisexual or transgendered child, or teen or human. One of the other things you’re gonna see as I mentioned is a big campaign GLSEN’s gonna roll out this year calling for ‘respect,’ respect! Not just for people, but for homosexual lifestyle. The PR campaign to hold up gay as a good thing: the lifestyle, not the person, because there are no such humans.

This is the same Linda Harvey, of Mission America who had this to say last year in the wake of a gay suicide rash:

One wonders if any of these kids ever heard a clearly articulated warning against homosexuality. Or were they faced with a continuous onslaught of pro-homosexual diversity lessons, novels and events like the “Day of Silence”? Were they surrounded with liberal teachers as role models and the bad example of a homosexual school club? What part did any of this play in the sad belief that homosexuality was an inevitable destiny, instead of a wayward yet changeable sexual inclination? Under almost continuous pressure to accept a lie – confusion and then despair may be the predictable result.

On top of all this, then, in some young lives come the bullies. They are a part of life, especially for boys. But for the young person with same-sex attractions, this is the final straw where they feel totally trapped, with internal feelings they have been carefully taught “cannot be changed” on the one hand, and harsh peer rejection on the other. Yes, it looks hopeless indeed.

Mission America is another one of the garden variety far-right Christian “ministries” designed to inculcate fear in people about homosexuality, Muslims, other non-Christian expressions of faith, particularly witchcraft and neopaganism, “feminist theology“, and “compromised Christianity” (meaning non-fundamentalist Christianity)

You cannot make this stuff up. Much thanks to Chrislove for reporting this on Daily Kos.  Now we’re enlightened. She knows more than anybody about the fictitiousness of being non-heterosexual. If only we would all listen to her. Who else has denied the very existence of LGBT people? Back about 15 years ago I was about as far right and homophobic as you could get, but even I accepted that such folks are real.

If you say life isn’t fair, please stop acting like it is.

Or maybe stop cherry-picking when to use it. There probably isn’t a single person alive who has not at one point stated that a particular situation or outcome was unfair. But often many of us fall into the trap of thinking that everyone more or less gets what they deserve and deserves whatever they get.

NO THEY DONT!!!

This attitude has much to do with our current economic mess, particularly with it being almost impossible to enact real reforms that would bring out a more just, equitable society. People may not often say so, but their actions and words by proxy suggest that many feel that the rich are deserving of their riches, they got rich because of their hard work and talent. As for those who aren’t so well off, that’s simply a reflection of defective character. They must be lazy or lack the drive and initiative successful people have.

Luck has no place in this worldview. Sometimes you’ll hear people say “people create their own luck” or “luck is when preparation meets opportunity”. While there are plenty of instances where people miss opportunities for success and at the same time there are many who are opportunistic, to declare a universal, or near-universal truth that your results are what you had coming to you is just sick. A current reflection of this, which is hardly said verbatim but which is reflected in attitudes is “I’ve got mine. Screw you!! (If you don’t have yours it’s your own damned fault)”

This type of thinking is what is known as the just world fallacy. I will acknowledge here that you won’t hear many folks claim that a baby born with a birth defect that condemns him to a short, miserable life is deserving of that fate. Or that all of those who died in a plane crash had it coming to them. However there are many instances where bad things happen to people and you hear a few claiming that the victims must have done something to contribute to it. Sometimes after asserting that they’ll assert, in one form or another “ergo, they deserved it”.

Rape victims “wore clothes that were way too suggestive” or “shouldn’t have parked their car where they did” or “shouldn’t have gone out alone”. Mugging victims “shouldn’t have brought themselves into that bad part of town”. While people could plausibly do things to reduce their chances of becoming the next crime statistic, our society is built around the idea that you have the right to travel about in public without being violated. It follows from that assumption that walking down a dark alley does not make you deserving of being mugged or raped. Leaving the house with your doors unlocked is not smart and highly risky, and I would shake my head nowadays at anyone who does leave their home or car unlocked, but nobody has the right to help themselves to your TV and stereo equipment and to ransack your house while they’re at it.

People often employ the “just world fallacy” when it comes to peoples’ economic status. If one is laid off from a job, it must be because they were underperforming and were on a list of those to be surplussed. So-and-so who was laid off and hasn’t found work can only be unemployed because there’s something wrong with that person. She isn’t doing everything she can to find a job. He makes himself unattractive to prospective employers.

BULLSHIT!

My own employer (who I will not reveal here) recently laid off about a dozen low-level supervisors strictly based on salary. Performance mattered not. Who is to say that they “deserved” that? Those who made the most were told their services weren’t needed any longer. Verifiable, documented statistics show that on average in the United States there are five job seekers for any given job opening. Now tell me that anyone can find employment if they just look hard enough.  A strict definition of karma is a form of the “just world” hypothesis.

This fallacious way of thinking has a great deal to do with a complete lack of empathy among some in our midst. They shore up their lack of empathy by, in some cases, saying that people who run into misfortune aren’t victims at all.

This fallacy even rears its ugly head in religion quite often. The most obvious example, other than maybe karma, is in the “prosperity Gospel” teaching prevalent in some strains of Christianity. If you do x or y, God will make you healthy, wealthy and happy. If you aren’t healthy, wealthy and happy then that’s a clear sign of you not being right with God. There’s still an element of the “just world fallacy” even among those who don’t subscribe to the “prosperity Gospel”. One of the central and oft-repeated tenets of Christianity is that any of the harshness we experience in life is due to man’s “fallen nature” – that Adam and Eve disobeying God’s command not to eat the fruit from the forbidden tree caused those two not just to “fall from grace” caused the whole world and all of humanity forever to be cursed and to be identified as “sinful”. Add to that, many Christians will tell you that man’s behavior proves that claim.

There are many other logical problems with that Christian teaching, many of them based on question-begging assumptions which can be the subject of another blog entry, but for now, the focus here is how it becomes the creed of abusers, often internalized by those they abuse.  “I didn’t want to hit you, honey, but you made me”.