Posts Tagged ‘labor


Conservatives Hate Workers

OK, admittedly, people on the right-wing of political ideology don’t hate workers. They love them for the labor they bring and the way they fill the pockets of the owners of businesses. They just hate them being able to make an actual living or have any rights.

Apparently, conservative working-class folks hate themselves if they follow the accepted wisdom of right-wing leaders and pundits.

Here’s why…

On the one hand, conservatives don’t want the government enforcing minimum wage standards or, many times, things like workplace safety or equal treatment (remember, women still make about 3/4 of what men do in terms of wages, even though they’ve been doing equivalent work for decades).

On the other hand, they also try to stamp out labor unions, making them out to be socialist plots or anti-corporate bullies. Therefore, workers can’t band together to protect themselves.

So, what they’re saying is that government shouldn’t look out for workers, and workers also shouldn’t have any private recourse (even though conservatives are always crowing about how we can make our own ways and succeed on tenacity and…oh…the private market always works for everyone’s benefit…bwah ha ha hah ha ha ha…)

Essentially, the right-wing folks want just enough government to put down workers and keep them in their place as wage-slaves, but not enough to ever put corporations in their place.

The reason government is involved in things like this is because of the propensity employers have for screwing over workers. For the same reason, government is involved in things like fair trade and corporate regulation because companies have a propensity for screwing over consumers and the environment.


Pro-labor Doesn’t Mean Anti-business

So, given that my idiot governor Paul LePage is regularly making national news and even being ridiculed on “The Daily Show” by Jon Stewart, I don’t feel bad about bitching about things from my sparsely populated corner of the United States (because it’s now relevant even to those of you in major metro areas). And what I want to bitch about now is the removal of a 15-foot mural from the Maine Department of Labor that depicted scenes from the history of workers (child labor, Rosie the Riveter and women shipbuilders, etc.). It wasn’t a “pro-union” mural or anything like that, but rather a historical timeline in visual form of the face of labor over the decades in this nation.

Remember, this is displayed in the Department of Labor.

In a sneaky and totally non-transparent fashion, soliciting no public comment, LePage took the mural down, citing as his reason a single letter from an anonymous source who said the mural was offensive. Now, that story has changed multiple times (was it a letter? a faxed document? something else?), but it’s stupid regardless. You don’t bend to the will of a single anonymous person. More to the point, now as Monday rolls around, LePage is saying his removal of the mural is an attempt to be “neutral.” That is, he sees the mural as antagonistic to business and too much in favor of workers’ rights and organized labor and such. He wants Maine to be business-friendly.

Even if you make that argument, the point remains that this is the Department of Labor. If the mural had been in the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, he might have a point. You see, the first department (Labor) has connections to workers and to businesses, but the focus is on the workers overwhelmingly, as it should be. The latter department (Economic & Community Development) has connections to businesses and communities, but its focus is overwhelmingly on the business interests (the Department of Economic and Community Development isn’t out promoting community organizing and such, for example, but building communities through economic and business growth).

In other words, we have two separate and distinct departments, and one of them already is business-friendly. That one didn’t have a labor mural. The one that did had every reason to display it.

But in a larger context, why is a mural depicting the history of labor in this country, which has some pretty spotty moments to say the least, offensive to business?

Why is being pro-labor seen as anti-business in this country?

They are not two forces in opposition but two sides of the same coin. Yes, strife does rise up between companies and labor at times, but for the most part, they work together. They have to. Most people wouldn’t have work without companies and most companies cannot operate without a workforce.

To say that supporting workers’ rights, workplace safety and fair wages is anti-business is sort of like putting on a dance and saying the Decoration Committee is anti-Refreshment Committee. No, because aren’t supposed to be adversaries. They both contribute.

Fact is, though, that companies always have the upper hand because they control the money and they traditionally reward management far out of proportion to the work it actually does, and they screw over the workers by complaining that they want things like fair wages. And when companies fail, the executives get bailouts while the workers who gave their blood, sweat and tears are the ones who just get jobless with no decent parachute to break their fall into unemployment.

So, pardon me if I don’t think that businesses need to be coddled and protected from a little criticism when they already have the upper hand.

Pardon me if I think the least…the very absolute fucking least…we can do is to give voice to the challenges, successes and strength of labor through a goddamned mural.

Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley


Jeff Bouley

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June 2023

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