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  1. I’m afraid it will end badly for our sisters and brothers that struck against Verizon. I saw the same demands by At&T in our last contract and the company won. We now pay 20% of health costs and new hires have no pension. For us the ground work had been laid by the contract with AT&T Mobility which sent negotiations on health care to arbitration. Arbitration of course, favored the company.
    We had large rallies and fiery speeches but only as a valve to let the militancy of the work force vent itself. At the end of the day we are left with leaders who are quick to make a deal as Larry Cohen did in our negotiations and where he will again here with Verizon.

  2. Just years before the start of the French Revolution, which resulted in the overthrow of the ‘royalists’ and their sycophants, a French journalist wrote the following: “The distance which separates the rich from other citizens is growing daily and poverty becomes more insupportable at the sight of the astonishing progress of luxury which tires the view of the indigent. Hatred grows more bitter and the State is divided into two classes; the greedy and insensitive, and the murmuring malcontents.” As a Union organizer for the Teamsters, consider me among the malcontents as those words from 1783 ring just as true today in the United States as they did 230 years ago in pre-revolutionary France.
    During his time as president, FDR rightly named the very rich of his period “economic royalists.” Today we call them the one-percent. The sycophants of today are those who worship the ‘greedy and insensitive’ and assist them in their destruction of America’s middle class.
    Today much talk and print is devoted to the ‘rise and fall’ of America’s workers’ fortunes. Never is it mentioned what the ‘economic royalists’ of today mutter under their breath until one of their own, Warren Buffet, publicly stated the truth, declaring that,” There is a class war going on, and my class started it, and we are winning it.” To put the class war in stark relief, a multinational corporation CEO was quoted in a local newspaper as saying the following: “Until we drive the wages of the American worker down to those of the Mexicans and Brazilians, we cannot remain competitive in this global economy.” Warren Buffet and that CEO know that it isn’t automation, computerization, and other ‘breakthroughs’ in the production process that have caused workers’ incomes to slide downward, but attacks on collective bargaining, right-to-work laws, corporate lockouts and way too much political and economic power in the hands of the greedy and insensitive 1%.
    While corporate profits and executive pay go through the roof, the workers are forced to take wage cuts, and to pay dearly for their corporate-sponsored health care. Other hard-won benefits are being trimmed or taken completely away, and the corporate philosophy on providing a decent retirement after years of loyal service by the workers is considered a relic from another age. The harder the American worker works the more they are being skimmed by that top 1%, who amassed 93% of all income made since President Obama took office. This is absolutely Robin Hood in reverse.
    As long as this class war persists, and it will not end until we the workers end it, you are going to have a polarized country. A divided country is beneficial to the economic royalists, with the top 400 families having amassed just this year $1.7 trillion in wealth, 5x more wealth than they did ten years ago. Their patrons and cheerleaders in Congress, especially the teabaggers with their no compromise mentality, assure us that this country will remain divided. All talk of civility and tolerance are considered weaknesses by these mouthpieces for the ultra-rich.
    As in any war including the class war, sides are taken. You are either for the American worker, and their hopes and dreams for a better life for themselves, their families, their friends and neighbors, or you are for the Wall-Streeters, private-equity owners, hedge funders and corporate America chieftains, who are waging this class war against the American worker and who are determined to take even more for themselves and their class at our expense.
    Our government is supposed to mediate this natural friction between capital and labor. They have failed miserably to do this over the past four decades. With few exceptions our elected representatives from both parties have chosen to honor wealth over work. As a result the American worker, who built this country, fights its wars, and daily works their butts off, has witnessed a sharp decline in their family’s standard of living.
    Until the workers of this country rise up and put aside those differences that the 1% use to keep us divided; racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, religion, etc., we will continue to slide down the economic ladder with all the hardship that entails. Our top priority in the Unions should not be getting politicians elected, but educating our own members about the class war that is being waged against us, and enlisting all workers, Union and non-Union, in this life and death struggle for the middle class.
    Rick Kepler, Teamsters Joint Council 41 organizer

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