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Sun Jul 27, 2014, 11:28 PM

Desperate Workers and Insatiable Corporate Giants

By Carol Morgan

The most fascinating period in American history is the Post-Industrial Age, the evolution of the worker, the emergence of the robber barons, the clash of worldwide ideologies and fervent irrational nationalism that birthed fear, violence, the imprisonment of innocents, and wage slave psychology.

I love reading about that era, but I never dreamed I’d be reliving it.

Many newsworthy stories about the desperation and abuse of workers and the tax-dodge waltz by the corporateurs are effectively obscured by coverage of the murderous bloody chaos taking place in every corner of the globe. Most Americans can’t avert their eyes from the international train wreck long enough to connect some important dots and arrive at preemptive conclusions.

Very recently, Microsoft announced it was laying off 18,000 workers, 14% of its workforce, but what they didn’t tell you is that it’s cutting 80,000 of its contract workers as well. Another convenient omission was that MS is one of the top five tech companies requesting the cap be lifted on H1B visas. 175,000 workers in other countries have already applied.

If MS is laying off an actual 98,000 workers but asking for more foreign workers, what does that tell you?

And while tech companies are laying off workers, other corporations are inflicting some unreasonably cruel work practices.

Chicago’s WaterSaver faucet manufacturing corporation installed swipe card systems on employee restrooms located adjacent to the factory floor. After gathering data from the new system, corporate bosses ascertained that workers were spending “excessive” amounts of time in the restroom, taking away from time on the assembly line. A new rule was implemented that workers were limited to six-minutes per day of bathroom time with a reward of $1 if workers refrained from using the restroom at all during the work day.

That gives a whole new meaning to holding up the line, doesn’t it?

A recent NYT article, “Part-Time Schedules, Full-Time Headaches”, chronicles the difficulties that part-time employees are having with scheduling abuses. The article relates employee’s stories of being scheduled for work, arranging for child care, finding transportation, only to arrive at work to be told to go home, because business was too slow or too many employees were scheduled to work. Those who protested this penny-wise practice were summarily fired or their hours were cut. Other workers were scheduled as part-time, but told to be “on call” full time to accept additional hours at the supervisor’s discretion.

Where’s a union when you need them, right?

All those indignant and righteous souls who demonized the unions over the years… Now, perhaps those same individuals realize the union’s true worth. Without unions, workers lose the power of leverage; corporations can enact any sort of abuse they like and the employee’s only choice is to stay or go.

“Right to Work” is nothing more than a throwback to the Gilded Age; another head-scratching term like enhanced interrogation which really means torture. It’s a deliberate effort to perplex, confound, and confuse. It transforms the heinous into the innocuous.

Work in America is sounding more and more like Tennessee Ernie Ford’s Sixteen Tons, where workers owe their soul to the company store.

The giant corporations aren’t satisfied with wringing out every bit of labor they can to make insane profits off the backs of workers. There’s been a mass movement by corporations to avoid paying their fair share of taxes on the fruits of slave wage labor.

This corporate ploy is called “inversion”, which, in their case, is a synonym for evasion.

Inversion is when an American corporation seeks out and merges with a (usually smaller) foreign business, then uses the country where that business is located for tax purposes, thereby avoiding U.S. corporate taxes. These corporate giants essentially renounce their citizenship to evade taxes, even though they benefit from making record profits here in America.

The list of corporate defectors is long (Pfizer, Chiquita, Mylan, and AbbVie, to name a few) but the most hurtful is Walgreen’s, America’s drugstore supposedly located at “the corner of Happy and Healthy”. This is more than just greedy, it’s a betrayal.

25% of Walgreen’s $722 million in profits comes from taxpayer-funded programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

These corporations seeking tax-asylum in other countries want all the advantages of operating in America, but expect others to pay, even as they make record profits. They rely on public resources like roads to transport products, law enforcement for theft protection, and our education system (which they bash continually) to provide them with employees. Pharmaceutical companies benefit even more than other corporations from government research, government rules, and government reimbursement.

Corporate bootlickers will claim that the corporate tax rate of 40% is the highest in the developed world, but they fail to mention that corporations get to apply a long list of tax credits, subsidies, loopholes and other giveaways which means they pay much less than the top rate. According to an analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice, many corporations have fine-tuned their ledgers to pay no tax at all.

Just like recalcitrant middle schoolers, the corporations want it all. Not only do they demand occupational slavery without backtalk, they insist on holding on to the insane profits earned at the expense of the American worker.

Something must change; the inversion loophole, the abuse of workers, and the tsunami of cheap foreign labor. But as we all know from the past, change is something people do only when they’re out of options.

Until the American people get really desperate, nothing will change.


Carol Morgan is a career/college counselor, writer, speaker, former Democratic candidate for the Texas House and the award-winning author of Of Tapestry, Time and Tears, a historical fiction about the 1947 Partition of India. Read her work at the Houston Press and MetroLeader News Service. Email Carol at elizabethcmorgan@sbcglobal.net , follow her on Twitter and on Facebook or visit her writer’s blog at www.carolmorgan.org

Permission granted to post in entirety.

Cross-posted in the Labor Movement Group.

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Reply Desperate Workers and Insatiable Corporate Giants (Original post)
TexasTowelie Jul 2014 OP
Brigid Jul 2014 #1
Fuddnik Jul 2014 #2
McCamy Taylor Jul 2014 #3
Manifestor_of_Light Jul 2014 #4
hollysmom Jul 2014 #5

Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Mon Jul 28, 2014, 12:53 AM

1. Sooner or later . . .

I don't know when.
I don't know what will finally set it off.
But sooner or later. . .

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Mon Jul 28, 2014, 01:52 AM

2. My wife went to Walgreens to refill a prescription yesterday.

She told the pharmacist that it was the last time we'll be setting foot in a Walgreens. Ever.

She said that we'll be purchasing our prescriptions from smaller, local pharmacies that pay their taxes. The pharmacist said it's not that bad, and there's good aand bad in everything.

My wife asked, "Can you name one good thing this does for your customers?"


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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Mon Jul 28, 2014, 01:58 AM

3. London Match Workers Strike of 1888

Among other things they were fined for going to the toilet. And they lost their jaws and died, because white phosphorus was cheaper than red phosphorus. They fought hard for better working conditions and now we are going backwards. Disgusting.



Note that after the successful strike, the new union held its first meeting on July 27, 1888.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Mon Jul 28, 2014, 02:04 AM

4. I'm wondering when workers are going to figure out they need unions.

my dad was a union organizer for the OCAW back in the bad old days of the 30s.
Said if you showed up on a picket line, at the refinery, you got your head busted open and dragged to jail.
And the one labor lawyer's wife in the whole city would bail everyone out, because nobody had $100 for bail in those days. That was like a good month's salary in the Thirties, according to Dad.

My first father in law worked at Dow Chemical. He griped one time about having to go out in the shop and do work when the union guys were on strike. Well, he didn't want to get his hands dirty because he had a Ph.D. so he was too good to do that work.

First thing out of my mouth, since I can be untactful: "Oh. You were a SCAB."
He said, "I'm an individual and I don't need a union to represent me."
Me: "Yeah, and they can throw your individual butt out on the street, too, any time they want to."

I think my old man was proud of me for that when i told him later. He voted for Norman Thomas in '32 and said that FDR basically implemented most of Thomas' Socialist platform, but didn't campaign that way in order to win.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Mon Jul 28, 2014, 02:05 AM

5. Where is Teddy Roosevelt whenyou need him - not inthe republican party that is for sure

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