Thursday, January 7, 2016

What To Expect: Republicans Fighting the Unarmed Union Army

This is Part 4 of a series this week of what to expect from the Mississippi Legislature this session.

Republican leadership in Mississippi and the rest of the country has a deep fear of unions. Leaders in our state have been doing everything they can to prevent them from forming (i.e. the Nissan plant in Canton), and around the country, they’ve been taking every opportunity to destroy and destabilize unions. It’s not that they fear some sort of criminal element developing from unions – what they fear is their friends not making every possible cent off the backs of hard working Mississippians. 

But an interesting article in the Washington Post in December highlighted the not only the day-to-day issues families in low-wage manufacturing jobs are facing, but the clearly laid out tactic of corporations to capitalize on the unskilled and poorly educated workforce in the South. 

These companies go to rural areas with staggeringly high unemployment rates and make promises of pay and good fortune. Of course, the state has to offer insane incentive packages that clearly benefit the company and not the state or workers.

And what happens when these promises and pay don’t materialize, and people working 40 hours a week at a manufacturing job have to live on welfare or lose their job if they become injured or are really never hired by the company because they’ve been employed through a temp agency for a full-time job? 

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. 

We’ve seen it for years at the Nissan plant in Canton, and the Washington Post article highlights the issues facing other rural areas. But, people are taking a stand. They want to be paid a good wage to earn their two cars and a boat. I’m sure Republicans will do everything they can to prevent it, but when the National Labor Relations Board calls you out for violations, your company is not on the right path. 

What may prove to be even more interesting in these labor and wage issues, as well as development of new jobs, is how it ties in to all these promised tax breaks to businesses, which Republican leadership swears we can 1) afford, 2) will produce more jobs and better pay for Mississippians. But, I wonder what Wal-Mart will do with it’s newly saved inventory tax dollars – will they hire more workers, pay them better, or offer everyone health insurance? Or, will they pocket it and continue raking in the profits?

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