This Labor Day, don’t listen to his empty promises to protect working people.
Moyer’s & Company Editor’s Note: If you didn’t see many workers marching to celebrate over the Labor Day weekend, there’s a reason for it. Actually, a lot of reasons for it — many of them summed up in this Nation Magazine article by Helaine Olen, author of the revealing book Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry. The title of her story sums up her diagnosis: “The Rollback of Pro-Worker Policies Since Trump Took Office Is Staggering.” Our old friend and regular contributor, the historian Bernard Weisberger, read the article and responded:
We are headed back to the worst anti-labor era of our history, and the engineers of the regression are very good (so far) at stifling the few voices of protest like those that gave birth to progressivism. Where is our 2017 Henry George [crusading political economist and journalist of the 19th century who sparked several reform movements]? Frank Lester Ward [botanist, paleontologist and sociologist, also of the l9th century, who championed universal public schools to educate Americans for self-government]?
I know there are people who think like them but the cards are even more heavily stacked against their being heard. The great mass of people — educated ones included — don’t read serious books, they don’t know their history, they don’t know how their government works or even how big a part they can play in taking it back if they’ll bother to get engaged, instead of just waiting for Godot. They are so fearful of losing even the little security they have left that they don’t bother to press for unionization and walk picket lines or take nonviolent direct action like, say, the Montgomery bus boycott. Of course, I am generalizing widely but I keep looking for any similarities to the incipient political revolutions of the 1880s and 1890s and can’t find them. — Bernard Weisberger
Now, Helaine Olen:
This post originally appeared in The Nation.
A few months ago, President Donald Trump devoted his weekly address to the beleaguered American employee. “For too long, American workers were forgotten by their government — and I mean totally forgotten,” he said. “My administration has offered a new vision. The well-being of the American citizen and worker will be placed second to none.”
No doubt he’ll come up with more pro-worker blather for Labor Day. Don’t listen. The only way Trump is helping the average employee is if you consider The Simpsons’ Mr. Burns a working stiff.
The rollback of labor rights and protections since Trump took office is staggering. It puts worker safety at risk and guarantees that many workers will earn less, but that’s not all. Measures to help victims of discrimination receive redress are on the scrap heap. Unions are running scared. “It’s a death by a thousand cuts,” explains Heidi Shierholz, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute.