Bargaining Bulletin #8 – Strike Vote

2017-03-29_lbed_bulletin_8

Publication Date

Wednesday, March 29, 2017 – 4:30pm

Team calls strike vote

Bargaining team asks for strong strike vote as jobs at risk

“It’s clear this employer isn’t really interested in reaching an agreement,” said Denise Davis, chair of the Liquor Board Employees Division bargaining team. “We see this in the LCBO’s attempts to go around the negotiating table and change terms and working conditions through arbitration, the slash and burn bargaining proposals that threaten members’ job security, and on-going attempts to privatize our work.”

The bargaining team called the LCBO’s actions in the “equal pay for equal work” arbitration case the “final straw.” The team has no choice but to ask for a strong strike vote as they return to the table on April 3 with an employer “that shows no respect for workers.”

“A strong strike vote will serve as a wakeup call to the LCBO,” added Davis. “It will tell the LCBO’s senior management that, unless they get serious about bargaining, they’ll have to explain to the Premier why picket lines have replaced checkout lines at stores across Ontario.”

“The LCBO seems to think they can treat our members however they want,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “I can tell you that based on what I’ve heard from members, LCBO management is in for a real surprise when they find out just how upset members really are.

“And I’m as upset as they are. The proposals management has put forward are an attempt to rip huge holes in your collective agreement. And the way the LCBO has tried to squeeze co-workers to cover the cost of providing their colleagues with basic rights is just plain wrong.

“Now what happens next is up to you. Your team needs a strong vote from members across the province to give them the strength they need to go back to the table and push back against this employer’s outrageous proposals. I can promise you that your entire union is standing behind you. When you take on this fight, you’ll do so with the support of all 130,000 members of OPSEU. You’ll never stand alone.”

Strike vote details

The strike vote will be held on April 24 and 25, at locations across the province. While locations are still being finalized, a full list will be provided in a future bulletin. As in past rounds, telephone voting will be available for those not close to a voting location.

What’s at risk?

It’s about the future of our jobs – and of the LCBO itself

The employer’s demands are all about stripping away rights that previous generations of workers fought for and giving managers more control over your work. Not only that, these demands strip out the protections against the privatization of the LCBO, and slash compensation for workers if privatization costs them their jobs.

If we let them take what they want, we’ll all pay the price. Workers will lose their jobs, morale will take a hit, and work-life balance will suffer for those who are left. On top of that, Ontarians will stand to lose vital public services as the LCBO is hollowed out.

While the LCBO’s non-monetary proposals, and the union’s, are described in detail in the March 6 Bargaining Bulletin, the key issues facing us right now are summarized below.

Job security

From what we’ve seen at the table, the LCBO is sending a pretty clear signal that no one’s job is safe.

The LCBO bargaining team has proposed ripping up the letter of agreement that stops the employer from contracting out work that’s done by bargaining unit members if it would result in the layoff of a permanent full-time employee. Without that protection, the LCBO could hand the work of any division over to a private contractor, and cut the jobs of everyone in that division. That letter protects jobs – without it, no one’s job will be safe.

Not only are jobs at risk, but the LCBO is also trying to make it cheaper to cut them. The LCBO has proposed changes to the number of years that count when calculating severance to only include the years worked as a permanent employee. Given how many years it can take a casual to work their way up to a permanent position, this would mean the loss of a significant part of the severance that laid-off workers have the right to right now.

The future of the LCBO at risk

We are worried about the future of the LCBO itself. There are the changes to contracting out language and severance provisions mentioned above that make it cheaper and easier for the LCBO to privatize parts of the organization. On top of that, we are highly concerned about the growth of alcohol sales by private retailers and the signals we’re getting from the employer about its interest in expanding the agency store program.

Ontario needs the LCBO.  The profits from LCBO sales help pay for teachers in Cornwall, MRIs in Timmins, highways in Simcoe County, hospitals in Thunder Bay, child care spaces in Toronto, Western University in London, Mohawk College in Hamilton, and more. If we give up those profits, we have two options – either pay more in taxes, or cut important public services.

LCBO management should be standing with us, making this argument about the important role the LCBO plays. But from the proposals we’ve seen, it seems like management is instead looking to pave the way for their government shareholder to continue its back-door privatization.

In front of the arbitrator, the LCBO argued that they wanted relief from the restrictions in the collective agreement about where and how they can open new agency stores. Management also argued that there shouldn’t be a cap on the number of agency stores, leaving the door wide open to a rapid expansion of this program that just would funnel more public revenue into private pockets.

At the same time, the government continues with the rapid privatization and expansion of alcohol sales with increases to the number of grocery stores selling beer, cider, and wine.

This just confirms what we’ve been saying all along. This round is really about the future of the LCBO as an important public asset that the people of Ontario rely on. It’s as simple as that.

Scheduling rules that give all the control to management

The LCBO has wanted to make Sunday a regular day of work for years. They knew that if they tried to come after it in bargaining, the members would have fought them on it. Now the LCBO has found a way to push its agenda through the arbitrator’s award on the “equal pay for equal work” complaint.

The good news is, we can fight back. Even the arbitrator was forced to admit that nothing in his award stops the union from fighting any of his changes through the bargaining process. That means that we can take it on and send a firm signal to the employer that we won’t accept these types of attempts to force these changes on members without them having a say at the table.

But the Sunday scheduling changes are just the tip of the iceberg.

The LCBO’s proposals on schedules would make life harder for every worker, full-time or casual, while minimizing the benefits of seniority. Management wants to strip the existing regular shift schedules out of the collective agreement and give managers the ability to pick whatever start and end times they choose, all in the name of “flexibility.” For the sake of that flexibility, the LCBO is willing to sacrifice your time with your family, your work-life balance, and any ability to predict more than a few weeks out what days, and even what times of day, you might be working.

If the LCBO gets what it wants on this, it will make life even worse for casuals by reducing the number of hours they get, as we’re already seeing in the new seven-day-a-week retail schedules.

A better option

It doesn’t have to be this way.

While the LCBO is focused on what they can rip out of the agreement, and how they can make the LCBO a weaker, and meaner place to work, we have a different vision.

We want to improve working conditions and build a stronger and better LCBO – and we have a plan to do just that.

A better LCBO starts with stopping privatization. Ontarians have already lost too much to privatization. The Liberal government is giving up on as much as $500 million a year by privatizing Hydro One. The previous Conservative government cost us $1 billion a year when they privatized Highway 407. And the Auditor-General recently reported that private contractors charged the province more than $8 billion too much for P3 infrastructure projects.

We can’t afford to let the government repeat these mistakes with the LCBO. With the support of members, we’ll keep fighting for anti-privatization language that says the government can’t move ahead with privatizing the LCBO without the public’s okay. We think the public should have the say they didn’t have on Hydro One.

A better LCBO also means job security protections for workers. We’ll fight to keep protections against contracting out the work of our members, and to ensure that anyone who does lose their job gets the severance that they’re entitled to, based on the years they’ve put into working for the company. Not only will we stop their attempts to make job security worse, but we’ll also make improvements, by ensuring that members facing layoff have the right to look outside their geographic area, if they choose, instead of being forced into a lower classification.

A better LCBO means unionized LCBO workers doing LCBO work. If there is work to be done, it should be assigned to OPSEU members who work at the LCBO. This means no more non-union staffing agency workers in the warehouses, and no more fixed term positions in the retail stores or logistics.

And a better LCBO means changes to scheduling that respect the work week, days off, and set schedules so that workers have shifts they can plan their lives around. It also means requiring the employer to schedule hours to the maximum available, so that casuals can get enough hours in a week to make a decent living. Casuals are tired of watching what could be an eight-hour shift get split up into two- or five-hour shifts spread out amongst multiple staff, none of whom get enough hours to get by on. Far too many casuals have no choice but to work seven days a week, just to scrape by.

Queen’s Park visit a success

MPPs express concern about what they’re hearing

Members from across the province came to Toronto last week for a successful lobby day at Queen’s Park. They came armed with strong arguments about the value of the LCBO to Ontarians, and met with 29 MPPs from across party lines over the course of the day. Members took a clear message to MPPs that it’s time to stop the privatization and expansion of alcohol sales, and figure out the consequences of the privatization that’s already occurred. Many MPPs from all parties were concerned about what they were hearing and agreed with members about the need to protect this important public asset.

After a well-attended breakfast put on by the division, the LBED Anti-Privatization Committee, joined by MPP Peter Tabuns, delivered 3,000 post-cards to the Premier’s office. The postcards asked the Premier not to privatize the LCBO, and were collected at 22 information pickets held by locals across the province. As the next step in the union’s campaign to save the LCBO, OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas and LBED Chair Denise Davis held a press conference to launch the union’s new “SHOP LCBO” campaign, encouraging Ontarians to choose to buy their beer, cider, and wine from the LCBO, where the profits fund important public services.

(See pictures from the rally in the print copy of the bulletin, a link to which can be found at the bottom of this page)

Fill out your Form B

As part of the preparation for a possible strike, members should all be filling out a Form B to ensure they receive their strike pay. Mobilizers are visiting stores with these forms, and a copy can be found on the bargaining website at www.opseu.org/LBEDbargaining

Meet your mobilizers!

In collective bargaining, power comes from the support of union members. Experience has shown that employers move at the bargaining table when members take action inside and outside the workplace. To help build that power, OPSEU has booked off 15 mobilizers, elected by LBED members at your Pre-Bargaining Conference in April 2016. These mobilizers, who are your co-workers at the LCBO, are on union leave, starting Monday, February 27. They will work to build support for your elected bargaining team and the bargaining priorities you selected during demand-setting.

Region 1

Guy Jeremschuk
riverman1646@hotmail.com

David Holmes
davesholme@gmail.com

Michael Peris (Mar. 24 – Apr. 4, filling in for David Holmes)
niceguy2212@hotmail.com

Region 2

Bonnie Jolley
jolley_b@hotmail.com

Judy Irving
j.irvingmobilizer@gmail.com

Region 3

Tracy Vyfschaft
tcshaft@xplornet.com

Eileen Allen
eallen9@cogeco.ca

Region 4

Dianne Perry
diannep497opseu@hotmail.com

Mathieu Royer
mat.royer@hotmail.com

Region 5

Craig Hadley
craigh22@gmail.com

Nick Papadimitriou
nick.v.papadimitriou@gmail.com

Adriana Bertoni
abert73@gmail.com

Region 6

Amanda Pellerin
amandapellerin@outlook.com

Judy Jones
judy_jones19@hotmail.com

Region 7

Rob Mithrush
mithrush@tbaytel.net

Anne Makela
akmakela@tbaytel.net

Meet your bargaining team

The OPSEU bargaining team for the Liquor Board Employees Division consists of five members:

Denise Davis, Chair, Local 378
Colleen MacLeod, Vice-Chair, Local 5107
Jennifer Van Zetten, Local 162
Robin Reath, Local 163
Mark Larocque, Local 499

The bargaining team is assisted by OPSEU Negotiator Jeff Weston, Researcher Steve Crossman, and other assigned staff.

Contact us by email at LBEDbargaining@opseu.org

Stay informed!

You can receive this bargaining bulletin (and our regular newsletter, the Echo) directly by e-mail. Just call OPSEU at 1-800-268-7376 or (416) 443-8888, and give the operator your name and e-mail address.

You can also watch for updates on the OPSEU website at  www.opseu.org/LBEDbargaining. And be sure to attend upcoming bargaining information meetings in your area.

Human Rights should NOT be something we pay for!

Smokey Thomas put it best today !

https://www.facebook.com/OPSEU/videos/1568557436506481/

Premier needs to ‘walk the talk’ on equal pay for equal work

Publication Date

Thursday, March 23, 2017 – 3:15pm

Toronto – The Premier of Ontario needs to clear up the confusion around how she views human rights, especially the right of workers to receive equal pay for equal work regardless of gender, the President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) says.

At a news conference today, Warren (Smokey) Thomas said a recent arbitration award at the LCBO that stripped certain collective agreement provisions to offset the cost of equal pay for equal work was “a blatant violation of the most basic principle of human rights.

“The whole point of human rights is that they are rights,” he said. “You don’t have to pay for them.”

Thomas said the recent arbitration award came after the LCBO put forward a list of concessions designed to cover the cost of providing equal pay to workers in the female-dominated casual Customer Service Representative classification.

“Equal pay is supposed to mean raising the bar for those not receiving fair wages, not lowering the standards and working conditions of their co-workers,” Thomas said. “This idea of horse-trading for rights seems to be what the LCBO thinks Premier Wynne is looking for. So we need to know: is LCBO management wrong, or did the Premier or her ministers direct them to find a way to make LCBO workers pay to have a human right recognized?

“Right now my members are confused about where the Premier actually stands.”

Thomas said LCBO workers are angry about the concessions and are looking at their options. “These workers will be in a legal strike position before long. If the LCBO pushes ahead with implementing this, we’ll be looking at every option open to us, up to and including withdrawing our work.”

OPSEU represents 7,500 workers at the Crown agency. Their collective agreement expires March 31, 2017.

“We’re just not accepting that in 2017 workers should have to trade away anything to get something as fundamental as paying women the same as men for doing the same job.”

Bargaining – 2016/2017 Updates

Implementation award
IN THE MATTER OF
AN INTEREST ARBITRATION
BETWEEN:
OPSEU
and
LCBO
Before: William Kaplan, Sole Arbitrator
Appearances
For the LCBO: Paul Boniferro
McCarthy Tetrault
Barristers & Solicitors

For OPSEU: Don Eady
Paliare Roland
Barristers & Solicitors
Jodi Martin
Paliare Roland
Barristers & Solicitors

The matters in dispute proceeded to a hearing in Toronto on March 21, 2017.

Introduction

On February 10, 2017, an award was issued. That award must be placed in context. It was issued following a lengthy and complicated mediation/arbitration. That mediation

arbitration arose following the settlement of an HRTO complaint on the eve of its hearing. The award sought to carefully balance the competing interests of the parties. In

the aftermath of the issue of that award, two implementation issues arose. The parties had specifically requested that I remain seized to deal with any implementation dispute, and that dispute proceeded to a hearing held in Toronto on March 21, 2017.The Issues The parties sought clarification on two issues, it being agreed at the hearing that a third one – whether the Sunday premium had been eliminated for all retail employees – had been resolved. The Sunday premium was eliminated for all retail employees. With respect to the remaining two issues, both parties made detailed submissions, all of which have been carefully considered.The AwardThe award provided the following:

Sunday Premium

Eliminated effective April 1, 2017 for PFT CSRs and Retail POS/Help Desk employees. Parties directed to amend Article 7 of the collective agreement so as to provide that PFT CSRs and

Retail POS/Help Desk employees working on Sundays will be scheduled on a rotational basis so that no one in either of these groups will work more than one (1) Sunday in every four (4) to a maximum of thirteen (13) in a fiscal year. Moreover, no PFT CSR or Retail POS/Help Desk employee will be scheduled to work a Sunday directly following a Saturday that is their regular scheduled day off. A PFT will have two (2) consecutive scheduled days off in the week they work a Sunday.Agency Stores

Effective date of award, and notwithstanding LOU re Agency Stores, for every agency store that is repatriated the employer may open a new agency store.

Issue One

Whether Sunday was now to be scheduled as a regular day of work As noted above, the Sunday premium was eliminated for all retail employees effective April 1, 2017. Prior to that date, approximately twenty percent of the full-time employees worked on Sunday and enjoyed the premium. The award, therefore, introduced scheduling protections for full-time employees. The award remitted the actual negotiation of those new scheduling provisions to the parties so that they could agree on them, and on consequential amendments to the collective agreement. The only reason the protections were introduced was because Sunday was to become, with the

elimination of the premium, a regular workday. The parties were directed to amend Article 7 to give effect to the fact that the regular workweek is now Sunday through Saturday and to incorporate the newly awarded protections. Unfortunately, a dispute arose and I am confirming what was set out in the earlier award. Sunday is, with the elimination of th premium, a regular workday for all retail employees. The union’s submissions on this point, if accepted, would have almost

completely negated the impact of the change rendering it almost meaningless. As Sunday is now a regular workday, Sunday work is not, and cannot, be voluntary. Sunday is the third busiest day of the week and the employer sought as its main priority in the mediation/arbitration that it be treated as a regular work day allowing it to schedule a mix of employees without attracting any premium (other than overtime where appropriate). The award then introduced protections for full-time employees  who were losing an important benefit because of that change. The award is a simple and straightforward as that. As earlier observed, although it bears repeating, the awarded provision was the result of an extended mediation/arbitration process and it was one that sought to carefully calibrate the outcome. The employer’s proposed collective agreement provisions

dealing with this issue only, as set out in its brief submitted at the March 21st hearing, are, therefore, awarded as either necessary to give effect to the award, or because they

are made necessary for housekeeping, or because deletions are now necessary because certain provisions have become moot, for example the Letter of Agreement – Sunday

Openings. This in no way amends or supplements the award: it gives direct effect to it. The parties could have and should have done so themselves (including necessary

housekeeping changes) as a result of the direction given in the initial award. This award merely implements that direction. As discussed at the hearing, nothing in this award

affects overtime provisions as they are otherwise engaged.Issue Two

Impact of the awarded provision on existing Letter of Agreement Re: Agency Stores

The award could not be more clear. It indicates that notwithstanding the provisions of the Letter of Agreement Re: Agency Stores, the employer can open a new agency store if it repatriates an existing agency store. This is an entitlement separate and apart from what is set out in the Letter of Agreement Re: Agency Stores. The purpose of the

provision was to provide additional relief not to circumscribe what was already in place, and to do so in an extremely modest, digestible and fair-minded fashion. The

Letter of Agreement Re: Agency Stores, with all of its many protections for the union, and restrictions on the employer, continues. The parties are, accordingly, directed to

incorporate the specific language of the award in a separate Letter of Agreement Re:

Repatriation and to include it in their collective agreement.

Conclusion
It was agreed at the hearing, and at the request of the parties memorialized here, that nothing in this award in any way affects the ability and entitlement of either party to make bargaining proposals in the current round. At the request of the parties, I continue to remain seized with respect to the implementation of my award.

DATED at Toronto this 27th day of March 2017.
“William Kaplan”
William Kaplan, Sole Arbitrator
2017 CanLII 15903 (ON LA)

2017canlii – Clarification of award

2017-03-lbed-bulletin-7-c

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Day One of Bargaining – January 21, 2017

Day One of Bargaining

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Publication Date

Friday, December 16, 2016 – 4:15pm

Information for OPSEU members in the Liquor Board Employees Division – Issue #1 – December 19, 2016

Get ready to bargain!

This year was a busy one for OPSEU members at the LCBO. The New Year will be even busier!

The OPSEU Liquor Board Employees Division (LBED) has been hard at work in 2016, delivering a strong campaign against the privatization of our work. But as we turn the corner into 2017, it’s time to make way for contract negotiations between the LCBO and your OPSEU bargaining team. Our collective agreement expires on March 31, 2017.

“We’ve already spent months getting ready to bargain,” says Denise Davis, chair of the LBED bargaining team. “We’ve elected our bargaining team, we’ve set our demands, and we’ve started laying the foundation for our next contract.

“We are well under way, but this is just the beginning of a long journey.”

Human rights talks come first

Bargaining in this round will officially begin on February 20, 2017. But before it does, the LCBO and OPSEU must iron out the details of an historic agreement reached November 1 to settle a major human rights complaint.

As a result of that agreement, customer service representatives (CSRs) working as casuals in LCBO stores and depots will soon be placed on a new wage grid. This new grid will allow them to reach the same top pay rate earned by permanent part-time and permanent full-time CSRs. This settlement represents a huge victory for more than 4,000 casual CSRs.

In November, the parties agreed to several things:

  • All CSRs – casual, permanent part-time, and permanent full-time – will be on the same pay grid.
  • All the details of the new pay grid will be negotiated between OPSEU and the LCBO.
  • If OPSEU and the LCBO cannot agree, all outstanding issues will be decided by arbitrator William Kaplan, and his decisions will be legally binding on both parties.
  • No CSR will see her or his pay go down as a result of the settlement.

Negotiations are currently under way, and the outstanding issues will be decided before bargaining of the new collective agreement begins. The parties have agreed to a “blackout” on these talks. Neither of the LCBO and OPSEU will be releasing details until a final settlement is reached, either through negotiations or by order of the arbitrator.

For more details of the November 1 agreement, read our Q&A.

Bargaining kicks off February 20

So far, OPSEU and the LCBO have agreed to 17 dates for negotiations: February 20-24, March 6-10, April 3-5, and April 10-13.

The OPSEU bargaining team is optimistic about this round, says bargaining team Chair Denise Davis.

“This is our round,” she said. “The fight against Premier Wynne’s privatization agenda is sweeping across the province, and has been taken up by folks all over. And the progress we’ve already made on equal pay for equal work gives us more room to focus on other key issues like job security, wages, benefits, and hours of work.”

Meet your bargaining team

The OPSEU bargaining for the Liquor Board Employees Division consists of five members:

Denise Davis, Chair, Local 378

Colleen MacLeod, Vice-Chair, Local 5107

Jennifer van Zetten, Local 162

Robin Reath, Local 163

Mark Larocque, Local 499

The bargaining team is assisted by OPSEU Negotiator Jeff Weston, Researcher Steve Crossman, and other assigned staff.

Meet your mobilizers

OPSEU mobilizers are your co-workers at the LCBO. Their job is to help keep you informed of what happens at the bargaining table, and how you can support the bargaining team as they work to get you the best collective agreement possible. LBED members have elected mobilizers in each of the seven OPSEU regions:

Guy Jeremschuk, Local 162

Bonnie Jolley, Local 284

Tracy Vyfschaft, Local 377

Dianne Perry, Local 497

Craig Hadley, Local 5109

Amanda Pellerin, Local 682

Rob Mithrush, Local 741

Stay informed!

You can receive this bargaining bulletin (and our regular newsletter, the Echo) directly by e-mail. Just call OPSEU at 1-800-268-7376 or (416) 443-8888, and give the operator your name and e-mail address. You can also watch for updates on the OPSEU website at www.opseu.org. And be sure to attend upcoming bargaining information meetings in your area.

EAP Hotline: 1-800-263-1401

The LCBO Employee Assistance Program is a confidential, hassle-free counseling service for eligible LCBO employees and their immediate families. For assistance, call 1-800-263-1401.

Your 2017 Bargaining Bulletin is authorized for distribution by:

Denise Davis, Chair, Liquor Board Employees Division

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President, OPSEU

2016-12-lbed-bulletin-b

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November 5, 2017

There was a Final Demand set meeting at the Eaton Chelsea Hotel in Toronto. There were 3 Delegates (including the local president) that attended on behalf of our local.

The delegates are yet to share the information from the meeting with the local. There was information regarding the Provincial top ten bargaining demands for our next round of bargaining

Updated:December 16,2016

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On October 30, 2017, OPSEU called a General Membership Meeting. We are still waiting for minutes from the Local Secretary and Local President.

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Call out letter sent to all local Presidents September 17, 2017

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Demand Setting Fact Sheets

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The day the middle class died!!

I have to share this story. It is so true and really hits home for me.

Here is the link  written by Michael Moore

And here is the story….

From time to time, someone under 30 will ask me, “When did this all begin, America’s downward slide?” They say they’ve heard of a time when working people could raise a family and send the kids to college on just one parent’s income (and that college in states like California and New York was almost free). That anyone who wanted a decent paying job could get one. That people only worked five days a week, eight hours a day, got the whole weekend off and had a paid vacation every summer. That many jobs were union jobs, from baggers at the grocery store to the guy painting your house, and this meant that no matter how “lowly” your job was you had guarantees of a pension, occasional raises, health insurance and someone to stick up for you if you were unfairly treated.On August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan fired every member of the air traffic controllers union (PATCO) who’d defied his order to return to work and declared their union illegal. They had been on strike for just two days.

Young people have heard of this mythical time — but it was no myth, it was real. And when they ask, “When did this all end?”, I say, “It ended on this day: August 5th, 1981.”

Beginning on this date, 30 years ago, Big Business and the Right Wing decided to “go for it” — to see if they could actually destroy the middle class so that they could become richer themselves.

And they’ve succeeded.

On August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan fired every member of the air traffic controllers union (PATCO) who’d defied his order to return to work and declared their union illegal. They had been on strike for just two days.

It was a bold and brash move. No one had ever tried it. What made it even bolder was that PATCO was one of only two unions that had endorsed Reagan for president! It sent a shock wave through workers across the country. If he would do this to the people who were with him, what would he do to us?

Reagan had been backed by Wall Street in his run for the White House and they, along with right-wing Christians, wanted to restructure America and turn back the tide that President Franklin D. Roosevelt started — a tide that was intended to make life better for the average working person. The rich hated paying better wages and providing benefits. They hated paying taxes even more. And they despised unions. The right-wing Christians hated anything that sounded like socialism or holding out a helping hand to minorities or women.

Reagan promised to end all that. So when the air traffic controllers went on strike, he seized the moment. In getting rid of every single last one of them and outlawing their union, he sent a clear and strong message: The days of everyone having a comfortable middle class life were over. America, from now on, would be run this way:

* The super-rich will make more, much much more, and the rest of you will scramble for the crumbs that are left.

* Everyone must work! Mom, Dad, the teenagers in the house! Dad, you work a second job! Kids, here’s your latch-key! Your parents might be home in time to put you to bed.

* 50 million of you must go without health insurance! And health insurance companies: you go ahead and decide who you want to help — or not.

* Unions are evil! You will not belong to a union! You do not need an advocate! Shut up and get back to work! No, you can’t leave now, we’re not done. Your kids can make their own dinner.

* You want to go to college? No problem — just sign here and be in hock to a bank for the next 20 years!

* What’s “a raise”? Get back to work and shut up!

And so it went. But Reagan could not have pulled this off by himself in 1981. He had some big help:

The AFL-CIO.

The biggest organization of unions in America told its members to cross the picket lines of the air traffic controllers and go to work. And that’s just what these union members did. Union pilots, flight attendants, delivery truck drivers, baggage handlers — they all crossed the line and helped to break the strike. And union members of all stripes crossed the picket lines and continued to fly.

Reagan and Wall Street could not believe their eyes! Hundreds of thousands of working people and union members endorsing the firing of fellow union members. It was Christmas in August for Corporate America.

And that was the beginning of the end. Reagan and the Republicans knew they could get away with anything — and they did. They slashed taxes on the rich. They made it harder for you to start a union at your workplace. They eliminated safety regulations on the job. They ignored the monopoly laws and allowed thousands of companies to merge or be bought out and closed down. Corporations froze wages and threatened to move overseas if the workers didn’t accept lower pay and less benefits. And when the workers agreed to work for less, they moved the jobs overseas anyway.

And at every step along the way, the majority of Americans went along with this. There was little opposition or fight-back. The “masses” did not rise up and protect their jobs, their homes, their schools (which used to be the best in the world). They just accepted their fate and took the beating.

I have often wondered what would have happened had we all just stopped flying, period, back in 1981. What if all the unions had said to Reagan, “Give those controllers their jobs back or we’re shutting the country down!”? You know what would have happened. The corporate elite and their boy Reagan would have buckled.

But we didn’t do it. And so, bit by bit, piece by piece, in the ensuing 30 years, those in power have destroyed the middle class of our country and, in turn, have wrecked the future for our young people. Wages have remained stagnant for 30 years. Take a look at the statistics and you can see that every decline we’re now suffering with had it’s beginning in 1981 (here’s a little scene to illustrate that from my last movie).

It all began on this day, 30 years ago. One of the darkest days in American history. And we let it happen to us. Yes, they had the money, and the media and the cops. But we had 200 million of us. Ever wonder what it would look like if 200 million got truly upset and wanted their country, their life, their job, their weekend, their time with their kids back?

Have we all just given up? What are we waiting for? Forget about the 20% who support the Tea Party — we are the other 80%! This decline will only end when we demand it. And not through an online petition or a tweet. We are going to have to turn the TV and the computer and the video games off and get out in the streets (like they’ve done in Wisconsin). Some of you need to run for local office next year. We need to demand that the Democrats either get a spine and stop taking corporate money — or step aside.

When is enough, enough? The middle class dream will not just magically reappear. Wall Street’s plan is clear: America is to be a nation of Haves and Have Nothings. Is that OK for you?

Why not use today to pause and think about the little steps you can take to turn this around in your neighborhood, at your workplace, in your school? Is there any better day to start than today?

P.S. Here are a few places you can connect with to get the ball rolling:

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In Solidarity

Maria Bauer

Congratulations!

I just wanted to thank everyone for taking time on their Sunday to attend the General Membership meeting. We had record numbers in attendance.

The local has a whole new executive and 10 stewards.

It has been an honor and privilege to be your local president for the past four years.

I am still a steward and will continue to represent members. You may still contact me on my cell phone and via email anytime.

This website will be going through some revisions and some pages may not be available until the revisions are completed. Andew Scholarship 2016

In Solidarity,

Maria Bauer