Thursday, December 19, 2013

Worker safety during the New Deal vs. worker safety during the Raw Deal

(WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

During the New Deal, WPA artists made posters promoting workplace safety, the Civilian Conservation Corps taught safety to its enrollees, and legislators gave protections to unions, who in turn bargained with management for safer working conditions.

Today, as we are being forced to live under a Raw Deal instead of a New Deal, things are quite different. In an effort to bring more profits to the 1%, Corporate America is making life more dangerous for workers. Workers are being killed and injured so that fewer and fewer families can live in greater and greater luxury.

(WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

Instead of well-paying, unionized jobs with good benefits and protections, Corporate America is forcing the temp worker world down our throats. Corporate America has been very successful at getting rid of unions and fixed pensions (thus giving us lower wages and setting us up for old age poverty) and now they're going after worker safety. Temp workers have less workplace protections than regular, permanent workers, so Corporate America is seeing a gold mine in disposable workers, towards whom they have little or no responsibility...legally speaking. (See, e.g., "Temp Work Isn't Only Insecure -- It's More Dangerous Too")

But the question isn't so much "Why are corporations destroying the middle-class?"--we know what humans are capable of when they have too much power, i.e., slavery, genocide, insatiable greed--the questions are "Why are we putting up with this relentless assault on the quality of our lives?" and "Why are we allowing the American Dream to be pummelled into the ground?" We keep allowing the super-wealthy to vacuum up more and more of our nation's wealth because--we are told--they're the "job creators." But the simple fact of the matter is that the super-wealthy are not creating a plethora of good, middle-class jobs. Indeed, the more wealth the super-wealthy acquire, the more they seem to pursue strategies that crush the American Dream, e.g., the increasing utilization of low-paid temp workers over well-paid permanent workers, and the increasing utilization of part-time workers to whom they give less benefits.

Ironically, the America Dream (social mobility) is actually stronger in other developed countries that it is here (see, e.g., "USA! USA! America Now Has Less Class Mobility Than Most Of Europe"). That's what the "job creators" have done for us, in exchange for the colossal tax breaks and tax loopholes we've given them over the past 30+ years. That's the Raw Deal. 

(WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

So, if it isn't time for another, stronger New Deal, when will it be? When there are only two income classes: The Fortune 400 and their serfs? Or will the complete elimination of the middle-class still not be enough to wake us from our trickle-down slumber? And how many temp workers have to die or get severely injured before we say, "You know, plutocracy and cutthroat capitalism just isn't right."

1 comment:

  1. I have just read Workplace Safety in a Deregulated World. It is a book which was published in 2007 and have changed the perspective of many organizations towards the safety and welfare of the employees. I recommend it to everyone who wants to make people work for them.

    Jimmie Menon
    Guelph Payroll Service