Opinion: On Wall Street, ‘right-to-work’ means a wider gap between rich & poor

Lori Pelletier
Lori Pelletier

Lori Pelletier is Secretary-Treasurer of the CT AFL-CIO.

One doesn’t have to look any further than Fairfield County to understand why Connecticut has one of the greatest income disparities in the country. A few miles from the estates of Wall Street brokers and bankers, Bridgeport’s residents are struggling to get by in the new economy. Good manufacturing jobs have been replaced by minimum wage shifts at McDonalds. A third of children in Bridgeport live below the poverty line.”

Yet organizations funded by ultra-wealthy and corporate special interests are blatantly advocating for further widening the wage gap between rich and poor. As part of “Employee Freedom Week,” a nationally coordinated effort to convince workers to drop out of their unions, ads are running in Connecticut urging home healthcare workers to opt out.

This is a thinly veiled attempt to convince these workers to act against their own self-interest, and could have lethal repercussions in an industry where collective bargaining rights have not only alleviated home health aides’ difficult working conditions, but also have helped prolong their patients’ lives.

See the complete story at CT News Junkie.


7 responses to “Opinion: On Wall Street, ‘right-to-work’ means a wider gap between rich & poor”

  1. Norewalk Lifer

    This article takes a wider issue and makes it center stage for justification of unions. Unions do a lot of good for those who members, there is no doubt of this, but unions also add a layer of obstruction to the goal; a successful economy relays on a respectful relationship between workers and the organization that employs them.
    Manufacturing organizations used to have a respect for the American worker, but with globalization, and the lack of a level playing field, organizations that took the worker’s concerns into account, now have the Asian corridor, and others for which to seek workers. Workers who do not have the protection of the fine labor laws that the US has.
    If unions were to make this a successful endeavor for those members, they would understand there is an ebb and flow in the business sector; I do not approve of the nefarious tactics that manufacturing businesses take, where they move into a disadvantaged area, collect the bounty of that state, and then move on. That’s just more profit generation for the financial entity with no regard for the whole organism.
    Good financial engineering means the long term health of the organization is achieved thru constant improvement; while unions may have a main focus, called the worker, I wonder if that intent is clear. People who belong to unions do not have to individually fight the battle for their long term success, but they also can be stymied by the overlording of the intent.

    Businesses that maintain success, are usually very much tied to the industries they serve; but without the proper accord to those who contribute, the people who work, they end up in failure.

    There is an unspoken stratosphere for businesses that achieve higher profit, they are very much in tune with sustainability, workers rights, the environment, and community outreach. After all, at some point, just making money isn’t enough.
    I’ll cite one incident, if China can execute their secretary of the interior for dumping benzene in a major waterway, I’d say this is a clarion bell for those who do not believe there is a check and balance between a collective bargaining state and the business financial health.
    Find that balance again, and you will promote the kind of jobs that people can sustain on. After all, every single civilization that did not do this, vanished.

    Norwalk Lifer

  2. One and Done

    Duh? Don’t let a little fact like CT having the widest gap in wealth blow up your communist ideals.

  3. Norewalk Lifer

    It is indeed that wide gap that leads to pendulums swing into an extreme, please be mindful of that, this led to the ideal of a social network during the 30’s, One would think that FDR was a socialist president, when in fact, he was taking action to prevent that kind of state.
    FDR once said “there are those of my particular class who hate me, and I welcome their hatred”, a wise man

    Norwalk Lifer

  4. Oldtimer

    “respectful relationship between workers and the organizations that employ them ” ? Does anybody with even a little knowledge have any faith in that kind of relationship existing at WalMart’s ?
    When employers in states that have laws requiring certain benefits for full time employee rely, as much as possible, on part time workers, just to avoid the cost of minimal benefits, why would anyone believe killing off the unions will benefit anybody at the level where most of the real work is done ? Just look at who is financing the right to work campaigns.

  5. Norewalk Lifer

    Hello Oldtimer,

    Good to see you again, I mean at one time, there was a balance between business and the workers, not anymore, as you point out, and there is a shift due to the ability of outsourcing to other countries with less strigent environmental laws.
    From 1970 on, the eastern seaboard saw the number of machine shops drop by 60%, that’s a huge number, BUT, what is the reason? it’s simple, we live hear waterways, and the chemicals used in degreasing metal is highly effective, but it was also highly carcogenic, m-clene and perchlorethylene was used in degreasing metals, now there are green cleaners, but other countries don’t have the environmental laws we do, and they can easily rid of these chemicals without any thought to the environment, until they can no longer rely on clean water, Happened in China, benzene was dumped into rivers, and the secretary of the interior was on the payroll, China’s government executed him for his corruption and subsequent contamination of drinking water.
    Yrrium was mined in the mid west, until China proved to be much more economical in their ability to mine, but that mining left the land in dangerous shape.
    Last year, China declared they would not export Yrrium, as their internal demand was exceeding the supply, this meant other countries, like us, who used Yrrium, in producing capacitors, batteries, and other by products, were left with no supply.
    So a new mine opened up in Colorado and was up and running within a 6 month period, thanks to this president and his administration.
    Our laws may be strigent and overbearing as some in industry might complain, but sooner or later, they will be leaving these bountiful places full of workers living at a cost that is far below the US, because, those areas will reap the rewards of cavalier stewardship.
    First it was South Korea, then Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, China, India, and now Eastern Europe.
    Industry does not have a sustainable supply of workers, and in the long run, they will have to come back to center square.
    Might as well do it now.

    Norwalk Lifer

  6. John Hamliln

    No need for a “right to work” law in Connecticut – in the private sector — protect employee rights to collectively bargain in the private sector.

    But get rid of public employee unions. Since some posters are invoking FDR, consider Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s opposition to public employee collective bargaining:

    “All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management.”

    Roosevelt didn’t stop there.

    “The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations.”

    In essence, FDR realized that the government is made up of “the people” —

    “The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.”

    Roosevelt was great president, who supported the rights of workers and advocated for their welfare through the New Deal. He arguably did more for the middle class than any president before or since. He also understood that it would be wrong to let government workers collectively bargain — much less strike — against “the people,” i.e., the taxpayers. We need his wisdom and leadership today to bring us away from the current travesty of the corrupt bargain between public employee unions and our politicians.

    But leave the current protections in place for private sector employees to collectively bargain.

  7. peter parker

    Without unions most people in this country would still be working 70 hours per week for $2.00 an hour, no health benefits, vacation, or retirement plan of any kind, much like they do currently in China. Working conditions would still be dangerous and inhuman! Hell in some states people are still fighting for sick pay! Many Americans require a history lesson about working conditions in this country prior to unions. Ask your grand and great grandparents about it, they lived it and know how bad things really were before unions. The elimination of unions is another step in the destruction and elimination of the middle class.

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