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An anti-union letter in my local paper today inadvertently exposes what’s going on with the economy. This letter is about the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) transit-worker strike, but applies to working people across the country. (Working people means people who work for a living, to be contrasted with people who make their living by already having a lot of money.)

Here is the letter-to-the-editor in the October 25 San Jose Mercury News:

GOP Protects Against Labor Union Demands

Why are Californian public labor unions repeatedly on strike? If BART’s management was allowed to operate like a real business, they would open their door and a flood of highly qualified, college-educated applicants would line up for these highly lucrative jobs. We know Democratic politicians rely in labor money. In the next election, we should remember that Republicans are here to protect consumers against the outrageous labor union demands.

Let’s look at what this letter is saying, and the attitude of the letter-writer.

  • It is “outrageous” for working people to ask for decent pay and benefits. (In the Bay Area the average rent is $2498 per month and the median house price is $555,000.)
  • Republicans are “protecting consumers” from unions and the wage and benefit increases they bring.
  • High unemployment means “real businesses” enjoy a labor market where people are desperate to work cheap, lining up to apply for any jobs opening.
  • Because of this high unemployment “qualified, college-educated applicants” are lining up for public-transit jobs.

Here is the crucial point to see in the attitude of the letter-writer: There is a link between Republicans “protecting” against unions, and the country’s high unemployment crisis that makes people desperate to take any job at any wage. Republicans have not only been blocking every effort to help people organize for better wages, they have also been obstructing every single effort in the Congress to boost jobs and economic growth.

The big corporations are enjoying record profits. Almost ALL of the gains since the so-called “recovery” started have gone to the top 1% or so. They benefit from high unemployment.

PS If public transit operated like a real company instead of a public service in a democracy, only people with enough money could get to work and the economy would shut down.

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