Yesterday Blue Girl and I attended the labor rally at the IBEW complex in Kansas City. From the AFL-CIO release:
Workers Rally in Kansas City to Stop Legislative Attacks on Middle Class Missourians
Agenda that includes “right to work” and a repeal of child labor laws could undermine Missouri’s skilled workforce and wages
On Saturday March 12 at 12:30 p.m. at the IBEW Local 124 Training Center, 301 E. 103rd Terrace, community groups, students and workers will stand united against an onslaught of anti-worker legislation that have been filed to pay back greedy CEOs and shadowy interest groups.
Working Missourians are saying enough is enough with the same old tired politics that are at odds with Missouri voters. Of major concern, anti-worker legislation such as Senate Bill 1 would undermine Missouri’s top-notch training programs. The extensive training and apprenticeship programs in the state, a $30 million investment, ensure a quality workforce.
Skilled, trained workers result in projects that are built right the first time and provide real value. The ‘short-cuts’ such as “right to work” and repealing child labor laws are not going to fix Missouri’s budget problems. That’s why workers are rallying today to protect good jobs…
There were over four hundred in attendance at the rally.
Before the rally got started we had an opportunity to speak with Steve Nickel of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers:
Show Me Progress: …What’s the importance of today, uh, this, this rally today here?
Steve Nickel, Grand Lodge Representative, Midwest Territory, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers: Uh, to show solidarity and to show to the Republicans and the big money, the CEOs that, um, we’re not gonna take these changes sitting down. We’re gonna stand up, we’re gonna fight for this. Um, and if, if we need to, we’re gonna do everything we can to, um, work hard in the politics and put working people’s friends back in office.
Show Me Progress: Now how do we get, you know, the, the average voter to, uh, understand what this sort of right to get paid less legislation means?
Steve Nickel: They need to understand its gonna affect the communities, it’s gonna affect working families, it’s gonna be less in wages and benefits, it’s gonna hurt the strength of the bargaining of the unions. And when, when that affects the strength of the unions it affects even the non-union people because there’s a, a push down effect, um, to their wages and benefits also. You know, labor sets the standards for wages and benefits in the area. And, and it’s [SB 1] gonna be a downward effect…
United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.
International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.
…Show Me Progress: You know, part of this, uh, do you see this kind of, uh, effort, sort of, kind of a divide and conquer kind of effort in, in the rhetoric that people use about, uh, organized labor having it too good?
Steve Nickel: Yeah, and it’s terrible. There isn’t anybody in organized labor that are rich over this. I mean, they’re working, they’re, they’re part of the middle class. And it’s about, um, the Republicans trying to destroy the middle class and take total control. The unions are the last line of defense for the working class and they’re trying to destroy ’em and have total control over this country.
Show Me Progress: We, we found it is interesting in the rhetoric over the, uh, renewal of the Bush era tax cuts they said that people making two hundred fifty thousand dollars a year weren’t, weren’t rich and now, in, the same people are using the rhetoric that, uh, a public school teacher who might make fifty or forty-five thousand dollars a year is living high of the hog.
Steve Nickel: Right. And, there was an interesting article, uh, Forbes just came out with their new list of billionaires. More billionaires. More billionaires in the United States, more billionaires all over the world. And, and the rich keep getting richer and the middle class are being pushed into the poor.
Show Me Progress: And, you know, we hear this rhetoric, too, uh, you know, as people talk about this, uh, the, the problem for them, though, is there are more of us than there are of them as you pointed out.
Steve Nickel: Right. And that’s, and that’s where we can take back this power by, we have, we have the numbers, we just have to get people to understand the issues, see that this is, um, that working class is trying to be taken advantage of to, to the lies and the rhetoric that is being put out there. And we gotta, we gotta take, we gotta take back this country. This is happening all over the Midwest that I have to deal with. It’s happening in Indiana, in Michigan, and in Wisconsin, in Minnesota, and now in Missouri. They’re, they’re trying to kill us. They’re trying to wipe us out. And the attack on the public workers, there’s twelve percent of the union workforce, twelve percent of the workforce is union and eight percent of that is public sector workers. If they wipe out that eight percent you only have four percent, that is something that’s they’re gonna finish crushing the unions then.
Show Me Progress: Well, thank you very much for time.
Steve Nickel: Sure. Thank you.
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 53.
International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers.
We are union. We are proud Americans.
United we stand with American pride building stronger unions one member at a time.
We live free and work hard.
Tried and true brotherhoods.
We salute unity for there is strength in numbers.
Listen to our purpose, listen to our call!
“…We salute unity for there is strength in numbers…”
And that is what the republicans are afraid of.