To Democrats: Make Labor Day A Workers’ Action Day
By Ralph Nader
August 17, 2022
Labor Day presents a great opportunity for the Democratic Party to compare their election year story of being on the side of labor, as opposed to the GOP which is invariably backing the wealthy and giant corporations.
Unfortunately, the Democrats have not been taking advantage of the one national holiday dedicated to working people. It is not too late. Labor Day has been turned into a sales day by the big box chains, but the Democrats can revive the true purposes of this day. Imagine thousands of public events for the working classes to give voice to their rightful needs and protections.
Never mind the dwindling Labor Day parades. Instead, organize rallies and assemblies in neighborhoods around real reforms, redirections and respect that all workers (regardless of their political labels) want for themselves and their families.
Invite workers and their children to these festive gatherings – with refreshments, nutritious snacks and music (taking proper pandemic precautions). If necessary, do it virtually and distribute snacks via food trucks. Present a vibrant, coherent pro-worker mandate complete with what the Democrats have already enacted or proposed against the unanimous opposition of the Republicans in Congress.
The Democrats, against the filibustering opposition of the Wall Street Republicans, stand for a living wage (passing a $15 minimum in the House of Representatives which was blocked in the Senate), expanding Medicaid and Medicare, providing child care, and paid family leave — all blocked by the Republican Party of dread, anxiety and greed.
The Democrats push for more worker health and safety protections while the GOP Senators and Representatives want to continue to weaken OSHA and cut its tiny budget for workplace inspections and enforcement of protective standards.
The child tax credit of some $300 per month to about 60 million children was set for an extension this past January. In spite of cutting child poverty by over thirty percent, the Republicans blocked its extension, just as they blocked the Democrat’s effort to restore some of Trump’s giveaway tax escapes for corporations and the super-rich to pay for this crucial assistance to America’s children and critical infrastructure jobs in the midst of a pandemic.
Cong. John Larson (D-CT) has proposed a comprehensive update for Social Security (benefits have not been upgraded for fifty years), but the Republicans are signaling a filibuster in the Senate. Worse, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, corporate felon Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) wants to sunset all federal legislation, including Social Security and Medicare, in five years. He actually put it in writing (See, An 11 Point Plan to Rescue America: https://www.politico.com/f/?id=0000017f-1cf5-d281-a7ff-3ffd5f4a0000).
Then there is labor law reform to make it easier for workers to form unions. This is the 75th anniversary of the notorious Taft-Hartley Act – the worst anti-worker law in the western world. The Democrats passed a bill in the House that partially repeals this giant handcuffing of American workers, but again the Republicans are blocking it in the Senate.
The Pension Rights Center (See, Pension Rights Center: https://www.pensionrights.org/) has a ready-made agenda to protect and expand worker retirement systems.
The Democrats should highlight the worker respect and dignity issue. Focus on companies like Amazon, which is perfecting “digital monitoring” of workers and tracking their every minute including limited bathroom breaks. Millions of Americans working remotely now have “Big Brother” electronically monitoring them, as Aldous Huxley predicted in his 1932 novel Brave New World. The GOP is not protecting minimal worker privacy.
The list of immediately perceived pro-worker contrasts between the Democrats and the Republicans goes on. Publicizing these deep livelihood improvements, where workers live, work and raise their children, is far superior to the failed billions of dollars spent on vacuous political television ads.
On Labor Day, Democrats should join with and showcase the working people whom the Democratic Party has been distancing itself from under the controlling dictates of their corporate-conflicted political and media consultants. The latter gets 15% of the amount spent on all TV ads. Do you think they want to give us these big bucks for a superior, realistic ground campaign? How about organizing a campaign that speaks honestly about ending the corporate-managed, job-destroying foreign trade that has left our country defenseless – without, for example, domestic protection of key medicines (such as antibiotics), protective equipment and essential microchips?
Bring all these long overdue advances in just treatment of workers (many of them long available in western nations) to the voters in the form of a printed “voters’ guide” handed out widely on a large card, on which one side asks voters to check “yes” or “no” on the issues, such as Full Medicare for All or a $15 minimum wage. The flip side of the card can show that Democrats side with workers and the Republicans back Wall Street over Main Street and big business domination of America.
There is still time to arrange for celebratory Labor Day events. Workers are eager to voice their claims to America’s promise to their fellow workers and other Americans. It is also a good way to attract volunteers to get out the vote on Election Day this November.
Bear in mind that what works for Labor Day also can work in the two months leading up to Election Day. Activist voters, give your Party a push in this direction. They should be landsliding the worst GOP in history instead of worrying about losing the House and Senate to the dictatorial Trumpsters bent on stealing elections through voter manipulation, suppression and purges.