The tyranny of the corporation
In her new book, Private Government, University of Michigan professor Elizabeth Anderson reports that audits by the Department of Labor have found “sweatshop-like conditions” in ninety-three per cent of the garment factories in Southern California. She also writes about how in the poultry industry employees are denied relief breaks and are required to wear adult diapers. In the food service industry ninety percent of employees report that they have been sexually harassed, and nation-wide millions of employees are subject to drug screening without cause.
How is this possible, you ask? The answer is that almost all employees in this country are at will and are seen as accepting these conditions as consenting adults who are free to seek other employment. So basically, because employees can quit at any time, management is free to treat them however they want.
This treatment includes terminating at will employees for any reason that is not discriminatory. Your boss doesn’t like your Bernie Sanders bumper sticker? You are fired. Put something on Facebook they don’t like? You are fired. So long as you are not terminated based on your race, gender, or religion there are virtually no restrictions on employers’ power to terminate.
Most American workers just live with this. Fortunately, those of us who are blessed to have Unions and collective bargaining have means to combat the power of the company. But, only a small percentage of private sector employees still work under that protection.
The most striking thing about this, to me, is that the one proven method of combating these sorts of conditions, Unions, are shunned and derided by the people they could help the most. This is especially true of the right-wing base of the Republican Party.
Oddly, these same groups will rail against government intervention and interference in their lives and decry their “freedoms” being taken away. Yet, they place themselves under the hegemony of a private company and allow the corporation to subject them to restrictions that would be unconstitutional if imposed by the government.
Wake up, people! This country has too long listened to the praises of unfettered capitalism and the corporations. The very freedoms the American Revolution sought to gain, the escape from tyranny, the right to representation within our government, and the freedom to pursue life as we saw fit are now ceded to the corporations with the acquiescence of a vast number of Americans.
We, the members of the UAW, have protections and freedoms hard won by those who came before us; but these freedoms still lie out of reach for most of our fellow citizens. It is time now, more than ever, to proselytize on the issues of the Labor Movement to those we live with, eat with, worship with, and work with. If people continue to march forward with eyes closed, what the founding fathers fought and died to wrest from the King will continue to be ceded to the Corporation.