What Does Labor Want?

We want more schoolhouses and less jails;
More books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice;
More leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge;
In fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better lives . . .

These are words of Samuel Gompers, which you can read on the wall of the meeting room in AfL-CIO headquarters in Washington, DC.

We have come through an election cycle in which Labor played a major role.

We are in a time where workers are now asserting themselves -  against WalMart, against Hostess.

Some will attempt to demonize labor as selfish, but look again at these words:

We want more schoolhouses and less jails  we have already privatized much of our incarceration of people, we are willing to spend on Supermax prisons but not on schools that are not falling apart.  Labor knows which is more important.

More books and less arsenals - President and General Dwight David Eisenhower echoed these words both in his military-industrial complex remarks and when he said

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.
more learning and less vice  we seem not to have learned from the past what Gompers saw so clearly, that catering to the vice of greed and the whims of the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the many does our society little good.

More leisure and less greed Think of the large merchandisers who have moved from Black Friday to Thanksgiving Day itself - profits over thanks, over time with families and friends

 more justice and less revenge The just concluded election was about justice on so many levels - marriage equality, decriminalizing marijuana, fair taxes, sustaining of the social safety net . . .  as for revenge, we can see it in the attacks on Ambassador Susan Rice, in the actions of CEOs laying off workers, closing plants, raising prices rather than paying their fair share of health care out of their already excessive profits.

Samuel Gompers was right.  Labor is right.

What labor wants is In fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better lives . . .  Our government and our politics should facilitate that.  

That is what this election was about.  


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