Labor Pains 2009

Labor Pains 2009

By Rosemarie Jackowski On Labor Day we celebrate those who work – as opposed to those who inherit family wealth and those whose financial investments work so they don’t have to. Many workers who deserve to be honored on this special day have come from across the border. In a global economy, workers who strive for justice in their own country must, by necessity, unite with workers around the world.

In Vermont workers from other countries keep the dairy industry operating. These workers – in a xenophobic culture – often face discrimination but many Vermonters, including Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Pat Leahy, and Congressman Peter Welch have come to their defense. Some of the farm workers have the required legal documents – many others do not.  Vermont dairy farmers have testified that without these workers the Vermont dairy industry could not survive.

Kevin O’Connor, Rutland Herald Staff Writer, has written about the plight of Vermont’s farm workers in an article titled ‘Of Milk and Mexicans‘ published on March 9, 2009. It is available online – see Rutland Herald. com – March 9, 2009.

Workers from across the border, as well as native born workers, often experience hostility. They work on farms and in factories. They empty bed pans in nursing homes. They scrub toilets and make beds in the hotel industry.  They work in retail outlets. They work in the construction industry as carpenters and roofers. They educate our children. They care for our elders. They have earned our respect and gratitude.

Below are typical statements made by bosses to their employees – workers who struggle for survival on the dark side of Capitalism.

1. Look, it doesn’t matter if the fumes are making you sick. OSHA says everything is OK.

2. I already told you that you couldn’t have the morning off. Your Father’s funeral can wait till the weekend.

3. Union, did I just hear somebody say, “Union”? Fire that damn Commie !

4. You want a raise……..hahhhhahhhahahahhhah. Who do you think you are, a Hedge Fund Manager!

5. If you want health insurance, move to Costa Rica. This is the USA Love it, or leave it. Besides, we don’t have any sick people here. We fire them when they get sick.

6. You say you want paid maternity leave. If the corporation wanted you to have a baby we would have issued you one.

7. What’s the big deal – it’s just asbestos.

8. Next time that you want to go to the bathroom, ask for permission first. That’s the rule.

9. You say that the school called and told you that your child was just injured on the playground and needs to go to the hospital. Who gave you permission to use the phone? Get back to work.

10. A little bit of ionizing radiation never hurt anybody.

11. Think of it as an adventure. Nobody dies from black lung anymore.

12. You say you want a week of paid vacation – move to France, this is America.

13. Hell no, you can’t leave. Wait till your shift is over. I don’t care if your labor pains are just 3 minutes apart.

Rosemarie Jackowski              

Rosemarie Jackowski is an advocacy journalist living in Vermont.

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