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Taking It to the Streets

by on February 18, 2011

Workers rights has been a common theme in the past week.  In fact, since January 25th, when Egyptians gathered for a planned march against their government, there has been a common theme.  Workers rights.  When I say workers, I refer to everyone: employed, unemployed, public sector, private sector.  That’s what they wanted in Tunisia, weeks before January 25th. That’s what they wanted in Egypt. That’s what they want in Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, and every other place that’s been in the news.  And that’s what they want in Madison, Wisconsin.  Workers rights.

There’s been a history of protests in the United States.  If I were to start listing all of them, researching all of them, I would never – never – finish writing this.  I don’t need to tell you about protests during of the founding of our country, or the ones in the first hundred years of our country.  I’ll save that for a history lesson.  But workers rights.  Workers rights have been an issue for well over a century in our country.

For some cases involving workers rights, see Hammer v. Dagenhart (which ruled that the federal government could not regulate child labor), which was overruled by United States v. Darby Lumber (“the conclusion is inescapable that Hammer v. Dagenhart was a departure from the principles which have prevailed in the interpretation of the Commerce Clause”). Or, you may want to see Gibbons v. Ogden, a classic case, from which I derive the understanding that “commerce, undoubtedly, is traffic, but it is something more: it is intercourse.” Which means to me, that the commerce, the policies, the intercourse of Egypt, Iran, and Madison, Wisconsin, matter to me as if they were my own commerce.

That is a very incomplete sketch of labor history in the United States.  The point is, workers have made some progress (from which comes the word ‘progressive‘).  We – with lots of help from Madison, have developed collective bargaining, minimum wage, a five day work week, and helping out the person next to you (‘socialism’).  These ideas aren’t perfect.  They’re changeable.  But they’re not things to get rid of, which is a lesson Scott Walker and his ilk have yet to learn.  Workers rights.

I  get the feeling that the old guard is a little bit slow catching on to the indescribable feeling of a people united, since in their hurry to create divisiveness they have forgotten that feeling.

One Comment
  1. Sheryl permalink

    Nice work and you’re welcome

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