On Labor Day, the working people of the U.S. and all their allies stand poised to win two historic battles – one that ends the national shame of 50 million people living without health insurance, and another that strengthens U.S. labor law so that every man and woman who wants a job has a good paying one in which he or she has a real voice.

Passage of health care reform with a strong public option and passage of the Employee Free Choice Act will put working people in a better economic situation. With enactment of these two measures, the working-class stands a decent chance of pulling the economy out of its worst calamity since the Great Depression.

The stakes could not be any higher.

If these two battles are not won we will be in a much worse position economically and politically.

• The case for labor law reform could not be stronger. Workers need more power at the bargaining table, to counterbalance the now-overwhelming power of the bosses, so working people can get a bigger share of the wealth they create.

We took a major step in this direction in 2008 with the election of President Barack Obama and progressive majorities in Congress. It was a powerful blow to the ultra-right which had dominated our country’s politics and economy for 30 years.

During their reign, they transferred unprecedented amounts of wealth out of workers’ and communities’ pockets and into the pockets of the super-rich. The gap between the super-wealthy and the rest of us is now bigger than at any time since 1929. The corporate greed that supported a hostile anti-worker mentality in government all those years weakened the power of workers to organize and fight back.

Passing the Employee Free Choice Act will be the first step in fixing this problem. Of course, we know it won’t fix everything immediately, and we know the struggle will continue even after it is passed.

• Health care reform is a huge immediate concern. Health care costs now total one-sixth of all goods and services produced in this country, while many millions go without insurance and the health of the people deteriorates.

There is simply no way to justify the economic suicide path on which the insurance companies, their loyal GOP servants and some Democrats want us to remain. The vast amounts of money involved are not going to actual health care, to patients, clinics, doctors or nurses. They are going to insurance companies – their profits, their dividends and their CEOs. The only thing the insurance companies do – and they do it well – is participate in the transfer of massive amounts of wealth from hard-working men and women into “health industry” pockets. Their role has nothing to do with providing health care.

When you combine the power of these insurance companies with the inability of workers to fight for a voice on the job, the result is an America made up of two separate and unequal societies. In that America a small band of corporate CEOs, bankers, brokers and Wal-Mart-types sit at the top of the heap. Meanwhile we in our millions sit at the bottom, earning poverty-level wages, if we have a job, and paying more and more for any little bit of “health care” that those at the top see fit to dispense.

This Labor Day, U.S. workers and their allies are following up on the election victories of 2008 by declaring that they will not allow this nightmare scenario to play out in our country.

Workers, their unions and a host of other groups are mobilizing and organizing from one end of the country to the other to level the playing field in labor relations and to radically curb the power of the health insurance giants – two first but critical steps in creating for our children an America where they can one day reclaim their ultimate right – the right to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

 

 

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