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LABOR: Seeking just wage isn’t an ‘adaptive strategy’

Letter by Michelle M. Ryder, Bonney Lake on Feb. 21, 2014 at 10:01 am | No Comments »
February 21, 2014 12:29 pm

Re: “Small votes show direction of organized labor” (Richard S. Davis column, 2-19).

No language, including the language of labor rights, is neutral. The relationship between language and power is real and it is clear whose side Davis is on. In his column, he needlessly rushes to the aid of union busters by cloaking his anti-workers’ rights screed in a language so platitudinized it hardly carries any meaning.

His piece is peppered with clinical abstractions to explain away the exploitative practices of the corporate class and their outrageous fortunes. To Davis, Boeing’s latest round of extortion against its machinists was simply an effort to shore up “business viability” and ensure “the best chance of success.”

And the recent push for a livable wage? Simply the “adaptive strategy” of a dying movement.

Since when was the need to shelter, clothe and feed oneself and family an adaptive strategy? Since when was a living wage, in an era of unprecedented wage suppression, anything but a survival strategy?

If the minimum wage kept pace with worker productivity or executive pay raises, it would be more than $20 an hour. The only “existential crisis” we should be worried about is our own economy’s, a crisis best expressed by Sen. Barbara Mikulski when she said: “I thought in this country, the best social program was a job. Yet minimum wage jobs aren’t paying enough to keep families out of poverty.”

Davis’ detached language fails to obscure the fact that the need for a voice in the workplace has never been greater.

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