They've got the money but we’ve got the numbers. The billionaires and the giant corporations are making a greed-grab for what's left of our standard of living, even our democracy. But history shows that We, the People can beat back this greed-grab of we get off our butts, get in the streets and make noise, and organize others to show up and vote.
Here are Wisconsin protesters chanting: "Tell me what democracy looks like. THIS is what democracy looks like!"
We Are All Under Attack
We are all under attack now, with the billionaires and big multi-national corporations going after our wages and benefits, and even reaching out into our communities to take or weaken our environmental protections, legal and regulatory protections, our public schools, our libraries, our parks, and the rest of the public structures we have built over the years. They are attacking our right to join together and fight back (collectively bargain) for good wages and benefits. They are even making it harder to vote.
The good news is that history shows when we band together we win. And if there ever was a time when we have to band together just to keep what we have – never mind working to have a better life – this is that time. So all of us need to get off our butts, get out there and start making noise, help each other, vote and register people to vote, get out and protest, get out and speak up at town hall meetings, get out and pass out flyers, get out and tell other people what is happening, get out and organize.
Verizon’s Workers Fought Back
These last few weeks Verizon's workers were asked to take big cuts, went on strike, thousands of volunteers showed up to help and walk picket lines with them, and the workers forced Verizon to back off. The courage of Verizon's workers and the help from all the volunteers played a critical role in getting Verizon to move. And this is a model for all of us who are up against the greed-grab by the billionaires and giant corporations.
Some background: Verizon is a giant company with over $100 billion revenue. Verizon gives out multi-billion dividends and pays top executives more than $50,000 a day. The company doesn't pay taxes. Does that sound like a familiar story these days? With all that money and power, Verizon wants workers to take cuts in everything -- over $1 billion in givebacks. The company is even asking its workers to give up disability pay when injured on the job!
So 45,000 of Verizon's workers went on strike -- in this economy. They risked everything to fight for working people to be able to keep their pay and benefits.
Thousands of people joined them on the picket lines. They forced Verizon to back off the giveback demands and come back to the bargaining table.
Now they are at the negotiating table and they need our help to back them up. Right now you can "Send a Message of Solidarity." In coming days Verizon's workers will be organizing informational picket lines at Verizon stores, handing out leaflets and applying pressure to the company.
Now Its Your Turn
History shows that regular people can organize and fight back against the power of billionaires and huge corporations. But it takes work and we have to show up. Verizon tried to pull the corporate game on its workers – cutting pensions, health care, even disability pay for injured workers. The workers – joined by volunteers from all walks of life – forced the company to back down and come to the negotiating table.
Getting out there and getting involved is hard at first. We are all busy. We are all just trying to get by. Many of us are buried in our computers or iPads. Many of us are watching to see which orifice will spew blood next on House, or watching maggots come out of eyeballs on CSI. Society today more and more keeps us from interacting face-to-face with strangers. So it is hard to go out and get involved.
Then there is the shame factor. It has been drummed into us that only dirty hippies go out and protest. When you imagine joining a protest you see images of dirty, bearded outcasts with signs.
Getting Active Is Rewarding And Fun
But once you get out there, set up a register-to-vote table, anything, you find out that it is rewarding, even fun! You find out that along with the dirty hippies there are many people just like you, and just like everyone else, from all walks of life, who are getting out there and making their voices heard.
Just the other day I pointed out that A Summer Of People's Action Is Barely Reported But Building! "People are fed up and showing up, making their voices heard, taking action. You might not be seeing very much coverage in the "mainstream" (corporate) news outlets but his has been a summer of increasing action, all following up on the Wisconsin actions."
So What If Not Reported In Corporate Media?
In A Summer Of People's Action Is Barely Reported But Building! I wrote, "Maybe it isn't reported in the "major media," but so what? It is happening. Jobless people don’t buy stuff. The major media today is about selling stuff, not serving democracy by keeping the public informed. So they focus on things that interest people with money. The result is that major media is too busy telling us that "we" have to sacrifice (to pay for tax cuts for the rich), cut Social Security (to pay for tax cuts for big corporations) and those of us that still have jobs accept longer hours and pay cuts and bigger health insurance payments and ore outsourcing (to pay for bigger bonuses for top executives.)"
There is a lot going on. Right now the Rebuild The Dream Movement is working to get people organized and active. Visit the Don't Kill The Dream website, and learn about the Contract for the American Dream. (See my post on the Contract For The American Dream And The Emergency Jobs Bill)
If we're going to beat back the greed-grab we are going to have to get out there.
This Is What Democracy Looks Like
For those of us who can't get enough, here is 13 minutes of THIS is what democracy looks like!