“Life is unfair, get used to it” – Bill Gates!

  • President Fain highlighted the huge disparity between the income of most employees who work 8 hours per day, 5 days per week for pay that has barely increased in real terms over the last decade and a select few  i.e. some of their bosses and what he calls ‘city free-loaders’
  • And how do the latter get away with it?  “Because they can'” according to US President Obama
  • In the UK alone, FTSE 100 CEO’s pay is now over 150 times the average pay of their troops
  • It’s been described as a ticking time bomb threatening most ‘developed’ countries 
  • J K Galbraith, the eminent US economist, pointed out that: “The salary of the chief executive of a large corporation is not a market award for achievement – it’s frequently in the nature of a warm personal gesture by the individual to himself”
  • Simon Wolfson, Chairman of Next, said: “Those who only have wages are getting poorer, those with assets richer, those with fancy jobs richer still – it’s a persistent cloud on the horizon of any economy – a dangerous dichotomy”
  • Overall, there’s little doubt this divergence will have a significant impact on workers’ enthusiasm for their work and so national productivity and economic performance levels
  • Listen to or read the wise words of UAW President Shawn Fain reproduced below and see what you think

Good morning, Chairman Sanders, Dr. Cassidy, and members of the Committee.

I’m here to talk about one of the most important issues to any union leader, any working-class person, any US Senator, any human being.

As president of the United Auto Workers, I represent 400,000 working class people across industries, and 600,000 retirees. And I know when my members look back on their lives, they never say “I wish I had worked more.” They never say, “I wish I’d made more money.” They say, “I wish I had more time.”

But time, like every precious resource in our society, is not given freely to the working class. Since the industrial revolution, we have seen the productivity of our society skyrocket. With the advance of technology, one worker can do what used to take dozens. More profit can be squeezed out of every hour, every minute, every second.

There was a time when this phenomenon was supposed to lead to workers getting their time back. Nearly 100 years ago, the economist John Maynard Keynes spoke of the future of workers’ time. His worry was that with all the gains in productivity, we wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves. He predicted a 15-hour work week.

In my own union, I go back into our archives and read of the fight for the 30-hour week, an idea that was alive and well for many decades. But deep into the 21st century, we find these ideas unimaginable. Instead, we find workers working longer hours. We find workers working deep into their 60s, 70s, even 80s. And we find the associated deaths of despair from addiction and suicide, of people who don’t feel a life of endless, hopeless work is a life worth living.

In our Stand Up Strike last year, we raised the flag for a 32-hour work week. Countries across the world have it. We know with technology, we can do more with less. It is the mantra we hear from management every day, and yet it never benefits the worker.

So, who is going to act to fix this epidemic of lives dominated by work? Will the employers act? Will Congress act? How can working class people take back their lives, and take back their time?

I know what people will say. Maybe even people in this room. They’ll say: people just don’t want to work. They’ll say, working class people are lazy.

So, I want to close with this. I agree there is an epidemic in this country of people who don’t want to work. People who can’t be bothered to get up every day and contribute to our society, but instead want to freeload off the labor of others.

But those aren’t the blue-collar people. Those aren’t the working-class people. It’s a group of people who are never talked about for how little they actually work, and how little they actually contribute to humanity.

The people I’m talking about are the Wall Street freeloaders, the masters of passive income. Those who profit off the labour of others have all the time in the world, while those who make this country run, who build the products and contribute the labor, have less and less time for themselves, for their families, and for their lives.

Our union will continue to fight for the rights of working-class people to take back their lives and take back their time.

We ask for your support in that fight.

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