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Crisis For Working Poor

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Crisis For Working Poor

For many years now America's working poor have been gradually sliding down the economic ladder. Possibly not sliding down but not moving upward at all even though the cost of living including housing, food, school, etc., keep rising. A few reasons that this might be occurring is because of the decline in unions, out sourcing of jobs and the introduction of a cheaper migrant work force.

Unions are perhaps the most important thing in maintaining an employee's well being. Unions were started to end the horrible working conditions in factories and provide job security to those injured on the job. Not only did unions accomplish that but they also established a minimum wage, hours allowed to work for minors, health benefits as well as many other things. However among the private sector workers, only 8.2 percent are union members today, only about half the rate of two decades ago. This severely limit's the ability for unions to push for higher wages and benefits, making them less noticed as a relevant economic force.

Recently there are talks about making unions less powerful. The federal board that oversees union elections is going to rule on the "card check" issue, which was used to unionize tens of thousands of communication workers, hotel workers, people who make auto parts as well as many others around the country. In the card check process, an employer agrees to recognize a union if a majority of employee's sign pledge cards. That means they don't cast ballots like in a federally supervised vote. Many times the agreement comes with a promise by the employer to stay neutral throughout the recognition process. Under those conditions the union is rarely voted down.

The traditional National Labor Relations Board election process is a highly litigated system with a system of complaints and appeals. Do to that only about half of the elections are won by unions and many times the campaigns to unionize are abandoned before there can even be an opportunity to cast votes. Besides the system of complaints and appeals, labor experts claim that these NLRB elections are commonly manipulated by employers by threatening termination of those who support the union.

When this issue goes in front of the federal board is unknown. David Brody, a University of California at Davis professor of history and an authority on union organizing, states, "If the law moves toward saying the only way (to organize workers) is to have a representation election, the labor movement is doomed." Ultimately this could be settled in congress where two opposing bills are in place; one by the democrats known as the Employee Free Choice Act which would make the card check as NLRB's preferred method for organizing unions or the Republican sponsored Secret Ballot Protection Act which essentially would outlaw the card check process and force unions into NLRB elections.

Through my own personal experiences union members have many more benefits to say none union members. Working at a grocery store in southern California you receive medical benefits, Sunday and night premium pay, holiday pay, job security, good working hours, as well as pay raises either every month or every three months depending on what your job is. To view the opposite of this take a look at Wal-Mart. Their employee's receive very little benefits but more commonly none at all, no job security, unfavorable hours among other things. Wal-Mart, the largest private employer in the country, has been accused of killing all attempts at unionization, by hiring janitorial contractors who employ and exploit illegal aliens and many times cheat employees by making them work "off the clock." If America is maintain is name as the land or opportunity, these practices cannot be allowed.

Healthcare is a major issue for workers. This should be a major topic for the presidential candidates of today but they seem to be more concerned with military records. Today in America over twenty percent of people under the age of 65 are not insured. Twenty percent is rounded to be about 44 millions people that are not insured. No matter how you look at it that is a large amount of people. To look at this on a smaller scale, according to, just over 12 percent of residents in southeast Kansas are uninsured. More specifically in Crawford County there are 4,999 uninsured which is 13.7 percent of the population. And across the entire state twenty percent of those between the ages of 19 and 24 are uninsured as well.

Those numbers grow ever year as the cost of individual and family healthcare continue to rise out of control. On average, family medical costs rise between ten and twenty percent every year with no end in site. Every year people are paying more for health insurance and receiving less and less coverage. Amazingly the average monthly cost for a health insurance policy is twenty percent of a person's monthly income. These issues must be confronted now rather than later.

A side effect that the working poor is that they face a higher chance of becoming obese. The main cause of this is that unhealthy foods are cheaper and easier to obtain. In Cutler, California which is in California's Central Valley, much of our nations produce is grown. Along with that the valley has some of the highest poverty rates. For years now the message has been to blame the people, you're not eating right, you're not educated enough but we forget that these people choices are severely limited by finances and time allocation.

A farm worker, Iris Caballero is overweight and diabetic. She is a perfect example of a modern-day paradox, as reliable access to healthy food declines, the likelihood of being



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