Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike's Letter

September 4th, 1997 12:00 AM

Labor Day weekend

IT'S LABOR DAY WEEK and what better time to kick off this web site! According to Princeton University (as quoted in this weekend's USA Today), 70 percent of all workers feel they have less job security than what they had 20 or 30 years ago. So how come the "great economic miracle" taking place isn't being felt by the average Joe or Jane?

I think it's because most people now realize they've been had. While workers gave back huge concessions to companies during the 80s in the form of reduced wages and benefits, those same companies have now gone on to become filthy rich in the 90s. Corporate profits among the companies on the Dow Jones Industrial Average are up 174 percent. CEO wages are up an astounding 250 percent! Yet, since 1990, the average worker's wage, adjusted for inflation, has actually dropped 45 cents an hour.

Most people do not feel secure. The Federal Reserve Board loves this kind of insecurity because it keeps wages (and supposedly inflation) down. People are less likely to ask or strike for higher paychecks if they ultimately fear losing their jobs.

So none of this will change unless we all get over this "insecurity", take some risks, and wrestle our future back from the hands of Corporate America. The UPS strike was a shining example of what we all need to strive for. And the American public will support us, as they did with the Teamsters, if the message is properly communicated. No one sitting at home watching Larry King or Nightline, be they liberal or conservative, was ever going to buy that line from the chairman of UPS when he said that someone working 35 hours a week is a "part time worker." CEOs are so drunk and giddy with their record profits that can't even lie very good anymore. A lot of this is common sense and we all need to start talking that way and convince others that we're all in the same boat and we all better do something soon.

-- Michael Moore

P.S. Sixty years ago, in 1937, Victor Reuther and his brothers Roy and Walter, came to my hometown of Flint, Michigan, and led the workers in a revolt that lasted for 44 days. At the end of it, the United Auto Workers union had their first contract with General Motors. It was the beginning of the modern-day labor movement in this country. Last week, the UAW in Flint held a gathering to honor those who participated in that first strike. They refused to invite Victor Reuther, now nearing 90 years old. Victor has been critical of how the UAW has been in bed with management over the past 20 years which cost many workers their jobs. Dissent is not allowed in the UAW, even if it comes from one of its founders. Happy Labor Day, Victor, and dad, and all who worked those assembly lines so we kids could have a better life!

Michael Moore
MMFlint@aol.com
The Awful Truth

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