"Never before have so few with so much promised to take away so much from so many and then laugh their asses off as the so many with so little vote for the so few with so much."
A James Pence Quote
"American Politics, a sport for the rich and enslavement for the rest of us."
A James Pence Quote
Wed Apr 06, 2011 at 18:19:15 PM EDT
| MURRAY, Ky. -- Jeff Wiggins brought a message for Kentucky Republicans who want to push anti-union bills in the Bluegrass State.
"We know what the Republicans are doing to us in other states. We don't want Wisconsin here in Kentucky. We don't want Ohio and Indiana here in Kentucky. We like our people making $5,000 a year more than people make in right to work states."
Wiggins, a Steelworker and president of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky Area Council, AFL-CIO, was a featured speaker at the "We Are One -- National Day of Action and Solidarity" program at Murray State University April 4.
| By BERRY CRAIG :: Thunderstorms, tumbling temperatures didn't dampen enthusiasm of MSU 'We Are One' rally
| Sponsored by Students for Progress and the College Democrats, the gathering attracted about 50 students, faculty, union members and others to the student center.
The program was one of thousands of "We Are One" observances that were held nationwide on the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis. The civil rights leader had gone to Memphis to support striking city sanitation workers who belonged to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.
Other invited speakers included Wayne Chambers, the last vice president of Steelworkers Local 665 at the old Continental-General Tire Plant near Mayfield, and Dr. David Pizzo, a history professor.
In addition, UAW retirees Jerry Sykes and Jay Latham made impromptu remarks.
Wiggins, who is also president of Steelworkers Local 9-447 in Calvert City, said voters need to re-elect Gov. Steve Beshear to help prevent Kentucky from becoming a right to work state.
Beshear is a Democrat. The Kentucky State AFL-CIO recently endorsed him for a second term.
“Every one of those candidates for governor on the other side wants to make Kentucky a right to work state,” Wiggins said.
Unions say right to work laws, which are backed by conservative, anti-union groups, are unfair because they enable workers to enjoy union-won wages and benefits without paying union dues.
The average paycheck of a worker in a right to work state is $5,333 a year less than in non-right to work states, according to statistics published by the non-partisan federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Chambers worked at the big tire plant for 38 years. Opened by the General Tire and Rubber Co., an American firm, the factory was eventually bought out by Continental Tire, a multinational corporation headquartered in Germany.
Chambers said Continental officials told union workers it wasn’t their fault the plant was shutting down.
“They said to us ‘You’re doing your job. You have met every goal that we put in front of you, but we can build tires cheaper somewhere else.’"
He said Continental moved Mayfield production to tire factories in Mexico and Brazil.
"These companies like Continental are closing union plants in the United States and moving them to low wage countries where there are no environmental protection laws, no workers' comp laws and where you can just dump chemicals behind the plant.”
Added Chambers: "But that's not the end of the story. After they stopped tire production at our plant, I saw an ad for a Paducah tire store that sold several brands of tires. Size for size, Continentals were the most expensive tires. It's the greed of these big companies that is destroying the middle class."
After the plant closed, it was demolished. “There were 55 acres under one roof,” Chambers said. “Now it’s just a concrete slab.”
Following remarks by Pizzo, Chambers and Wiggins, the crowd sang traditional union songs and the program shifted to a panel discussion hosted by Matt Hall, president of the Students for Progress; Kyle Shupe, president of the College Democrats; and Devin Griggs, College Democrats publicity chair. Wiggins and Pizzo fielded questions from the audience.
The rally concluded with a special showing of the Michael Moore film Capitalism: A Love Story.
A thunderstorm and tumbling temperatures forced the rally indoors and held down the crowd size, Hall said. Plans called for a march across campus.