Saturday, March 15, 2008

My Audacity of Hope

As may be clear to most readers by now, I have pretty much settled on Senator Obama as my choice for the Democratic nominee and future President. To some degree that choice is the result of his message of hopefulness and unification, of my hope that he will change the course of this nation. To some degree it is simply that he is the “least bad” of the options available, since I see some positions he takes that make me less than optimistic.

Yesterday I posted his regarding the Senator’s FY 2008 earmark requests. While there is nothing really noteworthy in the list, some of them are pure pork on their face and a list that long and containing that much money cannot fail to be financially rewarding to some of his campaign contributors.

Senator Obama supports the “Employee Free Choice Act.” I am strongly in favor of labor unionization, but this bill is misnamed: it takes away the right of workers to secret ballot elections on whether to unionize.

Currently, if a majority of workers in a workplace sign cards saying that they would like to unionize, then the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) organizes an election using secret ballots. It is not unusual today for an election using secret ballots to fail after a majority has signed the cards.

Under the proposed bill those cards are the last word. If this bill is passed then once the union gets a majority of workers to sign the cards the union becomes their sole representative to management and they’re forced to pay dues. This opens the door to union organizers pressuring workers to sign up, while taking away their right to say “no” in a secret ballot.

It is true that current labor law allows employers to unethically block union drives, and employers do pressure employees between the card drive and the election. The answer to that are stronger penalties against those employers and greater protections of elections with secret ballots, not taking away from workers the most basic right of democratic association.

Senator Obama does not rule out the use of mercenary forces in the implementation of American military policy in the Middle East. In fact, he has specifically stated that he sees an increasing role for contract forces in the area as we reduce our military presence in Iraq.

So, rather than ending the war in Iraq as he has been promising to do, he is essentially merely shifting the implementation of that war from U.S. military to forces provided by Blackwater et al. Not only is this vastly more costly to the taxpayer and more financially rewarding to war profiteers, but the performance of paid mercenaries has hardly reflected credit upon this nation so far and is extremely unlikely to do so in the future.

These positions are seriously at odds with the rhetoric of his campaign, and they make me wonder just how much of his “Audacity of Hope” will actually be put into action once he is elected. None of the others are even talking about it, though, so I can at least, well, hope.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:00 PM

    Audacity, yes, hope... don't know about that. With Sen Obama, I can have some hope - with the Old Bag & Bubba, I have none at all. Seen and heard too much, been there done that, no thank you very much.

    I am not a union member (for personal reasons), but am represtened by a union and pay a fee for that (becasue of a law passed by the pro-union previous gov et al.) I am in favor of the collective bargaining that unions bring to the table for their members. I am not in favor of unions being bullies and unduly influencing elections, etc. I believe that a secret ballot is essential in any voting scenario, so that the voter is as free from pressure as can be. The best way for employers that want to avoid unionization is for them to offer competitive pay, benefits, working conditions and most importantly a mutually beneficial management-employee relationship. Please avoid adversarial situations. Of course this takes work on BOTH sides.

    Contract troops? (aka: mercenaries)? you gotta be kidding. One hand takes away, the other hand gives back. Not just no, but hell no. I could be nasty and ask if they are American contractors, but then the next question would be if not American, who? I cna think of some, but I'll leave that up for the reader(s) to mull over.

    I like the idea that Sen. Obama is challenging us and making us think. It is an interesting change from the politics of usual and perhaps the core of "the change" he's trying to accomplish. AT least it is a start.. and there is potential there.