THE BLOG

Corporate America: 'Have You No Sense of Decency?'

11/21/2013 11:43 am ET | Updated Jan 25, 2014

Today the Teamsters and American workers face a moment of reckoning. The time has come where people must stand up and say enough is enough to companies that seek to take advantage of employees and taxpayers.

Anyone who has followed the U.S. economy in recent years can tell you while corporate America and their wealthy executives have recovered from the last recession, middle-class families have not. About 95 percent of income gains between 2009 and 2012 went to the top one percent. Big business has used the opportunity to increase its bottom line even more. Yet it still asks for more.

Corporate handouts continue to proliferate. Not satisfied with the record-setting profits many large companies are already taking in, they squeeze government on every level trying to pad their earnings in return for the promise of jobs. While more and more people struggle to put food on the table, corporate leaders stop at nothing to take more and more for themselves.

Federal subsidies to corporations outpace those made as part of public welfare programs. According to Common Dreams, the average American family pays $6,000 a year to cover government tax breaks for big business. It is nothing short of a disgrace that those struggling to make ends meet are shelling out their hard-earned dollars to help raise Wall Street stock prices for these companies.

Sometimes that still isn't enough. In Washington State, for example, the state government offered airplane manufacturer Boeing $8.7 billion in tax breaks from now through 2040 so it would agree to build its new 777x jetliner in state instead of moving production to its non-union South Carolina plant and overseas. But the company, which recently recorded record profits, said that wasn't enough and sought union concessions. The future of the deal is now in doubt.

The Teamsters, too, have taken a stand against businesses seeking to increase profits on the back of workers. Whether its Chicago funeral directors who went on strike more than four months ago and have been locked out of their jobs by funeral home giant Service Corporate International or port truck drivers who just this week stood up to employers that want them to work as contract workers instead of employees even though they work full-time hours, hard-working Americans are pushing back on the anti-worker agenda being pressed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and others.

Workers have repeatedly showed they are willing to make sacrifices when times are tough. But increasingly, big business expects employees to give more even when corporations are raking in cash. Is this what we've come to? Should companies who depend on their workers to succeed and enrich executives and shareholders then turn around and hold them hostage when it comes time to discuss wages? All workers want is a fair shake. Too often, however, they are not getting it.

Who will stand up and challenge corporate America? Many elected officials seem all-too-happy to appear at press conferences with company executives and do a quick smile and a handshake for the cameras. Where are the public leaders who will advocate on behalf of their constituents when workers need them the most?

Nearly 60 years ago, Boston attorney Joseph Welch defiantly stood up to red-baiting Sen. Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin who had succeeded in bullying some of the most powerful people in this nation by falsely labeling them as communists and threatening their careers. Sickened by a false attack upon one of his colleagues, Welch asked the senator, "Have you no sense of decency?"

Today the Teamsters and workers across the nation are asking corporate leaders that very same question!