Those who know me, also know that I tend to shy away from activism, especially while performing for my diverse audience. I don't like to use my microphone to voice my personal opinions. But this seems to be an appropriate place and time to speak about why I am proud to take part in tomorrow's Solidarity Day Rally in Waynesburg, PA. My songs have always documented and celebrated the trials and tribulations of the working class from which I came.
After I posted a free download of my new song Across the Tracks, which I wrote after a visit to Matewan, WV, someone from Ohio sent me an email to explain their plight:
"Here in Ohio we state employees pay 10% of our salary toward our retirement, more than any other public or private employees in the nation. Soc Sec participant workers pay only 8.25%. We pay 20 % for our medical coverage, 95% of the general public pays less. We have collectively bargained and conceded much to get what we have. I most likely will lose my retirement and most of the medical coverage, as well as paid leaves (sick leave). I had planned on working another two or three years, but may be forced to retire, just to salvage what meager bits that I can."
It is publicized here in Ohio that we state workers are the cause of the 8 billion dollar debt in our state. Yet all of the concessions that we will now give as a result of the new legislation will affect only 1.1% of the deficit. It is just union busting and nothing else.
I have worked in several unions in my time........all protected the individual worker through collective bargaining, from corruption by owners and operators. Now it seems that we are portrayed as the villains. It saddens me to see this happening.... again.....in this country. These battles were fought many times in the past, but here we go again."
Have you noticed the tone of rhetoric and advertising recently? I played at an event recently and a senator, after heaping praise on workers and unions, began to rant about the Chinese who own most of our debt. Just days later (I swear there's a concerted effort here) I saw a commercial on TV that was exactly the same. I believe that while the government has never been able to manage our money, they want to scare us into thinking that collective bargaining is un-American and the cause of their financial mess.
Today AFSCME - who or what next?
How small does our middle-class have to become, and how many of us will eventually find ourselves "across the tracks?"