News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Monday, June 8, 2009

Revoke the Emancipation Proclamation, repeal the Thirteenth Amendment

No state is more anti-labor than South Dakota. When workers in the state walk through the doors of their places of employment each day, they step back into the Middle Ages and assume the status of serfs. In the work place, they have no rights. South Dakota is an "at will" state, which means that employers can fire employees at whim and without reason. The only modifying influence on that power is federal anti-discrimination laws, which give employees some recourse if they are fired or discriminated against because of race, gender, or creed. South Dakota is a lousy place to be an employee.

Unless, an employee is a member of a union. Unions give employees a systematic way to bargain for salary and benefit improvements and to establish some basic rights in the workplace. However, in South Dakota the labor laws provide loopholes which allow employers to nullify the collective bargaining process and to dismiss contract provisions. The state upholds the serfdom of employees.

The anti-labor attitude enjoys bi-partisan support in South Dakota. Some Democrats are as anti-worker as their regressive compatriots, who long for the old plantation system of utilizing human work. But the anti-worker attitude is not fundamentally an economic matter of people looking for the cheapest possible source of labor. It is more a matter of regressive social notions which place people who do the work in a status inferior to those who presume to manage any work to be done and to dictate who can do it. The anti-worker sentiment is rooted in the old dog pack mentality through which members of the pack aspire to alpha status by sending their fellows into the omega regions. It is an attitude that reveres inequality as the path to human distinction.

When South Dakota is touted for its "business climate," in addition to paltry taxes on corporations and the lack of worker rights, the studies cite the absence of egalitarianism as a major factor. In open refutation of that silly notion enshrined in the Declaration of Independence that all people are created equal, the South Dakota attitude is that all people may be created equal, but we sure as hell don't have to keep them that way. Especially in the work place.

Nothing has aggravated the anti-worker attitude across the nation more than the proposed Employee Free Choice Act. Groups lobbying for the inferior status of workers have launched an astounding campaign of disinformation, misinformation, and outright lies about this act.

They claim that the act will take away the employees right to a secret ballot in deciding whether to unionize their workplace. The fact is that the Act would give the employees the right to decide what kind of election they can have. Now, the union election process is under the control of the employers. The EFCA would give employees the right to either indicate their willingness to unionize by signing a card or to choose an election. What rankles South Dakota is that the EFCA would give workers the right to decide their future affiliations, not leave it up to employers to stall and set up obstacles that is the historic pattern.

The South Dakota business community has launched a vigorous opposition to the EFCA. Their main argument is that it would take away workers' rights to a secret ballot, as if the South Dakota business community ever gave a rat's rinktum about workers' rights or well-being.

Their second argument is that it would be bad for business. This is based solely upon the assumption that any worker rights is considered bad for business in South Dakota.

The Rapid City Journal takes up the vapid argument in an editorial that chides Sen. Tim Johnson for saying that he will vote for cloture on the EFCA bill and send to the Senate floor for debate. As expressed in the editorial, even debate on the bill violates South Dakota sentiments. Giving workers any kind of v oice is a taboo in the plantation culure of South Dakota business. There are, of course, some businesses which show some respect and regard for their workers, but such is not the official business attitude reflected by the South Dakota chamber of commerce and its allies. Or its mouthpiece, The Rapid City Journal.

During this recession, workers have been shown a warlike opposition by the corporate fascists. While the bailouts and the stimulus package are predicated for the benefit of saving the working class from disasters, the petit-fascists yell socialism, communism, and all the epithets that have always accompanied the subjugation of the worker class by the fascisti. It remains to be seen whether the American working middle class is revived or suppressed.

In South Dakota, the message, as trumpeted by The Rapid City Journal and the regressive bloggers is clear:

South Dakota is a lousy place to be a worker.

The Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment, like the EFCA, are considered a nuisance in this state. The notion of equality is just more liberal claptrap.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States