Let's hear it for forgotten workers

Monday September 3, 2012

On this Labor Day, let’s pay tribute to the janitors who worked the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida last week for minimum wage, $7.67 an hour, according to a report in the Huffington Post. They cleaned up after the celebrating delegates and then went home to try to figure out how to pay the rent, buy health insurance and feed their families for such a relative pittance.

The Republican convention was centered around the theme of "We built it!," continuing the willful misrepresentation of President Obama’s accurate statement that small businesses are built upon infrastructure and other forms of assistance provided by government. Who built the structure the delegates gathered in last week? According to the Tampa Bay Times, about $84 million came from city, county and state taxpayers -- government financing. The actual building of the facility itself was done by much-maligned union contractors like the ones GOP governors and legislators have been so eager to disenfranchise of their negotiated contractual rights the last two years.

Much was said about the contributions of small business during the GOP convention and rightly so, as small business is critical to the economic success of Berkshire County, Massachusetts and the United States. Little or nothing was said about "small workers," however; the janitors working at low wages, the women working part-time while raising a family, the blue collar factory workers downsized out of a job and not qualified for the jobs of the 21st century. Little was said about the college students who will enter a competitive workforce burdened by debt, although in his embarrassing rant Thursday, Clint Eastwood did chastise the "ecological" president for flying around in a big plane to talk about college funding. At least that’s what we think he said.

We hope that Democrats will do a better job in their convention of acknowledging the plight of Americans working two jobs to make ends meet and the college students dropped into an unforgiving marketplace, and proposing solutions that will help them and the nation. These are the people who helped build America and they need help in return so they can keep on building it.


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