Dear All :
Happy Labor Day from us here at U.S. Tech Workers. A while back I was listening to song called Sixteen Tons and it struck a chord with me. In the chorus the lines go “I owe my soul to the company store” and “another day older and deeper in debt.
Those lines refer to the debt bondage system many a coal miner knew all too well. The system went like this: you worked for the company, you lived in company housing, and using company script, you bought items at the company store. The song was written in 1946 by Merle Travis. The T.E Ford version was recorded in 1955 and sold over 20 million copies in one year.
I believe the song’s success was predicated on its depiction of the shared experience of American workers. With the help of unions, workers had just recently thrown off the yoke of these company town bosses.
The song should serve to remind us that it is “class” warfare that has been and continues to be waged upon us. We may not be loading and shucking coal but we are working at jobs that grows less and less secure by the year due to the calculated offshoring and outsourcing conducted by companies. These straw bosses may not pay us with script but they force us to work more hours for less. On top of that, they increasingly move jobs overseas, import less-qualified workers eager to work for less, and offer them a pathway to citizenship.
There may no longer be a company store, but expectations of a living wage and middle class status are no longer a given. We have less and less chance of either, growing ever deeper inconsumer and student loan debt and unable to build household wealth.
The enemy of wage and salary earning Americans is not a partisan of an opposing political party or simply someone more liberal or conservative-minded than we. The enemy of workers today is the same company store. These elites are quite happy when we look to the left or right and not up at them.
This Labor Day, let us renew our collective commitment to fight back against the globalists and neo-liberals whose idea of a worker is a serf and forget any concept of a middle class. Let's prove them wrong!