Detroit – A new political action committee calling itself Voice for the Necessitous is working in combination with the Service Employees Internation Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) with the help of the ACLU and MoveOver.org to try to form a new union serving the unemployed and welfare recipients across the US. Their initial press release quotes the organizations spokesman, Manuel Hermanez, former Department of Human Services vice chairman and recent minority rights lobbyist in Washington as saying “We believe the unemployed and the indigent are seriously under-represented in the workforce and deserve to have a voice in corporate and national labor issues.”
The new union is also working with Hermanez and other lobbyists even before final ratification of the union charter to create the necessary exemptions in existing union protectorate laws to give the organization equal standing with other labor rights organizations and employee unions nationwide. Included in one such proposal, carried as a rider on a ways-and-means budget bill due to come up for a vote next month, includes provisions to allow the new union to have a direct say in both public and private hiring decisions as well as participate in negotiations prior to the drafting of new legislation concerning welfare, medicaid and medicare and unemployment compensation.
Larry Rivens, an unemployed landscape worker said, “I would love to have more of a say in just how much unemployment I get. Right now we just have to settle for whatever the government is payin’!” He also added, “In my business, we don’t work but 5 months out of the year. I need somethin’ to hold me over all winter long! I can’t mow grass through snowstorms!”
Some critics have pointed to another proposed piece of legislation, added as a line item to an appropriations bill in the house which seeks to take a direct cut of the members’ benefit payment checks from the government in order to serve as union dues. When asked about how he justified taking money from people said to be ‘in need’, Hermanez stated “It remains to be seen just how much will actually be requisitioned for negotiating fees and such, but such an organization can’t run without funding. I’m sure that anyone in a position of needing assistance will be more than happy to help fund the union when the union is looking out for their rights as disenfranchised workforce members.”
The proposed union has sparked words of outrage from taxpayer and business organizations alike as some business analysts suggests plans are already in the works to add a tax to either goods or corporate profits to further fund the predictable increase in government costs that will result.
Larry Hopkins, a former shop steward at a company that used to make solar panels but that went bankrupt two years ago said, “The rights to collectively bargain have been a staple in this country for over 100 years. Now that I am unemployed and have not been working for more than two years, I am no longer eligible for union enrollment. My unemployment checks ran out 6 months ago, and I would love to see someone speak on my behalf in Washington to help get my checks rolling again!”
Group organizers hope to stage a “Million Indigent March” in conjunction with the Occupy Washington chapter. A similar event last month featured visits by Jesse Jackson who was quoted as saying “It’s about time our underemployed minorities received appropriate representation.” and Reverand Al Sharpton who stated that “Anyone opposed to unionizing the poor is obviously a racists bigot who wants to keep the underprivileged man down!”