Meet “Porkorate Paul”, the enormous big pink pig seen squatting in the bed of a sign and slogan covered pick-up truck, puffing a cigar. He came to Brattleboro this Monday morning, October 20th, on one of his many stops throughout New England. His purpose: to parade his pompous presumptions of wealthy entitlement over the lower echelon (that’s us). And like a boar, greedily tearing at the soil for every last morsel of truffle fungi, he is tearing and shredding the roots of Union strength–even at Democracy–with total disregard for the potential of our future economic health. “Porkorate Paul” represents the rapacious greed of Wall Street, draining Vermont (and the rest of the 17 states in which Fairpoint exists) of the few industries we have left that provide decent, living wages to its Union Member employees.
According to the Union-created website (see website at the end) of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Communication Workers of America (CWA), less that two years after Fairpoint quintupled its size, by acquiring Verizon’s Northern New England service region, it filed for bankruptcy. In the process of reorganizing at last, a mere 191 wealthy creditors bought the “distressed” shares from the previous half a million stockholders. Only five of those new creditors now control over 50% of the shares, (54.1%) and 4 of those 5 are hedge funds! Then, instead of creating another 675 new jobs as promised in Union talks, these shareholders cut 22% from the workforce –bringing total worker number of over 4,000 members to just over 3,100. In other words, a whole lot of bacon landed in a very few silk-lined pockets, while nearly 1,000 hard working people ended up on the unemployment line. Right now, those Union workers are on strike in protest of the broken promises from Fairpoint and it’s elitist shareholders.
If you understand this concept, that a strong middle class is the long-term foundation of a healthy economy, then you also understand that manipulation of the “buy-low, sell-high” stock market games of Wall Street, combined with undermining Unions, cutting a skilled workforce and replacing it with less qualified workers, and outsourcing, serves only to destroy the already dwindling middle class and further devastating our economy as a whole. The only ones that “win,” in the short-term are those at the very top; they are the one that cash out quick with their riches, leaving behind a trail of bankruptcies, lost homes, and unemployed talent that will then depend on social safety net services (into which they once were contributors).
Being extraordinarily wealthy, in a nation where a majority is poor,doesn’t seem like a healthy business plan. Cutting a raw deal for the original half a million stockholders (who had originally bought into the company with a real commitment to its long-term stability), is so heinous an act it has the feel of criminality to it; it certainly does not promote longevity or stability for the company, but does lend to the continued degradation and collapse of our entire nation. Further enriching the fewer-than-200 investors and hedge funds in a short term, get-richer-quicker endeavor, completely undermines– really it voids– the company’s history as being a high quality service provider, with guarantees of “Customer Satisfaction” (unless the only customers counted are the current shareholders). Causing unemployment and poverty for thousands of competent and skilled Union, and other, employees –despite the demand for more to service the extended service area– can’t even be called a “business practice”, for what does it have to do with keeping the company strong? All it does is cause poverty for the many, while a few gain some morsels of mushrooms. That’s greed, plain and simple.
So the pig analogy continues…
Fairpoint now competes with the corporate giant, Comcast/Xfinity. It’s grew over the years to become one of few fiber-optic telecommunication service providers to reach the rural areas that Comcast couldn’t be bothered to service. It created thousands of well-paying jobs for skilled, organized workers. It meant that small states, like Vermont, had a growing middle class. Having a solid middle class is key to economic stability overall. That’s what Fairpoint was a part of… but apparently, not any more. At this rate, it won’t be long ’til Fairpoint is paying the equivalent of Walmart’s wages.
Unions’ histories prominently include: aiding in the end of child labor in this country, creation of the 8-hour work day, increasing quality of work and higher wages, and ending so many other unfair business practices, all of which brought helped in giving us decades of American prosperity. Union members helped build and sustain a middle class, and, truly, helped in making the US a great nation. But with the new masters for companies like Fairpoint, who are completely, and blatantly, disregarding promises they made, refusing to come to the negotiation table, and continuing to thumb their snouts at court ordered judgments….as they wantonly go on digging for their truffles without care…we see yet more proof we are no longer operating in a Democratic society, but in an Oligarchy. We are being ruled by the decisions and whims of wealthy Corporatists; and all for their own benefit. Supporting this claim is a ground shaking study that was released last April by Princeton and Northwestern Universities, entitled: “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens.” In it, the researchers analysed over two decades of detailed policy and data, and were able to prove beyond doubt that our government no longer represents the US populations. Rather, it represents corporate wealth.
Yes, it does look grim. Maybe it even looks hopeless. Despairing, however, serves no purpose. That’s an act of genuflection to the “Porkorate Paul” dynasty, allowing him to grunt at us all on the way to the soup lines and tent cities. No more enormously big pink pigs in front of post offices, please! Making Pork Pie is meant to be a shared endeavor. So is making the Vegan Tofu Pot Pie, a Kosher Beef pie, or whatever other Pie there is. We bring sanity back to our Democracy by becoming active participants in it.
Getting a piece of Democracy in action can be as simple as bringing your Right to Vote out next month.
Of course, to really make a difference, it’s going to take even more than that. We start by standing up and getting out into the streets, supporting Workers’ Rights and Unions. And we take away “personhood” power of Corporations that has run our Democratic process amuck. We put “Porkorate Paul” back in his pen.
Bringing this pig analogy to its conclusion once and for all: Please follow these links to learn more, and to get involved.
Information on the current Strike against Fairpoint by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Communication Workers of America, including history, issues and ongoing actions:
Information about the Vermont Workers’ Center activities and membership in your area, and its work in collaboration with other Human Rights organizations throughout the state.www.workerscenter.org
Leading the pack to end Corruption in Congress, Reclaim Democracy, and create a 28th Amendment to overturn Citizens’ United: No Human Rights for Corporations. Congress won’t do it, so it’s up to us. www.wolf-pac.com