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Voices / Letters from readers

Retreat conflict unmasks 40 years of erosion in workers’ rights

RE: “Retreat nurse: staff is at the breaking point” [Letters, Jun. 27]:

The unfortunate situation at the Brattleboro Retreat underlines the importance of strong unions and the support of workers’ rights.

The display of power, disruption, and fear that management has offered as leadership is a sickening reminder of the destruction of workers’ rights that has been going on since Ronald Reagan began attacking these rights 40 years ago.

In this climate of fear and desperation, management exploits workers for maximum profits. Union power and influence has been steadily eroding, relentlessly attacked by corporate money, using bogus court cases to undermine and destroy workers’ rights.

Unlimited money funneled through the Republican party has created a political movement dedicated to destroying these rights. As they do with the issue of immigration, this same Republican Party and its leader, Donald Trump, appeal to hate and fear to divide and conquer, distract, and then, at the same time, destroy the rights of the same workers who voted for Trump.

Because of the arcane rules under the labor relations board (which will soon be destroyed by Trump and the Republicans), the many steps and thresholds that unions must go through to address grievances and a fair hearing is just about impossible and require sacrifice and endless energy to achieve.

The game is rigged against workers, and it is getting worse. Their lives are more insecure and fragile as they reel from the confusion, distractions, and lies from the Trump administration and the Republicans. This is the whole point. Desperate people can be controlled more easily by propaganda and fear. Just ask any Trump supporter.

Please support our friends and community members working at the Retreat.

Steve Belczak

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Originally published in The Commons issue #466 (Wednesday, July 4, 2018). This story appeared on page D4.

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