April 27, 2011

George Meany: The Nixon Years were fraught with double standards.

In his address to the National Press Club on April 7, 1972, AFofL-CIO President George Meany gave an assessment of how Labor viewed the nation. As always, and seemingly synonymous with a Republican administration, Labor was deemed the enemy of Corporate America and Corporate America seemed impervious to why Labor existed in the first place. As deregulation crept in, almost unnoticed until the Reagan Years when it was too late, the average worker (i.e. Middle Class) was being slowly dismantled and abandoned from the workplace. While, oddly but not surprisingly, corporate profits continued to soar and quality of life continued to plummet. In 1972 George Meany was there to point out these seemingly innocuous findings.

George Meany: “One of the most shocking examples of the Administration’s double standards was the flouting of the intent in Congress to exempt low-wage workers from wage controls. On January 19th (1972) the Cost of Living Council headed by Secretary of The Treasury John Connolly and director Donald Rumsfeld decontrolled most retail stores and almost half of the nations rental units. That’s on Prices and Rents. Ten days later, in the face of the clear intent of the Congress, the same Council exempted only wages below one dollar and ninety an hour, less than the amount needed to meet the Government defined poverty line for an urban family of four. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has documented the fact that wages are being held down. On April 7th, today the Bureau reported that the average hourly earnings of production and non-supervisory workers in private employment, about 47 million people, was three dollars and fifty-seven cents in March. There was an increase of one cent between January and February, and an increase of only 3 cents an hour from January to March. While prices are going up, workers wages are being very effectively held down. Under these conditions profits have begun to soar, although the levels of sales are disappointing and unemployment remains high. In the second half of nineteen hundred and seventy-one the Commerce Department reports that after-tax corporate profits were up nineteen percent from the same period of 1970. The major gains in profits are going to the big banks, corporations and conglomerate giants. The Gallagher President’s Report shows that the nations one hundred largest corporations scored a 76% rise in profits in 1971 over 1970. If you exclude the special case of General Motors because of the strike situation in 1970, then the record of the other 99 giants was a 70.8% rise in after-tax profits.”

And almost 40 years later, the hand-wringing continues. The Corporations are too big to fail, the banks laugh and the people continue to be mystified.

And the definition of insanity is . . . . . .?

Speaking of quality of life and poverty . . .
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