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The (anti-) Labor Secretary

Cowboy hat By Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer - Wed., 6/28/06
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Elaine Chao has a difficult job being the Secretary of Labor for the most anti-labor president of modern times.
The Bushites have killed rules to help prevent debilitating repetitive-motion injuries that afflict millions of American workers. They’ve barred employees of the new Homeland Security Department from unionizing. And now they’re trying to rig it so millions of working Americans can be cheated out of overtime pay.
You’d think a labor secretary would at least try to advocate for working folks, but Chao goes right along with the corporate interests. After all, she comes to her position after years of service on the boards of Bank of America, Columbia/HCA Healthcare, Clorox, Dole, and Northwest Airlines.
Still, labor leaders were stunned when Chao came to their recent annual meeting to attack them rather than address such real national concerns as layoffs, looted pension funds, and the growing health-care crisis.
She declared that the economy is too weak to support a raise in the minimum wage, now set at the sub-poverty level of $10,000 a year for full-time work. Excuse me—Bush wants to shove more than a trillion dollars of public money into the pockets of the super-rich, but the economy is “too weak” to sustain a one-buck hike for America’s poorest-paid workers?
There’s an old labor song that asks, “Which side are you on?” With Elaine Chao, there’s no question.

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