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Column: Rigging the rules against unions

AUSTIN, Texas -- There's one direct, grassroots way that workaday folks can create more fairness in our country's plutocratic, corporate-controlled economy: unite in unions. Indeed, some 60 million workers say they'd join a union today if they could.

Well ... why can't they?

Because corporate chieftains and Wall Street financiers don't want us hoi polloi having any real say over such things as offshoring, downsizing, wages, benefits, and working conditions. So, for decades, they have deployed their lawyers, lobbyists, and politicians to rig the rules of unionization to keep people from joining together.

For example, the Railway Labor Act, which sets union rules for railroads and airlines, has a tricky little provision to sidetrack nearly all new unionizing efforts in these industries. When a vote is taken among workers to decide whether they want a union, all employees who don't vote are counted as "no" -- rather than not counted at all, as happens with non-voters in every other American election.

However, the Obama administration has now repealed this absurdity, and -- Whoa, Nellie! -- the airlines have gone bonkers, unleashing their political partisans to howl in protest. Sen. Johnny Isakson (D-GA), a well-funded attack dog for Delta Airlines, stood on his hind legs to declare that deleting non-voters from the "no" column was an "assault on employee rights."

Really, Johnny? Then how would you like playing by such rigged rules for your own elections? In his last run, 79 percent of eligible Georgians either voted against Isakson or did not vote -- so non-voters would've soundly defeated him.

Hmmm ... If it would get rid of all the Isaksons, maybe the non-voter system might be a good thing after all -- which is why hypocrites like him would never be for it.

Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He's also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.

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