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Opinion | A conservative epiphany: Alabama workers have very few rights

Employer vaccine mandates have led to a sudden realization among the conservative working class.

Strike of workers in heavy industry

There is controversy in Conservative Land. 

The controversy, it seems, is that workers — specifically, those in at-will, conservative-controlled states, like Alabama — have very few rights. They can lose their jobs, conservatives across the country have realized over the last month or so, for just dang-near anything, including refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine. 

For some reason, the conservative working class is surprised by this. 

The progressive working class is not. At all. 

Do you remember, conservatives, all those times that you went into polling booths and voted for at-will candidates because somehow they convinced you that working for less money and fewer benefits was a badge of honor? Do you remember your lib-rul coworkers and neighbors telling you that you’d one day regret voting away all of your rights? 

Well, this is the result. 

Now, I must say that it’s painfully unfortunate that we’ve arrived at this place of conservative enlightenment because of such a stupid reason — that you don’t want to take the vaccine for the plague that’s killed 650,000 Americans and currently has Alabama’s hospitals jam packed. But here we are nonetheless, and we need to take advantage of this opportunity.

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And maybe it’s for the best that you learn lessons the hard way, and in a very public way. Because this is the consequence of voting against your interests. This is the consequence of relinquishing your power, of devaluing your worth. 

Even if I don’t agree with your idiotic reasoning in this instance, it does bother me tremendously that you, as an employee, can be forced into making a medical decision with your job hanging in the balance and there’s not a single avenue of redress for it. 

But there’s a lesson to be learned here, and that lesson is this: Government is us. 

It’s you and me and a bunch of people just like us. 

For some reason, the working class in this country has come to view “government” as this mysterious group of people in nice suits and with weirdly big teeth who know things they don’t know and have a plot to control stuff that the working people can’t understand and can never benefit from. 

That’s not true. Trust me. I talk to politicians all the time. They’re dopes. 

I mean, some of them are nice dopes and some are well-meaning dopes, but they’re as dopey as you and me. They mostly couldn’t do your job. And they don’t know more than you. 

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They just had the gall to stand up one day and decide that they were going to run for office to solve their problems and the problems of people like them. 

Because that’s all government is. That’s why we vote. You’re supposed to vote for people who will solve your problems, address the issues that are important to you, will allow you and your family to thrive. And if enough people share your interests, your problems get worked out.  

This vaccine issue is a perfect example. The big companies paid the campaign expenses and not enough workers voted against the steady erosion of workers’ rights in this country, and guess what that means? You’re taking that vaccine. 

State laws won’t save you. Local laws won’t save you. 

Right now, you could be speaking with your union representatives and discussing alternative plans that the union could negotiate with ownership. But you almost certainly don’t have that option. 

Because when it was time to vote for yourself, you fell for the con. You were tricked by rhetoric about how the union leaders were getting rich off your dues. You fell for the lines about being your own man, doing right by the company, not biting the hand that fed you. 

Well, that hand has been slapping you around for the last 40 years. 

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That’s how long it’s been since workers’ wages, when adjusted for inflation, increased. In the meantime, that money that used to go to you — back when the executives were forced to negotiate equitable profit-sharing plans — has been going to the executives, leaving some CEOs making upwards of 700 times what the average worker makes. 

And now, they’re going to force you to take a vaccine and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. 

When are y’all going to wise up? Because it’s not like our politicians are hiding what’s going on here. They tell you every time they open their mouths about an “economic development” matter. They describe you, the Alabama workforce, as “cheap labor” and then they boldly proclaim that you can be fired, demoted, moved to part time, put on contract or have your salary reduced for no reason at all. 

That’s their bargaining chip when luring new companies here — that those companies can pay the workforce crap wages and treat you however they like. 

And why wouldn’t they think that? You’ve been letting them do it for decades now.

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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