DUBLIN, Va. – Pulaski County Virginia is, in many ways, the quintessential image of rural America.
Founded in 1839, it was named after aide de camp to George Washington and revolutionary war hero Casimir Pulaski, an exiled nobleman from Poland who took up the American cause as his own. Like most rural communities in the United States, the fledgling industrial heart of Pulaski was ripped out and outsourced with Bill Clinton’s signing of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement. Since the 90’s, Pulaski has struggled, and more and more of her sons and daughters have increasingly sought greener pastures elsewhere.
This story has played repeatedly across rural America, and is not unique to Pulaski County. So what happens when a diversifying and industrializing community suddenly loses its economic base? The land the factories were built on cannot be returned to the farmers, and the State isn’t willing – or capable – of providing the education necessary for working people to retrain for new careers; so what happens?
In Pulaski we find our answer, and it isn’t a pretty one.
With an overall poverty rate of 14.6%, and a per capita average income of only $28,125 per year, the picture becomes quite clear. The national poverty rate is only 9.4%, and the national per capita income average is $35,977 per year. Despite this, Pulaski has an unemployment rate of only 3.3%, well below the US average of 6%. How is this possible? Because the workforce participation rate is only 59.7%.
What this means is that nearly half of all people in Pulaski are jobless, but only three out of every hundred are considered unemployed.
Enter Volvo. With average salaries sometimes doubling or even tripling the near-poverty average income of the area, workers are left with very few options. This has led to outright predatory practices by the few remaining industries, who routinely subcontract their workforce rather than directly hiring employees; by subcontracting “temps” they are able to routinely lowball workers for near-poverty wages and completely sidestep obligations like health insurance and retirement benefits. Rather than offering careers, they offer a revolving door that never stops turning, and the workers themselves are shamed for not thanking the bosses for their kindness – what kindness!
As one of the few companies in the area with a Union, Volvo has largely been prevented from completely giving itself over to these cutthroat and barbaric practices – but not for a lack of trying. The company routinely overworks its employees in order to over-produce trucks. Then it lays them off. This boom-bust cycle of their own making is then oftentimes blamed on the UAW, who have the gall to simply demand fair wages, humane benefits, and the health and safety that all workers rightfully deserve.
We will not sit idly by and watch helplessly as Volvo and other billionaire corporations take advantage of rural communities struggling for their survival.
We will not keep silent or look the other way as workers stand up and fight for what they are rightfully owed.
THE COMMUNIST PARTY STANDS IN SUPPORT OF UAW LOCAL 2069
THE COMMUNIST PARTY DEMANDS FAIR WAGES, FAIR BENEFITS, AND
PROPER HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR ALL WORKERS
THE COMMUNIST PARTY COMMITS ITSELF TO THIS CAUSE
WE HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT OUR CHAINS