Victoria Sullivan’s Cynical Claim to Represent “Working Families”
Ward 9 Alderman Candidate’s Attacks on Labor Unions Threatens All Workers’ Financial Well-Being — OPINION
MANCHESTER, NH — Perpetual candidate Victoria Wodjyak Sullivan has made specious claims during her last three elections that she represents the “working class” and “working families.” It has always been part of the cynical Republican strategy to sow class warfare by stoking resentment between working people and better-off Democrats.
The Massachusetts born and bread Victoria Sullivan wound up in the town of Goffstown, New Hampshire. A woman with a big ego and a strong appetite for political power, she reportedly took advantage of the economic fallout of the “Great Recession” to snap up a house in Manchester’s South End that was in foreclosure, lost to a family who had fallen on hard times.
Buying a foreclosed home is nothing to criticize, unless, perhaps, you are a politician whose antediluvian economic philosophy would cause hardship among Manchester’ working class.
Sullivan has portrayed herself as a working class hausfrau battling the bourgeoisie, in the form of the patrician Mayor Joyce Craig of the rich bitch North End. It is laughable, when one knows that the former Joyce Hopkins was born into a working family up near Lake Massabesic.
Her father was an electrician, not an aristocrat.
“The Savagery of Ignorance”
Recently, Victoria Wojdylak Sullivan the Social Media Warrior once again portrayed herself as the avatar of the working class taking on labor unions. Her opponent in the Ward 9 Alderman race is Jim Burkush, former chief of the Manchester Fire Department.
Manchester firefighters are represented by a labor union. To read into Sullivan’s scorn of labor unions, one would think that the Manchester Professional Firefighters Association was the second coming of the old post-WWII Communist Party of Eugene Dennis and William Z. Foster, attempting to undermine the American Way of Life.
In my ken, Victoria Sullivan is the living embodiment of a phenomenon I have observed and classified as “The Savagery of Ignorance” after returning to my hometown of Manchester in 2010.
I honestly believe that Sullivan has no conception of a labor union is, nor any knowledge of the history of organized labor and the working class in America, let alone the positive impact labor unions have had on all working people, union and non-union alike.
After covering her for something a half-decade, I have come to the conclusion that she is ignorant on many issues, issues she — as a self-professed member of the working class — should know.
Her ignorance is something that she frankly admits.
At the end of 2020, over just more than half of the U.S. labor force was women. By NOT representing working women, Victoria Wojdylak Sullivan has rejected the majority of them.
Her apparently ideological- and religious-driven rejection of public schools also is an assault on working women — an assault on the working families she claims to represent — as is her attack on labor unions, which provided higher wages and dignity towards their members and for all working people.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2019 that “…57.4 percent of all women participated in the labor force…. By comparison, the labor force participation rate for men was 69.2 percent in 2019…17.4 percentage points below its peak of 86.6 percent in 1948.”
The top figure for woman labor force participation was 60% in 1999. Women’s participation in the labor force has dropped during the COVID Pandemic, as labor force participation dropped overall due to economic disruption. Also, many working women had to return to the home to take care of children, due public school closures.
Labor Unions: A Tide That Raises All Workers’ Wages
Workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement have hourly wages that are approximately 10% higher than non-union workers in similar jobs, and with similar training and education.
Their higher wages have the effect of raising the wages of non-union personnel. Research shows that unions benefit retail workers and unskilled workers by raising their wages too.
This positive effect has remained steady since 1940, despite the decline in union membership spurred on by the Republican sponsored, union-busting Taft-Hartley Act that passed Congress over President Harry S Truman’s veto.
Since the early 1970s, labor union membership increasingly involved skilled workers, but lower- and unskilled workers in unions benefit too, as do all workers.
When Victoria Sullivan attacks unions, her claims to represent working class and working families is revealed to be hollow rhetoric.
The median income of Manchester in 2019 was $31,866, 13% lower than the median income of Nashua, the most comparable city, which was $36,090. The median household income in Nashua was $74,995 compared to $60,711 for Manchester.
As former Ward 12 Alderman Keith Hirschmann once told me, “Jon, this is a poor city.” Poor in the economic sense.
A 2016 report by the Economic Policy Institute pointed out that the decline of labor union membership is correlated with lower wages and greater inequality.
The post-World War II boom that saw unprecedented economic prosperity for working people in the 1950s and the 1960s was correlated with higher levels of union workers. The steep decline in union membership started around 1973, with the result that the economic stability of working people got worse.
This decline became steadily worse, despite both parents in a household increasingly having to work. Victoria Sullivan portraying herself as a stay at home mother is not the norm it was in the 1950s and ‘60s.
The decline of the middle class has been cushioned, financially, by the explosive expansion of consumer debt, which reached a record $15.6 trillion in 2021.
Even before the severe economic disruptions caused by the COVID Pandemic, a 2016 report by the Pension Research Council at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School revealed the precarious state or middle class Americans, even those earning high five-figure incomes.
Research revealed that at least one-third of working Americans lacked the liquidity to to cover an unexpected bill for $2,000, including 20% of those with annual earnings of between $75,000 and $100,000.
“…[Far too many Americans are unprepared to handle even a mid-size financial shock, such as a car repair or a medical bill. When people were asked if they could come up with $2,000 in a month, over one-third of working-age Americans said they could not. Also, having a job and earning high income need not provide a protective buffer. That is, we estimate that 20 percent of Americans earning $75,000–100,000 annually cannot manage a financial shock requiring $2000 in liquid cash. Even more concerning is women’s greater vulnerability: two-fifths of women tell us that they could not handle this sort of financial shock even when they could take 30 days to locate the money. The ability to deal with short term shocks has improved slowly since the financial crisis and the Great Recession.”
In the last half-decade, the situation has gotten worse. The amount that now would cripple a middle class person is figured at $1,000 — or less!
I wish that Victoria Wojdylak Sullivan will watch this video of the great chronicler of the working class, Studs Terkel, tell a very amusing story about his attempt to teach Yuppies about the value of labor unions.