Skip to main content

View Diary: Here's why if you don't like inequality, you should support unions (51 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  I hear a lot from peers (I'm in my 20s) (16+ / 0-)

    say that unions did great things in the past, but now they're obsolete. Kind of mission accomplished, now they're no longer needed. Now we have strong laws and regulations protecting workers, labor and employment lawyers who we can employ to protect our rights.
    After what Republicans have done in Wisconsin and Michigan and elsewhere I don't see how anyone can continue to believe this. If Republicans could do what they wanted we'd have the labor protections of the 1870s.

    ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

    by James Allen on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:52:26 PM PDT

    •  That's because your peers were (16+ / 0-)

      likely not taught any (or very little) about labor history in the US, and/or they are not union members.  Workers starved, fought, and died to establish these rights.  Of course, it might not occur to your peers how those regulations came to be in the first place.  Please tell me they don't think that the coporatists suddenly developed a heart and decided to just grant these things to 'the little people?'

      Much like the women's liberation movement, 20-somethings today think that all those hard-fought gains are here to stay, but they are not.  The sad fact is we are re-fighting those same battles every day, every year, just to try to hold onto those gains, not to mention attempts to move forward are continuously stymied by the Right.

      One person can make a difference--and everyone should try. --John F. Kennedy

      by GypsyT on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 02:05:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You need to remember (or get educated) (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, James Allen, 1Nic Ven

      that those "strong laws" and "rights" need to be protected.  As unions have declined, we've borne witness to the huge failure to enforce worker health and safety laws (Deepwater Horizon and our plethora of mining disasters come immediately to mind) and also seen labor laws skirted or ignored because strong labor supporters aren't appointed to the labor board or OSHA.

      That said, I and others have been pushing for a couple of decades to get unions off their asses which got far too lazy with the smugness that comes from success.  We now live with the results - members don't feel connected to their unions and unions don't work hard enough for their members.  Today, I see the kind of active labor movement due to better leadership that we've needed for a long time, but that has come because unions are now under attack and it's a fight for the life of unions themselves.  I wish they had gotten active earlier so all this could have been prevented.

      I feel certain that if it's not too late due to the devastation wrought by the RW, the trend will be reversed and unions will once again have a prominent voice in the direction of this country.

      There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

      by Puddytat on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 02:22:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm getting educated (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Puddytat, GypsyT

        I'm in law school and I'm just starting to take employment law, will take labor law next year, and I've got union members on all sides of  my family going back generations, so I don't agree with those peers.

        ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

        by James Allen on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 06:50:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  be careful about your accusations (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        1Nic Ven, GypsyT, Dirtandiron, policymaven

        The media have painted union members (including leaders) as "lazy" and "thugs" and many other things for decades now. After the huge successes of the post-WWII era, the corporate bosses got scared and subsidized an unending campaign to undermine union membership in the US.
        By projecting negative stereotypes portrayed in movies and tv, and by targeting some union leaders by "investigative journalists," and by funding anti-union laws, and by pressuring workers not to join unions, the owners have managed to push union membership down to incredibly low numbers in the private sector. As Ms. Clawson wrote, those low numbers are the reason for low wages and low levels of worker protection in the US.
        The attacks on unions in the public sector are the last battle in this war, and it has had huge impacts across the country. I have seen too many people on the pages of Daily Kos echo the right-wing attacks on "stupid teachers" and "lazy state employees" who are all "protected by their unions."
        Unions leaders can't do much when they represent such a small share of the working population. Cut their membership and you cut the funds that the leaders have to work with.
        There are other limitations as well. In many states, public sector unions are banned from striking. This leaves them very little leverage when the legislator (or insane governor) decides to cut their salaries/health care/pensions.

        I'm glad that you're noticing the activities of unions now. I think that their presence in the media has less to do with changes in leadership than it has to do with changes in our culture. When workers were feeling fat and happy in the 80s and early 90s they thought they didn't need unions, and the media didn't report on their activities. Today unions are recognized (by some) as the last bastion in the US against creeping feudalism, and suddenly they are in the headlines again.

        •  You know so very little of me (0+ / 0-)

          You might start with my profile.  Then, perhaps you should spend some time reading a few of my diaries back when we were protesting in Madison in February and March 2011.

          I'm strongly pro-union, a union activist and organizer, and liberal activist.  Feel free to check me out with fellow Kossacks.  You might want to look at those who follow my work.

          That said, I've been battling against the lethargy of unions in the 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond when the leadership was resting on the laurels of their past accomplishment as the seeds of their destruction were being put in place by the monied interests.

          I'm glad that you're noticing the activities of unions now
          Noticed?  Ha!  I've participated in those activities since the mid 70s.  I still do as an active union retiree.  Our current battles wouldn't be necessary if union leadership would have been more engaged in the past few decades.

          Perhaps it's you who should be careful in your accusations.

          There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

          by Puddytat on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 11:19:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  And who's going to protect (7+ / 0-)

      the laws that protect the workers? The entire political dimension of unionism is often missed. Unions used to be the support of the Democratic party in the north - now rich "donors" are. We are seeing the difference.

      "It is, it seems, politically impossible to organize expenditure on the scale necessary to prove my case -- except in war conditions."--JM Keynes, 1940

      by randomfacts on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 02:51:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  exactly (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dirtandiron

        once you get rid of the unions there little left to protect those laws from being undermined or repealed.

        ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

        by James Allen on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 06:51:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Inequality (0+ / 0-)

      You might want to point your friends to the following website, www.Heist-the movie.com, which is currently streaming free through Labor Day week. Having produced the film, I can certainly tell you that it tells the story of our economy from the point of view of working people, not the 1%.

      Here is the link to the reviews of the film.
      http://heist-themovie.com/...

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site