Skip to main content

View Diary: We are a union household (107 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  One of the reasons that unions have faded (11+ / 0-)

    Workers have forgotten that there is power in numbers.  That's what the whole concept of collective bargaining is about.  

    A WalMart store, for example, could be unionized in a NY minute if all of the workers in the store would just walk out and refuse to work until the company recognized the local.  But the workers won't do that.  Why?  Because each one of them is primarily looking out for their own self interests.  They won't stick together in a job action.  Why not?  Because they're scared.  The companies have made the individual employees scared. At the core of it, companies keep their employees in line with fear.

    In my lifetime, I've observed that it's almost become a societal norm to look out for, first and foremost, one's own interests.  It's been lost on us that when we look out for the interests of the person on the left and right of us, we're actually looking out even more for our own personal interests - because the person to your left and right will have your back, too.

    Excellent diary, Ken.  Wonderful thoughts.  Thanks for sharing.

    "When reality is your enemy, insanity is your refuge." -- blue aardvark

    by Richard Cranium on Mon Sep 06, 2010 at 07:01:09 AM PDT

    •  The YOYO Society (7+ / 0-)

      "You're On Your Own" is a bad way to run a democratic society. We're seeing the fruits of 30+ years of concerted effort to convince people of that, though actually it's a deeply-embedded strain in American ideals.

      Thanks, teacherken, for such a strong diary reminding us of the significance of today's holiday. Thanks for all the work you do, in the classroom and out, on behalf of a "more perfect union."

    •  It didn't just "become" that way. (2+ / 0-)

      There were people actively undermining people's belief that unions are a good thing.

      Most to blame? That rugged individualist, Ronald Reagan, who managed to convince people that they could do better on their own on the one hand while simultaneously destroying unions with the other, thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

      by sidnora on Mon Sep 06, 2010 at 11:17:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are correct (4+ / 0-)

        I've told my story on DKos previously about trying to organize my coworkers back in the mid to late '80s.

        Reagan had busted the ATC union; actually, he was given his marching orders from elsewhere, but he was the most visible face of union busting.  Companies were sending their senior executives to Harvard Business School for extended seminars, and one of the trainings was in labor relations.  

        In a nutshell, what the HBS / Michael Hammer curricula gave the executives was a new road map to preventing local organizing, in advance of implementing the business tactics that have led to the business climate we're experiencing today.  And that road map was drawn in fear:

        1. Formal, structured performance reviews
        1. The concept of 'positive discipline' for employees
        1. No representation during 1 & 2
        1. Arbitrary dismissals of 10 - 20% of the workforce to reinforce the fear of 1, 2, & 3 above, and lastly (this was much bigger than anyone will ever admit):
        1. Mandatory drug and alcohol screening.

        I worked for a company that had been very family oriented towards its employees for much of its history.  Seemingly almost overnight,  when the execs returned from the training, the working atmosphere in the company degraded tremendously.

        Everyone was in fear for their jobs, but not nearly enough people were willing to organize for the common good.  Everyone was too worried about their own skin.

        "When reality is your enemy, insanity is your refuge." -- blue aardvark

        by Richard Cranium on Mon Sep 06, 2010 at 12:04:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Wow. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Larsstephens, belinda ridgewood

          That's a terrible story. And I guess that firms like yours, that previously ran on the good will of the owners towards the employees, were the most vulnerable, since the workers must have been comfortable enough with that relationship that they didn't feel the need to organize.

          I spent most of my career in a very worker-hostile industry (textiles). Although many of the blue-collar factory workers were eventually able to organize (see Norma Rae), their victories were relatively short-lived and Pyrrhic, as the corporations pretty soon afterwards offshored all of their production. White collar workers like me were never afforded any union protection, and as soon as the overseas factories were able to get up to speed on things like designing for the US market, our jobs were offshored too.

          I just remembered some thing I haven't thought about in years: one of the first companies I worked for had a pension plan that required you to be there for 10 years before you got vested (that was pretty  standard in the industry at the time). Someone I worked with had actually been there 9 1/2 years, and was really excited that soon she'd be able to claim her pension. And then they fired her.

          I asked around and discovered that the only people who'd been with the company more than 10 years were middle management or higher. I got another job as soon as I could.

          The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

          by sidnora on Mon Sep 06, 2010 at 12:25:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Question: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Larsstephens

          who was giving Reagan his marching orders?

          I'm assuming it was the same half-dozen plutocratic families that younger people are just now rediscovering (Kochs, Olins, Coorses, Scaifes, Marses etc.), that have been funding right-wing causes ever since the 60's.

          The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

          by sidnora on Mon Sep 06, 2010 at 12:28:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Ironic that Raygun was the one time president (0+ / 0-)

          of the Screen Actors Guild at the very height
          of the cold war red scare black list salvos against
          the political and economic successes of previous
          generations of unified workers for their families and nation.
          Long term strategy from think tanks, or
          a true Manchurian candidate being groomed
          in and by exploiting the existing environment?

          I actually had to sign an anti communist pledge
          on my application to join the local and national
          in order to receive my first union card.
          In the early 1980s! I hope that is no longer the case.
          I knew we were all in for a tough fight of it when he
          busted PATCO, but the D party seemed paralyzed by then.

          Industry co option of union leaders is an old story,
          as is infiltration by corrupt and less than stalwart
          and honest brokers. This is seen wherever raw power
          and economic strength congregate by association.
          The politics of such situations are inescapable.
          Where ever progress is possible, the opportunity
          for its opposite is always sadly implied.

          Notice that the higher educated professionals such
          as doctors, lawyers, realtors, and brokers, often
          have their respective mandatory association memberships
          enshrined into local and national legislations.
          Perhaps they understand the value of enforced solidarity?

          This is one of the real reasons, besides basic greed,
          that business interests consider unions a bane.
          They work. They have always worked, to a greater
          or lesser degree. And they provide an excellent
          and powerful model of how unity of purpose and
          intent can achieve basic and fundamental justice
          and progress across an infinite spectrum of humanitarian
          social, economic and political concerns.

          Thanks for all of your efforts.  

          •  This will be argued long into history: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Larsstephens

            Long term strategy from think tanks, or
            a true Manchurian candidate being groomed
            in and by exploiting the existing environment?

            Perhaps a combination of both.

            "When reality is your enemy, insanity is your refuge." -- blue aardvark

            by Richard Cranium on Mon Sep 06, 2010 at 05:06:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site