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View Diary: The Hidden Cost of Union Busting... (89 comments)

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  •  NAFTA killed the unions (10+ / 0-)

    Unions existed for one bright shining moment - when the US was industrialized and the rest of the world was blasted to hell from wars or still agrarian.

    In that world, skilled industrial labor was in short supply.  Workers could band together and if they all went on strike, there was no one else to do the job.  The factory owner could either pay higher wages or close shop for good and allow the competition to take over.

    But then we industrialized our allies and gave away technology and factories could spring up anywhere.  And then NAFTA was passed.  And overnight, when American union workers went on strike, the factory owner could just fire everyone and move the jobs to Mexico or China and pay 1/10th the wages.  

    The unions have been busted since 1994 because of "free" trade.  Clinton signed it, and all the rich Dem sellouts supported it and there has never been a serious push back to repeal it or to work for real fair trade.  I've waited two years for Obama to work on trade, and he's avoided it as well.

    And now the public unions are being busted, but what did you expect?  The middle class has been decimated.  Wages  have fallen from $40/hr to $15/hr or less.  Those people can no longer afford the taxes that support high public union salaries.  How can you ask someone who's taken a 60% pay cut to maintain someone else's high wages?

    The public unions were supported by the economy.  When the private sector is doing well, people can invest their income in higher taxes and buy the public services they want.  But when "free" trade decimates the private economy, the tax base is no longer there to support the public workers.

    Fight to repeal NAFTA.  Fight to end our trade deficit if you want to see wages rise in this country.

    •  True, but only part of the story (1+ / 0-)
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      Angie in WA State

      Many things have decimated unions in this country.
      1. The Taft-Hartley law, with its state option open shop laws.
      2. The purging of the left from American unions during the Red Scare era.  Many of the folks who did the hard and often dangerous work of organizing did it out of deep commitment because they were in fact socialist or communist.  When they were purged out, a lot of the folks who were left behind were people who thought a job working for a union should be a cushy sinecure.  So we see unions with organizing departments and organizing budgets that haven't organized a worker in years.
      3. The failure of the unions as a whole to take a stand when Reagan fired the Air traffic controllers.  PATCO had gone against the union grain and supported Reagan in the election, so when he turned on them, a lot of other unions figured they were only getting what they deserved.  If all the transport unions had stood together and shut down air travel over that firing, the landscape would be very different today.
      4. Partnership unionism, in which union leaders agree to merge their interests with the interests of the boss, even when it means going against the public good.  It has never paid off in the long run, and when union workers are in life or death fights, they can't find allies because of the people they screwed to stand with the boss.  Examples would be things like the UAW fighting auto safety laws and fuel economy standards because the boss asks them to.  Or a certain large health care union fighting against tougher regulation of nursing homes in exchange for organizing rights.  Any time that a union thinks it should side with the boss and against the public interest, it needs to think again.
      So, yes, globalization in all its forms plays a part, but it's not the whole story.
      I am, by the way, a member of the fastest growing union in America: CNA/NNOC

      "I was asked what I thought of the mainstream media. I said I thought it would be a good idea" - Amy Goodman.

      by Chico David RN on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 12:12:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Globalization would have happened anyway. (0+ / 0-)

      If NAFTA had failed, it would have only briefly postponed the inevitable.  The US exports huge amounts of goods, which have to compete with goods produced cheaply elsewhere.

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