Too often, Democrats have been playing defense in the fight to preserve labor unions. What, really, have we done to help out the workers' strongest allies in the last half-century? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Oh sure, Democratic majorities usually guarantee that a state won't turn into a right-to-work (RTW) nightmare, and they don't usually take any especially egregious actions against labor unions - although events in Illinois with the teachers' union seem to be proving that statement inaccurate. Unfortunately, we've failed. As soon as a right-wing majority moves into a state, it invariably attempts to destroy public and/or private sector labor unions. The best example: Michigan, arguably the bedrock of labor unions in America, is now a RTW state.
As a consequence, labor union membership has dropped to levels not seen since the height of the Great Depression. Currently, around 12% of the workforce are union members. This is disgraceful.
People often wonder why western European nations tend to have such a high quality of life, with ample vacation, high pay, eight hour work days (for real, not in theory), benefits, and humane working conditions. Besides a politically engaged populace that is willing to fight for its rights against political encroachment, one of the main reasons is the high rate of union membership in most of these nations. In Scandinavian countries, union membership varies between 50% and above 80% of the workforce. This is the level of union membership that we need: The majority of the workforce, at the least.
So how do we get there? Join me below the Orange Seal of Doom.
We currently control the legislatures of eighteen states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, West Virginia, and Vermont. By my count, Democratic states have a population of around 109 million people. That means we have legislative power over about a third of the population. So... let's use that power.
Let's write laws in every one of these states mandating union membership for every employee in every business with an annual income above a certain threshold. NO EXCEPTIONS.
/breathe in, breathe out
Essentially, this forces every employer to treat its employees collectively rather than individually. This gives every employee the benefit of a strong, organized support structure for appealing wrongful termination, for fighting discrimination, and for bargaining for a contract. Designed properly, this law even allows for small mom-and-pop stores to operate without having to collectively bargain with its three or four (or whatever) employees. By setting the threshold at a certain income, you prevent businesses from doing the Obamacare Dance where they cut employees (or their hours) to avoid 'burdensome' regulation.
Not only that, but it delineates yet another contrast between blue states and red states. One of the most prominent examples of this contrast will soon be seen with Obamacare - blue states that cooperate with the law and work to implement it will see tremendous benefits to their economy, while red states that fight it tooth and nail will end up subsidizing the blue states. By mandating union membership, employees in blue states will reap enormous benefits while red state employees suffer under RTW laws. By drawing this contrast, we expose the lies that got RTW laws passed in the first place - and maybe, finally, we can start to roll back the rising tide of RTW.