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Crowd of union workers and supporters with signs. Text
Why unions? Good jobs are too hard to come by, and the Republican party is dedicated to asking not why more people don't have good jobs, but why a few people still do even though they're not the corporate executives and Wall Street bankers who Republicans believe deserve the best of everything.
Graph of the share of workers with good jobs. Jagged line on general downward trend through 1980s, rebounding in 1990s, declining again.
The rich are getting more and more of the money, and they're using it to buy more power and more opportunities to get still more money.
Table showing the share of net worth held by percentile of wealth owners, 1989-2010. Top 10 percent, especially top 1 percent, has increasing share of wealth, bottom 50 percent has only 1.1 percent of total wealth.
It's worth thinking about Labor Day, and supporting unions, because unions are a force, however small, against this growing inequality. In that race-to-the-bottom context, union workers do better. They're not making Wall Street money, but they're doing better than Walmart money:
Bar graph showing the median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers, comparing union and non-union workers. Across demographic groups, union workers earn more.
Unions help people do better and they promote equality, closing ethnic and racial pay gaps. As unions have declined, income inequality has risen, and that's no coincidence. Union members or not, workers benefit from a strong labor movement. And yes, road or building or bridge, workers built it.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 05:55 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  As unions have declined, (21+ / 0-)

    income inequality has risen, despite long term increases in productivity. I might add that the last stronghold of union strength, public sector unions, are under direct attack. This is exactly what "education reform" is all about.

    ",,, the Political whorehouse that is Fox News." Keith Olbermann

    by irate on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 06:07:01 AM PDT

    •  Your exactly right, that and Wall Street wants (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Candide08, irate, TKO333, rhauenstein, rebel ga

      it's cut. I saw story about a meeting of hedge fund managers discussing charter schools in New York, one of them mentioned what kind of money they could make if they could set up something like Udacity or the Kahn Academy so they could get rid of teachers.
      I have nothing against the Kahn Academy or Udacity, they can be very good tools, but using the technology to get rid of teachers tells you all you need to know about "reform". After the teachers it will be the firefighters and police, divide and conquer is THE strategy of the neoliberal class.

      •  The Rich are, virtually, seceding from the USA. (3+ / 0-)

        The link below is a very good article, by the American Conservative magazine.  It is a long read, but well worth it.

        Revolt of the Rich
        Our financial elites are the new secessionists.
        http://www.theamericanconservative.com/...
        From the 1892 Omaha populist platform:

        "We meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political, and material ruin. Corruption dominates the ballot-box, the Legislatures, the Congress, and touches even the ermine of the bench. The people are demoralized. … The newspapers are largely subsidized or muzzled, public opinion silenced, business prostrated, homes covered with mortgages, labor impoverished, and the land concentrating in the hands of capitalists. The urban workmen are denied the right to organize for self-protection, imported pauperized labor beats down their wages. … The fruits of the toil of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few, unprecedented in the history of mankind, and the possessors of these, in turn, despise the Republic and endanger liberty. From the same prolific womb of governmental injustice we breed the two great classes—tramps and millionaires."

        "The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously." -- Hubert H. Humphrey

        by Candide08 on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 07:54:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The money quote: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Candide08

          "The fruits of the toil of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few, unprecedented in the history of mankind, and the possessors of these, in turn, despise the Republic and endanger liberty".

          All we have done over the last 30 years is travel backwards to the Great Depression- well done America!

  •  Slight Problem: (12+ / 0-)

    Obama and most of congress aren't exactly PRO union/worker.

    proof? where's EFCA?

    when was the last time the min wage was increased?

    Air Force One flew over Wisconsin twice during the height of the Walker recall effort-- an effort put forth by some who are trying to protect union wages and benefits. Obama couldn't be bothered to stop at the airport for two hours?

    that says alot to this former UAW member raised in a union famliy.

    "A civilization which does not provide young people with a way to earn a living is pretty poor". Eleanor Roosevelt

    by Superpole on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 06:19:09 AM PDT

    •  Very few (10+ / 0-)

      Washington politicians are pro-union, and that is even more true for the Obama Administration.

       Unions should stop worrying about getting the Democrats to fight for their cause. It isn't going to happen. The Democrats are owned by Wall Street just like the Republicans are. The only difference is that the Democrats pretend like it isn't true.

      Unions should focus on organizing and grass-roots actions. We are in pre-FDR days.

      ¡Cállate o despertarás la izquierda! - protest sign in Spain

      by gjohnsit on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 06:41:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brian1066, DuzT, maryabein, gjohnsit

        I'm not interested in political "expediency"... our economy and quality of life are going right down the toilet.

        anyone thinking we can run a first world nation on a third world wages/benefits is full of crap.

        the United States is one of the most expensive nations in the world to live in... what is more expensive? Monaco?

        "A civilization which does not provide young people with a way to earn a living is pretty poor". Eleanor Roosevelt

        by Superpole on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 06:47:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Tipped for this: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gjohnsit
        We are in pre-FDR days.

        "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

        by sidnora on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 07:27:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The Dem convention is in an anti-union city/state (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Superpole, sidnora, hardhatmama

      which is a big tell on how the Dem Party really feels about unions.

      Which I guess is fine with them as corporations pay more.

      NOW SHOWING
      Progressive Candidate Obama (now - Nov 6, 2012)
      Bipartisan Obama returns (Nov 7, 2012)

      by The Dead Man on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 06:55:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Right.. and whether this sad fact (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Dead Man

        is intentional or not-- the message is the same: workers aren't all that important to the so called democratic party.

        BTW, this all started with the "new" democrats Bill Clinton, Rahm Emanuel, etc.

        "A civilization which does not provide young people with a way to earn a living is pretty poor". Eleanor Roosevelt

        by Superpole on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 07:09:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  even if the convention (0+ / 0-)

        Is successful and connects with working people, your mind wont change?

        I feel the convention is in north carolina so it is in play.

        •  A poke in the eye (0+ / 0-)

          Whether the convention is successful or not is still a poke in the eye.

          But I agree that if it helps O get re-elected that's good.

          And I agree that the union efforts should be more conditional. As the DNC moves away from union objectives Union efforts should move toward state-by-state efforts as in Wisconsin.

        •  As I Stated, I'm Not Interested (0+ / 0-)

          in political expediency.

          this has become wayyyyy to much of an excuse for the dems, IMHO.

          and it's always "wait, wait.....". uhhh, I don't see the weatlhy class waiting for NAFTA, CAFTA, etc. that all got put on the legislative fast track for passage.

          "funny" how that works.

          "A civilization which does not provide young people with a way to earn a living is pretty poor". Eleanor Roosevelt

          by Superpole on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 02:48:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  fair points (0+ / 0-)

            "insanity" always seems to get what it wants but "sanity" can't

            I don't blame you. The Democrats need to be MUCH better and we need "much better" urgently.

            At the same time though, I feel optimistic. I think they are moving away from "giving legitimacy to insanity" and sincere about protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Two out of the three programs are part of the health care reform.

  •  The greatest trick the Republicans... (15+ / 0-)

    ...have ever managed to pull off is to get low income workers, unhappy with their lives, to believe the solution is to pull other workers down to their level. Not to find a way to make their own situation better.
    Hence the resentment of unions.

    I can see Canada from my house. No, really, I can.

    by DuzT on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 06:34:02 AM PDT

    •  It's pettiness (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      phrogge prince, DuzT

      Republicans know how to play up the pettiness of human beings to an art form.

      ¡Cállate o despertarás la izquierda! - protest sign in Spain

      by gjohnsit on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 06:38:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  you can see us? Really? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DuzT

      Vermont? Niagara Falls NY? Washington State? I'm curious! Please enlighten me!!

      I know you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant. -- S.I. Hayakawa

      by tapu dali on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 06:51:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  They way I respond to people who trash unions ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      crash bang boom, nicolemm, DuzT

      ... is to put it this way:

      You know how you regularly receive letters from your insurance company, or cable company, or utility companies, saying that they hate -- just hate--  to do it, but because of their rising expenses, they are forced yet again to raise the rates you pay for their services?

      Why doesn't the same thing apply to average workers?  

      When was the last time you were able to go to your boss and say, "You know, boss, I really hate to do this, but my living expenses keep going up, so I'm going to have to start charging you more for the services I provide you.  From now on my salary is going to be $38,000/year instead of $32,000/year."  

      You can't do it -- because those companies have rigged the system against individual workers.  What allows workers enough power to demand their fair share in a world full of "rising expenses" on the part of everyone else is banding together -- UNIONS.

      Sometimes that makes people get it.
  •  The notion that unions hurt productivity (8+ / 0-)

    has been debunked.

    ¡Cállate o despertarás la izquierda! - protest sign in Spain

    by gjohnsit on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 06:34:08 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for a most excellent post! (6+ / 0-)

    A little bit of history, if I may?

    My father was a kiln operator at a pigment factory. He was union: Mine, Mill and Smelter (or similar, twas a while ago). He died of lung cancer, obviously from work. The f###ng company did zip all. The Union (bless em) paid for the funeral and gave us a (very) small pension.

    I'm a worker bee at a Canadian governmental agency. I belong to my government employee union and I am more than happy to pay my Union dues and to participate in my Union business.

    Solidarity forever
    The Union makes us STRONG!!

    Thanks

    Td

    I know you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant. -- S.I. Hayakawa

    by tapu dali on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 06:43:09 AM PDT

  •  the gop have been (7+ / 0-)

    trying to eliminate unions from the american landscape for decades and have been very successful so far, non union people that are against unions don't realize that even if you don't belong to a union a union in your area helps raise your wages also, a rising sea raises all ships.
    if the gop is able to eliminate unions there will be only three classes of people in america, the very wealthy the poor and very poor, thats the future if american voters don't wake up and fight for their rights, you are either royalty or a peasant, you can make that choice at the voting booth in nov.

    •  A lot of the backlash..... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chicagobleu

      Is an inability to research or see the big picture.  The average Tea Partier doesn't see the 40 billion dollars in checks sent to subsidize the oil industry or the massive fraud, waste and abuse in the Pentagon budget, but they once knew a union guy who was lazy and they are pretty sure the Mexican family down the street is on food stamps and food stamps make up a huge portion of the countries debt (according to whatever talking head they listen too)

      There was a diary on what Hitler called "the big lie"and I think there is some truth there.  You appeal to the worst personality traits of the average voter and by the time the media does any research(on the rare occasion they actually fact check) the damage has been done and you simply move on to the next lie.  Look at the New York snowstorm a few years back and how unions were blamed for people dying.  It turned out to be false, even Bloomberg admitted so, but was there any retraction or apology?  Nope, Hannity and Rush were too busy working on the next big lie even if they wanted to apologize (they didn't)

      •  to me (0+ / 0-)

        it all boils down to hate and bigotry as the gops strong hold on white working class americans.
        unions started losing favor when they started representing people of color rather than just white workers, i mean unions started protecting the lazy in our society so they must be bad is the racist mantra.

    •  so perfectly true nt (0+ / 0-)

      you get what you give

      by chicagobleu on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 09:45:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  when do we celebrate Venture Capitalist day? /nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JohnB47

    "You've got to be an optimist to be a Democrat, and a humorist to stay one" - Will Rogers

    by KnotIookin on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 06:54:54 AM PDT

  •  AFL-CIO's motto should be: (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, JohnB47, chicagobleu, rhauenstein

    "WE BUILT IT... THEY BILKED IT".

  •  The fact of the matter is that.................... (6+ / 0-)

    the Rethugs want workers to be plentiful, desperate and compliant.  Their whole agenda from opposition to the Affordable Care Act, to the plans to kill Social Security and Medicare, to, even opposition to abortion; is all about increasing the “supply” of labor.

    Large labor supply = decreased demand; decreased demand = low wages; low wages = increase profits.  It is as simple as that.

    Unions stand in way of unbridled power and profit for the 1% and must be eliminated.

    The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation--HDT

    by cazcee on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 06:55:16 AM PDT

  •  You don't to be in a union to benefit from a union (10+ / 0-)

    This is what so many people don't get. Unions help raise wages and benefits for everyone - not just union members.

    Safety concerns for workers, overtime, 5 day work week - these things didn't happen because generous employers wanted to do nice things for their workers. They happened because unions organized, struck, boycotted, picketed, were beaten, even killed to make them happen. They used the power of numbers to gain collective bargaining and get politicians to respond to their needs, not just the demands of the rich and powerful who never have trouble getting access.

    They don't teach this in schools. They teach kids how to develop 'good work skills', obey authority, and prepare them to be good little worker drones once they leave the schools for the workforce. They don't teach them how to defend themselves against predatory management. They don't teach them about the rights THEY should have in the workplace. They don't teach them how to stand up and say NO to outrageous demands.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 07:03:57 AM PDT

    •  Ya know.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, rhauenstein

      I'd rec this 1000 times if I could.

      I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose....AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

      by Lilyvt on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 07:19:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Speaking of predatory management (6+ / 0-)

      It's hard to teach kids how to deal with predatory management when teachers are spending every non-teaching minute fending off predatory managers themselves.  The rise in "business trained" leaders in education (think the Broad Academy and the like) is creating more of this type of school leadership.  Think how abusive Michelle Rhee was toward teachers in the DC School System.  Whatever happened to leaders who nurtured their employees, helping them to be more effective on the job?

      “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

      by musiclady on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 07:22:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Union benefit for non-union workers (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, nicolemm

      Sometimes management makes the benefit very explicit.

      I started out my career at Texas Instruments, which was (and probably still is) vociferously anti-union.  Like workers at many companies, we got the anti-union propaganda when we hired in, and at regular intervals thereafter.

      But the funny thing is that the heart of management's arguments against unions was:

      You don't need to join a union because we're giving you the same wage and benefits package that a union would be able to negotiate.

      In other words, TI management looked at the benefits and pay that our union competitors had and copied that package in order to eliminate the incentive for us to organize and unionize the company.

      Of course, when unions become irrelevant in an entire industry, guess what happens to those benefits...?

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 12:47:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I am a teacher, and I don't teach my students to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar

      become "little worker drones". The most important skill I try to pass onto my students is to think for themselves and to learn creative problem solving skills. My school also employs other teachers who do the same. As far as teaching kids about their rights, the history teachers do a terrific job of covering these bases.

      My school went through a tough negotiating period with the school board this past year, and the students saw first hand how we (teachers and staff) stood up for our rights and managed to get a decent contract.

      I know mine is not an isolated case.

      •  Bless you. Let's hope there are many more like you (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        crash bang boom

        But I suspect the for-profit charter school model is designed to weaken those very things, part of the war on teachers.

        "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

        by xaxnar on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 05:17:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Heh..."SMART" reminded me of "S-Mart" (0+ / 0-)

    As in "Shop Smart. Shop 'S-Mart'" from Ash & the Evil Dead / Army of Darkness franchise.

  •  Table 2 is instructive. Seventy-five percent (0+ / 0-)

    of the wealth is held by ten percent of the people. That demographic condition was once primarily associated with banana republics.

    Guess what type of political transition features prominently for banana republics?

    In politics you've got to learn that overnight chicken shit can turn to chicken salad - LBJ

    by huntergeo on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 07:08:54 AM PDT

  •  The link between productivity and wages (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DSPS owl, a2nite, Zinman, chicagobleu

    was clearly broken in the 1970's when union membership started to decline.  I think that there is a real connection between Depression-era workers leaving the workforce and the decline of union membership.  

    Those Depression-era workers had no illusion that their interests aligned with the 1%, and knew what could happen to them personally if they didn't organize.  

    No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little. - Edmund Burke

    by AdirondackForeverWild on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 07:13:26 AM PDT

  •  Wow! Everyone's rich! (0+ / 0-)

    According to the last graph, even the median income of a non-union African American is $589,000,000 per week!

    At least I assume that's what they mean by "In millions".  I suppose it could be the median combined income of union and non-Union employees, but then they'd be counting vastly different number of employees in each group, so the numbers would be varying a lot more, and have no real meaning.

  •  unions do what affirmative action couldn't (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chicagobleu, One Opinion

    That's why the GOP (and the billionaires boy's clubers) hate unions. The current state, police and teacher's unions are actually working to provide the services needed. Not only that, but the new unions are more reflective of the homogeny of the country.
    I always cringed when the R's were allowed to repeat urban legends of people being passed over for promotions because of Affirmative Action. Especially since they seemed to always be uninformed about the 200 years of this nation's history of slavery, discrimination and segregation. And, even more specially, since the growth of discrimination and segregation plays to the basest instincts of the Republican base.

    •  I think it is more simple than that (0+ / 0-)

      They hate unions becuase if worker pay goes up, the middle class has more money and the rich have less money.  

      This is related to my first comment about how unions have gone downhill as the memory of the Depression fades.  The middle class, and to a lesser extent the working class, has bought into the theory their interests are aligned with the corporations and upper class.  People think that if corporations become more profitable, the benefits will accrue to the middle class in the form of more jobs in the long run.  

      It is an elegant theory, but it doesn't seem to work.  At the end of the day, it really is simple - more money for them means less for you.

      No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little. - Edmund Burke

      by AdirondackForeverWild on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 10:31:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Time to wake up (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rhauenstein, nicolemm

    I'm 47.  The union members of my generation and younger never had to fight the fight for the benefits they enjoy today.  They typically went to work, got married, bought their home in the suburbs, had their 2.3 kids, two car payments and enjoyed the benefits of a good union wage.  Nothing wrong with that.  Good union wages and benefits= the american dream.  
    What came with that however was having a lot to lose.  Remember that 60, 70 yrs ago, strikers didn't have all that.  Sure they feared losing their job, but they had the courage to lose even that for the chance to have something better.  They also believed in the common good of their local.  During all the years when times were good, Republicans were busy legislating their rights away from them and many union members weren't paying attention.
    These rought economic times have begun to wake some of them up.  Some have lost everything.  I personally know of quite a few who have lost homes, benefits, and even have given up in their respective trades. It may take even more before members say the hell with it and get back to that good fight.  

  •  More Than Unions (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bobba Louie

    A working class consciousness needs to be engendered and a working class party organized.  We need to recognize the solidarity of our economic interests and make them primary.  

    The main advantage we have is that the working class comprises the vast majority of society.  Whatever other cultural, racial or other issues, we are all alike in that we're working class members.  All the other differences pale in comparison when our common economic interests are at stake.

    If I was a communist, rich men would fear me...And the opposite applies. The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

    by stewarjt on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 07:51:51 AM PDT

  •  Unions are their own worst enemy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobtmn, squarewheel

    We need more Unions in this country and more people to be members of Unions.  However the Unions are their own worst enemy in this regard in their rigidity and unwillingness to work for the organizations benefit in addition to their own.

    Example... Teachers in the district I am aware of (Palm Beach County) will complain about budgets being tightened but have no answers when confronted with the fact that spending per pupil is the highest its ever been (accounting for inflation).  If one graphs performance to spending it's clear that the trend is higher spending for worse performance.  Yet these teachers through their unions fight any attempt to weed out the bad apples.  These teachers through their Unions have only one suggestion to "fix" the problem... Spend more money.  As a result it's hard for anyone outside of that union to conclude that the Union is a bad thing for education.  

    This will not change until unions start being proactive in how to improve things for their organization which will in turn improve their lot.  If more Unions took that approach Unions wouldn't been seen with the same level of disdain that they are today.

    •  are you kidding? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nicolemm

      There's a lot of Kool-Aid in your statements.

    •  the "it's hard to get rid of a union teacher" meme (0+ / 0-)

      is BS.  They can't be fired on the spot, there has to be a paper trail.  This makes it more dificult, but certainly not impossibel.  I will agree however that the unions fight tooth and nail for seemingly bad teachers.  that is really the lawyer problem - a lawyer fights tooth and nail for their client.  if you were in a union wouldn't you want them to do the same for you ?

      The real problem is  that unions are on the defensive, and you can't win playing defense.

      they spend all their time protecting the salaries and benefits of government workers, but fail to expand unions into the service industries where unionization is desperately needed.

      we need unions for the employees of wal-mart and home depot, that's what will help unions.

      what won't help unions is pissing off taxpayers by making sure  a govt employee can retire on 100% of their pay, instead of 75%, when the rest of us have nothing.

      Notice that this is a PR critique not a critique of what retirement benefits should be.

      big badda boom : GRB 080913

      by squarewheel on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 11:56:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Unions in Education (0+ / 0-)

        It may be BS in some districts but I can guarantee you it is extraordinarily difficult to get rid of bad teachers in Palm Beach County.  It can take years to get rid of a teacher once it has been determined they shouldn't be there.

        When we as parents see our children or our friends children stuck with a teacher we all know shouldn't be there inevitably it is the Union that gets the blame.  And it is hard to argue that it isn't rightfully so, is it not?

        That is the crux of my complaint about Unions.  Instead of trying to work with management of organizations to improve the organization in order to improve their lot it seems to me that most Unions would take a position to weaken the organization if it means even the slightest of benefit to the members short term self interest.  It's that attitude that leads to people who are not a member of a Union to be uninterested in seeing Unions succeed / grow.

  •  Fractured unions (0+ / 0-)

    The reason that unions have lost power and members in the last 40 years is that groups of workers found it more profitable to organize into smaller and smaller subgroups with unique powers.

    The whole concept of "union", being a joining together of a bigger and bigger set of workers fell apart.  

    The workers that could idle a huge capital investment become powerful.  They left the less powerful behind.  This is why Pilots Unions don't organize with Flight attendants.   It is why Flight attendants don't organize with restaurant workers.

    The workers that delivered essential public services are stronger than their equivalent in the private sector, so they left private sector workers behind.  

    Unions also have a common interest in maintaining the dominance of very large employers.  It would be impossible to organize workers in family or other small business, so unions in both the private and public sector seek to stifle small companies or non-affiliated workers.

    In the fight for worker power, the Worker Coop should be the highest attainable model.    There is no profit center in a coop.   Yet, unions typically resist worker co-ops, because they cannot organize the workers to strike against themselves.

    Unions are not about increasing the power of working people in general.   They serve only to protect the interests of their members.   By dividing themselves into smaller and smaller sets of workers, they reveal their true interest.    The idea that better pay in the Public Sector will trickle down to the private sector worker is hogwash.  It is equivalent to arguing that better pay for pilots will lead to  better pay for flight attendants, and better fares for passengers.

    Public sector unions lay claim to  the  accomplishments of private sector unions.  They do not acknowledge that private sector workers do not get to choose their own boss, or that a private sector cash flow has a fixed upper limit that cannot be exceeded without bankruptcy.  

    It is easy to understand why private sector workers feel left behind.  The Democratic party will do a better job of representing the interests of all workers when they resist the demands of the public employee.  

    Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

    by bobtmn on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 08:16:38 AM PDT

    •  If fractureization is the problem blame management (0+ / 0-)

      Also some of your statements are hogwash.

      •  this... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nicolemm

        Why "acknowledge" that everyone doesn't get to pick their own boss?  Who does?

        I've never heard before of this theory you have that public sector pay would or would not trickle down to private sector... Where did that come from?

        This concept of unions wanting workers to strike at worker owned companies?  Are you insane?  This begs belief!

        And the idea that unions refuse to work together or that unions are against small business?

        Bullcrap!

        •  replies... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          squarewheel

          Who gets to pick their boss?

          Public union members get to organize during elections in order to pick their boss.    That is the goal of public union involvement in politics.  They want a friend on the other side of the table at contract time.  Private sector unions can't do this.

          Trickle down, from a comment in this thread:
          " Unions help raise wages and benefits for everyone - not just union members."

          Worker owned companies:
          I was part of a worker owned construction company for many years.   The unions picketed us, and also refused to let us join because we were not "employees".    I was told explicitly by a union organizer that they cannot effectively represent people in coops.  He said we should all go get union jobs at union companies.

          Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

          by bobtmn on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 11:44:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Why would anyone who owned a company (0+ / 0-)

            want to join a union? Care to expand further on this please? My father and brother were in the trades unions for years and I have heard most of the stories. And neither of them really appreciated the benefits of the union. And my brother thinks that only constructions workers should be allowed in the union. So I get it. Now can you please explain this to me. Did you want to join a union for the pension and health benefits? Or to get to bid on contracts that needed for one reason or another to be a union company? Where you a tradesman? Or and industrial worker?

            •  We were picketed and avoided (0+ / 0-)

              We did general contracting, and our members were carpenters.  We worked alongside union electricians and plumbers, some of whom were fascinated by our business model.

              Our company was picketed at the job site, tires on our storage trailer were slashed and our air hoses were cut.

              We had no reason to join the union, other than to get them off our backs.  They did not want us to join either.

              They wanted us out of business.  

              Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

              by bobtmn on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 01:05:10 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  So you were non union contractors on a union job (0+ / 0-)

                site? Why were you taking jobs from union workers? Were you in a right to work state? Who hit you? Were you replacing laborers or were you putting union painters out of work? Were you trained or licensed?

                Are you familiar with union people being attacked or killed by anti-union forces? Houses being burned down, families being threatened union leaders being beaten or killed.

                Is your company really owned by workers or is it a sham company setup to mask the true ownership? I am from Chicago and my father and brother both worked it the trades so I have heard the stories about sham minority or women owned companies to get as many contracts for white men as possible. So forgive me if I have questions.

                Thanks

                •  These aren't real questions (0+ / 0-)

                  You are no longer asking me questions.

                  You are making accusations for which you have no basis.

                  You are assuming the worst in order to make some kind of point.    

                  Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

                  by bobtmn on Mon Sep 10, 2012 at 10:31:00 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Unions organizied differently in America (0+ / 0-)

      because of the fear of the Left. The IWW was a mega union that would have represented workers from all industries. But it was seen as to close to communism. Probably it was close to communism. But America developed differently from Europe as Marx recognized. Tradesmen viewed themselves as different types of workers from factory workers. There was great racism in the early days of the labor movement. And not even Socialists could agree with each other on what socialism was. As Germany and Italy and France in the late 19th Century embraced much of the union movement because they were not ideological economic liberals (ie capitalists) they were able to establish a relationship between worker and owner that led to social insurance like unemployment compensation, minimum wages and the right to negioate a contract.

      In America there was an ideological tilt towards economic liberalism (capitalism) and the idea that unions were an abridgment of the constitutional rights of the owners. The Supremes used the 14th amendment to smack down any laws protecting workers until Teddy Roosevelt. Being in a union was subversive. And being in an integrated union was treasonous.

      Here is what bothers me. The state negioates a contract with workers and then gets to break it at will and that is OK. The banks negioate a contract with bankers, the bankers violate the law and are incompetent bit that is a sacred contract that must be honored. Why can one be torn up and the other is sacred?

  •  Thanks Laura (0+ / 0-)

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 08:20:47 AM PDT

  •  Interesting graph... (0+ / 0-)

    Why are white men given their own column?

    To you, I'm an atheist. To God, I'm the loyal opposition.” ― Woody Allen

    by soros on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 08:28:34 AM PDT

  •  Solo (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    One Opinion

    Will the Tea Party be going into work tomorrow as a form of protest?

  •  Being a bully doesn't make you a good manager (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chicagobleu

    I've always considered myself a terrible person to ever be a manager. I would end up letting everyone walk all over me. I just don't like to boss people around. On a technical matter, I am more than willing to lead the effort and make sure everything is completed correctly and on time. And I will even task people to do their part correctly. But not long ago I met a manager that actually seemed to "get it" when it comes to working with his staff. He didn't use a stick to get everyone to do their job and he didn't have to promise them the world just to come in and work. He did something you don't often see these days. He talked to his employees and became their friend.

    To me that's always been my cue for getting walked all over by people. Give them an inch and they want more and more. But this guy had it down to a science and made you "want" to do whatever he asks. His charm was his path to success I suppose.

    It's too bad there are more bullies in management than those like him. Going to work would be so much more pleasant.

    "I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately." -- George Carlin, Satirical Comic,(1937-2008)

    by Wynter on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 09:30:19 AM PDT

    •  I can relate (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nicolemm

      both as a manager and a worker. The problem seems to be somewhere along the line, (Reagan?), management decided it wasn't enough to earn twice as much as the employees, but 5 or 10 times as much became standard. I simplify it to greed. Unadulterated greed. My continual question to those at the top is 'how much money do you need?'. Really, their answer is, there's never enough money no matter how much you have....so?? you ask...back to greed. If we don't acknowledge it, it will bury us.

      you get what you give

      by chicagobleu on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 09:58:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The corporate tax write off for corporate salaries (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chicagobleu

        The capitalist economy is supposed to self-regulate these types of salary issues. But management salaries seem to be outside of the economic pressures usually present with the basic blue and white collar workforce. Why that is happening isn't exactly clear. You would think that management salaries would be included in the overall budget and tied to performance like everyone else's salaries. But its looks as if many are using a special tax loophole for corporations that allow them to apply top management salaries as tax write offs. And then other CEOs use these inflated salaries as justification for their own greed in setting their own salary.

        If we could close that one tax loophole we might be able to shut down some of the greed in top salaries.

        "I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately." -- George Carlin, Satirical Comic,(1937-2008)

        by Wynter on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 06:27:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  imagine for a moment (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chicagobleu, One Opinion, Egalitare

    If Labor Day were not already a holiday, imagine the fight to make it one today.

  •  Blog post you should read (0+ / 0-)

    The Woman Who is my Country

    Republicans see her as an overly-entitled lazy useless drain on society.

    I see her as a decent human being that deserves so much more than she is getting from the world.

    The Golden Rule isn't so golden if you don't polish it with every soul you meet. (-6.5,-4.1)

    by minidriver on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 10:21:17 AM PDT

  •  Commodification of Labor (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nicolemm

    White middle class workers who consistently and habitualy vote republican on single social issues such as guns or abortion don't understand the economic concept of the commodification of labor. The commodification of labor is one of the evils of modern economics but I don't think we can really blame Adam Smith. The blame belongs in the corporate boardrooms, the Chinese communists, the republicans in congress, and those too ignorant to think for themselves.

    Now the hard core republicans want to take the commodification of labor to it's logical conclusion. The virtual plantation system is the logical conclusion. The virtual chains come in different colors. Steel grey, bronze, silver, gold. The company store has become student debt, mortgage debt, car loans, credit cards. We have taken the worst excesses of economic systems throughout history and rolled them all up into one system we call neoliberal economics whose proponents, Greenspan, Freidman, Hayek, and now Paul Ryan, many of whom never worked a day in a real job in the private sector. Look at Paul Ryan. He used social security survivors benefits to pay for college. He drove a weiner mobile and flipped burgers for pocket change. Then he worked in his family's business a few years before being elected to congress in 1999. Now all of a sudden he is an expert in how modern society works. Please. Paul Ryan is an expert in one thing. Shaking down ultra wealthy investors and corporate executives for campaign contributions. People like Paul Ryan have brought this nation to its knees while Paul gets on his knees while he grovels for campaign contributions.

    Knowledge is Power. Ignorance is not bliss, it is suffering.

    by harris stein on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 10:58:15 AM PDT

  •  This is one thing I have never understood (0+ / 0-)

    Is why an average wealth Republican would EVER be against a union. Or for that matter, why ANYONE would be against a union.

    "Well these big union bosses are collecting fat paychecks from us and giving money to the Democrats!"

    Well, no sh...

    Being a union boss is a full-time job. With that comes the responsibility of helping protect every single worker so that employers cannot discriminate against a worker for whatever reason. They work so wages can stay higher than you otherwise would have, benefits can stay higher than you otherwise would have, and so your hours can stay more reasonable than you otherwise would have.

    If someone benefits while providing a worker with all of that - WHO CARES.

    "Well, it hurts business!"

    Let me get this straight - when a business outsources or offshores jobs, screwing the individual workers, that's capitalism. When a company loads up with debt, and sells off screwing the individual workers over, that's capitalism. But ONLY when an individual worker fights for more money and benefits, that's horrible and NOT capitalistic?

    Wait .. what?

    It's as if a Republican voter does not even understand what they do to people like themselves when they fight against unions to put more money some owners pocket. Lost wages for people like themselves. Benefits lost for people like themselves. Discriminatory actions against workers like themselves.

    But it's okay just as long as a dollar doesn't go to a Democrat politician because it is absolutely horrid that the Democrats actually care enough to support people like them.

  •  Unions? To Restore The Balance of Power (0+ / 0-)

    Democracy.

    A wonderful set of quotations is here:

    http://labor-studies.org/...

  •  Question about first graph (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nicolemm

    Specifically, the one that gives the percentage of workers with "good jobs" year by year since 1979.

    What is the definition of a "good job" for that graph?  I assume it is some level of minimum pay and benefits, but there doesn't seem to be anything that tells the reader what that level actually is.  Without that information, this graph really isn't all that useful.

    Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

    by TexasTom on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 12:49:04 PM PDT

  •  Obama's Promise Regarding Min Wage (0+ / 0-)
    Number eight: Minimum wage. During the 2008 campaign, you promised to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour. When you became President, you didn’t lift a finger to do anything about it. Result: Unchecked poverty.
    http://www.counterpunch.org/...

    "A civilization which does not provide young people with a way to earn a living is pretty poor". Eleanor Roosevelt

    by Superpole on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 02:58:24 PM PDT

  •  Graph makes no sense (0+ / 0-)

    How could the median weekly earning be in millions of dollars?

    Was "(in millions)" a mistake?

  •  Romney admits buying Chinese slaves. (0+ / 0-)

    Happy Labor Day!

    Mitt Romney "I wish we weren't unionized!"

    http://youtu.be/...  

    Mitt Romney admits buying Chinese sweatshop while at Bain. 20,000 young girls. 12 girls per room. 120 girls per bathroom. Huge fences with guard towers.

    http://youtu.be/...

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