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Labor Unions. Labor Unions? Labor Unions?! Nothing but a bunch of shiftless, worthless, work-hating, mob-embracing fat cats who live to sponge their living off the backs of decent, honest workers who wouldn't touch a union membership card with a ten-foot pole.

That's what I once thought, once upon a time. And I know I wasn't alone in that opinon. Or something along those lines.

Follow me below the squiggle for some further thoughts

My tune has changed over the years. When I was in college, I once wrote a major paper for one of my classes detailing the worthlessness of labor unions and how we could all do without them.

I changed my mind.

Please note: THAT does not happen very often, but it does happen. Once upon a time, I was fervently against gun control laws. That all changed, and I can tell you exactly when it happened. It happened when I was robbed at gunpoint. The most ironic part of the whole thing was that a good friend of mine was at a store that was robbed 3 days before the place I was working at was hit--by the same guy. Most people, after being held at gunpoint, would be on the shooting range the next day. But not me. The incident, on some level, crystallized for me just how out of control this country's gun problem is.

But I, as usual, digress.  This post is about labor unions, the good they have done, continue to do, and hopefully will do in the future. Workers throughout the industrialized world were, for decades, or even centuries, treated as nothing but assets to be disposed of once they had outlived their usefullness. They were treated little better than slaves. Children would often work next to their parents. Overtime? Safety regulation? Decent working conditions? Fuhgettaboutit. It was only after workers learned to band together and overcome incredible odds that they earned the right to be treated as something other than chattel.

I have written before about why I continue to work in a union job, and am happy to pay my dues as a member. Unions are the antidote to complete corporate takeover of the country. The big corporations may control the government, the media, and almost every other aspect of our lives, but if they can't control the workforce, they will never control the country.

This holiday celebrates the power of the people. So, if today you are kicking back, enjoying your evening barbecue and drinking your celebratory beer, please take a moment to remember the many union members who gave their lives in the fight against business who wanted to exploit you. And remember that if you had today, or yesterday or the day before yesterday, off, a union member paid for that. For that, and for the fact that you only work 40 hours a week without being paid overtime. And that you might be earning a living wage. And the fact that your children are starting school instead of working right next to you.

UPDATE (9/4/2012 @ 9:10 EDT): Wow! Community Spotlight! I'm truly honored. Thanks DK!

UPDATE (9/4/2012 @ 9:00pm EDT): After reading some of the comments, I realize I should have included a couple more poll questions:

*No, but I wish I had that option
*No, and I would be fired if we tried to organize one

But alas, once a poll is set, you can't change it.

Originally posted to ERJ1024 on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 05:42 PM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Community Spotlight.


Are you in a Union Job?

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46%22 votes
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| 47 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (13+ / 0-)

    ERJ Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. --Benjamin Franklin, 1759

    by ERJ1024 on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 05:42:44 PM PDT

  •  I used to hold a similar, naive view of unions (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Susan from 29, pixxer

    Funny thing, I didn't actually work around unions.  I was in the military, and I got my opinion listening to the prognostications of other military people who also didn't have any experience with unions.

    I still don't have any experiences with unions.  I'm now a white collar, salaried worker and I get treated pretty well due to the scarcity of my expertise.  However, I do have experience with the blood-sucking leeches that unions were created to fight back against.

    Do I favor unions?  Oh, hell yes!

    "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by DaveinBremerton on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 06:04:03 PM PDT

    •  techies (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Right now, computer engineers feel above this fray--won't last.  The jobs are the easiest to off shore--and that's the future.  Those who are secure today, will regret not unionizing tomorrow.  Apple produces in China--soon it will also engineer overseas--if not organized, Silicon Valley will be full of college educated people on unemployment lines.

      Apres Bush, le deluge.

      by melvynny on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 11:00:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Poll leaves out a segment or two (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JSCram3254, madcitysailor

    There are those who would prefer to be working with a Union, or who can't risk even trying to start one.

    The selection of "I'd be fired if I tried to organize."

    The selection of "I would love to be a part of a Union but I don't have the option."

  •  Like Weekends? Thank a Union. (0+ / 0-)

    I'm a big supporter of unions and wish to see them organizing much more of the US workforce, as they used to. There are excesses in the work rules, and I do hope the unions address these inequities. As a tiny-businessman ("small" means something like fewer than 32 employees - he has one) Mr pixxer has to pay the same as General Electric or Apple when he comes into a warehouse to set up for a craft show. B/c it's a union space (yay!) he is not allowed to use a power drill to install his own art in his own booth (WTF?) and would have to stand there telling a union person where to drill &c. He just exchews the power drill and drills the holes with a ratchet drill, b/c he can't afford to hire someone to drill while he tells them what to do. But things like these can be addressed and fixed. Overall, unions have done, and will continue to do, great things for little people.

    "Maybe this is how empires die - their citizens just don't deserve to be world leaders anymore." -Kossack Puddytat, In a Comment 18 Sept 2011

    by pixxer on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 09:38:32 PM PDT

  •  In a lot of ways, the unions were instrumental (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in developing the middle-class. Increased wages paid to workers brought up everyone's standard of living. It is really a shame that the country has forgotten their contribution. As the unions erode, so does the middle-class.

  •  I want a Union Job. (0+ / 0-)

    Is there a way for me to go talk to a Union about getting a job? That's the one thing I haven't done in NYC.

    Two videos. The first one's funny, the second one is a reason not to shop at target.

    Great song:

    And here's a reason not to shop at Target:

    An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

    by OllieGarkey on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 08:31:11 AM PDT

  •  PATCO (0+ / 0-)

    In the 1980s, Reagan tried to destroy the union movement by breaking the air traffic controllers-- he only succeeded because the AFL/CIO got fat and soft and didn't compel  the other unions--pilots, stewards, baggage handlers, repair and support, etc-- to refuse to cross the picket lines.  Since then, the union hierarchy leans more towards political and public relations acts.  Stupid bastards.  Unions are only tolerated if they show strength-- Mike Quill and Al Shanker knew this-- the new breed not.  

    When municipal unions are threatened, they need to cooperate--all unions within the municipality need to be brothers-- and STRIKE.  Cops, firemen, teachers, sanitation, water supply, etc.--united you win, divided you lose.  Begging a boss--private or public-- never gets results,  Throwing a punch is not popular--but successful.

    Apres Bush, le deluge.

    by melvynny on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 10:55:57 AM PDT

  •  2012 Pittsburgh Labor Day Parade Photo (0+ / 0-)

    One photo of hundreds...


    Just your average every day Autistic hillbilly/biker/activist/union steward with an engineering degree.

    by Mentatmark on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 11:34:40 PM PDT

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