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Sunday, August 31, 2014

No, no, no, don’t vote in a member of management as president of your local!

       In the 70’s when I entered the work force full time, unions were very controversial. In 1975 a union was voted in where I worked, much to the consternation of the chief influence peddler, I mean, department head. To everyones astonishment the bosses assistant ran for president of our local…and won! The union reps were tearing their hair out. No, no, no, don’t vote in a member of management as president of your local!

            It took a few years to dismantle this lackey system, but the union raised a lot of standards and brought the pay scale more in line with neighboring towns and eviscerated the small town corruption. New equipment stopped disappearing and town workers stopped going to the boss’s house to clean windows and paint. My dad was in the union and I got updates from him because I had moved out of state. I had moved to a “right to work” state, which is Republican Party code for NO Unions Allowed.

In America, unions had always been there to show profit gobbling industrialists that workers rights would always be part of the equation.
        Unions were a polarizing force back then and I would hear people ask, “What does my union do for me anyways?” and in many cases they did nothing. Union money was going into political campaigns? How can an organization speak for an individual voter, but on the other hand, there was always the old timer regaling us with stories of the old days, “Unions fought for the rights you have today you lazy ass kid!” Some remembered the bloody strikes of yore or heard tales from parent’s, aunts and uncles. 
     Unfortunately, union wages far outstripped national averages during the 70’s, and unions priced American goods beyond what people in other countries could afford, yet historically, unions tempered the horrors of disgusting, dehumanizing factories of the Industrial Age. 

The question to ask is how best to represent workers on a planet         wide basis because corporations just wander the globe looking for the least costly and most servile workers. A great fear amongst predatory capitalists is the day when all the workers hold the line together. As it’s asked in a song by hair metal band Poison, “It just makes me wonder why the poor eat hand to mouth while the rich drink from the golden cup. Why do so many lose and so few win?”

Unions are needed badly in many countries, and have not outlived their usefulness. Many unions had become bloated and complacent and corrupt in the United States and need to be modernized for the 21st century. They need to be modified without the taint of socialism, representing workers during the rise of Enlightened and Sustainable Capitalism as we abandon Predatory Capitalism and the chalkboard Utopia of Soc            .   

  I agree, if a union has helped you reach equitable comparative pay and you can manage to negotiate within management then by all means, vote the union out. There are progressive companies such as Whole Foods Market that have many clever and generous ways for employees to get better pay through incentives, productivity and smooth operations without the intervention and bureaucracy of unions. Ideally it should be easy to vote in unions and easy to vote them out. Many modern industries are fair to their workers but there are also many that are not and there IS corporate tyranny on the jobsite.

An American should have the right to allow a union to step in and individuals should not fear corporate reprisals as workers at McDonalds and Walmart know only too well in their attempts to unionize these low wage, no benefit, highly profitable corporations. 

How about a worldwide minimum wage of one dollar an hour? There’d be so much chaos. “Cancel the order for the Rolls Royce and the quarter million dollars of furniture for the guest house, things are going to get tight with this global union nonsense taking hold.” Something economists don’t see is that if that worker in the sneaker factory in Thailand or Bangladesh made a dollar an hour instead of 25 cents an hour the price of the sneaker would only go up from seventy dollars to seventy five dollars because as we now know, most of the cost goes to the corpulent export executives.

The global sweatshop has proven to have inhumane conditions, so why not pay 7% more for those sneakers so workers can have a livable wage and a life worth living? A dollar an hour minimum wage for the world, would finally make a better life for many millions, perhaps even a billion people and slightly higher prices for those of us that can affor.
 If foreign goods began to go up in price because of higher labor costs then guess who benefits? We do! Get it? This is when inflation is a good thing; American goods still cost the same while those sneakers from Thailand will cost more and the more these Corporate Slaves in other countries get paid, the more competitive American products become. We can’t lose! It’s in our best interest to promote safety and good pay in all jobsites around the world no matter what the grumpy neocons may tell you. 

This is the secret corporate taboo no one is to speak akof. Union is the word we dare not spe.

              TABOO NUMERO 2

I’ve always thought it was unusual that in this country we find glory and patriotism in the killing of people. Yet one thing that makes America unique is the fact that more people from more different countries have arrived on these shores. So why kill people that are potential Americans? It’s unfortunate that patriotism requires us to enthusiastically hate our enemies, “Huns”, “krauts”, “nips”, “gooks” and now “Sand monkeys.” Then we’re told the United States is slipping into third world conditions with our liberal educational system. Well, the truth is, thanks to unions, we have only emerged from our own third world working conditions since 1945. We started slipping back in the 80’s because most Republican jobs are low paying service industry jobs. 

 Civil rights advocates were abused and hassled and murdered. I’m not seeing how going back to that era, the golden age of the 50’s, would be good. Those who fought for civil rights were brave patriots who were directly fighting for equality and their constitutional rights in their own country, and there was no lifetime military pension as incentive either. They fought for equality and what was right and they did it right here in this country. Why are they not considered patriots?

 Boomers, stand up to this claim that we are a lazy and immoral generation. We have discarded a lot of unfair traditions of racism and sexism. It was the “greatest generation’ that left us with 10,000 years of nuclear contamination to store and 160 toxic nuclear sites and aging nuclear power plants that will need to be decommissioned at a zillion dollars apiece. It was the greatest generation that told black people to stand up and get out of “their” seat and supported segregation as it persisted through the sixties,mostly in the south, and they wistfully want to return to those days when men could beat their children and wives and there was nowhere for these victims to go. 

       The boomers managed to change these cultural nightmares and it was the parents of the greatest generation that did the lion’s share of risky strikes, labor reform and unionization during the 30’s which shook the corporate world andfinally gave American workers a good living and lifted us out of third world conditions. Look up the Ludlow Massacre of 1918 to get a feel for the beginning of that era. 
 In 1918, my grandmother was twelve years old and working 12 hours a day in a factory. Meanwhile the company big wigs were at the country club clipping fat cigars and drinking martinis as they laughed at the workers who had to beg to take a bathroom break. I remember the pain in her face as she recounted some of this type of corporate cruelty.                                        

Imagine that a long time ago, in 1834, one of the first organized labor strikes occurred. What I read is that child laborers went on strike to lower the work week to six days and limiting the workday to 12 hours. Factories and many other large companies really treated workers poorly. Our American ancestors, endured difficult, torturous working conditions.

 Still today, so many employees are pushed beyond their endurance, but they keep going and going. Have you ever seen a 7-11 at lunch hour when there is only one employee? This cannot be the life the Creator intended and it’s very sad that so many people freely give their lives to enrich the few unworthy ones. 

There’s no denying the extreme bravery of those in a war zone. But I ask myself, was it our victory in World War 1 (1914-1919) over the “Huns” that improved working conditions for my grandmother? NO! The child labor laws enacted during the Progressive Era and their enforcement as years went on was how her life improved; these labor reformers are the patriots to me. Fighting the corporations and eventually all this reform paid off with the prosperity of the 50’s and 60’s which the “greatest generation” primarily enjoyed!
Other examples of patriots… about the suffragettes? For over fifty years they endured the criticisms and efforts to thwart them. But of course they were right; half the countries population was finally given a voice in 1920. Till then women were not allowed to vote. Talk about third world conditions!

Of course we have advanced a lot further than many countries, like China, whose tyrannical communists have conceded only one reform to labor activists. Women are now allowed a 15 minute break to give birth. Then it’s back to work making “happy meal” toys for McDonalds.


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    1. Skip ad as they say. Here's the story of unions in America and other countries can learn from our mistakes and use our success as their inspiration.