Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Why We Should Support Unions

OK... first the disclaimer. I know there have been and are corrupt union bosses. I know that unions take money from paychecks and sometimes use it in ways the individual worker might not choose. I now that there have been some contracts that were negotiated that seem a bit... much. But I am still pro-union. Here's why.

Historically, just about every positive movement forward for workers has come because of the work of unions. If you are an hourly worker and get overtime when you pass 40 hours a week... thank a union. If you had health insurance benefits at work... thank a union. If you work in a factory and look around and see that there are no children present... thank a union. If your employer gives you time for breaks, adequate safety gear,sick pay, etc... thank a union. You would be hard pressed to find anything positive that has happened for working people that did not come as a result of union blood, sweat, and tears. And they did it for all of us whether we were unionized or not. (See my earlier post where I share my experience in a blue collar family in a union city) I would not hesitate to say that it was the unions who built the middle class of America and it isn't a surprise that they're demise coincides with the decline of the middle class.

So, the argument then goes that the unions did wonderful things in the past but they have served their purpose. They are vestiges of a by-gone era and now we have evolved past the need for them. My answer to that is horse pucky.

Do you truly believe that any corporation out there truly has the interests of its employees at heart? Do you truly believe that without unions employers would honor the contracts they have with workers? All we need do is look at the state of Wisconsin and a number of other states who are trying to renege on contracts they made with workers and trying to remove the right of unions to collectively bargaining.

The other argument is that government can take on the role of watching corporations to ensure that they do not abuse employees. And this argument is often made by the same folk who want to shrink government until it is small enough to drown in the bathtub... the same people who want to remove all constraints on business and let the free market run, regardless of what that would do to people without capital or power. All we need do is look at Wisconsin to learn that a governor who is sponsored by corporate money will pay them back in kind.

I stand with the unions.

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