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Fri Dec 7, 2012, 07:07 AM

"Dramatically curb the power of unions" vs. "Take away the rights of workers" -- Semantics

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/vp/50111931#50111940

Ezra Klein sat in for Rachel Maddow last night and reported on the efforts in Michigan to .... well, the "to" depends on your choice of words I guess.

I was disappointed to hear Klein choose "dramatically curb the power of unions". Makes it sound like unions have all kinds of power, enough that it perhaps needs to be "dramatically curbed".

I normally enjoy Mr. Klein's reporting and find him a supporter of progressive causes. His choice of words here leaves me empty.

The rest of the piece is fairly even-handed look at what's going on in Michigan, and elsewhere, to take away the rights of workers.


All of us need to be more careful regarding our choice of words. It's one area where the right kicks our ass.



(on edit: also interesting to watch Rick Pluta of Michigan Public Radio talk for several minutes without saying anything. He's a natural politician.)

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Arrow 17 replies Author Time Post
Reply "Dramatically curb the power of unions" vs. "Take away the rights of workers" -- Semantics (Original post)
Scuba Dec 2012 OP
HiPointDem Dec 2012 #1
woo me with science Dec 2012 #2
Recursion Dec 2012 #3
1-Old-Man Dec 2012 #4
Recursion Dec 2012 #6
1-Old-Man Dec 2012 #7
Recursion Dec 2012 #8
Scuba Dec 2012 #10
Recursion Dec 2012 #15
Teamster Jeff Dec 2012 #13
Recursion Dec 2012 #16
leftstreet Dec 2012 #14
countryjake Dec 2012 #17
ieoeja Dec 2012 #12
Arkana Dec 2012 #11
1-Old-Man Dec 2012 #5
Scuba Dec 2012 #9

Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 07:23 AM

1. kr.

 

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 09:02 AM

2. K&R

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 09:34 AM

3. Both are problematic phrases

"Dramatically curb the power of unions" is at least factually accurate. "Take away the rights of workers" is arguable, since the whole point of a union is individual workers giving up some individual rights.

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Response to Recursion (Reply #3)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 09:57 AM

4. I completely disagree with your last assertion, I think on its face it is utterly wrong.

You ended by saying "the whole point of a union is individual workers giving up some individual rights" and I would have to completely disagree with you on that. The whole point of a union is to give the individual worker rights, all they give up is their periodic union dues and in a very few cases a small time commitment. No worker ever lost a right by belonging to a union.

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Response to 1-Old-Man (Reply #4)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 10:08 AM

6. What nonsense

No worker ever lost a right by belonging to a union.

I don't think you understand how "solidarity" works, then. I give up my right to, for example, offer to take more hours at a lower rate than somebody else. Or in some cases to stand for a promotion in front of somebody with more seniority than me. Or to work through a strike even if I don't agree with it.

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Response to Recursion (Reply #6)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 10:33 AM

7. and I think you have no idea what the word "right" means.

There is no 'right' to do any of the things you mention, with the possible exception of the last one, and even that is no 'right' . A right in an unassailable privilege afforded to an individual within a group. Nothing on earth give you the right to 'take on more hours at a lower rate than somebody else' or any of that stuff about promotion and seniority. Those are acts you might perform but they are no more rights than if someone were to hit you up the side of the head with a two-by-four for doing them and that person claiming a right to do so. Neither are rights.

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Response to 1-Old-Man (Reply #7)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 10:36 AM

8. Exactly. You feel I don't have a right to offer my services for a wage I feel is adequate.

And that doing so is comparable to assaulting someone.

And there's the problem with unions getting the traction they used to...

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Response to Recursion (Reply #8)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 10:42 AM

10. I'm pretty sure the failure of unions to get the traction they used to ...

... has little to do with a single awkward post and lots to do with an all-out assault on worker's rights by the oligarchs.

But I'm glad your position is now clear to me.

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Response to Scuba (Reply #10)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 12:21 PM

15. They must not be if you think I'm anti-union

This is the echo chamber stuff I was talking about in another thread. You don't like the fact that unions are widely perceived as corrupt and only interested in their current members? Neither do I. But it's Republican-esque burying your head in the sand to pretend the unions themselves haven't caused a lot of that, or to shoot the messenger for pointing out that unions are viewed vastly less favorably by non-members than by members.

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Response to Recursion (Reply #8)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 11:17 AM

13. So......

Working people yearn for the right to work for less money and unions are holding them back? That's why unions are not "getting traction?"

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Response to Teamster Jeff (Reply #13)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 12:24 PM

16. I contract a lot. Underbidding people is how I get jobs.

Rules that make that more difficult keep me from getting jobs, even though they help the people who benefit from them. I'm willing to live with that because I recognize how important unions are (even ones that won't let me join because I don't know the right people -- see my "corruption" issue), but I think it's a problem that Labor as a whole needs to deal with. Working America is a great start, but it's just a start.

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Response to Recursion (Reply #8)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 11:29 AM

14. I haven't heard that rightwing talking point in ages

offer my services for a wage I feel is adequate

The Reagan era called, they want their talking points back

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Response to leftstreet (Reply #14)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 04:47 PM

17. +1

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Response to Recursion (Reply #6)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 10:46 AM

12. And American colonists gave up their rights to obey King George III.


You do not give up the right to take more hours at a lower rate. You give up the right to accept if offered less pay.

You do not give up the right to a promotion. You give up the right to accept if offered a promotion.

All of your examples are employer's rights, not employee's rights. Essentially, you are arguing that the unions force a worker to give up his rights to let the boss make all decisions. In other words, the worker is giving up his right to "give up his rights".

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Response to Recursion (Reply #3)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 10:45 AM

11. What rights are they giving up?

Do you honestly think that if autoworkers weren't part of a union that their benevolent overlords would grant them the power to negotiate their own salaries and benefits?

No, they would not. The threat of strikes is sometimes the only thing that keeps a company from turning its workers into serfs. That's why unions need to exist--because corporations are not benevolent entities by nature.

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 10:04 AM

5. You are completely right about importance of using language to our advantage

No Republican spin-master is out there holding a gun to anyone's head making them believe in the seemingly nonsensical policies pushed by their Party. They do it with language and the are the masters of the subtle message. Your example is good and I'm glad you posted this. Once a person becomes aware of how the framing effects the argument and then comes to understand how long the repetition of right wing lies continues it becomes truly frightening.

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Response to 1-Old-Man (Reply #5)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 10:40 AM

9. Thanks, here's another. Guess my sensitivities are heightened today ...

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