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Wed Dec 19, 2012, 04:19 PM

The Time Is Right For A "National Workers Association"......

Given the fact that unions in the U.S. are taking hits and union membership is down and the power of unions has been diminished over the years since the Reagan presidency - I'm thinking that we need to look at the plight of the worker in the United States from a different perspective.

Right-to-work laws have contributed to the decreasing role of unions in the U.S. According to Wikipedia a right-to-work law is a statute in the United States of America that prohibits union security agreements, or agreements between labor unions and employers that govern the extent to which an established union can require employees' membership, payment of union dues, or fees as a condition of employment, either before or after hiring.

"Right-to-work" laws do not, as the short phrase might suggest, aim to provide a general guarantee of employment to people seeking work, but rather are a government regulation of the contractual agreements between employers and labor unions that prevents them from excluding non-union workers.

Because right-to-work laws have impacted the worker and workers rights, wages and unions in the U.S. then it seems to me that we have to come up with a different and new way of promoting workers rights in the U.S. I'm thinking that we need to model a workers rights organization after the National Rifle Association model. The NRA has become a formidable lobbying group for gun owners and proponents of gun rights. The NRA has done this with a membership of 4.3 million. With the population of the U.S. at approximately 312.8 million people this means the NRA membership is approximately 1.37% of the total population of the United States.

Note: This post is not about gun control nor does it have anything to do with the recent Newtown tragedy. This post is about 'workers rights'. Please don't make this a post about gun control - I simply am using the NRA as an example of an effective organization.

According to Wikipedia in June 2009 there were 306, 000, 000 people living in the United States of which there were about 155,000,000 people that are employed. This means that approximate 51% of the U.S. population would be classified as workers.

If we were able to form an organization of workers where workers would pay a membership fee to join - just like the NRA - and if we were able to convince about 26% of the work force to join - an organization of workers could have a membership of 40,000,000 people compared to 4,300,000 million members of the NRA or approximately a 10 fold increase over the number of members in the NRA. If the NRA has been able to become a formidable lobbying force in this country with 4.3 million members - just think what a National Workers Association could become with 40 million members.

Every worker or potential worker would be eligible to become a member of the NWA. Membership dues could be nominal at $35.00 per year per worker. That would net such an organization $1.4 billion dollars. Just think of the power that this amount of money would bring to lobbying for workers and promoting workers rights to combat the push back we as workers are getting from the corporations that are running this country.

Now what would this organization be called and what would it stand for. Here is my first attempt at trying to describe such and organization of workers:

Note: consider this a work in process.

"The National Workers Association of America (NWA) would be organized as an American non-profit 501(c)(4) lobbying group that advocates for the protection of working people in the United States, and the promotion of workers rights including the right to work; free choice of employment; just and favorable conditions of work and unemployment protection. The NWA would support the right to equal treatment, regardless of gender, origin and appearance, religion, sexual orientation. Equal pay for equal work; just and favorable remuneration ensuring the worker and his/her family an existence worthy of human dignity and the right to rest and leisure, with reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

The NWA could have an education component and sponsor training courses in career building, skills training, resume composition, resume posting, interviewing skills and provide assistance with short term vocational training, supportive services to obtain GED placement, vocational rehabilitation. The NWA could provide members with a job registry including job search advice. The NWA would make available salary surveys/advice, human resource and unemployment assistance. It would also be a clearing house for programs that would provide workers career counseling and retraining for new careers. "


Again - looking at the NRA as an example of an effective organization - the NWA could have state and local chapters. It could initially be organized around current unions and they could immediately become the core of such an organization. The NWA could have local, state and national meetings. The NWA could have a monthly journal and newsletter and of course a website - complete with all the social networking tools that are available (i.e., Twitter, Facebook, etc). There could be specialty sections in the NWA that align around groups of workers (i.e., hotel workers; restaurant workers; plumbers; electricians; truckers; etc) in order to give all workers a voice.

The point being is that we as workers need someone to go to bat for us and we need to have the lobbying muscle to compete with the corporations. With the formation of an NWA - we would be going to bat for ourselves.

I'm tired of all the strong rhetoric that goes on before an election and then the 'bait and switch' weaseling that goes on after pols are elected. It's time that we organize and have and apply leverage in order to protect our interests. I'm thinking that our elected officials would take heed and listen to such an organization with such a voice.

I'm throwing this idea out there and am looking for some constructive criticism in the formation of such an entity. It seems to me that we can do anything that we set our mind to and a National Workers Association would go a long way in giving the common worker in the U.S. to prevent any additional erosion of "Jobs In America".

What do my fellow DU'ers out there think about this?

29 replies, 1993 views

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Arrow 29 replies Author Time Post
Reply The Time Is Right For A "National Workers Association"...... (Original post)
global1 Dec 2012 OP
TDale313 Dec 2012 #1
Janspece Dec 2012 #2
socialist_n_TN Dec 2012 #21
Cleita Dec 2012 #3
global1 Dec 2012 #6
Cleita Dec 2012 #8
hifiguy Dec 2012 #4
byeya Dec 2012 #17
HiPointDem Dec 2012 #5
global1 Dec 2012 #7
HiPointDem Dec 2012 #14
global1 Dec 2012 #16
Cleita Dec 2012 #10
HiPointDem Dec 2012 #13
EOTE Dec 2012 #9
Michigan Alum Dec 2012 #11
libdem4life Dec 2012 #12
awake Dec 2012 #15
global1 Dec 2012 #18
awake Dec 2012 #19
awake Dec 2012 #20
global1 Dec 2012 #22
Hestia Feb 2013 #23
The Last Dem. Feb 2013 #24
CrispyQ Aug 2013 #25
global1 Aug 2013 #27
CrispyQ Aug 2013 #28
CrispyQ Sep 2013 #29
gopiscrap Aug 2013 #26

Response to global1 (Original post)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 04:23 PM

1. I really like this idea.

We need some way to organize and counter corporate power. This might be a start.

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Response to global1 (Original post)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 04:25 PM

2. Count Me In

 

Workers Need To Stick Together

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Response to Janspece (Reply #2)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 07:59 PM

21. You mean "Workers of the world, unite!"?

Welcome to DU.

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Response to global1 (Original post)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 04:43 PM

3. I like the idea. I'm retired but I would join. Would you accept former workers as members

to be with you in spirit? I sort of suggested something like this years ago, not as articulately as you, but it didn't go anywhere. I could see where there was union busting going on, there was still a way for labor to have a voice.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #3)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 05:00 PM

6. I Think It Would Be Appropriate For Such An Organization To Have A "Retired Workers" Component.....

Retired workers have a vested interest in making a National Workers Association a success as we are seeing by the current fiscal cliff fiasco and the potential pillaging of Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid. All workers - work toward retirement - and it important that retirement benefits be protected.

A National Workers Association could give voice to retiree's where now they don't seem to be heard.

I know the AARP exists - but - sometimes I'm not sure if the AARP has 'retired persons' in its best interest or if they are just about selling insurance.

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Response to global1 (Reply #6)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 05:28 PM

8. AARP throws us a bone every now and then. They are against

putting our retirement benefits on the table for the fiscal cliff BS. But I think it would separate us working class seniors from those who are heirs and scions of the affluent class and who don't understand what living from paycheck to paycheck is all about like we do.

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Response to global1 (Original post)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 04:49 PM

4. Long ago one of my lefty colleagues in a bookstore

playfully debated establishing a chapter of the Wobblies (The IWW - Industrial Workers of the World) at the store. I don't think we'd be kidding around about it now.

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Response to hifiguy (Reply #4)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 06:40 PM

17. I was going to say, we had one: The Industrial Workers of the World and they were persecuted, beaten

 

and murdered by all the force the states and federal government could muster.

Still, it's worth a pan-worker federation, more CIO than AFL, with particdipation ranging from putting yourself on the firing line to merely holding membership and contributing money.

Trumpka, if you remember, tried to form a Workers Party, when he was with the UMW but despite all his organizational skills, he was unsuccessful.

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Response to global1 (Original post)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 04:58 PM

5. some reading: this guy is an old unionist and has some ideas on using the existing union structure

 

for such an attempt.

i don't know if it would have a good chance of success or not, but maybe food for thought.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/10022018556


Can we build a new, “bottoms-up,” national labor organization that can supplant the tightly-controlled, do-nothing AFL-CIO?

It won’t be easy, but it can be done. What better example than the Committee of Industrial Organizations (CIO), that seceded from the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and went on to organize millions of workers in such major corporations as General Motors, General Electric, U.S. Steel, Westinghouse, Hormel and others?

To create a new labor federation, we are not starting from scratch. We have many thousands of local unions and some 500 central labor councils, plus 51 state organizations that are already functioning. What we have to do is to reconstruct the new organization so that it is controlled by the membership and not by a group of self-serving international union presidents...

A new labor federation can be established by following the process and guidelines that most institutions have gone through in creating their national organizations. It is fortunate that many labor leaders have lots of know-how about conducting elections and running conventions.

As a first step in forming a national labor federation, it is suggested that in each state, a two-day convention be called, to which each local and state organization can send elected delegates, based on their membership...

http://www.laboreducator.org/broken5.htm


If there were a activist labor org, i'd bet workers would be highly supportive in these times. The republican talking points are losing their believability with the general population as they see their security and incomes decline.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #5)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 05:14 PM

7. As I Indicated In My Original Post.....

"It could initially be organized around current unions and they could immediately become the core of such an organization."

I also indicated that unions in general have been losing their effectiveness since the Reagan days. That is why I would like to take the terms 'union' and 'labor' out of the name of such an organization because they have been tainted by years of Republican's bashing them and many employers concerns about them.

"Workers" - seems to be a more palatable term in my opinion. Any one that works - would see themselves as eligible to join such an organization. Even many workers out there seem to have a negative perspective on 'unions' and 'labor. In many cases - now - people in the same company might be union and non-union employees. Sometimes the non-union employees are at odds with those in their same company that are in a union.

Terming this as "workers" would put every worker on an equal footing.

My thought was to start fresh and leave the old/current way of doing things out of it - and bring new life and a new excitement to protecting workers rights.

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Response to global1 (Reply #7)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 06:12 PM

14. if you read what the guy says, he basically feels the same. he presents pretty convincing evidence

 

that afl-cio is stunningly non-democratic and cuts out any voice for the rank & file or small to mid-sized locals, labor councils, etc. and he's in a position to know all the history & some of the inner workings.

the point of his thinking is to use the existing structure of locals, labor councils etc. in organizing -- rather than have to create those structures from the ground up.

i thought it was food for thought so far as strategy and tactics goes.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #14)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 06:36 PM

16. I'm All For That And Using Aspects Of The Existing Stucture Rather Than Creating From The Ground Up.

and this is really the way to go. There is just too much experience and talent out there to risk overlooking.

When I talk of a fresh start it has to do more with the terms and the name we use in this new entity.

Again - I feel that in some cases and with some people "union" and "labor" as terms have a negative connotation. The Republicans and Corporations made sure of that. So a fresh start would be to create a "fresh" entity and try hard to move away from anything negative that the older/current union structure conjures up.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #5)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 05:31 PM

10. I don't need to think it should replace the unions of today but could exist side by side with

the unions. Also, many of us workers, like in my day, white collar and pink collar workers didn't have unions to belong to and some of us who tried to interest fellow workers in the idea weren't successful. An association or organization someone could join for those to whom unions are not available and aren't tied to a workplace or a work skill, would be wonderful.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #10)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 06:05 PM

13. the thought is that rather than organize from the ground up, use the organizing structure that

 

already exists.

just something to consider.

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Response to global1 (Original post)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 05:30 PM

9. I'm totally down.

I think our theme song should be "Straight Outta Compton".

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Response to global1 (Original post)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 05:34 PM

11. And have a shark atty negotiating for the org. Corporations would be begging for unions to return.

Have a team of super negotiators.

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Response to global1 (Original post)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 05:59 PM

12. Who will step up to be our Mother Jones or Saul Alinsky?

There is an opening to lead a nation of workers into the 21st Century Digital Revolution.

“I'm not a humanitarian, I'm a hell-raiser. ”
― Mother Jones


“Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”
― Mother Jones

Or, Saul Alinsky

“Life is an adventure of passion, risk, danger, laughter, beauty, love; a burning curiosity to go with the action to see what it is all about, to go search for a pattern of meaning, to burn one's bridges because you're never going to go back anyway, and to live to the end.”
― Saul D. Alinsky, Reveille for Radicals

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Response to global1 (Original post)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 06:28 PM

15. Great idea with all the attacks on Unions this needs to be done

But it has to be done using the same structures the the right wing uses so that "right to work" (for less) states can not pass laws to shut it down without shutting down organizations like the NRA. Also it should not be seen as a Democratic or "liberal" group it will work best with Republican, Democratic and Independents workers all on board much like AARP. While knowledge of the history the workers movement will help, setting it up as a Twenty First Century organization not connected to the past unions and workers groups will be more effective. This will be attacked by corporate leaders as a Leftist, Red, Communist, Radical and un-American group, so to counter this attack get support from veterans groups and employes from Southern states.

If done with a open mind that truly includes all points of view this could transform the work place and how employers and employes work together. The trick will be how not to fall into the old habit of us verses them, placing blame and starting a fight may seem to be the way to go but I believe that if this group can first solve some problem in away that benefits the employer as well as the employe the new organization will be stronger and grow faster.

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Response to awake (Reply #15)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 06:55 PM

18. Exactly - And That's Why I Suggested Forming Such An Organization On The NRA Model....

If a National Workers Association would be subject to an attack by states passing laws against it (like they are doing now with unions) - then the National Rifle Association would be subject to that same attack.

I also agree that this association has to rise above party politics. When you are a worker - you are not a republican worker or a democrat worker - you are a 'worker'. Any thing that this association would do would be on the behalf of the worker and workers rights which would rise above party politics.

There would have to be some massaging of the structure of such an association. Unions still exist today and even though their effectiveness has diminished - they still advocate for the rights of their members. So a NWA needs to incorporate unions in it in some form. We don't want NWA to compete with unions. The NWA would be stronger united in some way with unions - however, the massaging needs to somehow take away the negative stigma that the Republicans and the Corporations have placed on them.

I was discussing this idea of the NWA with a friend and she didn't think she needed to join a 'workers association' because she was satisfied with her employer. She also said she'd never join a union - cause she associates unions with 'thugs'. Now if she has this impression - I'm sure that many others have the same impression.

So maybe the union structure as it exists today somehow gets incorporated in the NWA where it becomes a section of the NWA that represents certain discreet bodies of workers. Like I suggested in my original post - a section for the hotel workers might initially be the current hotel workers union. But now it's not called a union - but a section under the NWA. Same thing with electricians, plumbers, carpenters, truckers, etc.

Somehow that old and negative impression of unions needs to be cleansed and only the positive impressions of unions be maintained. Am I making any sense?

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Response to global1 (Reply #18)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 07:50 PM

19. What if we call it National Association of Employes & Workers or N.A.E.W

N.A.E.W could be pronounced "New" because NWA may be pronounced as "NaW"
Just a thought

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Response to awake (Reply #19)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 07:53 PM

20. on second thought N.A.E.W. can also be pronounced as "NaW"

so what about just National Employes & Workers N.E.W.

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Response to awake (Reply #20)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 12:29 AM

22. I Knew That If I Put Out This Idea Of A Workers Association I Would Get Good Feedback In Terms Of...

enhancing it. I really like the name being N.E.W.

Overall - looking at all the responses to my original post - it looks like the feedback was very positive.

Now the big question is - how can we make this happen?

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Response to awake (Reply #15)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 04:00 PM

23. What a wonderful get around on the Taft-Hartley Act, which restricts the power

of unions. But if it isn't a union, but say, a federation, would that Act still apply? I don't see how it could be enforced.

Keep reminding us week after week about this; things have a way of dropping off the front page here in the real world. We need to keep this workable idea in the forefront.

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Response to global1 (Original post)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 08:03 PM

24. sign

Me up.

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Response to global1 (Original post)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 01:42 PM

25. You need Howard Dean.

He built a fantastic grass roots organization & that's what this needs.

Isn't there a 'worker's bill of rights' somewhere? I would start with something like that & your post above & create a platform. Then a summary of the platform - the objective - boiled down to a few sentences. A good name helps. I like the NEW suggestion. IMO, a great tagline is essential.

Somehow you have to appeal to people who don't typically consider/support labor organizations, like IT workers, although that may be an easier sell these days. There is an activist forum & a labor forum in this group. http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=forum&id=1007

Omaha Steve is a famous union DUer you should connect with. He's probably in the Labor forum. Big Ed is good, but I would include all the liberal personalities, Stephanie Miller, Thom Hartmann, Rachel Maddow, Cenk, ??? I know I'm forgetting others.

Putting up a FB page/Twitter account is the easy part. It is staying active with it that takes time, and is what gives you exposure. You need to think about the content & keep it fresh & new.

It's a daunting endeavor, but all movements were just a few ideas written on a scrap of paper, at one point, right?

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Response to CrispyQ (Reply #25)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 02:11 PM

27. Thank You Again For Your Support And Ideas....

It is fitting that this idea is getting some interest here at DU - given the fact that this is the 'Labor Day' weekend.

How do we get this idea to Howard Dean. Anyone know?

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Response to global1 (Reply #27)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 02:30 PM

28. The Second Bill of Rights, or the Economic Bill of Rights.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Bill_of_Rights

Excerpt from President Roosevelt's January 11, 1944 message to the Congress of the United States on the State of the Union:

“It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

America's own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for all our citizens.

For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world."


"The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation." It stuns me that almost half our country does not agree with this. You cannot have social justice without economic justice. The democratic party used to know this, but Reagan's 'greed is good' mantra got to them. Actually, it was the perks of being on the gravy train that got them, but it was nice to hear an authority figure finally say that greed is good. I know a lot of well-to-do dems who voted for him. Many of them are even more well-to-do now.

I didn't mean Howard Dean, specifically, but rather his grass roots organization.

I really like the NEW name. National Employees & Workers. Now you need a good tagline.

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Response to global1 (Reply #27)

Sun Sep 1, 2013, 02:14 PM

29. Here's some current news & an excellent response

from bread_and_roses about the AFL-CIO:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/1014582411

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Response to global1 (Original post)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 01:43 PM

26. I'm in

plus we should have a national strike!

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