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The Myth That Won't Die: Labor Unions Are Too Powerful

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Better Believe It Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-13-08 10:54 AM
Original message
The Myth That Won't Die: Labor Unions Are Too Powerful
Counterpunch
May 13, 2008
Are Labor Unions Too Powerful
The Myth That Won't Die
By DAVID MACARAY

The greatest anti-poverty program ever invented was the labor union.

--George Meany

Even on the face of it, the notion that American labor unions are too powerful is silly. In fact, its more than silly; its pathetic, really. Pathetic because there are people out there who still embrace this notion, still cling to it the way they cling to Kennedy assassination theories and the belief that something selling for $19.99 is cheaper than something selling for $20, cling to it despite staggering evidence to the contrary.

For openers, consider: There are millions of union members who dont even have the right to strike, who dont have the bedrock union right of withholding their labor as a last resort means of protesting an unacceptable contract. Who are these union members? Federal, state, county and municipal workers. Theyre forbidden to strike. Its illegal. Hows that for union power?

Or consider this: The U.S. has no laws against management hiring permanent replacement workers. How about that as evidence organized labor is running roughshod over the economy? A big, bad union member goes on strike, and when he returns to work, he finds that he no longer has a job. Given Brandeiss view of the sanctity of strikes, we can only imagine what he would think of the predicament where striking is tantamount to quitting ones job.

Then theres that other screwball myth about unionsnamely, that unions are so powerful, its practically impossible for a union member to get fired. That characterization is not only inaccurate, its an outright lie, one thats been propagated by managers too lazy or dimwitted to figure out what to do with a bad employee. The union makes a convenient scapegoat.

Call unions what you like. Call them predictable, stubborn, unimaginative, clumsy, etc. Call them dumb, if you like. But for crying out loud, lets not embarrass ourselves by calling them too powerful.

Please read the entire article at:

http://www.counterpunch.org/macaray05132008.html

The writer could have added that both Democratic and Republican controlled Congresses have passed special legislation prohibiting strikes by workers in the railroad and other "important" industries and that the anti-labor Taft-Hartley law has been used to prohibit strikes by coal miners, port workers and many others.
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Romulox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-13-08 10:58 AM
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1. Most labor unions in the US represent government workers
The vast majority of private sector workers are not unionized. So we have developed a two track labor system, which makes it easy to divide between "them" and "us". This is exacerbated by the lack of support for private sector unions on the part of public sector unions.
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Elspeth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-13-08 10:59 AM
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2. I seem to remember hearing that only 8% of Americans are now union members
That's practically no leverage at all.
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madokie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-13-08 11:01 AM
Response to Original message
3. Bring back the Unions should be all uses battle cry
the single most important element onto a save work enviroment and liveable wages was the Unions.
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countryjake Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-13-08 11:47 AM
Response to Original message
4. I liked the part about "vile bunch of opportunists and cowards"
Great article...thank you for posting it!

I'm still waiting for them to get rid of Taft-Hartley or even for it to become an issue during anyone's "campaign season".


As an ole union gal, can't read this without a tune:

Union Maid
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCPUCzjlMlU


No Contract - No Work!
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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-13-08 06:07 PM
Response to Original message
5. I'm union in the public sector, I don't have the right to strike

Many public sector employees can't even form a union. AFSCME is AFL-CIO. We support all labor. This Saturday I'm handing out flyers in front of Starbucks.

The story: http://www.starbucksunion.org/node/2011

The flyer: http://www.starbucksunion.org/files/MLKM17.pdf

Union membership went up last year reversing a 25 year trend: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20...

Marta and I are all union. Something Elaine's Labor Dept. won't tell you is union membership was up again in the last quarter. Labor's biggest loss has been manufacturing jobs in the rust belt being outsourced outside the USA. Our middle class is slowly bleeding to death. We need a BIG win for the D party this November.

K&R!

OS
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