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GOPBasher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 07:27 PM
Original message
"Thanks to the Labor Movement, life is better."
This is a nice outline of the labor movement's history. It was posted back in 2000, when the economy was still roaring. It's sad how far we've fallen since then. Anyway, it's still uplifting to read.

But not so long ago, the five-day, 40-hour work week was unheard of; health coverage was not part of the job; there was no overtime pay; child labor was common; unemployment compensation did not exist; and if you were injured on the job, it was your loss.


The New Deal was a major turning point in labors story. Its endorsement of the right to bargain for living wages, overtime pay, unemployment compensation and guaranteed Social Security checks created a compelling confluence of buying power. When this massive demand was injected into the economy, it formed a permanent platform for stability and growth. To this day, we have not had another Depression, and prosperity has, with the normal setbacks, risen steadily
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DBoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 07:46 PM
Response to Original message
1. I read the labor movement turned a centuries-old trend around
That from the 13th century to the 19th century the standard fo living of the average European urban laborer actually declined. This turned around in the 19th century due to the labor movement and various other reform movements (e.g. public health movements that brought better sanitation and clean water, etc.)
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madrchsod Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 07:53 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. well thanks to george bush and his gang
of corperate thugs you won`t have to worry about having our lives improved! let`s get that standard of living back to the 13th century!!!
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rfranklin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 08:07 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Surprise! This is the Republican wet dream and it's coming true...
No job security, no benefits, no booming economy hungry for workers--they love it! What it means is pliant workers who take whatever is offered and end up being satisfied with even less than promised. Think I'm exxagerating? Look no further than the Walmart model; workers are forced to clock out and continue working for no pay. If they complain, suddenly there are a raft of charges written up on them and they're out the door. If they want to fight it, they face a long arduous and expensive legal battle for which they will not be reimbursed.
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will work 4 food Donating Member (184 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 09:42 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. Best Buy is the same way
Though they do not clock you out, but they suck you into their cult and force you to mislead customers to make your quota (even though it is non commission) and if you don't they fire you for whatever they can write you up for. They hound you until you quit or miss-step.
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Deja Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-07-04 08:34 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Huh?
CompUSA seems to have adopted this policy; every time I go in I get pestered by 50 red shirts (sadly not the Star Trek type) and they put little yellow stickers on the top of every UPC code. I $mell a rat.

The Best Buy folk are different. Whether it be in line for a return or to inquire about a product, you have to wait forever and in the end, they don't seem to know. And they don't slap little yellow stickers everywhere.
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mopinko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-12-04 12:59 PM
Response to Reply #7
15. if there is a microcenter near you
they are an excellent company. knowledgeable customer service, quality products only. i bought my hubby a camcorder for x-mas there, and the salesman was the greatest. they could use some more women, tho. girl geeks are a little harder to find, but not that hard.
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GOPBasher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 08:21 PM
Response to Reply #2
5. You got that right.
How are Americans so blind to this crap? It's scaring me to death, frankly.
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revcarol Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 08:16 PM
Response to Original message
4. Taft-Hartley is still a swear word for me.
Started the downward spiral....

Plug: DK wants to repeal most of it.
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ramapo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-08-04 03:59 PM
Response to Original message
8. People turned against labor
The trend from the early-70s on has been anti-labor union. Consequently workers have lost much of their power and protections.

The complaints back then were unions were too powerful, corrupt, took inordinate dues, workers got little in return, etc.

Now the corporations are in full control and who gets hurt? Ironically, the same people who turned against the unions.
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rapier Donating Member (997 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-08-04 06:51 PM
Response to Original message
9. notes
Edited on Thu Jan-08-04 06:55 PM by rapier
While the 'Labor Movement' was crucial in bringing all those things from the 40 hour work week to safety laws to those myriad things we take for granted it is best to accept the fact that those good and noble things don't mean that unions have always been good and noble.

I suppose a book is in order but really, to laud the nobilty of unions is pouring it on a bit thick. Partly this sprang from the fact that unions were forced by politics and culture to abondon virturally all issues except money. While to this day the political corner of the AFLCIO puts out work that would be reconginzed as progressive that output has zero meaning for most members and zero in the political sphere as well.

I'm not here to bash unions but getting dewey eyed about the Teamsters is beyond silly. Yes, the Teamsters are a particularly bad case but in a way tell the story. In a sense the powers that be embraced the corruption and thuggery of the Teamsters because it was a total rejection of the political foundation of unions. Now unions are politically without meaning. Never mind the occasional whines of the Conservatrians about the evil teachers or more comical, 'union bosses'.

I've worked in enough union shops to know how ossified they have become. Often dominated by shop floor lawyers and the laziest of the lazy.

Nowdays of course unions represent few industrial workes, as service and governmental employees now are the backbone of unions. With $58 a month the minimum wage in China and Bush suggesting we offer a service to hook up Mexican with American firms. probably union busting ones the end of industrial unions is at hand. Progressive politics died in, oh.... let's say 68.
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lapauvre Donating Member (387 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-11-04 03:29 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. Too bad.
The unions, the ones you mention that were corrupt, were indeed in need of cleaning up. But the destruction and contempt for all unions is destroying every worker protection we ever had. Damn the breaking of the ATC union, and Reagan for setting the precedent.
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ramapo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-11-04 07:42 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. The ATC was the tipoff
That should've been a lesson to workers that the Repubs couldn't be trusted. The poor ATCs. They supported Reagan and if I recall correctly they were one of the few unions to do so. Reagan promptly destroyed the union and the careers of many of the workers. These people have one of the most stressful and responsibility-laden jobs of all.

Reagan mostly won kudos for putting down the union.
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many a good man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-11-04 04:04 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. Labor Unions and the docile workforce
I've long had the impression that the major animus against labor unions in this country derives from the fact that they are seen as exclusionary. They shut people out of a particular line of work because that work is union only. They exclude people from unions because you have to know someone to get in. They exclude people because many times they accept job cuts over wage or benefit increases. In fact, the earliest history of unions shows their main motivation was to exclude workers: particularly Irish, black or other non-WASP workers from the higher paid job categories.

Someone once made an interesting that point that the docility and apathy we see in the American electorate and workforce stems from the fact that we achieved democracy here BEFORE we had a genuine workers' movement. Democratic rights are taken for granted and there is no sense that maintaining worker's rights requires constant struggle and sacrifice. There is a stark difference between the conditions American workers are willing to accept compared to, say, the French, who are ready to strike at the drop of a hat.

I was wondering if others share that opinion or if instead you see other factors as more significant: e.g., the high standard of living available to workers outside of organized labor. It is becoming more and more apparent each day that the social contract has been breaking down over the last generation or two and that one side doesn't even seem to have a seat at the table...
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ramapo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-11-04 08:36 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. A combination of forces
The middle class saw that they didn't need the unions. Good jobs were available outside the union sphere.

There was often little value seen in the union. They collected dues, there were some rules "protecting" the worker but that was about it. You heard a lot about union bosses, corruption, etc.

I worked in a few union shops in my early working days. The struggles had long been over. The union seemed only an impediment or nuisance at best. The union was taking our money for what? That was MY money. I certainly didn't understand it then.

Well the pendulum seems to have swung. Workers are getting screwed all over. I don't believe it's bad enough to support a new labor movement yet.
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arko Donating Member (26 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-11-04 09:02 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. There is still a place for unions
I noticed some unions fail and some succeed just like businesses. Other than the government workers unions, there are still some that are succeeding, and the companies that use their workers are succeeding as well.

If unions looked at the industrial companies as their customers instead of their adversaries and offered what the companies need which is a trained and reliable work force the companies would pay top dollar. Just look at all these temp agencies. Companies pay these companies several dollars/hr more than their full time employees, there is no reason various unions could not be running these agencies instead of competing against them.

In the old days the unions took care of training and qualifying workers. They made sure that a qualified worker showed up and was dressed, trained and otherwise equipped to do the job and was there as a professional to get the job done. Some of the plumbers and pipe fitter unions are still this way. Its a shame more are not.

ABF freight systems is a good example where the union (teamsters) and the company have worked together and ABF has managed to stay in the freight business (as one of the largest freight companies) and is one of the very few that still have all union drivers.
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cap Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-15-04 05:13 AM
Response to Reply #14
17. unions can't compete with temp agencies
If you outsource, the outsourcing company pays the payroll taxes and benefits. This saves the prime boatloads of money.
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mopinko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-12-04 05:52 PM
Response to Reply #11
16. very good points
as a woman and a former union carpenter, i can assure you that the historic purpose of exclusion is still operating. in spite of 30 years of concerted effort to breakdown the barriers, women still make up the same 2% of blue collar trades. this is not completely a function of the unions, but as the gatekeepers of who gets the good jobs, or works at all, they still hold a lot of sway.
but i think that corruption is a major factor in the dissatisfaction of workers. here in chicago, i can tell you, this is a big thing. i also worked in restaurants here, and i can tell you there is no more useless union on the planet than the chicago restaurant workers union. they are a wholly owned subsidiary of the mob. there are many, many mob owned eateries here. it is a great way to launder money, as well as treat your friends with nice parties. but especially because of that conflict, they do absolutely nothing for their members except take their money. they used to have a group health insurance that you could get into, but you paid you own premiums. there was a union pay raise schedule, which was widely ignored anyway, that applied to kitchen and hotel workers who did not get tips. it started out with minimum wage for most jobs, and barely moved from there. and tipped employees got half the minimum wage. federal law requires minimum wage be paid, and if you don't make it in tips, the employer was supposed to make it up. do they ever? i have never seen it. and this is supposed to be a good union/labor town.
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