If You’re Anti-Union, You Best Be At Work Monday

labor union

A few years back Killing The Breeze explained a simple bit of logic — if you’re against the labor union, you taking off for Labor Day makes about as much sense to me as Colin Kaepernick celebrating the 4th of July would for you.

The holiday that ends summer, the last chance to go down the beach or go camping or visit that B&B in the countryside, is a celebration of the workers, the LABORers that made America great; specifically it’s in honor of the people killed by government agents when they protested their cruel treatment at the hands of the Robber Baron railroad lords. It was effectively the beginning of the end of the Gilded Age and the birth of the American middle class.

There is an impressive pile of propaganda coming from the money-changers in the corner office that unionization of workers it what’s hurt America, that it’s why our jobs have gone overseas and why our working class has become lazy. And such enmity towards labors makes sense: Things have gotten worse for the overlords ever since laborers collected and decided to make demands and the pols are beholden to the overlords. Hell, some of them have even had to wipe THEIR OWN ass.

And ever since the anti-union movement took hold in the 70s, born from the boogeyman of Sam Giancana’s MAFIA-run bosses getting Kennedy elected and Brando’s longshoreman masterpiece “On the Waterfront,” a growing wage disparity has turned America increasingly into a land of haves and have nots. The irony is that the very people getting the shortest end of this stick seem to form a big part of the Republican constituency. Trump employs the oldest trick of the overlords as adopted by the Republican party and bad guys everywhere: misdirect the rubes with populist babble into blaming the party’s enemies (9/11 was masterminded by the Iraqis, says GWB and the Big Dick)(the Jews are the reason Germany is struggling, says Drumpf’s distant cousin).

Mexicans are responsible for your lower wages; government regulations are responsible for your lower wages; trade is responsible for your lower wages. But if that’s the truth, if the money is really going overseas and the companies are struggling because of Obamacratic regs and the workers would have more jobs if they didn’t have to fight the Mexicans, then why is the American wealth gap wider than its been in decades? Why are CEOs getting richer every day while middle and especially working class wages are stagnating or even falling behind inflation? The only way the vast proletariat can gain power is through their numbers. And by convincing them against playing their one care, they’re rendered powerless again.

According to a recent EPI study  average weekly earnings for nonunion men would be 5% greater if the share of union workers still at 1978 levels. This would also benefit nonunion employees since their employers would have to raise their workers’ pay to convince them not to join a union.

According to the study,

the losses engendered by shrinking union participation are most pronounced for nonunion private-sector male workers who lack a Bachelor’s degree. Wages for that group would be 8% higher in 2013 if union membership had stayed at 1979 levels, translating into an annual wage loss of $3,016.”

This and another study were recently referenced in an Atlantic article echoing the sentiment that the fall of unions has led to fallen wages.

And it looks like average Americans are finally starting to come around and realize, if not that the capos have been lying to them about the benefits of unions, at least that unions aren’t as bad as we’ve been told.

The GOP labor union busters

The GOP ranks are filled with men and women trying to make their names by convincing working class constituents to oppose unionization and thereby appease the kingmakers at the top. Scott Walker is of course the leader, Wisconsin’s great union-busting hero who some day will tell his grandkids he was onstage when Donald Trump brought down the Republican party.

Ironically, while many of the gilded age robber barons were Democrats and one of the heroes of anti-scumbagery was Republican superhero Teddy Roosevelt, it’s become a mainstay of the Right .

Rand Paul, whose Libertarian party supposedly opposes government intervention, led the charge for “Right to work” which would overturn labor unions’ power to force workers in certain industries from requiring people in those industries from joining unions. Sounds okay, right? The thing is, this would give employers the ability to launch a propaganda campaign to keep people from choosing to join a labor union, maybe giving a quick bit of juice in the hiring process ($500 bonus; 50 cents more an hour if you don’t pay your dues), then sentencing their workers to labor without representation for such things as wages and benefits and sick time (you’ve been here 4 years and you want a raise? How about you’re fired?). A union is an insurance policy for a worker and without it, the longterm results can result in severe financial distress, death or at the least severe rot.

Of course Rick Perry, the governor of Texas who tried to improve his reputation as king of the most redneck state by putting on hipster glasses, pushed for right to work.

Chris Christie faulted teachers’ unions for the problems with our education system instead of pointing to factors such as, I don’t know, ridiculously low pay for the people entrusted with preparing our children to be well-informed adults and slashed budgets for books and computers and schools without lead in the tap.

The teachers union likes to be off work four or five months a year. They like to get a full-time salary for a part-time job. They don’t want to work longer hours.” — Chris Christie

Conservative organizations have spent close to $200 million trying to fight unions, claiming it’s for the good of the American people. You can determine your success, that’s right, just work hard, don’t ask for much, and things will go good for you and your family, we promise. And we should know; we’re paying your paychecks.

But I learned something else in business class: You don’t get rich by working hard; you get rich by convincing other people to work hard for you, and the less they will accept to do that work, the more you make. Unions stand in the way of that. They demand higher wages, paid time off, and health insurance for their members. These all cost a ton of money for employers. PTO costs 1.98 an hour, or 7% of all American compensation. And it’s not a federal requirement so if you get employees who don’t unionize for it, likely the unskilled laborer class will lose it because, hell, the world is full of unskilled laborers who work without it. They die at, like, 34 and work 80 hours a week. Imagine if you couldn’t take off those 5 days to go somewhere other than work, to decompress your mind and body? Or if you’re sick, or your wife is sick, or your husband, or your child — imagine you couldn’t afford to take the time off for them. God forbid somebody dies. Cry for a day. Maybe. Then get back to work. The bill man wants his due and your meager wages just barely allow you to keep a step ahead of him.

Health care is the other big win by labor unions. And then Obama came in and required medium-to-plus-sized companies to insure their employees as well. No wonder the same politicians that oppose unions also oppose Obamacare. Because they’ve figured out how to convince people to vote against their own interest, by fear-mongering Donald’s favorites, “the poorly-educated,” that helping the overlords is in their own interest. And the best benefit to the overlords is the destruction of advocacy for the people who actually do the work. Workers’ rights really hurt the bottom line.

So Let’s Party

Yes, it’s Labor Day on Monday. Time to fire up the grill, have over some friends and enjoy the day off. At least if you’re off for Labor Day, which isn’t the reality for many people. Certainly the oligarchs and the anti-union federales will have the day off in honor of the organization that they have built their careers on trying to destroy; but many minimum-wage workers do not.

As we celebrate the 3-day weekend and look back on the summer, we must remember one thing: American greatness was based on grinding the “lesser” down while the “greater” took up the hallowed top echelons. And specifically, that it took a mixture of government intervention and  the collective protestation of worker groups as manifest by the labor union to ensure those downtrodden weren’t ground into the earth; that they received extra pay if they worked over 40 hours a week and insurance and a living wage and basically that the men and women who actually made the products and goods we consumed could support and protect their family on the pay received for their labors.

Labor Day is a celebration of the worker and his/her unions. It is a celebration of a moment when America began to build the core of its class system, the difference between a democracy and every other fucked up political system. And that difference comes down to the rights of the average worker.

God bless Labor Day. And God bless the only institution that has the backs of the workers, the labor union. And if you’re anti-union, you best be getting your ass out of bed Monday and punching that clock at 8AM sharp. Don’t you dare ask for overtime, either.

Comments

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Ryan Ariano

Born and raised in Baltimore, Ryan has been kicking around the west since the first Clinton White House. Having worked all over SoCal in the surf industry, Hollywood, marketing, journalism and finance, he now hangs his hat just outside Jackson Hole where he can fulfill an addiction to ascending and descending mountains.

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