do good work. Some of them do great work. They have gained justice
and decent pay for most of their constituents, but do they point the
way to raise up all American workers?
talking about the proliferation of worker-advocacy groups in specific
industries or areas of work across the nation and they have been
doing a very good job, while pointing out that they are not unions,
they do not affiliate with unions or the labor movement, and they are
getting along just fine without what they consider the taint of
unionization and all the negativity that has surrounded unions.
true that unions have seen their share of corruption, but that
corruption pales in comparison with the corruption of Corporate
America and American politics, in general. Why then, do workers and
leaders of these non-union worker organizations express such
antipathy toward the union movement?
answer: Propaganda and the war on workers masquerading as a war on
union “bosses” and corruption. Propaganda works and,
since the end of World War II, there has been a war on workers.
There has been a war on every attempt by workers and their unions to
provide decent pay and benefits, working conditions and, especially,
to provide safe and healthy workplaces. Why? Because every single
thing that unions strive for will cost the company money that CEOs
want to see in the pockets of their executives and shareholders,
rather than in the pockets of workers to feed, clothe, and house
their families. As Warren Buffet, the billionaire, said, “There’s
class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class,
that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
did not appear to be speaking in a gloating way, when he made the
observation about class war over the past 20 years, he was merely
pointing out the reality. In that lack of gloating, he set himself
apart from the avarice of most of his counterparts, who have indulged
themselves in the process of defeating the aspirations of all
American workers. Nevertheless, the result is the same, whether it's
Buffett speaking or a CEO or right-wing politicians, most of whom are
contemptuous of workers and hold their unions in even less esteem.
What he failed to mention is the broad attack on workers over many
more than just two decades.
perpetrated this war on workers? There's long list, but mostly it
has been the rich, Corporate America, right-wing think tanks,
newspapers, television programming and commercials, whole fields of
academic studies that purport to be scholarly. In the case of
colleges and universities, it is the very rich who buy chairs or
whole departments and expect to see their views of the economy and
their views of politics and society taught to young minds who are
just forming their own views of the world. The power of their money
is expressed in this manner and any alternate view of the world is
usually not tolerated and usually ends up in expulsion of the teacher
or academic punishment of some kind, such as denial of tenure or, in
the case of adjuncts, fewer classes or no classes at all.
newspapers and magazines are owned by Buffett's class, most
television and other means of communication are owned by the same
class. What would one expect from the content of their “news,”
but that of condemnation of anything that would reduce profits and
reduction of the money that flows into their personal purses? Thus,
the propaganda emanates from nearly every aspect of life in the U.S.,
and there is no escape. It doesn't even appear to be propaganda, and
that's the genius of it.
and people, in general, are schooled in the way of the corporation,
not in the way of independent thinking, logic, philosophy, psycology,
history, civics, or any course of study that would give the lie to
the status quo, in which only a few, the 1 percent, are in charge of
all aspects of life and that includes the solidarity of workers
acting in solidarity as a united front. In other words, in unions.
In unions, there is the possibility of real democracy and it's good
training for citizenship. If there is no democracy and freedom in
the workplace, there is no democracy in the nation-at-large.
question is: How do workers ever equal the power of the
corporations, the right-wing politicians (of the major parties), and
the propaganda against them? They form a movement, a broad-based,
all-inclusive movement that expresses their needs and desire for a
true democracy. There was such a time, when that nearly came to
fruition. It was after World War II, when union organizing was
building toward its peak, through the early 1950s. But the success
of unions in organizing unorganized workers and their lifting
millions of workers into the middle class was too much for the
powers-that-be to suffer, since all of that rising standard of living
was taking money directly out of the coffers of corporations of every
size and out of the pockets of corporate executives and shareholders.
The class war against workers was reignited and the nation has seen
the diminution of organized labor since then.
the past couple of decades, workers have begun to arise against the
depredations of their employers, many of which are giant
corporations. They have marched, picketed, and held rallies for
better pay and working conditions, and for benefits that others have
enjoyed for a time in the past. There have been sustained actions
against WalMart, against Amazon, actions in the hotel and restaurant
industries, in the West Coast ports, on farms, and in sweat-shops.
The organizations that have arisen from bad working conditions have
done good work, some have done great work while underfunded.
the work they have done has resulted in some new laws and regulations
that protect workers and have raised wages a little, even though most
are far from the $15 an hour minimum wage millions are seeking. Much
of the work of the groups unaffiliated with unions or the union
movement is at the local level and the results are pretty much local.
A ray of hope, though, is that behind some of these efforts are
unions, providing advice and help in organizing, some legal help.
WalMart workers and their efforts to raise their pay and improve
working conditions comes readily to mind. Unions back them. There
is organizing in hotels and restaurants and unions have provided
support, but not always at the front of the line.
Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) describes itself as “a
worker-based human rights organization internationally recognized for
its achievements in the fields of social responsibility, human
trafficking, and gender-based violence at work.” It has been
built on a foundation of support for the rights of farmworkers and
the improvement of their lives. The CIW does work similar to unions,
but it doesn't apparently identify as one.
such group is the Chinese Staff and Workers Association, which has
fought for the rights of workers in New York City, mostly Chinese
workers in the food and garment industries, but including other
minorities. Wing Lam, founder and still chief of the association,
has worked to bring justice for the workers in those worksites in the
city for decades. But, in a phone conversation nearly three decades
ago, he said he was not interested in working with unions and
indicated that the association would continue as it started. And,
it's still going, despite long hours, modest pay, and death threats.
are many such organizations in the U.S. and they are doing what
unions have done in the past, and successfully, but they hesitate to
join a union and the union movement. They have their reasons, but
workers in general will not have the power they need to match the
awesome power of money and wealth and the control of politics and
elections that are wielded by the 1 percent. Only a powerful union
movement can do that. The struggle is on and, when all of the
organizations realize that they must band together to succeed for all
workers, the workers' world will change. Solidarity is the answer.