Sunday, May 15, 2011

Will worker fragmentation destroy unions?

Unions are weak in the U.S. because of a labor fragmentation in the character of American liberalism. To counter this fragmentation, labor must make what progress it can with the community and not at the expense of the community. There was a time when leftists of all persuasions saw the unions as the vanguard of social reconstruction. And now our unions greatest danger comes from an explosive division within the working population itself.

Walter Ruether observed in 1984, “As unionized labor has become but an island of well-being in a sea of resentful low-wage aspirants, income inequality within the working class that has reached levels unseen for more than two generations.”

Corporations have found that years of deindustrialization and wage stagnation has generated a huge reservoir of eager replacement workers whose residual commitment to their working class neighbors had long since been extinguished in their desperate scramble to hold onto their houses, cars and dignity. Maybe we need a new party or new group to stand up for all workers ---- Democratic, Labor Party, or Tea Party ---- for the working class has to advanced together or not at all. It is class warfare, the GOP corporations against us. Just like the robber barrens in the old days.

Now all of this was known in the 1930s through to the 1990s, but we did not heed what we knew. This was all said by Walter Ruether, UAW past president. We should not agonize over this, but we should organize. This is what Joe Hill said before they hung him for his labor activities.

We need the Democrats to support card check, and we need to organize all the box stores in Shasta County. This will even the playing field for our union stores, Safeway and Raleys super markets, for these corporations pay pensions, good living wages, and health care so when their workers retire they will be an advantage for our economy and not a burden. The way corporations should be if they want to do business in Shasta County. Just think how good it would be if everyone made a living wage, had health care and pension to look forward to.

It’s your life, is it worth fighting for?