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A Look Back on Labor Attacks

The vilification of the union name and labor movements started around World War I, when the U.S. government broke the back of the International Workers of the World (IWW). Some of IWW members were against the war despite that fact that many IWW members served honorably in military. The next onslaught against labor was brought on by the actions of Jimmy Hoffa for abuse of the Teamsters’ union members pensions. The McClellan Committee, led by Attorney General Robert Kennedy. When the McClellan investigation was over, Senator Barry Goldwater went after the Reuther brothers, mostly Walter, who was the United Auto Workers president. The AFL then supported the Vietnam War and fought in the streets against fellow union members, who were mostly Democrats protesting the U.S. invasion of Vietnam. This did not earn the AFL any points with the GOP; in fact, they viewed the AFL members as suckers. Walter Reuther was sickened by the news coverage of union workers beating up protesters. He said it was one of the darkest days of labor. The next mistake was labor splitting their forces, instead of settling their differences. Labor even supported GOP president candidate Richard Nixon, and once he was in office threw labor under the bus by use of the Common Situs Picketing Bill. A bill that would have overturned the U.S. Supreme Court decision blocking a union’s right to go on strike at a construction site when the union has a complaint against just one of the subcontractor on the project. Another example of short-sightedness is when 44 percent of labor family voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980. Reagan went on to attack the air traffic controllers to break their union and most of labor, which were split at the time, did not support their union brothers and sisters. The reason given was the air traffic controllers had supported Reagan without investigating his history and trusted the lies he told them. We, unions, punished the air traffic controllers for their stupidity at our own expense. As a result, unions started sliding down that slippery slope of public disapproval ever since—until now. The Occupy Wall Street protesters and those fighting for $15 to $16 an hour fight, which is a good opportunity for the unions to redeem themselves and refurbish the union logo or brans with the old tough pride we once demanded. Union members are tough, but we still step over an ant most of the time. We should not tolerate being viewed as down and out just yet. The 99 percent of the have nots and the up and coming percent of the once had need the $15 to $16 an hour wage. It is all of our fight and all will profit by the increase. We can’t be afraid to spill a little blood if need be to right the injustices against us, the working class. The people of the Ukraine, Thailand, Bangkok, Egypt, Cambodia, Turkey, Syria, Bosnia and many other parts of the world are fighting risking their blood and their lives for justice. Are they any different than us?

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