Saturday, February 8, 2014
Workers United Equals Power
Unions need to study labor history and reboot using the lessons learned by what has worked and not worked. Labor must only support people who are trusted-worker friendly and be very careful not to make mistakes, such as some labor leaders did when they supported Ronald Reagan. The records of some of our presidents: Abraham Lincoln valued organized labor; Grover Cleveland sent the Army to suppress labor movements; Harry Truman challenged the right to strike on the coal and steel mines, and railways; Lyndon Johnson acted on issues of the work-place safety. Reagan, an FBI rat known as #T-10, destroyed the air traffic controllers union, PATCO. This union and many others have never fully recovered at this time. The wage slaves, have nots, have little, and used to have are forging a comeback, but even so, we still have some reluctant workers who are still slow to step up to the plate. To those people, they must remember this poem by Martin Niemoller: “First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist; Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist; Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist; Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew; Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak out for me.” It’s better to fight for their jobs than to have to fight for mine alone. Now there is hope at this year or next that there will be an increase in wages and there seems to be a renewed interest in unions, which is all good. But let’s not make the same old blunders, such as having a shop or county or city with lots of unions, and if we are that stupid to have lots of small unions representing the different parts of the company or government agency. Having lots of union shops in one entity weakens them all. If there must be lots of different unions in one entity at least have the contracts expire on the same date to give them some kind of bargaining power. We have to remember the past and own up to how labor has shot itself in the foot, such as when 44 percent of labor members voted for Reagan in 1980 when he was informing on his own union colleagues to the FBI. The fight at this time is $15 to $16 an hour wage: 15 in ’15. An old union banner read, “Union for Power—Power to Bless Humanity,” was presented to workers by Sarah Bagley two centuries ago. This should be our inspiration today.