Tuesday, November 25, 2014

History of the AFL/CIO

There is a consensus in the U.S. and worldwide that the labor movement is dying, but to understand how to turn it around, we must understand why, when, who and what. Labor at one time had the momentum and was winning so why is labor at 7 percent today and with 24 states now right to work for less laws that sap union treasures by allowing workers to benefit from union contracts without paying dues. Why do union members belong to the GOP or vote GOP? One reason is that union head of families, fathers and mothers, have not taught their children the importance of unions. They had all the benefits of a union: healthcare, good pay, weekends and holidays off, and money for a good education, but was never taught how or where this all came from, not at home, not in the schools and not even at the union meetings. Who is to blame? It is the unions and the unions’ members not teaching it at home, and throw in apathy and anti-union laws, and some Blue Dog Democrats who did not support unions and we see how we got here. Just look at what happened when the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and the American Federation of Labor (AFL) joined together, which brought together the largest labor groups ever. At that time the CIO was kicking ass. They had unionized the car makers, tire makers, and the Teamsters where unionizing the truck and cab drivers. The CIO were voracious organizers with Walter Reuther as president of the United Auto Workers. At the same time George Meany was head of the AFL and as a tradesman, plumber. The AFL were not big on organizing. They did not want too many tradesmen to glut the work market, but the CIO wanted all workers. When the CIO/AFL merged, they made Meany the president of the new AFL/CIO and even with Reuther’s CIO’s $1 million to keep organizing, Meany did not do it so one thing that happened was the anti-union corporations and GOP were terrified by the merger of the two largest unions they started huge anti-union busting companies, which is still going on today. Maybe we need to revamp the corporate laws that mandate that labor is represented on corporate board of directors featuring employees elected by their peers and work councils. This is what happens in the Germany’s labor and corporations. Another way unions could gain ground is to amend the Civil Rights Act to include the right to join a union. This would allow individuals to bypass the neutered National Labor Relations Board and sue anti-union employers in Federal court. Unions can only survive by what works—fighting and educating our families.