Unions have been falling from favor since before Ron Reagan, Screen Actors union president, became President of the United States, that big union nobody thinks of as a union. But that’s what it is, folks. Unionism is the fundamental concept of the American idea: the United States of America. We all hang together, or we all hang separately.
When most of us here in today’s South think “union” we get a mock heroic picture of Sally Fields standing on a table holding a hand-lettered sign. But “Union” was a dirty word in Dixie for over a century because of a guy named Sherman and his pals Lincoln, Grant et. al. Aside from the Dixiecrats, the Klan and the Baptists, there wasn’t much appetite for organizing. And in the land of the ignorant and the poor, any crumb of a job is a boon.
Starving dogs don’t bark so much. So tanking the economy provides the perfect window to take on and take down the unions. As I write this, Rand Paul is circulating a petition for a national “Right To Work” law. If he were an honest man, it would be a “Right To Exploit” law. But he is a politician, and honesty in that circle is common as hen’s teeth. Although, I’ll concede, not all politicians are crooks. Many are just stupid.
Just so we’re clear on this: by definition, a union is an organization of workers joined together to achieve common goals: better wages, work rules, complaint procedures, rules governing hiring, firing and promotion of workers, benefits, workplace safety and policies. While these sometimes benefit other workers, they’re done on behalf of union members. Hold that thought.
It’s a fundamentally capitalistic idea: people organizing for a better return on their investment, like, Holy Crap!! – a corporation. In this case the “investment” is physical and intellectual ability – which is the basis of all wealth – in service to a hiring entity. How that got to be “commie pinko” thinking is part of America’s charming dalliance with labeling. Ask Sarah Palin or Ann Coulter about it.
There are, or were, some pretty powerful unions abroad in the land. Some of them made stupid rules and abused their power, not unlike some countries and corporations. But along the way they made America a safer, saner place to work. And found a way to enable people who work for a living to enjoy some of the fruits of their labor. Unions, more than any other social force, made capitalism acceptable to the masses and fed the furnace of consumerism.
Basically, you have two kinds of unions: Unions of money capital (corporations) and those of labor capital (unions). You can’t make money without labor. But The Golden Rule applies: the one with the gold gets to make the rules. Hence the push to destroy labor unions.
They say Unions have no place in enlightened society because they drive up costs and reduce profitability. It’s much easier to make more profit faster when you needn’t worry about incidentals like working conditions, the environment, fairness, benefits and stuff like that. So in some people’s logic, the source of income has become anti-income. Which is, if you think it through, Slave-owner mentality.
But nobody talks much about the truly dangerous unions: The ones we call “Congress”, “Senate”, “Legislature”, “Political parties”. These have morphed into strong unions of self interests and are largely in cahoots with the 12% of our population who fill the coffers and call the shots. The other 88% (let’s call them Us) are merely tax and labor units, here for the cull.
So here’s my suggestion: while we’re getting rid of unions, let’s also put those “people” on a system that ties their income and benefits to the performance and profitability of the US of A and the delivery of benefit to the populace.
If teachers are going to be paid based on their students’ achievement, let’s have elected representatives get paid based on the achievement of their poorest and least fortunate constituents. It makes just as much sense, and might stop the headlong rush back to 1890 that our so called “leadership” keeps herding us towards.
While we’re at it, we might even be able to preserve that most important union. You know the one: “Of the people, by the people, for the people.” What commie pinko came up with that?