Dismayed that there was almost no mention of the struggles of working Americans on last year's Labor Day (can you imagine no mention of soldiers on Veterans Day?) I determined to host a Labor Day rally in my small town this year. It is a Midwest former union stronghold that has been decimated by Americans now buying all foreign goods. Our Labor Day rally was an inspiring small success, but also, eye-0pening. Here is what I learned from the experience:
UNIONS ARE SECRETIVE: They are known nationally to refuse to answer phone calls from outsiders. It is difficult to get any information at all, even if you are friendly. I can understand their suspicion and desire to protect themselves. But is this one reason why almost no Americans now understand unions? -- Their message is just not getting out.
YOUNG PEOPLE, EVEN YOUNG UNION MEMBERS, AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC, SHOW NO INTEREST IN UNIONS WHATSOEVER.
In contrast, anti-union forces have been extremely active and high profile. Witness the media coverage of several states trying to eliminate collective bargaining rights completely for public employees. (The public sector is the only sector that still has strong unions. Private sector unions have been so beaten down by unfair trade practices and shameless flouting of labor laws for decades, that it is now virtually impossible to even organize a union in the private sector). While private sector unions have been crushed, big box employers now routinely force new hires to sit through anti-union propaganda films. Many thousands of Americans have thus been indoctrinated with anti-union lies.
ATTEMPTS TO DESTROY UNIONS HAVE BEEN ATTEMPTED BEFORE. I studied the history of American unions to make a DVD for our rally. The current attack on unions is nothing new. The history of unions is one of generations of Americans suffering to gain decent working conditions and pay from having nothing. They got absolutely nothing handed to them from business, ever.
Two items in the news are of interest in relation to the decline of American unions:
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman just reported that from 1979 to 2005, the income of middle Americans rose 21%. ( This is nothing like the very spectacular growth after WWII when unions were strong.) Income for the super rich, by contrast, rose 480%! during our current time period.
One of the most ballyhooed and profitable modern American companies is Amazon. An expose just let us in on how they treat their nonunion employees. The Pennsylvania Morning Call media outlet interviewed 20 present and former employees who revealed that they were forced to work harder and harder in a warehouse that was over 100 degrees at times. Those who couldn't keep up were fired and immediately replaced with desperate temporary workers. The temps were led on with a promise of permanent employment, but almost none were ever hired. The flush-with-cash high tech giant preferred not to pay benefits and higher wages for permanent employees. Employees were even written up for getting sick from the heat, and not having a doctor's excuse for any illness. The star American company preferred to hire permanent paramedics to haul away the many sickened workers to the hospital rather than give its employees decent working conditions. An emergency room doctor finally called the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration to complain about unsafe working conditions at the warehouse.
Excuse me while I vomit.