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Nerdyjen

Nerdyjen
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Thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative. - Kurt Vonnegut Since nobody reads anything that I write, I don't suppose this matters. I write for myself, for my sanity, because I love it.

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FEBRUARY 24, 2011 7:18AM

There Would Be No Middle Class Without Unions.

Rate: 12 Flag

There has been a lot of debate about the role of labor unions in our "modern" economy.  Many business leaders claim that labor unions have out lived their usefulness and are unnecessary to today's economy. These corporate commanders fail to realize that without labor unions, most of their customers would not be able to afford their products. Many CEO's claim that labor unions force them to raise prices in order to pay the salaries and benefits demanded by organizations like UAW and AFL-CIO. Without labor unions, though, many of the people who buy their products would be languishing in the poverty stricken lower income brackets.

Labor unions helped to raise the standard of living for millions of people during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries through better wages, employer provided health care, and benefits like child care spending accounts and retirement accounts. These benefits would not have been provided without the work done by labor unions.

Labor unions have never been popular with corporate America. Many early labor leaders were prosecuted, harassed or gave their lives for the labor movement in the United States. Some strikers were subjected to fire hoses, attack dogs and armed guards. These sacrifices Americans see that laws were needed to protect American workers.

Those sentiments led to child labor laws, minimum wage laws, the forty hour work week, and Occupational Safety oversight. If labor unions were to disappear the way corporate America wishes they would, lobbyists from those wealthy corporations would descend upon Washington D.C.  These lobbyists would spend billions of dollars ensuring that the progress made by labor unions would erode. Laws protecting American workers would be repealed and without unions, American workers would not be able to have a voice in the political process.

So, please, support your local unions.

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Conspicuously absent from much of the "discussion" re: the "greed" of unions is how much of collective bargaining has to do with safety, not just of union members, but the people they care for, transport, protect, etc.
Exactly. Our country would slip back into the days when a few people dying here and there came with the business or when a tragedy like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire was possible. When the workers' voice is taken away, managers think it's okay to subject human beings to sweatshop labor.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangle_Shirtwaist_Factory_fire
Oh my God! My first cover. Yea!!!
NJ--

Below is a letter I'm sending to all unions on behalf of mine, AFGE Local 1367, which was written BEFORE Guv Scotty's shameful phone conversation w/"Mr Koch:"

On behalf of the officers and members of Local 1367 of the American Federation of Government Employees, I urge you to express your support and solidarity with our union brothers and sisters in the state of Wisconsin who are standing steadfast in defense against the attack on their collective-bargaining rights.

This disgraceful move is yet another attack on the American workplace, seeking to dismantle decades of hard-fought-for protections and rights for the American workforce. Gov Scott Walker walked into office barely two months ago and manufactured this crisis by giving tax cuts to corporations and his special interest friends last month. He thereby escalated a state legislative debate into a struggle for economic justice with large corporations not paying their fair share to get Americans back to work. Gov Walker's actions are indefensible, as indeed he inherited a balanced budget, yet somehow he managed to squander it. (On what the money was spent is a question yet to be asked by the mainstream media, or answered by either Walker or his staffers, all of whom created what is very likely a fraudulent deficit crisis.)

Like the unions that represent Wisconsin teachers and other public employees, federal unions are also under fire for allegedly being counterproductive and representing employees who are "overpaid fat-cat bureaucrats." This is far from factual. The federal workplace also has had its recent setbacks with job cuts, increased workloads, and increased costs for benefits. As dedicated public servants, we take pride in the quality of our work and the service we provide to our country and to the American taxpayers. I am sure the same can be said for Wisconsin public servants. Consequently, an assault on the Wisconsin public workforce is an assault on ALL public servants.

"Overpaid" teachers, sanitation workers, clerical workers? I think not! We pledge to call out Gov Walker on his tactics: he's not trying to "save money"--the money has always been there. What he's really doing is union-busting--on a grand scale. Surrounded by his thugs, he has thrown the first punch at the common man, threatening something sacred--the basic rights of the public worker. He will get the fight he is asking for, as our union brothers and sisters in the state of Wisconsin have demonstrated so honorably, making us all proud. We at AFGE Local 1367 promise to spread the word of our collective support behind the beleaguered Wisconsin public servants, and to continue our campaign against union busters like Gov Walker. Let our Congress--which governs FOR and BY the people (that's US!)--make no mistake that we will NOT go gently into that good night, and that we WILL speak loudly and long to call them out if they fail to back the rights of working people!

We shall not be moved.

BTW--you're right; that the American middle class exists at all is thanks to organized labor.
I would never think that anyone could believe that teachers, firefighters, and police officers were overpaid. They do very difficult jobs with little thanks or compensation. In the case of teachers, many are forced to spend their own income on classroom supplies in order to effectively teach. To say any of those groups are overpaid is to be completely out of touch with reality.
"These corporate commanders fail to realize...."

Oh no, they realize it just fine. They just don't care. With "emerging markets" in India, China, etc., they don't care whether or not Americans can buy their products. We average Americans are completely superfulous to them, except in "service" positions. Someone has to clean up after the dog, after all.
exactly - although my sympathies are with the unions, there are no unions in Mumbai and we CAN afford all that shoddy Made-in-China crap at Walmart. The only governmental jobs with assured benefits are in the military, law enforcement, corrections, and surveillance.
Unfortunately, the shoddy made in China stuff is the only stuff people will be able to afford.
Just throwing the question out there - of dues-paying union members who are dues-paying union members because they must be union members to work in the particular place of employment ... what percentage of them would quit being union members if it were an option? And how much would the dues for their local fall off?
Congratulations on your EP. I'm glad your piece got recognition. I like what you wrote and I agree. Unions have been seen as evil in corporate America, because the former have been always been tied in with socialism.
♥R
@Sgt. How many of them would want to work at the job without the union protections? Without the combined voice of all the employees demanding better safety and wages, would those jobs be the good jobs they are now? Who would want to work in a hot, dangerous automobile plant at minimum wage? That's what you get when you undercut the importance of unions.
Union dues are generally minimal; a small percentage of the difference in what is earned with union bargaining and what would be earned without.
Disclosure: I have worked a union job. In high school I worked at the Cascade, MI Meijer. My wages and hours were better than any of the people I went to school with and I had my own medical plan.
@Sgt Mom--

Ironically, as a "Sgt," you were (or are still) part of one of the biggest "unions" in the world, the military!

The dictionary definition of "union" is "a number of persons, states, etc, joined or associated for some common purpose." To which I would add: "...usually, but not always, distinguished by some identifying mark, such as colors OR UNIFORM."

In the case of the military, those pension and education benefits sure sound like those same benefits offered by most unions.
You have not answered my question. You have responded evasively - why?
I did answer your question. Many of those jobs would not be the good paying jobs that they are now without the union. If the unions were to dissolve or make enrollment optional, those jobs would pay much less and have fewer benefits.
I don’t like unions, sorry to admit it, and I am not an imperialistic blood-sucking corporate America. I am just the regular middle-class American, first immigrant, then pie-cutter and salad-portioner in the restaurant, then clerk-typist in some small and ugly shipping company, then real estate agent, then translator-interpreter, then owner of the small business (quite successful one), then founder of the small non-profit organization (quite successful one and founded entirely with my own money that I didn’t have much), then volunteer, and so on, so on, so on… On top of everything I am a mother, a wife, a sister, a former daughter and so on… You see, I told you I am just a regular, middle-class American. In my former country we all were members of one big union – Government union! Nobody asked us – we started working – we got our union card (what a dream to our unions here, isn’t it?) We paid our dues, who know for what… probably for giving our union bosses to look after us, to spy on us, and to tell on us - everything for our own good, of course – and we didn’t care. But this was in the different country, in the different part of the world, and in the different time. I don’t like unions, but I have nothing against someone who wants to be a member of the union, for as long, as I am not paying for his/her dues – remember, I don’t like unions, right? I also don’t think that people who work for public sectors and are paid by public money (ours, if I am not mistaken) should demand me/us paying more and more for their own goods and privileges’. Nobody pays for mine, but me. And I don’t want unions to use my money to pay politicians – any politicians! – because I might not agree with their choice. So, I am sorry to inform all of you here that I am not with you on this issue. You don’t like to work in the public sector – get out and work for the private sector. As millions of Americans do.
This is a really solid piece of work.

There is obviously no definitive answer to the question "who would quit if they could?" Making that question what I believe is technically called "a trick."

So it becomes necessary (as you do here in this piece) to take a larger perspective and note that the right to have a job be a union job did not just spring off of Glen Beck's blackboard. It was negotiated. It was voted on. That's why the current band of anti union goons---whether they be the Koch Brothers or the hired muscle they are hiring--is so dangerous. They are trying to undermine the very notion of community. Institutionalize class warfare and make preying on the vulnerable a societal norm.

This is no longer idle speculation on what the President really thinks or whether Sarah Palin has ever even held a gun---this is an all out assault by the powerful on the vulnerable. Something that's been warned about all the way back to biblical times and whoever that guy was who said "Blessed are the meek."
Sgt. Mom, although I can't answer your exact question, because I'm in a "right-to-work" state, I will say that I do have the option not to be a member of my union. But I remain a loyal member.

In my opinion, non-members are freeloaders, because they get any and all gains that we negotiate, without having to pay dues and without having to do any work.
The tide seemed to turn against unions during the fast and loose eighties. Everyone thought they were going to strike it rich and become one of the corporate elite. The truth is very few of us did.
The gap between the very rich and the middle class is much larger than the gap between the middle class and the very poor. Didn't we learn the depths of corporate greed during the Enron, Global Crossing, Worldcom, and Arthur Anderson scandals? Why do so many Americans put the interests of the wealthy over their own and that of 90% of their fellow Americans?
thank-you. just thank-you.
To the last post of Nerdyjen: so called "wealthy" provide jobs! They are the one who put bread and sometimes even butter on your table. Show or tell me of even one "poor and desperate" who would do that? And I don't care, really, how rich or superrich the wealthy are. I don't care!! I know that for 35 years that I've been leaving in this country I had a very comfortable life in comparance of what I left. Even, having two high educations and working in the kitchen of the restaurant I was better off physically and emotional then in my old country, when we, supposedly, didn't have wealthy people. We also didn't have the middle class - we all were poor the way you, being born or growing up in this democratic country, wouldn't even imagine. But, Allulluya, we all were equal... in our misery. Are you jelous of other people having more then you have? It's good to be cool - new cool, old cool, just cool, but the time should come when you should become at least logical, or, even better, smart.
I believe that we are all human beings and all of our lives have equal value. We shouldn't have to be beholden to the wealthy for our bread and butter, these natural resources should be available for all who work for them. The rich should not have the power to divvy out food and water, denying resources to those who don't worship at their feet.
I believe that with unions, workers are given a voice in the business process. The workers can say, "No, We wont work in unsafe conditions." Unions are a united group of people working toward the same cause. What could be more American than that?
I hope that you are not serious, otherwise, you are either very young, or very naiive. What do you mean " ...these natural resources (bread and butter) should be available for all..." Available how? Who would provide for them? Are they going to fall from the sky? But, even if so, it probably would be only scarce pieces of bread (that's how it was described in Bible, I believe). That's the problem with some of people who really believe in the equality for all. But this is a myth. I am not equal to you, you are not equal to the girl next door - we all are different in everything: in the way we walk, talk, think, etc. In my old country they tried to make us believe that we all are equal and the same. But, they - I mean the government and the ass-kisser of theirs, didn't want to be like us. AND THEY WEREN'T. I can work 20 hours a day. My friend hardly could survive 8 hours. Do you want us to get the same results? And if I will do better, would you demand the equal pay for me? The same that someone who doesn't work at all? I have a millions of different ideas - someone else just likes to come home and watch TV. Do you expect us to be equal? Equal in what? The time when people worked in "unsafe conditions" passed a long time ago. Now we have regulations, laws, agencies... etc. These union organizers take money from workers and use them for their own believes and ideas. And unions aren't "united groups of people" - there are people and there are unions. Unions are a past, and, unfortunately, maybe a future of the global misery. You'd better start believing in that.
Our constitution guarantees equal rights for all. I'm sorry that you suffered in your home country, but you should not allow that to color your feelings toward this nation.
I'm not naive. I may be a bit idealistic, but I believe that the protections given to us under the constitution should be fought for. Lincoln believed that all men were created equal as well.
Unions are adopted by a majority of employees after a vote by all of them. This is one of the things that make unions such an important voice.
The laws that currently protect workers would be gone within ten years if business leaders and their politician friends had the power to get rid of them. Without unions, they would have that power. Unions are the check that keep the labor/employer balance.
This is, unfortunately, a meaningless discussion - the things you say are so untrue and so unrealistic - it's painful to read. I wasn't suffering in my old country - that was the only life we all knew. I had a good job, a lot of friends, and million things I loved. I also lived in this country longer then in my old one - therefore, nothing can "color my feelings toward this nation" - this is my nation, don't be mistaken about it. And we are created equal here, and we are all equal - but equal in having the same opportunities, not by having the same privilages. Privilages come with our work, our efforts, our desires, and our responsibilities. Why do you have to fight for whatever is there already, bags me. But you'd like to fight - fight. Just not to cry "help" when you'd get what you're so ready to fight for.
Fair pay and benefits are not privileges, they are rights. The role of unions is to fight for these protections when they are threatened. Yes, there is hard work involved. The reason we have to fight to keep these protections is that they have not always existed. It took hard work from a lot of dedicated people to get those laws passed. If we eliminate unions because we think they are outdated or unnecessary corporate leadership will ensure that those laws are repealed.
Please, tell me where, in what document, I can find this provision: "Fair pay and benefits are not privileges, they are rights"? You are so mistaken, my friend. Who decides what is "fair pay"? Fair for whom? And who provides for benefits? Who pays for your benefits? Do you suggest that I have to pay for my benefits and for yours as well? I am not against unions in the private sector - if the employer wants to pay, or agrees to pay, it's his business. It doesn't bother me at all. But in the public sector?! If I pay for benefits of people who work for the government (and you, probably, know that government can't do anything for profit - that means that we pay for all government offerings) I believe that they should pay for mine. This is fair. Your statement that all the protections came from hard work of great unions is not true as well - let me remind you that many-many business do not have unions and people are working there and make living. Quite often, making more then in places where unions are established. (Microsoft, Facebook, Google, etc.) But you don't want to think about that - you want to take from others that do not belong to you. And this is stealing, in my book.
It is not stealing to organize labor and demand safe working conditions and fair pay. The Wagner Act established the right for workers in private organizations to organize and collectively bargain. In the public sector, unions protect those in often dangerous or underpaid positions.
Teachers are chronically overworked and underpaid. Our schools cut budgets and teachers lose their jobs or face pay freezes. How are they stealing when they organized to bargain for smaller class sizes and fair pay? Many teachers end up leaving the profession because they cannot make a living and our children suffer because of this.
Firefighters, Paramedics, and Police officers have unions to protect them in the dangerous conditions they face daily. Would you strip them of their collective bargaining because you feel it's stealing?
Funny how people who are pro-choice when it comes to a woman's right to kill are suddenly pro-non-choice when it comes to joining a mob.
@Sgt Mom--

What Jeannette DeMain said:

"...Non-members are freeloaders, because they get any and all gains that we negotiate, without having to pay dues and without having to do any work."

While unions are obliged to protect all workers w/in their bargaining units, it stands to reason that the Local will do more for their members who've shown enough faith in their union to "pony up." My own dues are less than $20/paycheck, and I write them off my taxes as a legitimate business expense.

For anyone else who cannot: dues are still worth paying if you've ever been hassled at work.

There is NO free lunch; you get nothing for nothing. Either you show faith in your union by being part of it, or not. Every Local speaks for ALL its workers in the bargaining unit--and if someone is speaking for ME, then I want to know what they're saying AND doing. The benefits you're enjoying very likely came from a union's hard-fought battle for them.

Kate Gieselman is also correct about any union's job of being a workplace watch-dog for safety, etc. Don't forget the member benefits, which aren't inconsiderable.

And now that WI Rethugs just passed their anti-union bill, God help all of us working stiffs. WI is only the beginning, folks.

BTW--you made no reference to MY observation: do you agree that YOU TOO are part of that "union" called the U.S. military?
When someone refers to a union as a "mob", there really isn't anywhere else to go in the discussion, as that person is simply starting from a false premise.
@Gordon Osmond--

Funny, but I found it even more interesting that WI's dirty deeds were aimed at the public-sector workers--teachers, nurses, and the like (and, to be fair, cops and firefighters too, but some of those are also women)--most of whom are minority AND WOMEN.

Add that disgrace to Speaker Boehner's latest attempt at "re-defining" rape--and it sounds to me like these are actions calculated at putting women "in their place"--which is NO place.

WI is NOT about a budget deficit; it IS about union-busting, and making even a decent and safe workplace, w/even a modest, livable wage, a relic of America's labor past.

Nothing short of aggressive action to call out Gov Walker and his thugs will accomplish anything that will protect the future of us American working stiffs.
To Nerdyjen: In response to your last comment - you are completely wrong on everything: anyone can demand anything from anyone - but -sorry to inform you - that that doesn't mean that his/her demands should be answered. I'd like to have a Mercedes - my neighbor has one. Why he does own one and I'm not? I demand that my Mercedes would be delivered to my carport tomorrow morning!! So... Why it isn't there? How can unions demand that I and you, and he, and she... give more of our hard-earned money to someone who doesn't give anything to me, or you, or he, or she? Teachers aren't owerworked!! They work normal hours and have three months vacations (most of them). Their benefits are better then mine - and I pay almost ten thousand dollars a year for my medical insurance! People who work in public sector choose to do that - and they know that some positions are dangerous (policemen, firefighters, etc. - and, by the way, they are excluded from that last proposed bill in WI) and they still decide to get into these dangerous fields. Teachers - they are absolutely different story. Teachers in private schools don't have unions, don't have these outrageous benefits and they, most of the time, do much better job then our union members. YES! IT'S A STEAL!! And I refuse to pay for it!!! They're paying twenty bucks a paycheck (as one of your correspondent proudly announced) and she "writes them off her taxes as a LEGITIMATE??!! business expense?". What a disgrace!!!
I don't know why doubles of all the comments keep showing up, but I deleted doubles. Nothing else.
Ingaz, I fully believe in hard work. I just believe that workers have the right to organize and collectively bargain.
Have you ever been to an inner city school, Ingaz? How many teachers do you actually know? The ones I know are barely scraping by. Yes, they chose to become teachers, but if they didn't who would teach our children? Not every parent can afford to pay private school tuition, and the children who are in the public schools deserve quality teachers. Those quality teachers should be paid a living wage. Their union helps ensure that they do, protecting our children and improving education.
Yes, Nerdyjen, I've been to an inner city schools and I even was involved (through my non-profit company) with schools in poor neighborhoods. And we did quite amazing job- one of our program improved children's score on state exam by 75%. I am not kiding. But I saw what's going on in these schools... HORROR! You're saying that we need to pay teachers a living wage - agree. And I believe they are paid living wages. They salaries are not on the bottom of the scale -
All K-12 Teachers
Median Salary by JobJob National Salary Data
High School Teacher $43,355
Elementary School Teacher $40,432
Middle School Teacher $42,311
Special Education Teacher, Preschool, Kindergarten, or Elementary School $41,016
Special Education Teacher, Secondary School $43,889
Secondary School Teacher $42,223
Special Education Teacher, Middle School $42,060
This is national data! These are not strugling wages! And to protect our children and improve education we need a competition! Parents must have a choice in choosing the school for their kids - vouchers! But people like you and teacher's union (as well as our President, who sent his kids to the private school but denied poor Washingtonian families of sending their kids to good private schools) will never go for it - this will end their monopoly!!!
OK, OSers--what do you think?

Is Ingaz correct--are the teachers' salaries she posted "starving wages" in America?
They wouldn't be starvation wages if they were actually what teachers received, unfortunately they are not. The median total stated is for a teacher who has been on the job for at least ten years or more. Beginning salaries for teachers hover somewhere around the $25k a year mark. These amounts can vary wildly from state to state.
http://teacherportal.com/teacher-salaries-by-state

http://www.payscale.com/research/US/All_K-12_Teachers/Salary/by_Years_Experience

These links offer a more realistic view at teacher pay.
I was sitting in dark last evening - electricity was out here. It was very unpleasant experience. So, now back to our discussion - Everyone starts low - my niece is a medical doctor now. After graduating from the medical school she had to go for internership (her specialty required 5 years of it). She was paid $27.000 a year, working three days around the clock (meaning 24 hours) and after that having (sometimes) two days off. FOR FIVE YEARS! Then she found a position in a hospital (she is a physiotherapist) and for another 6 years was working around 14 hours a day!!! for around$75.000 until she made a partner. And right away she had to pay a doctor's insurance (about $25.000 a year) to protect her (as all the other doctors) from laywers and this was on top of the normal medical insurance and benefits she had to pay for (I forgot to mention that she was a single mother with two kids). So, who says that when starting a career you'll get everything right away... Why unions and teachers are so much against vouchers? What are they afraid of?
BTW, Nerdyjen, I looked at your scale of salaries and they are in no way in around $25.000. They are well in the $30+ Of course, in some states the salary in the beginning is around $25.000 but in most of the states they are in the $30+ mark.
The 25k in question, if you look at the teacherportal site is for Wisconsin. Wisconsin is the state that is generating much of this debate.
You have a problem with tax money going to unions. I have a problem with tax money going to religious institutions in the guise of education. I have no beef with charter schools, I think they are a great alternative to the conventional public school, but vouchers cross the line in some instances in the separation of church and state.
I would just like to add the United Nations' take on this issue. In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everything that I stated above in regards to equal pay and trade unions holds to its standard.

"Article 23.
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests."
With all due respect, Nerdyjen, you are so illogical in your posts: you supposed to be a keeper of this great notion that we all are free in our desires, at the same time you are against parents who'd like to educate kids in save environment of religious institutions. Who gave you the rights to tell these parents - we would pay for your child to go to the public school that might completely fail you, brainwash you, install some believes that I, as a parent, don't support or believe in, but we won't pay for your choice of religious school that, for sure, would be in coherence with my believes, as a parent. The separation of church and state was put in action for one reason only - to protect minorities of believers who follow other religion than christianity. To PROTECT them, not for any other matters. It is not even in the US constitution, believe it or not. You are such a demagogue. And please, don't quote me the United Nations' statements - this is an organization that is absolutely useless, corupt, racist and antisemitic. Besides, whetever you quoted, is already here working for long-long time: right to work, right for equal pay, right to just and safe conditions, etc. And what about their words in regard to "free choice of employment"? Unions are against "right to work" sentence and demand everyone becoming a member of the union, quite often against the will of the applicant. What is your explanation of this?
Really? Then what about the First Amendment?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Please tell me what is so safe about religious institutions? How many priests have been accused of abuse or molestation?
I have nothing against charter schools, as I mentioned. In fact, my two children attend a charter school. Charter schools are public schools run by private organizations. I don't believe that vouchers for private schools are the answer.
If you continue to name call, I will remove any further responses from you.
If I offended you by using a word "demagogue" - I appologize. Although, I don't think it's a name calling - it's a statement showing that a person is not consistant in arguments. But, again, I didn't want to hurt your feelings. I believe, our discussion is coming to its end - we simply are speaking different languages, so to speak. It was really nice talking to you, although I am a little upset that you don't want to look a little bit outside well-known opinions that are popular in your circles. The only thing I'd like to add: In what you quoted (the First Amendment)- "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" - just proves my point: it's about protecting other religions - government should not force any religion of majority of citizens on other people - there is no mentioning of any separation of the church and state. The country was build on particular religion by deep believers, as we all know. From my point of view, today the only thing that could change the situation on our public schools - is vouchers. Unions are bad for schools because, first of all, schools shoud be about children, not teachers. Teachers are extremely important for the future of this country and for kids, who must be very well educated - it's XXI century and kids in most developed countries doing much-much better then our children. Which is pity and very unfortunate.
I believe that I have been entirely consistent in my beliefs and arguments. I do believe that there is a language barrier and different ideas about what constitutes freedom.
Are you familiar with the concept of charter schools? Not every state has them, but they are an excellent alternative to traditional public schools. I support them because they are overseen and regulated like public schools, but don't have the same limits as public schools. I fully support charter schools, but do not support vouchers, because I believe that there should be checks and balances in place.
Many people think that if it is a private school, that it must automatically be better than public. This is an elitist sentiment. I have heard some horror stories about private schools as well.
I believe it is our job to strengthen the public school system, not abandon it. I am not a libertarian who believes that public services should be privatized, as it sounds like you believe.
First of all, I don't think we have a language barrier - I'm absolutely fluent in English (which doesn't mean that I don't make some mistakes sometimes) - what I meant by saying that we speak different languages was that our understanding of some (many) situations were different. And they are. My believes in some issues based on life experience - I was lucky to live in two absolutely different, even antogonistic, political systems - socialistic and capitalistic. The first was easy for me to be in - I was born in that society - as for the other - I had to start from the scrach (and it had been painful for a long-long time) and learn everything from zero, including language, way of life, culture, work ethics, etc. In spite of that, I would never ever change that my decision to leave my old country - and I am not talking about financial site of it. Even in my first years in here, when I was so missearable, missing my work, my friends, my city I quite often had dreams that I was back. And during those dreams, I was so scared that again I was stuck in there, without any way out. I felt blessed waiking up at 5 am and go to work in the restaurant. I am not a libertarian, not a republican and, of course, not a democrat. I am a common sense person. There should be a balance in everything, but I won't stand for public schools system that doesn't work and insted of teaching our kids some main basic things necessary for their future, brainwashes them; for unions, that are corrupt and dangerous; for ideas, that divide us and create a class war - no, I won't stand for them in hope that they will bring some so called change that is not even properly described. Sorry...
name an industry where unions still contributes to the middle class?
not steel
not cotton textiles
not sugar, flour, wheat, corn or soy beans
not lumber & hardwood
not tv's/radio & appliances
not tools & equipment
not grocery stores
not department stores
not
not
not
not
just fill in the blanks....unions are deadmeat this century.
"When someone refers to a union as a "mob", there really isn't anywhere else to go in the discussion, as that person is simply starting from a false premise."

I am sure that someone with JdeM's vast descriptive abilities can fashion another word to describe the decorous conduct of the Democrats who screamed without restraint when they lost a vote and the current occupants of the WI Capitol who refuse to respect a lawful order to vacate so that the place can be cleansed of their smelly litter.

By the way, why were protesters permitted inside in the first place? Surely their stupid points and hateful slogans and signs could have been exhibited al fresco.
While your piece is well written, I have to disagree with your point of view.

First however let me quote what I do agree with: "Labor unions helped to raise the standard of living for millions of people during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries through better wages, employer provided health care, and benefits like child care spending accounts and retirement accounts. These benefits would not have been provided without the work done by labor unions."

100% correct. Had we let the Rockefellers, Morgans, and the other early industrialists have their way we'd all be working 7 days a week and I would have started working at age 9. No argument here.

However, to state that we would face a rollback of everything that has been accomplished if unions were to disappear is simply not a factually accurate statement. Do you really believe that child labor would be reinstated? That OSHA would be dismantled? That discrimination in the workplace would be legalized? It simply won't happen. The landmark legal cases related to working conditions will stand.

If one equates the end of rolling over vacation days ad infinitum and asking union workers to contribute anything toward healthcare with the end of unions and humane worker treatment, then such an analysis is far-fetched. I've lived within such limits for years and despite my lack of enthusiam over the 50-60 hours per week that I have worked on average for the past 18 years, I'm happy to have a job and take care of my family.

I am a fan of teachers, airline pilots, the police, and myriad other groups of what I believe to be critical jobs. What I am not in favor of, however, is treating these groups as if they are untouchable.
The thing about politicians is that once they start chipping away at one protection and succeed, they can't seem to stop. It wouldn't happen all at once, just a little bit here and a little bit there. One day it's "Unions, we don't really need them do we? Let's get rid of them." The next it's "Do we really need to limit the workweek?" Pretty soon you've got, "Why shouldn't children be able to work if they want too? They have the right to support their families, too."
I honestly believe that eliminating unions is the first step in the corporate American agenda at lowering costs on the back of the American worker.