Last night, I read an interesting article from the NY Times that talked about a new book by Timothy Noah that points out “The Great Divergence,” between the “haves” and the “haves not” – but in this particular case, was specifically talking about unions.
As the daughter of a man who worked for Eastern Airlines, an airline eventually dismantled and bought out, I remember going to union meetings with my parents to support the strike. I always thought unions were a good thing and when I became a teacher, I was happy to pay union dues. We talk about bullying a great amount in our society and no one likes them. So what’s the problem? Aren’t unions just the kid standing up to the bully that’s picking on the small guy? Aren’t the unions the kid that says Pick on someone your own size?
That’s what I always thought, but as I read this article, I was realizing that somewhere along the line, we started being fooled into thinking that unions, like teachers, cops, and public service employees, are the problem with our economic problems. People started believing that unions were something only blue collar workers needed, but not us. No sir. We don’t need those unions with their pensions and mob relations. We stopped seeing the good in the unions, the necessity of the unions.
We watched the “rise of the stinkin rich” and didn’t bat an eye at “the explosion in executive pay.” In laymen’s terms, we watched the rich get really rich while the working class worked harder for less. As Noah points out, when [people] turned their backs on unions – they made a terrible mistake.” I would argue the terrible mistake being that we basically told the kid that was defending us to eff off and let the bully kick our ass while we willingly handed over our lunch money. Are we crazy?
I think back to 1989, when my dad was on strike. Who would have fought for him if not the union? Who would have motivated the workers to stay strong, be resilient, and not give in, to resist? My dad doesn’t take BS from anyone, but he wouldn’t have known where to start had a union not organized him. So I don’t understand how regular people could view unions as a bad thing. I could understand why the rich, the policymakers, the company management – the stinkin rich – think unions are bad, but regular people? Open your eyes.
We keep giving up power hoping to one day join the good ol’ boys club. But the good ol’ boys don’t want us in their club. They pretend they do for our support, so we heist them up to the top and then they kick us in the teeth. They aren’t going to fight for our wages, our benefits, or our rights…ever. In fact, according to Noah, “JP Morgan economists calculated that the majority of increased corporate profits between 2000 and 2007 were the result of ‘reductions in wages and benefits.” Again in laymen terms that means the corporation profits got bigger as our wages got smaller.
When I finished the article, I felt a sense of powerlessness. What could I do? So I asked my friend, Hetty Rosenstein,the NJ Director of The Communication Workers of America (CWA) that posted the article, “What now?” Her response was simple, “We fight. We resist. We hold on for a moment and wait when a movement grows and we can stop it. Resist.”
Those are words I can understand. Keep fighting the good fight. When people argue that it isn’t a good fight or a losing one. Resist. When you’re watching the stinking rich buy another jet while regular people lose homes and life savings. Fight. Don’t give up. Don’t back down. Protest. Speak up against the bullies.
And remember that union is just another word for banding together.
Union hand Wikipedia.