I’ve only been a union member once in my life. I was going to a local college and working part-time at a locally owned (since sold to a national chain) drug store. It was a great job.
Mostly, I cashiered people, but stocked greeting cards and helped in our small paperback book section. Because this was a union job, I started at or above minimum wage and then got increases as I proved out as a good worker. Sunday’s we got double time. Holidays were triple time. No one got rich, but these jobs provided decent money to quite a few people.
It was my first job. I was 17 years old.
Today, I’m 55 and just watched my state, the birthplace of the UAW, become a “right to work” state. At the same time (and it’s no coincidence), the lame duck Congress is putting together rabidly anti-woman legislation for our elite governor to sign.
Almost three years ago now, I lost one of my two best friends over her anti-union feelings. She is a small business owner who uses a lot of union workers and is frequently disappointed in the quality of the work or the worker. I tried to talk to her about the difference between being displeased with a large and corrupt organization (because, aren’t they all?) and wanting to be rid of the right to collective bargaining. In a goodbye letter to her (though I didn’t know it at the time), I told her how stunned I was at her turnabout and told her it was if she had just told me she wanted Roe V Wade repealed. Perhaps, since I’ve last seen her, she has.
No union dues, no union. Wages are going to fall even more, though sweatshops already exist here in the land of opportunity. Brotherhood, my ass. This country has become so mean and small minded that we don’t even want people to be able to earn a living wage.
And women? Oh, fuck them too. If they can’t control their fertility, they stay uneducated and unemployed and thus docile domestic slaves (kinda like not having the right to collective bargaining, don’t you think???). Study after study after study in places all around the world bear out this truism, and yet our “representatives” who’ve been voted out of office, want to leave their hateful legacy behind before they go.
Today, I read that the idiot GOP “representatives” were in such a hurry to get this legislation passed that they hadn’t even read it (it came via the KOCK brothers and ALEC and the Chamber of Commerce) and it’s probably unconstitutional and will probably end up costing the state huge amounts in lawsuits. Cool. I hope this come back to bite Richy Snyder on his big white ass.
This is no apologia for what unions have become. In the time since my grandfather, a coal miner, an immigrant, and a target of the Ku Klux Klan, hung the portrait of John L Lewis in his home, the unions have become bloated bureaucracies and corrupt to the core. There is no question that reformation is long past due. But right to work is throwing the baby out with the bath water, leaving no protections in place and allowing indentured servitude and neofeudalism to return. In the end, capitalism is even more corrupt than unions. This will always be the case, unless by some miracle, the system itself is reformed and we all know that isn’t going to happen.
We’ve become a mean spirited country that wants people to have to work two or three jobs to try to put food on the table, with no access to affordable health care. We want cold, hungry huddled masses, ignorant and breeding, to just let the rich suck every bit of wealth from the public coffers, leaving a desolated planet in its wake.
Oh yeah. Sign me up for that.