Corporate elitists and their puppet the Republican party, seem to regularly blame and attack labor unions for every social and economic problem we face. This tactic is meant to divide, conquer, and destroy a united working class. They have ensured that our schools don’t teach much about labor history or of the many contributions of labor to the American economy. They do all of this to hinder the push of labor unions against the big corporate money that pay for their political campaigns.
The employer class want you to believe that labor unions are some “suits” in Washington who just want your dues money. The truth is that labor unions are the workers themselves. Workers who who unite into an organization to bargain collectively with their employer for wages, benefits and working conditions.
No one questions the right and wisdom of business owners sticking together to support their interests, but these same people are outraged when workers do the same. Chambers of Commerce, business associations, trade associations, etc. all actively promote their interests to the government and the public. Yet they refuse to acknowledge workers’ rights and often break the law to break unions. Economics courses and business schools teach that workers’ labor is a product to be bought and sold, and treated no different from furniture.
Unions represent the common interests of their members and all workers to business owners, the government, and the public. In the Middle Ages workers in various trades formed “Guilds” to act for their common interests. They were stonemasons, carpenters, weavers, teamsters and others. The old guilds gradually disappeared, but the idea didn’t die. Unions returned in the mid nineteenth century, during the industrial revolution. They grew for the next century especially during the 1930’s. By the 1960’s one-third of all American workers belonged to a union. Union membership has declined from the late 1970’s until now. You can trace the rise and fall of the American middle class by the rise and fall of union membership.
A union is built from the ground up. Individual members belong to local unions. Each local’s members elect their officers. A local union’s officers act as a liaison between the workers and management at each workplace. Local belong to a national or international union. National and international unions representing millions of workers belong to the AFL-CIO or similar federations.
The 1935 National Labor Relations Act requires employers to recognize unions approved by a majority of workers. The two parties then negotiate a contract to exchange work for wages benefits and conditions.
Significant research shows that labor unions contribute to improved economic growth, productivity, competitiveness, product quality, training, turnover rates, workplace health and safety, and community economic development. Some say that unions were good a century ago, but are now obsolete. Actually labor unions benefit every working person every day, whether they belong to a union or not. Labor unions created the middle class. Union members fought and died for minimum wage, working hours, child labor laws, and government inspectors to ensure workplace safety.
Today, our unions are still fighting to keep these benefits while organized business is trying to destroy them. Republicans and their corporate bosses want us to have less, not because they hate us, simply because when we live a middle class decent lifestyle it costs them more money. And that is what they are in business for, to make maximum profit. Unions made the American dream, and if we want it to survive, then we need to support unions because unions are working families just like you.