Economic terrorism by paid goons...

Mr. President, it’s not easy to join a union in America. At a labor-themed speech in Wisconsin on Monday, President Obama told a crowd of union-members that if he were looking for a job, he’d join a union.

The president told the crowd that, “If I were looking for a good job that lets me build some security for my job, I'd join a union. If I were busting my butt in the service industry and wanted an honest day's pay for an honest day's work, I'd join a union...I'd want a union looking out for me and if I cared about these things I'd also want more Democrats looking out for me.”

But Mr. President, would you really be able to join a union today, given all the barriers employers put up to it like forcing you to sit through hours and hours of threatening anti-union meetings and presentations?

That’s exactly what’s happening in America today.

It’s now harder than ever before to join a union, thanks to the decades-long War on Labor that conservatives have been waging ever since Ronald Reagan came to Washington. And they’ve been waging that war with help from “right to work laws”, which should properly and accurately be called “right to work for less” laws, and from the multi-billion dollar-a-year union-busting industry.

Right now, 22 states have “right to work for less” laws on the books, but despite conservative claims, these laws do nothing to protect jobs. Instead, they undermine and destroy unions, thus undermining the basic rights of America’s workers to unionize. And, they’re terrible for our economy too.

According to the AFL-CIO, workers in “right to work for less” states earn an average of $5,680 less per year than workers in states that promote union membership. Similarly, median household income in “right to work for less” states is nearly $6,500 less than in other states.

Meanwhile, people in “right to work for less” states are more likely to be uninsured, and are more likely to be working low-wage jobs. And, as a new study out of the University of Illinois-Urbana reveals, workers in “right to work for less” states receive 24% more government assistance than workers in non-right to work states.

So, conservative-backed “right to work for less” laws are doing untold damage to our economy, while breaking up unions in the process. But they’re not the only thing responsible for the rapid decline of unions in America.

Thanks to the conservative War on Labor, America also has a booming multi-billion dollar-a-year union-busting industry. As the Massachusetts AFL-CIO points out, “There are now thousands of these firms across the country, and their rise has a direct correlation with the decline in union density from 29% of U.S. workers in 1964 to 13% today.”

In one case, in the mid-1990s, Baltimore Gas and Electric paid a union-busting firm a staggering $40 million to fight an organizing effort. It’s the job of these union-busting firms to break up union organizing drives and to literally scare workers away from voting for a union.

These are the thugs that come in, and give workers threatening presentations on the dangers of joining a union. These are the thugs that make workers sit through hours and hours of videos that demonize union membership. They recruit supervisors to persuade workers not to join unions, and drum up as much fear and intimidation as they can.

Between the spread of “right to work” laws and the rapid growth of union-busting firms, it’s no surprise that unions are experiencing their lowest membership rates in history, and that there’s such animosity towards the labor movement.

In a recent interview with the New Republic, Rich Yeselson, a seasoned labor movement strategist, said that, “In no other advanced country is the entire political economy as relentlessly opposed to unionization as it is here. The U.S. has the most hostile anti-union management/ownership class, and corresponding conservative politicians and media to assist it, in the advanced world.”

It’s time for that to change. It’s time for unions to once again become a major economic and political player in America. And that’s starts by bringing back card-check.

Prior to the passing of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947, joining a union was easy. Really easy. It was as easy as putting your name on a card and checking a box. That was your vote to join a union.

It’s because card-check was such an easy process for joining a union that corporate thugs today are so opposed towards bringing it back. They’re afraid that with card-check, unions will once again be major political and economic players.

Well, it’s time to make the corporate thugs afraid. It’s time to bring back card-check, and rebuild the American economy, one union at a time. Call your members of Congress, and tell them that Americans want card-check and we want it now!


RichardofJeffersonCity's picture
RichardofJeffer... 9 years 41 weeks ago

This was a blog post about the striking food workers, but it applies nicely to this post.

Another situation where a nationalized Consumer Union could use its collective buying power to show solidarity with the striking fast food workers. Of course, this is all based on the premise of a theoretical non-existing Consumer Union, but if it did exist, this would be the kind of cause I envision the CU taking up for economic justice.

The action, as I see it, would be as followed. All procedural matters are subjective, just giving some kind of idea of how it would work. First, the organization (striking workers) would submit a petition of some sort asking the CU to join in solidarity with their cause or a member of the CU could make a motion of support. Second, CU members would vote to accept or not based on the legitimacy of the petitioners cause. If the CU votes to move forward in solidarity, then the CU could start official actions in solidarity with the petitioner.

In the case of the fast food workers, once solidarity was established, the CU announce publicly its support for the striking workers. An official letters would be sent to all the fast food chains involved and copies of these letters would go out to all media outlets, legislators and other interested parties, within reason, stating the intention and potential action the CU is prepared to do in solidarity with the striking fast food workers, if the strikers demands are not properly addressed, then further action would be needed.

If negotiations are unable to move forward, then the CU in collaboration with the striking workers could start national boycotts, public demonstration and other civil actions aimed at the food chains. This would be where the CU would appeal to non-members to show solidarity with their fellow citizens struggling for a better economic future. The CU could help in coordinating other organization to call for a national boycott, join picket lines and pressure legislators. I believe just the threat of a national boycott would send a lot of corporate negotiators to the bargaining table.

The amount of influence a massive nationalized consumer union could generate would be almost endless, and for a lot different economic and social issues.

leighmf's picture
leighmf 9 years 41 weeks ago

I believe history shows the fear of labor rebellions began with Archer Daniels Midland and his force of shooting Pinkertons, quickly followed up with Navistar driving over strikers.

kloro's picture
kloro 9 years 41 weeks ago

"Call your members of Congress " and tell them that violence begets violence and that two can play the same game. There is only one thing which makes strong unions: working people willing to build them by whatever means necessary. For a long time now unions -- what's left of them -- have tried to get the govt to do their fighting for them against the corporations, just as trade unionists in Germany expected the government to protect them from the Nazis. Trotsky was right: kick butt and ask questions later. The 'politicians' in the left wdn't hear of it and got what they deserved. The Amerikan government is the property of the corporations; don't people get that yet?

Willie W's picture
Willie W 9 years 41 weeks ago

Looks like McDonald's is making headlines without benefit of any traditional union representation. These types of demonstrations seem to keep poping up more frequently. They will most likely lose, but their efforts will be noted by others who might want to try giving it a go. If these disruptions become frequent enough, employers will have to start paying attention. Which will encourage others to jump in. It's a slow start, bit it's real. If someone can get their foot in the door, it will make others jealous and add fuel to the fire. Greed could work to our benefit for a change.

Kend's picture
Kend 9 years 41 weeks ago

It would be interesting how the fast food industry would change with $15.00 / hr burger flippers. Micky D's 99 cent burger would be 3 bucks. There wouldn't be any jobs left for 15 year olds they would be taken up with full timers. It would sure open the door for small non union independents. I better to go and sell my Burger King shares. Just kidding I would never trust my hard earned money with those Wall Street crooks.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 9 years 41 weeks ago

I'm sure the President is aware that 95% of the income gains the last several years have gone to the top 1%.

With this in mind, Obama says he will make sure ISIS is no longer an ongoing threat to regions in the Middle East. The bug up my ass is ...why doesn't he speak out with the same conviction concerning the Fascist Corp/billionaire threat to our own homeland?Ongoing massive concentration of wealth and out of control spending on military adventures will eventually lead to domestic violent unrest, how can it not? We're the richest country on the planet and our middle class is now 27th in ranking and dropping like a about a threat to national security. Wake the f up!

Willie W's picture
Willie W 9 years 41 weeks ago

I don't think fast food is going to get 15$ an hour, but they could get something. Consider a company who's overhead for employees is 10 percent of it's total overhead. If they were to get a 10 percent raise, they would now be responsible for 11 percent of their company's total overhead. Dosen't seem very crippling to me.

gregcreal's picture
gregcreal 9 years 41 weeks ago

I am a Union Organizer. I watch every day as the Union busting jerks trick American business owners into spending billions of dollars to crush the lives of their employees. It takes an incredible amount of courage in America today for a group of workers to risk everything and form a Union. 99% of the time it’s not about money. Workers want a Union to help them gain respect and a voice in the work place. They are the ones doing the job. They see ways to improve the business. Only a fool would believe Unions want to destroy businesses. Union members know if their employer doesn’t make a profit, they won’t have a job. Volkswagen stated it is the workers input that makes their company profitable, which is why they have given office space to the United Auto Workers.

So called 'Right to work' needs to be called exactly what it is: RIGHT TO FREELOAD! That is the true wage theft. Freeloaders who work at a Union facility get all the benefits of a Union contract, but they don’t pay anything for it. The freeloaders expect the honorable workers who pay their fair share of dues with a portion of their wages to carry the bums. They disgust me. They have no honor. When corporate greed achieves its ultimate goal of bankrupting Unions, those cheating thieving scabs will find what it is like to live without Unions keeping the jack-boot of the robber barons off their throat.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 9 years 40 weeks ago

Kend, still the same old lame, tired assed talking points. Somebody did the math, Kend, and it would raise the price of a Big Mac 35 cents, max. You'll just say anything, Kend, I swear.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 40 weeks ago

Yeah Mark, I know what you mean. Pulls numbers, statistics and "facts" right out of his arse. - AIW

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