That is another feature of today's economy — a decline in union membership in the private sector and a loss of bargaining power by workers generally, whether unionized or not.I actually thought about going, I was e-mail invited by the WakeUpWalMart.com organization putting together the "protest." But I ususally don't do those sorts of thing because I feel it does no good. How can you shame a company, Wal Mart, that has no shame? You might as well piss in the ocean to protest the tide. But here was Evan Bayh and a gaggle of local union officials getting wheeled around Des Moines saying, "Shame on you, Wal Mart." Pathetic.
They can change the laws to make it easier for workers to organize and perhaps to give employers incentives to recognize unions.
They can create disincentives for corporations to overcompensate their CEOs, so that gains in worker productivity might translate into better wages instead of fatter executive bonuses.
Want change? Target leaders, not Wal-Mart
Next, a quote from St. Petersburg (FL) Times op-ed columnist Robyn Blumner.
The Industrial Age moved workers into the manufacturing sector, where, thanks to the combined strength of unions and the progressive policies of the federal government, employees shared in the nation's prosperityWhat's the common theme here? I think it's pretty fucking obvious! The Democratic Party has done nothing, nothing! for organized labor for waaaay to long.
After a tumultuous beginning in which big business, often with the assistance of government, colluded to break the back of organized labor, unions finally established themselves, helping to guarantee workers a fair share of productivity gains. Under the New Deal, federal labor laws secured base-line wages and overtime pay for more than a 40-hour work week, among many other vital protections.
The authors of Nine Shift: Work, Life and Education in the 21st Century, say people will work at home with intranets replacing physical offices. They see the collapse of the traditional organizational pyramid and a shrinking inequality between rich and poor.
I don't know if these scenarios are likely. They certainly are not in the short run. But I know one thing for certain. If organized labor doesn't start to reassert itself and if the federal government doesn't start looking out for workers again, an economically secure middle class will become a relic of 20th century utopianism. The slide has already begun.
Workers feel the squeeze
And it should be obvious to union officials too. But they are seemingly blind. Maybe it's because those still working under union contracts, both officials and rank and file, are relatively well-off, compared to the average Wal Mart schmuck, and can't see the decay creeping toward them, or, worse, don't care. Perhaps they are so scared to losing what they have they think it better to act as a supplicant than make demands.
Knowing my jaundiced view of hman nature I opt for the worse case scenario; rank and file union members just don't care. I remember from my working days all the asshole Republicans in my union, that's one of the reasons I stopped attending meetings. In fact I recall a conversation I had with my steward in 1988, he was voting for George HW Bush.
I said, "But he wants to take our jobs!"
"Yeah," R____ sappily retorted, "but the Democrats want to take my guns."
"And if you're out of work," I said,"what good are your guns going to do you?"
"I can hunt for my family's food," he answered, pleased with his ironclad logic.
It is obvious that unions at this time in American history are as powerless as they ever were. It is past time for a change. Toward that end unions themselves should not lend support to any Democratic candidate who does not support repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act. A symbolic and largely meaningless gesture but a start nonetheless.