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I'm certain most of us have noticed the major shifts that have occurred in this country over the past 30 years.

- There has been a shift in what is considered the political "center" that has veered off to the right.

- There has been a shift in wealth from a strong middle class to a smaller and smaller percentage of people that have a larger and larger percentage of that wealth.

- There has been a shift downward in Union membership while more and more jobs shifted overseas.

I think a pretty clear case can be argued that much of the economic woes that we've experienced over the past 30 years can be directly linked to the successful war on Unions by corporations and the politicians they have bought to push their ant-worker, greed inspired ideas.

But just to set the mood before I go on, watch this video;

Lyrics:

When the paycheck just ain’t stretchin’ like it might’ve once before
‘Cause the good jobs all are gone and left you in some big-box store
Between food and rent and medicine, the suits just rate a whole lot more.

When the bosses cut that last corner and you walk out those doors
When the truckers hauling sweatshop stuff won’t stop there anymore
When folks won’t cross your pickets cause their boat’s the same as yours
That is one big union.

When the nickeled and the dimed have had enough of being screwed
When they walk out of the sweatshops and the cops refuse to shoot
When the puppet regimes fall, when the World Bank gets the boot
That is one big union.

They call it a labor surplus
Market-value poverty
But what if that which ye do to the least of my brethren
So you do unto me.

We built the tanks and ships that
Saved a world in darkest throes
Back when young men fought for the rights of mankind
Not just some CEOs.

When a simple, decent living is a right that we all share
When the suits see us as people not just assets to be pared
When they can’t just ship your job off ’cause it’s happening everywhere
That is one big union.

When the volume of this chorus grows till they can’t help but hear
When our leaders serve the people, not just banks and profiteers
When the food and labor of the earth feed everyone here
That is one big union.

More below...

Corporations and Republicans saw as early as the late 1940's that too much power was in the hands of the workers. Corporations viewed this through the eye of diminishing profits. Republicans viewed this through the political scope, in that as long as people were organized, their voices would reverberate to affect democracy in a direction that was best for the interests of the working middle class majority. And ever since The Taft-Hartley Act, the war against working people has continued.

Once Unionization started to fall, this is when the corporate interests started to make their play. One could argue that many, if not most of the following would not have occurred if more people were organized;

- The push for "Free Trade"

- NAFTA

- GATT

- WTO

- CAFTA

- The Ronald Regan Presidency

- The Bill Clinton Presidency

- The George Walker Bush Presidency

Keeping all of that in mind, this is part of the reason why the protests in Wisconsin have been so amazing and so important. Most Americans either never new or had long forgotten how much power the people can have, if they choose to use it.

Frequently I'll hear the argument from some that say "sure, Unions did plenty of good back in the day when corporations were really misbehaving with poor work conditions and child labor and all, but now that pendulum has shifted too far in the other direction."

Using that same logic, the Revolutionary War did plenty of good back in the day when the British Empire was behaving badly with it's colonization and unfair taxing of tea, but now this representative democracy pendulum has shifted too far in the other direction of self rule and self government.

Organizing a workplace democracy, a Union, is not much different from organizing a political democracy to represent the interests of the people. And since corporations are run a lot like Kingdoms, organizing is the only way to collectively represent the interests of working people and limit the corruptive nature of power found in many corporations.

Unionization peaked in the 1950's at about 35% of the workforce. But in essence, 70% of the workforce was Unionized back then because for every Union job there was, there was a non Union job that had to compete with wages and benefits. Think about that. Over 2/3 of workers during what was not surprising called, the Golden Age, were in effect, benefiting from democracy in the workplace.

The influence of corporations in media and in political contributions and lobbying have done great damage to our Made In America form of Democracy. The financial interests of the elite few are repeatedly represented in media and politics while the masses are generally ignored. This has only been allowed to happen because of the decreasing Union membership numbers over the year.

Some of you might remember back in 2008 talk of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which would of made it easier for workers to organize in the workplace, while not being so harshly subjected to anti labor propaganda and scare tactics from employers. This was the biggest concern corporations and Republicans had going into 2009, after Barack Obama won the Presidency. They were more concerned about EFCA than they were about Health Care or any other issue. And somehow, behind the scenes, the corporations won. They already had the Republicans bought off on being against organized labor. And as usual, they got to enough Democrats to never even get EFCA to a vote.

I know a case can be made that money in politics is the gravest danger to our democracy. The fact that bribing politicians is legal, under the veil of "political contributions," and that likely is the major problem. But the best way to fight back within that flawed system of politics that exists is to increase democracy in all workplaces by making it easier for workers to organize a Union and have their interests represented.

Power To The People!

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Comment Preferences

  •  Solidarity on this darkest of nights in WI. n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Angie in WA State, nicolemm

    "But such is the irresistable nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants is the liberty of appearing." -Thomas Paine

    by Tommymac on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 05:24:41 PM PST

  •  There is no center. (5+ / 0-)

    Chasing the center is chasing rainbows. When you chase the center, the center moves. What passed for the "left" looks pretty right-wing. Can anyone imagine that national parks, social security, medicare or civil rights could be passed today? The CCC or the WPA (I regularly see 70 year old WPA projects that are in amazing shape) would be unthinkable today.

    No matter how much the media scolds us and screams claiming that we've moved to the left, but like most of what comes out of the media, it's not true.

    The union movement became strong in the face of violent resistance. A lot of people died to have a strong union movement. Surely we can rebuild the union movement, the right has awoken a sleeping giant. America was at its strongest when unions were strongest. Union workers built the ships of WWII. Unions used to be a pillar of American society. We let that get nibbled away. No more.

    The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

    by A Citizen on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 05:27:44 PM PST

    •  Kinda like jousting at windmills, now isn't it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ActivistGuy

      I love your signature line. I have been intrigued by the wolf family ever since I read Barry Lopez's book "Of Wolves and Man".

      It would be a positive thing if more people read that book.

      Of course Newt would reject it as wolves are monogamous.

      It's important to keep moving forward...no matter what.

      by flatford39 on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 05:38:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There is one big union (6+ / 0-)

    It's called the IWW.  Anyone can join, as long as you aren't a boss!

    I joined a week ago and I'm unemployed.  I've never been in a position to join a union (I've been lower to mid-management for most of my career).  But now is the time to learn about some good old fashioned agitating for worker's rights.

    I'd rather die than give you control ~ Trent Reznor

    by JustJennifer on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 05:30:56 PM PST

    •  The Wobblies (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Angie in WA State

      just waaaay ahead of their time, still managed to do some amazing things  in their heyday.  They may yet have another heyday in them, and I sure hope so, because we either need the Wobblies back in black and red, or something a whole shitload like them.

      "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." ~Frederick Douglass

      by ActivistGuy on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 06:14:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I cannot describe how angry I am (8+ / 0-)

    I have served my country all my life.  I joined the Navy at the age of 18. I went where they sent me.  I participated in the killing of those she said were our enemies.  After that I entered municipal service and retired from it.

    I did not fight for the right of the rich to take from the poor.  

    I did not fight for the rights of the people to be taken away in back room legislative deals.  

    I did not fight for the rich to grind the workers of this country into the dirt.

    I'm old, sick and no longer able to fight physically.  But, oh, God, I wish I was.

    Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining!

    by Arkieboy on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 05:31:48 PM PST

  •  The scope of unions matter more than size (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jack 1966, cameoanne

    The golden age of unions occurred when there were strong local unions.  This gave workers two advantages.

    1) Strong sense of the specific needs of their community

    2) Strong insight into the specific needs of their local industry

    Union halls became community centers, where workers could build relationships with other workers.  Anyone could take the floor and speak their peace before any vote occurred.

    Sadly many unions have began reflecting the corporations they monitor.  Other than a couple union reps, most workers never have the opportunity to meet their union officials.

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