The most common reason that I have heard for the recent failure of the UAW Chattanooga vote was fear. My grandfather was a union organizer back in the 1930's during the New Deal. I submit that the best way to defeat fear is to develop an ethic that looks beyond ourselves. I submit that materialism and fear go hand in hand to defeat many worthwhile candidates and ideas.
This is not a call to religion, although I'm personally religious. If we are to succeed, however, we should not be in it for the money. My grandfather did what he did, organizing in the trenches in the 1930's because he wanted a better life for his children and grandchildren. That is why he also fought Hitler in the Battle of the Bulge. When I was born in the early 1970's, he came to realize that his life was worthwhile. The same theme that brought us together to make life better for all during the Great Depression also helped defeat the forces of Nazism and Fascism.
We can't be in it for the money or the power or the prestige. We have to be in it because we want a better life for our children and our grandchildren.
We also have to avoid the forces of apocalypticism. Harold Camping was merely the best example of such a worldview. Although he was mocked and ridiculed, there are many such examples of that both on the left and the right. But if we think that the world is coming to an end anyway, then what is the point of organizing for the sake of our children and our grandchildren? Why not get all that we can get now? After all, the fracking industry up in North Dakota pays awfully good money.
If we are to create a climate in which unions can succeed once again, we have to, as a society, make changes in our lives. If that means we cut back on material goods so we can save more for our kids, that's what we have to do. If that means we cut back to a simpler lifestyle, then that's what we do. That doesn't mean we all have to go out and be monks or hermits. It also doesn't mean we pass judgement on someone who is better off; that's not our business. That does mean that we live within our means and not fall into the debt trap because we want stuff yesterday. If that means we buy local instead of going to Wal-Mart, then that's what we have to do.
The reason materialism and fear go hand in hand is that materialism leads to the fear of loss. If we set all our stake on money, power, and things, then the more we get, the greater the fear will grow that we will lose it all. So we make choices that are based on fear and on maintaining what we have instead of making choices for our children's and grandchildren's sake.