Dan (aka Sweetie) was invited to post today.
I have been an active unionist for more than 35 years and it has always amazed me how threatened some working people feel by unions. I’m not just talking about big business or little business for that matter. I’m talking about hard-working, regular, pay cheque-to-pay cheque kind of folks. For some reason they fully appreciate and even admire circumstances where businesses capitalize their business and expand and expand. But when it comes to working folks capitalizing their labour there’s something wrong. Part of the fear comes from the media. I say this reluctantly having worked as a reporter for nearly 20 years. I still hear terms like “union boss” used to describe union leaders. I’ve never heard the blanket term “corporate boss.” Of course for the most part the media is big business so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.
Events lately have moved in significant ways from the pro or anti-union question to one that is far more personal. Let me try to explain.
Life is about choices. Many of those choices are simple but many also involve decisions about right and wrong, good and evil. Avoiding those choices doesn’t mean they won’t be made for you. Two statements below reflect views of the value of labour in a society. They are important because those views formed the basis for social policy and resulting outcomes.
The first comes from a famous world leader and was spoken in 1933:
We must close union offices, confiscate their money and put their leaders in prison. We must reduce workers’ salaries and take away their right to strike.
The second comes from another political well-known leader from the mid-1800’s:
Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.
Today is a time for deciding. Today in Wisconsin a new law will be proclaimed by the Governor of that state that all but eliminates the right of workers to collectively bargain a value for their labour. It was passed into law in a most cowardly way and even more worrisome, about a dozen other states are contemplating similar legislation. They claim it because of an economic crisis. The same economic crisis that saw governments pour billions into banks, the same economic crisis that continues to see CEOs receive ridiculous bonuses and the same economic crisis that has failed to result in a single conviction for abuse of public trust. Apparently though it’s all the fault of public servants and other unionized workers. Does anyone in their right mind actually believe that?
This is another play on the monopoly board of life where the goal is to own it all. This is class warfare and unless we all stand against it we are the ones with everything to lose.
Martin Niemoller, anti-Nazi theologian, made the following observation. The first time I saw it, it was posted on the wall of a former international union president. What it meant then, it means now.
First they came for the communists and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.
Today they came for me. Don’t wait. Stand up now, march, picket, demonstrate, shout and for god’s sake VOTE. Somebody’s getting ready to choose for you.
P.S. for those that didn’t recognize them, the quotes come from Adolph Hitler and Abraham Lincoln.