Andy Marquis, reporter for RACE22.com, is our guest blogger of the day. He used to consider himself a Republican but not any more. He changed his voter registration to Independent in 2011 and says that’s how it will remain. Enjoy (bolding mine):
What the Demonization and Demise of the Union Really Mean
Hostess, maker of Twinkies, is blaming union workers for going on strike for their demise Thursday. The Reader’s Digest version being sold in the Beltway Media is that those evil union thugs didn’t accept a 32% cut in pay and that’s the reason the company went out of business. Never mind the fact that Hostess has gone in to bankruptcy twice or the fact that those who have mismanaged the company have recently voted themselves a 300% salary increase, along with other bonuses. Blame it all on the worker – it’s the American way.
Here's the thing with the unions. They were put in place to fight for employees, not to protect the employer.
The problem with accepting a 32% pay cut is that there's no guarantee you'll get a pay increase if the company turns around. That's why Wisconsin stripped collective bargaining rights. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker got everything he wanted in Wisconsin. The teachers unions agreed to pay more in to their pensions and receive less from them (see: pay cut). But even after that was agreed to, Walker flipped the bird at them and had their collective bargaining rights stripped (illegally) so they couldn't re-negotiate the contract down the road when things were better.
I’m a firm believer in unions. Yes, there are things they could do differently. Yes, I think teacher unions are an impediment to educational reform. But the positives of unions outweigh the negatives. They fight for the middle class and, as long as they have a seat at the table, we are all better off.
The Industrial Revolution was dark times, and times we are best not to return to. It was when unions were formed by the employees and when they had a seat at the table that life improved for everyone. The 40 hour work week, overtime pay, weekends, holidays, sick leave – the unions are to thank for all of these things.
Some people in American politics would rather see the unions not have a seat. They think the government should work for the businesses. In reality, the government already does. If the unions do not have a seat at the table, many of those regulations would be allowed to be cancelled. Regulations that are designed to protect the poor from being abused by their employers would go away. And while many employers would act in good faith towards their employees without the unions and regulations, many others would not.
Take the unions out of the process and it’s once more a government working for big business.
See, it’s easy to blame the unions and to claim workers are overpaid. After all, the unions are blamed for government budget deficits, the downfall of GM and now the downfall of Hostess.
The reason local and state governments are in deficits are because people are out of work and not paying taxes. The teachers aren’t overpaid – in actual reality, teachers are underpaid. GM went into bankruptcy because their reputation declined after nearly two decades of building an inferior product while companies like Honda and Toyota were putting quality products on the road. And Hostess went out of business because of mismanagement.
Blaming the unions for these things happening is just like blaming the Community Reinvestment Act for the recession. Now, sane and rational people know the Community Reinvestment Act was not responsible for the recession, but it’s made a great scapegoat in the conservative dumbassophere. Idiots like Rush Limbaugh, who himself has a difficult relationship with reality, has no problem blaming the Community Reinvestment Act. Why? Because, in his Oxycontin influenced reality, poor people are always the cause of the problems and government works too hard to protect them.
Let me give an example of how government protects the wealthy at the expense of the poor.
Today, there was another oil rig explosion off the coast of Louisiana. Fortunately, it does not look like we’re in for another Deepwater Horizon environmental holocaust. But Deepwater Horizon exposed fundamental flaws. Oil rigs are not properly inspected because the Minerals Management Agency does not have the proper funding to inspect them. But when you and I, ordinary average citizens, have to have our car inspected or our home inspected, we have to pay a fee to the government out of pocket. Corporations do not have to pay those fees for their inspections – instead, the taxpayers do.
Even though the system already favors business and the wealthy, because we are a Capitalist society after all, they want it in their favor more. After all, it was David and Charles Koch who influenced the union stripping business that many Republican governors have invested their time in. At the same time as they fought to have unions’ rights taken away, they were also fighting to have a larger say in the political process in the Supreme Court. And they won both battles.
The demonization of the unions, which is fair criticism in some cases but unfair and biased criticism in others, is not about the unions at all. It’s really about making sure the American people don’t have a seat at the table anymore. The unions gave the American people a seat at the table, and now special interests are trying to take those away.
“Class Warfare” is not a minimum wage employee wanting to make a respectable wage to provide for his or her family. “Class Warfare” is not a teacher wanting to make a wage that matches his or her qualifications. “Class Warfare” is not employees refusing to take a massive pay cut while the corporation they work for pockets all the money they have before they close down. “Class Warfare” is not thinking that those who can afford to pay more to contribute to the survival of this union should pay more. “Class Warfare” is not thinking oil companies should have to pay for inspections of their rigs. “Class Warfare” is not thinking that the banks should be regulated so they can’t gamble everyone’s’ money away.
The first part of “Class Warfare” is to blame the poor for the recession and the unions for deficits. The second part is to take away the safety nets that help the poor and to eliminate the unions. The final part is to deregulate the economy so corporations can once more thrive off the suffering of the working poor.
The United States of America survived for 100 years with the unions having a seat at the table, and life was better off for everyone in America because, when the poor and the middle class are doing better, everyone is doing better including the wealthy. Yes, the United States needs a strong and prosperous upper-class to survive. But it also needs a strong middle class to survive, to support the upper class and the entire economy. And it’s the unions that built a stronger middle class, which in turn, created a stronger upper class.