A Call for Unionism Reform and Revival


Reform Revival

March 21, 2012

By Shawn Beighto

What the US needs is a resurgence in pure unionism:

Many express indignation over one of the last sectors of labor who retain elements of long and hard fought labor and social dignity. Much injustice has been reversed over the last 150 years (speaking just of the USA) through laborers standing up to successive waves of exploitative management, going back to the railroad “robber barons” of the 1800′s, the oil and steel tycoons of the late 1800′s and early 1900′s and on into the manufacturing (including auto) magnates of the 1900′s. Each wave of social/labor unrest showed the propensity of the powerful and wealthy to exploit, manipulate, and profit unfairly and inequitably from those who did the labor that produced the profit. These laborers banded together and held sit-ins, strikes, and other such work actions to force owners/managers to provide fair compensation to those who generated their wealth, these unions of laborers fought for limited work weeks, minimum wages, breaks, later health insurance, gender equity, pensions, etc.

There was a time in America where a good percent of laborers enjoyed such work/social dignity.

Late in the 1900′s, it became apparent that government entities were guilty of similar exploitative actions and public unions arose.

Combinations of management’s poor planning, theft and greed, cannibalistic business practices and the overefficiency/blind but potent union strategies (yes, leading to business failure, but not because of unions alone) began to whittle away at private sector work/social dignities – private pension funds for steel workers disappeared overnight, healthcare was decreased/minimized, shifted to the employee. Eventually, most of the private sector workforce, management having shifted labor overseas and bottom-line gutted the total compensation package, was led to believe they were lucky to just have a minimum wage job, a la Walmart cashiers, while the uber-wealthy Waltons found new ways to amass the wealth that should equitably been shared among the labor force that helped/helps produce it.

And now, those disenfranchised newly exploited private sector employees turn to the last group retaining elements of workplace dignity – public employees with a contract, regular raises, a pension, healthcare, and enviously attack us.

Rather than erase the last elements of workplace dignity culminated from 150 years of equity and justice battles, the private sector needs the modern unions to re-PREACH the importance of these and provide leadership to all labor to lead the way back to social, professional workplace dignity.

Rather, leadership has become obsessed with self-preservation and the same social malady present in their opposites, owners and managers, both groups having become even more greedy and exploitative.

Rather than tear down public workers, we need to recognize that with balanced labor laws and practices, a fair portion of those Trillions of dollars we know top brass are accumulating on the backs of all laborers can be re-allocated…not as social welfare, but as part of just and fair compensation packages.



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