Why Unions are Champions of American Freedom

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Unions have been under attack by right wing demagogues for as long as they have existed, but since the supposed economic slowdown and debt limit ‘controversy’, unions have been the target of shocking and unacceptable verbal abuse. Unions have been assigned appallingly childish labels like ‘moochers’ and ‘leeches’, whereas in reality all they are trying to do is secure a decent living for the average American worker and protect important American institutions.

A Brief History of Unions

Since their inception, unions have always played an important role in society, but today they are a more powerful force for good than ever before. Originally, unions were simple voluntary associations that negotiated wages on the behalf of a group of workers. But unions soon discovered that voluntary membership was very limiting. When the membership fees were too high, workers refused to join; and when the bargains were too risky, workers were afraid of getting fired. Union leaders were forced to significantly lower their fees and water down demands. Union leaders soon realized that voluntary membership just wasn’t working, and so they started to make deals with companies and politicians to require membership as part of employment contracts. Unions also realized that bargaining with managers wasn’t enough. What they really needed was to introduce laws that guaranteed the wages, pensions and job security of their workers.

The Battle for Workers’ Rights

Unions are no longer the simple bargaining groups that they started out as; they have now become powerful agents for political change. Much of our legislative progress over the last century has been the work of courageous unions. Most of the forward thinking licensing laws were invented by unions to ensure that only accredited workers were able to enter their lines of work. Thanks to unions we now have licenses for almost all professions. Everyone thinks they can be a taxi driver or a truck driver, but now they have to prove it first by earning (or buying) one of the limited licenses issued by the government. The minimum wage was also invented by unions to make sure that workers couldn’t undercut each other’s wages and thereby impinge on worker’s rights. The minimum wage has given millions of disadvantaged workers the wages they deserve, much to the dismay of big shot corporate executives and free market purists.

Government Unions

Of all unions, government unions have probably endured the most appalling abuse from right wing hate groups. In particular, conservatives often torment government workers about their supposedly ‘over-sized’ pensions. Since when has it been a crime to be compensated for a lifetime’s dedication to serving public needs? In my opinion the most courageous unions of all are the teachers’ unions. Teachers are frequently singled out by conservatives because of their supposedly ‘lengthy’ vacations, large pensions and job security. But what the critics fail to understand is just how hard it is to be a teacher. Teachers work harder than almost any other profession, and the work they do is more important than any other job. Education is the cornerstone of a progressive democracy, and if we want a world class education system, then as tax payers we need to pay our fair share. Government unions have been extremely successful in the fight for worker’s rights, and have secured some of the most generous compensation packages and pensions for their hard working members. And despite all the abuse that government workers receive, the truth is that all they are asking for is a fair wage and pension for their contribution to society. I think it’s time that we gave unions the credit they deserve for their courageous contributions to society, for doing more than anyone else to advance worker’s rights and for pioneering much of the progressive legislation that we all benefit from today.

1 COMMENT

  1. Unions know where the money is …. PUBLIC EMPLOYEES …. the new uber klass …. there is no money in overtaxed over regulated private industry …. the big bucks are with the government workers …. and they are going for it …. BIG TIME …. at the top of any labor union …. there is MANAGEMENT ! LOL Monedas 1929 Comedy Jihad Money Tour

  2. Normally …. a pension …. provides lower income …. than the job you retired from …. but, thanks to progressive thinking …. that whole scheme has been changed …. government workers make more upon retiring …. that’s when they have more time to spend their money …. so, it’s only fair …. that they have more to spend ? Thanks MDB for all you do …. you are truly the workers best friend !

  3. Hear hear! Unions are about one thing: FREEDOM! The ability to be free from the oppression of evil corporations who refuse to pay a living wage for an honest day’s work. The day that all workers are part of a labor union is the day that this country will return to the roots that our founding fathers envisioned.

    • Glad you agree Andrew. We need to stand together with unions against corporate interests such as the Koch Brothers to make sure that workers’ rights are protected, and our country can move forward.

    • This is a serious Accredited site, and we don’t appreciate that kind of sarcasm here. It is in the interest of all citizens to support workers’ rights and make sure that every worker gets a fair wage and a decent pension.

      • mdb
        i said i firmly support unions..where do unions get power from?from workers…how do workers get power?
        they do control utilities,police,do actual labor
        A threat of living without electricity,running water,sewage can bring every union hating right winger to sense…
        That is why i said i support unions but ery sad i am not member of got master class

  4. We could learn a lot from the Borg (The hardest workers in the universe.) and also from their effortless (More effortless than fiat currency printing) trans-planetary spaceships, famous throughout the cosmos, when it comes to the integration of collective decision making power for the greater good.

  5. yes…unions were also instrumental, with guaranteed wages and affirmative action, in drawing massive amounts of diversity to formerly prosperous cities like Detroit, and in doing so, utterly leveling the playing fields that were those embarrassingly white industrial cities. The second Great Migration is a perfect example of how the draw of guaranteed jobs worked to successfully diversify much of the US. No longer are minorities denied “access” to the prosperity of places like Detroit. Detroit is stronger than ever because diversity is our greatest strength.

    Unions also are a fantastic training ground for future politicians and high-level government workers. As well as corporate executives. Frequently, you see the same people transition between these positions at various points of their careers, and they frequently totally level everything wherever they go. A leveled society is all progressives have ever really wanted and I’m happy that unions have transitioned from basically capitalist, free-market institutions providing labor bargaining leverage into political institutions that serve as money funnels for the democrat party while championing progressive principles like NAFTA as long as sufficient benefits were kicked toward their leadership and some scraps to their members as well in terms of bailouts and other deserved compensation.

    Unions are more necessary than ever with evil leviathans like the Koch Brothers and Tea Party out there, possessing vast right-wing resources and gigantic armies like the KKK, ready to ride out of the mist on their horses at a moment’s notice. These enemies of progressivism are literally everywhere, like monsters under your bed, threatening to spring forth and devour our freedom. If you think like a progressive, that space under your bed is getting pretty damned crowded, what with the right wing, terrorists, Christians, Koch brothers, tea party, KKK, white males…it calls for some extra vigilance.