Unions Fight Back in the USA

Take a look at this funny we never see this on the UK news!

The Union bashing in state capitals in Wisconsin and Ohio is outrageous, and dangerous.  The Unions are doing everything they can to stop these radical and extreme proposals from becoming law, and they need our help to spread the word.

Click here to send an email to your friends and co-workers and ask them to join in the fight.

Become a fan of AFSCME on Facebook for breaking news from these states and everywhere else that our sisters and brothers are under attack.


About I Am Not A Number

I Am Not A Number is written by Chris Jury. For 30 years Chris Jury was a TV actor, director and writer best known for playing Eric Catchpole in over 60 episodes of the BBC’s antique classic, Lovejoy, and for directing over 50 episodes of Eastenders. In 2008 he was appointed as the Senior Lecturer in Recorded Media in the School Of Music & Performing Arts at Bath Spa University. He currently presents, Agitpop, a pop & politics radio discussion programme on North Cotswold Community Radio http://www.agitpopradio.org.uk He is currently the Communications Officer for UCU at Bath Spa University and a UCU SW Regional Rep at SWTUC.
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8 Responses to Unions Fight Back in the USA

  1. moelarrythecheese says:

    Unions were a great invention. When it comes time for a laborer to bargain with his employer for fair payment for his labor he or she is at a distinct disadvantage if negotiating alone. Alone, the laborer has little or no leverage with which to persuade the employer to pay a reasonable salary, because the employer can simply swap a demanding employee with a less demanding one if he’s dealing with one employee at a time. However, if laborers can team up in groups of similar employees and then negotiate with the employer as a united block then the employer has no recourse but to fairly negotiate with the group – or union – or else face the prospect of being unable to find any laborers at all. Through the power of labor unions, hitherto powerless single laborers who relied on the fickle mercy and generosity of the employer for payment for work performed, could now – through the union’s combined “power of the many” – resolutely face the employer as an equal on a level playing field and demand for wages.
    However, labor unions are a manmade creation and like everything created by Man, they are imperfect and susceptible to corruption. Such has been the case with labor unions in the United States which have, at times, been vulnerable to misuse by organized crime and unscrupulous union management. As we observe the turmoil cascading from one US state capital to another as state legislatures and public employee unions grapple with budget issues, we must look beyond the apparent conflict between employees and employers and consider the possibility that powerful but “unseen” entities could be at work behind the scenes, manipulating the course of events. In this regard one must consider the fact that the unions have – for decades – been supporters of the Democrat Party through campaign contributions and “block” votes. The Democrat Party and labor unions have for years maintained a symbiotic relationship, each supporting the other. The Democrat Party works for the passage of pro-union legislation and the unions provide the Democrat Party with campaign contributions and a reliably supportive voting block. The union dues, which all union members are forced to pay, are used as campaign contributions for the Democrat Party. Union members who do not choose to vote democrat are nevertheless forced to provide campaign contributions to a political party which they do not support – an unfair practice to say the least, but which has been the normal operating procedure of the US labor unions for years. So when you watch the news reports about the labor unrest in the US, which at first glance appears to be a simple contest between the employees and the employer, remember that what is also at stake is the funding and voter support of the Democrat Party, a reality which makes this struggle as much political as economic.

    • Well, your first paragraph just about sums up the justification for trade unions as an empowering political and economic force for working people. Well, done.

      I also wouldn’t seek to defend corruption wherever it occurs; in a trade union, a business (Enron) or a Republican government (Watergate).

      You then seem to suggest that it is somehow democratically illegitimate for trade unions to support political parties that defend their interests. Do you think it is legitimate for managers of global corporations owned by shareholders to financially support political parties that defend their interests (by for example deregulating the banking system)? Do you think it is legitimate for wealthy individuals who inherited their wealth to financially support parties that will minimise the tax burden on the wealthy?

      If you do think it is legitimate for corporations and the wealthy to fund the Republican party then on what possible basis can it be wrong for the unions to do the same for the Democrats? Especially as union officials are elected by their members – unlike the children of the wealthy or corporate execs. If on the other hand it is not legitimate for political parties to be funded in these ways, how are political parties to be funded? By the State?

      You say this is simply about politics – which is ultimately about power – couldn’t agree more!

      But you don’t seem to mind that in the US (and the UK) power is held by and for the benefit of a wealthy elite and that any attempt to challenge that use/abuse of power by free men and woman exercising their democratic right to protest, is met with cultural oppression by the media and physical oppression by the army and police. Which is ironic given what is happening in the Middle-East – where rioters and violent demonstrators have been praised by everyone from Obama to David Cameron to Angela Merkel. Seems the Western leaders don’t mind violent demonstration as long as it isn’t in their countries and directed against them and/or their policies. Funny that.

  2. moelarrythecheese says:

    You make some interesting and fair points. You can expect any person or entity to look after their own interests. Some will go about it ethically, others not. Any organization that chooses to protest will achieve more positive, long lasting results if they do so peacefully while respecting property. I wish those participating in the March 26 demonstration safety and success.

    • I agree about peaceful demonstrations that respect property…..BUT such demonstrations can and often are ignored by political leaders. The biggest demonstration in British history took place in the run up to the beginning of the Iraq war. It was clear to everyone that the British public (and most of the media) were deeply sceptical about the evidence for WMD and the entire rationale for the invasion. This huge demonstration of over a million (according to the police estimate, which you normally double) meant nothing; Tony Blair joined George Bush in the illegal invasion of Iraq. As a proportion of the population, a million people marching in the UK is the equivalent of 5 million marching in the US.

      In the UK the police have taken to “kettling” peaceful demonstrators for up to 8-10 hours, which in effect means the illegal detention in freezing conditions of people exercising their peaceful democratic rights. How do you think free citizens in a democratic country should react to this passive aggressive police tactic? UK courts are refusing to stop the police and the practice is having to be challenged in the European Court of Human Rights. So at what point do you think free citizens in a free country have the right to physically resist the police?

  3. moelarrythecheese says:

    On the subject of marches and demonstrations I question whether the results are worth the effort. I feel that there must be a better way for an organization to get its message across and make a positive impact on public opinion. The demonstrations conducted by the students in London a while back which resulted in so much damage to property and injury to the police and students alike, were, I believe, totally counter-productive. I think the students hurt their cause. I, for one, wouldn’t give the students a farthing after the way they behaved. Instead of trying to get their way through violence and intimidation, organizations should try to win-over public opinion through positive actions of some kind. An organization conducts a march in order to get its message “broadcast” to the public, but how many people will read a hand-carried sign unless a TV camera is aimed at it? And does a mass demonstration convey good-will or intimidation? A demonstration makes since if the “enemy” is a dictator, but when the government is “of the people” a kinder, gentler approach is called for. It might be fruitful to ask what tactics Gandhi would employ to make his case.

    • Well, Gandhi’s whole strategy and success was built on mass demonstrations and organised mass civil disobedience – as was Martin Luther King. The only qualification they made was that their demonstrations should be “non–violent”. But these “non-violent” demonstrations were often designed to elicit a violent response from the police and military thus politicising a wider and wider constituency.

      The student demonstrations in London were peaceful mass demonstrations of 50,000 people. Less than a hundred were involved in vandalism. Much of the physical hargy-bargy with the police was a in response to thousands of peaceful demonstrators being held against their will by the police in Parliament Sq for 6 hours in freezing conditions (Kettling). I would argue it was this police pacific aggressive violence that kicked off the violence in the second demonstration.

      Secondly you say when the government “of the people” is involved it is not legitimate to demonstrate or protest against their policies. Firstly, I would absolutely challenge that notion. Even elected governments make mistakes and act against the will of the population and it is crucial they are kept in check. But often governments in Western style representative democracies are not in any sense “of the people”. In the case of the UK today this government did not win an election and is a Conservative/Liberal party coalition only kept in power by the Liberal Party who specifically campaigned on a pledge that they would not increase student fees. This is not democracy it is an electoral coup – much as the election of George W Bush was after his brother delivered Florida to him in the most shameful corruption of an election in US history.

  4. moelarrythecheese says:

    testing testing 1 2

  5. moelarrythecheese says:

    A little more than a week from now on Saturday, March 26th, the host of this blog (I AM NOT A NUMBER) along with thousands of other members of the UK’s Trades Union Congress (TUC) will be walking the streets of London as they participate in the “March for the Alternative: Jobs, Growth, Justice.” The purpose of the march is to raise awareness of the plight of a large percentage of UK’s average working citizens who are suffering in these hard economic times. Just as labor unions in the US are struggling to maintain the status quo, so too are labor unions in the UK. Undoubtedly, one of the primary objectives of the march is to garner a good deal of positive media attention so that the public and those in power within the government can be educated about the issues of importance to union members. Regardless of one’s attitude concerning unions it is always advisable to maintain an open mind when considering any issue, and hear all sides before reaching a conclusion. To explore the positions of the TUC I recommend visiting the TUC website which is linked at the end of this post. I’m sure that a lot of work has gone into organizing the march and without a doubt there is still a lot to be done before March 26th. I hope that on the day of the march the weather is fine and the police are agreeable and all participants and spectators remain peaceful. May the “March for the Alternative” be a big success.

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