Unions were started to gain power for workers. They needed that power because of abuse of labor by “management.” In the early days it was overcoming low, low pay and long, long hours. The rising power of unions in the 1800s blunted the abuse and raised the standard of living for workers. Clearly the rise of union power and the rise of the middle class in America were correctly linked as cause and effect. The unions protected the individual. Put another way, individuals joined the group and became stronger. Today it is still the same old battle: individuals seeking a better life against the powerful who seek to amass wealth. Survival vs. greed. The parties are the same only larger. The “individual” is now those who must work and “management” is now those who do not need to work. When you no longer have to work you forget what work actually is. Hard to believe, I know, but it is true. When you can say “I want a building put there,” and it happens, you don’t even think about all of the people it took to get it done. When you can make a rich, luxurious living moving decimal points around, you have no conception of what it’s like to move a heavy wheel barrow around all day. When an entire class of people in a society is isolated from actual labor, and spends all day within itself, and all of its spare time within itself, and when this class of people controls everything: education, commerce, government, and the military-industrial complex as well, it is a very, very dangerous situation. Welcome to America in the 21st century. Almost 12 years into the new century and things are getting worse every day. We have gone backwards one hundred years or more.
But there is a way out: Unions.
The power of aggregation is still very potent. Because, behind the shifting decimal points there are carpenters, welders, drivers, machine operators, teachers, plasterers, roofers, assembly line workers, steel workers, office workers, and workers of every kind. This includes white collar workers and middle managers. All of these working people know full well that, just like the workers in 1870, they are working harder and harder, and coping with more and more unreasonable demands from on-high; people they never even see. They know they are making less and less while their children’s futures grow dimmer and dimmer. They see that other ubër-class living in a gilded age of $400,000 cars, $20 million bonuses, salaries of tens of thousands a day (or even an hour), with vast golden parachutes all set, regardless of actual effectiveness, while the workering people are making, if they are lucky, $200 a day, with no real job security at all. They see the rich getting healthier and wealthier while they cannot even afford a physical examination, let alone a home of their own. The working people see the terrible imbalance, the shocking inequality. This knowledge is universal among all working people: they know, they feel it, they live it. But what to do? If you speak up, you’re fired. But if all the workers speak up, things will change fast.
The one percent who seem so strong are actually weak. And worried, too. They should be. If the Unions get it together by reorganizing from the bottom up and reassume the mantle of protection and strength in numbers, the current redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich can be reversed and it can be done fairly as well.
At their heart unions care about society and about families. They care about open education and intelligent national security. They care about democracy and fair elections. They care about a free and independent media industry. They care about true justice. They also know that these values are the opposite of the values of the ruling elite. The two sides of the battle use the exact same words, but words are cheap. When labor rules there is peace and spreading prosperity. When capital rules there is war and wealth accumulation in the hands of an ever smaller group. Today the top 300 wealthiest people in America hold more wealth than the next 150 million people. But think about it: 150,000,000 vs. 300. They cry “class warfare,” at the first sign of workers questioning. But remember, what better definition of class warfare is there than the fact that 300 people in America now have more wealth than the next 150 million people? The warfare has been going on for decades and working people are clearly losing the war.
The Occupy America movement is the beginning. Keep watching. The unions are getting involved. The media can’t figure it out. There have been failed efforts to forcefully dislodge the protest movement and it just grew stronger. The power elite say that are unwashed and unfocused and yet the protests grow still more. Working people know what the Occupy Movement is. If you worry about money in today’s America, you know. Whether you wear work boots or wingtips, if you worry about money, about making ends meet, you are a worker. When America’s workers unite, even for one day, it will cause a shock and awe that no cruise missile and phalanx of tanks ever caused. When the workers of America unite it will send a shockwave that no richter scale can measure.
When the working people of America unite it will save our country. And it could all happen in just one day of solidarity. Really.