Meditation on Labor Day

Replica of 1886 union pin via Jim Forest Flickr/creative commons

Replica of 1886 union pin via Jim Forest
Flickr/creative commons

Thank you Laura Clawson (@LauraClawson) for demonstrating in two simple charts that income inequality is reduced in direct proportion to the rise of worker power and self-determination through unionization.

The union density that followed WWII through the 50s caused the only dip in income by the top 10%. This is why unions are considered a threat to corporate power and that is why our corporate-controlled government and courts have worked so hard to diminish unions and the right to organize. Like electric cars and railroads so beneficial to the people at large, unions threaten the ruling oligarchy’s fat purse.

Progressive activists support unions because they are by nature transformative, improving the economy and lifting up the daily lives of the greatest number of people involved whether they are union members or not. We use union-held commerce over anti-union commerce to the fullest extent. We work with labor in choosing political candidates, and supporting union-friendly legislation (and fighting laws that are not). The presence of unions determine what hotels we stay or meet in.

Workers organize to disperse corporate decision-making, and because they are the ones most affected by corporate decisions believe this power should never be reserved exclusively for by-nature-self-interested managers and owners. This Labor Day weekend itself, or any weekend or even the concept of a weekend for that matter, are the result of unions.

Over 100 years ago, the first unions brought about our right to organize in the workplace. My late uncle had a deep scar across his forehead from the 30s attesting to just how brutal the fight for these rights was, rights and benefits we take so for granted today.

Of course unions have had and still do have problems with union leadership but they are still responsible for bringing to all companies, with our without unions, shorter worker weeks, fewer hours/week, and your children are not forced, or allowed, to work anymore. The union movement has steadily improved work environments in all companies; today’s OSHA regulations are the result of this work. If you are injured on the job, any job anywhere, you have unions to thank for creating the the concept of workmen’s compensation. As a result of unions, workers everywhere save for pensions; modern IRAs sprouted from this concept.

Hope you are enjoying your Labor Day weekend. Here is a searchable database of public information on unions if you want to help increase their density nationwide to reduce income equality.




Alison Gardner