If blue-collar workers want better jobs, they need unions, not Trump

Even though the majority of American workers would like to join a union, America's anemic labor laws scare them away from it -- after all, if you're fired for attempting to unionize, all your boss owes you is back pay, a sum so trifling that business groups call it a "hunting license."

Obama did little to strengthen protections for trade unions, and now Trump will do worse still, and the weakened union sector will be hard pressed to resist him.

But trade unions -- not billionaire sociopaths who screw their contractors -- are the best advocate for good pay and good jobs. The Sanders Democrats believe in strong protection for unionization, and that's the policy that energized and excited voters of all ages and races. The Democratic Party can't be the party of finance capital, because they'll never be as good at it as the GOP is -- if they're going to win the mid-terms and take the presidency in 2020, they need to start advocating for workers, not bankers.

 But in the United States, the union membership rate is at its lowest point since 1935. Polls show that a majority of workers would like to join a union, but our labor protections are so weak that it carries real risk. For example, if an employer fires a worker for supporting a union (which is still illegal) they aren’t even required to pay fines. The only punishment employers face is back pay for the worker—and even that doesn’t include earnings from other jobs after the worker was fired. It’s such a mild repercussion that it’s a joke among business owners—they refer to it as the cost of their “hunting license.”

Even if the federal government moves against unions, cities and states can still act to strengthen worker power. They could give workers a formal seat at the table in determining the minimum wage, or assign them a role in setting pay scales across an industry or region. Cities and states could also actively encourage membership in worker organizations. For example, jurisdictions could fund worker training that is provided by worker-led organizations, or create new benefits for gig economy workers that worker organizations help manage. Since states control many elements of corporate law, they could even require corporations to put workers on their boards. That would ensure that they have some input on important decisions, such as whether to offshore a plant.

 Workers Don’t Need Trump to Give Them a Voice. They Need Unions [David Madland/The Nation]

(via Naked Capitalism)

Notable Replies

  1. I would guess bargaining. That's how bargaining works: One party gets some of what it wants, and the other party gets some of what it wants, and sometimes that's the best you can do.

    Or are you advocating that the workers seize the means of production? :wink:

  2. daneel says:

    Bargaining, trying to get what they can.

    They have gone out on strike in the past.

    Of course, as you note, if they can't offer the same benefits to all, when those benefits are next on the chopping board, the new members won't vote to protect them, because they already don't have them. Divide and conquer.

    But all the union can do is to try to hold back the tide as much as possible.

  3. Not only blue-collar and service industry workers, especially in 2016. Corporations are constantly coming up with ways to extract unpaid work from or to intrude into the personal lives of white-collar and knowledge industry workers, too. Those workers also need good unions, but a kind of snobbery makes those shops almost impossible to organise.

    Also, it's important to emphasise unions, plural. One solution beloved of right-wing populists is to replace independent unions with state/corporate-dominated mega-unions that, despite their rhetoric, aren't primarily concerned with the rights of their workers (who in some cases are actual slaves).

  4. Living in Illinois I can tell you two things:

    • They really do believe that jobs will come back. One person honestly believes that the Maytag plant will come back from Mexico (for example).
    • Every single person that I know who voted for trump says nigger every chance they can get away with it - and it's derivatives they think make them not racist like "thug, animal, nigs, savages, etc." Every. Single. Trump. Voter. I. Know. My city was red even though Illinois is blue - the KKK is big here. 20 years ago when I moved here they burned a cross on a guys lawn (about two weeks after I got here) and that same town used to have a sign (again within the last 20 years) that said "No blacks after sundown"

    Not racist my ass.

    Fuck the smarmy pandering fucks who try to pretend this election wasn't about one fucking thing.

  5. So I'm totally fine with people being able to pull money intended for their children's education from the public system and re-direct it to the NGO of their choice- maybe a nice catholic school where nuns with no educational training can beat their children like God intended.


    I'm also allowed to pull my tax dollars from the US military and apply those funds to the military of my choice.
    Fair's fair, right?

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