Like Your Quality of Life? A Union Did That

Even if you’ve never worked for a union in your life, they’ve worked for you. This nonsense about eliminating collective bargaining in the state of Wisconsin should be squashed–and fast–by the Wisconsin legislature, and condemned by politicians and media pundits alike across the country. We ALL benefit from the work of unions, and don’t think any differently:

Like having a weekend? A union did that.

Like having an 8-hour work day instead of 10 or 12 or 14? A union did that.

Like getting paid overtime on your non-exempt job? A union did that.

Like getting workman’s compensation when you’re injured on the job? A union did that.

Like your employer-sponsored health care as opposed to paying all out of pocket? A union did that.

Like your employer-sponsored pension, 401(k), or other retirement plan? A union did that.

Like your guaranteed break for every six hours worked? A union did that.

Like the safety provisions in place in your office/warehouse/job site? A union did that.

Like knowing that children under the age of 14 get to be in school and not a factory? A union did that.

Like being able to call in sick and not risk losing your job? A union did that.

These are NOT things that business owners granted to their employees out of their vision of a good workplace or the goodness of their heart. These are things that union members fought for tooth and nail. These are things that union members were intimidated, physically beaten, and in some cases, killed for fighting for. These are things that we all see as necessary components of a reasonable, pleasant workplace, but until the unions got involved, they weren’t a guarantee; hell, they weren’t even a possibility.

Say what you will about various mismanaged unions (aren’t so many organizations mismanaged and just in need of a shakeup?), but the fact of the matter is that the stronger unions are in a nation, the higher the quality of life is in that country, for union and non-union workers alike. Collective bargaining protects workers from employers focused more on profit than employee satisfaction and productivity, and it gives a voice to those who would otherwise be easily shut up and shut out.

“Good for business” shouldn’t mean “bad for workers,” but far too often it does. Choosing business bottom lines over the people who work hard for their employers isn’t a good business move, or the free market at work, or the American way–it’s cowardly, and it’s inhumane, and it has to stop.

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4 thoughts on “Like Your Quality of Life? A Union Did That

  1. Thanks for reminding us what we learned (or should have learned) in U.S. History in high school. I think it’s important to add that although these battles were fought and we have these rights right now, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be dragged up again in another incarnation for renegotiation, as we’re seeing with the indirect attacks on Wade vs. Roe.

    Paul Krugman has a great article in the NY times about the Wisconsin capital surface debate (budget and sacrifice) and the underlying debate (democracy vs oligarchy).
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/21/opinion/21krugman.html?src=me&ref=general

  2. Pingback: Scripts For Your Consideration « Stowaway

  3. Pingback: Labor Day: We Still Have So Much Work to Do | Stowaway

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