In a prior article I introduced the term of “union envy“. As a college graduate I found myself resentful about unions. This changed when I could no longer tolerate being a “white collar worker” at AIG. In this post I would like to contribute some thoughts on how unions can fight back and modernize. These suggestions come from my unique background and prospective.
I am a college grad and a proud blue collar union member. Sadly while the leadership is Progressive many members feel “safe” and thus actually sympathize with the corporate elites and even Walmart. Yes you heard me correctly.
Many middle class Americans are having a hard time. When they see or hear union members actually being conservative and acting “above the concerns of average Americans” they really resent it. Some of this is even an old grudge.
Excuse me folks but I am a hippie from the 60′s and I deeply resented the blue collar union members beating up medical students in down town NYC. I also resented that many unionized construction workers did not have mere “deferments” as I did going to college but “exemptions“! This allegedly because their work was somehow important to the nation! I am sure that their support of the Vietnam War had nothing to do with it?
I also deeply resent when union members talk about the:
EXCUSE ME BUT I AM A MAN AND I WORKED LIKE A DOG WHEN I SLAVED AS A WHITE COLLAR WORKER FOR AIG! (Now I am a blue collar civil service union member)
Nonunion members really resent the term “working man” as if they are not “men” and they are not “working”. Furthermore in today’s economy woman make up a large portion of the work force. Hence the term “working man” is down right sexist. The leadership of most unions is progressive. But if you go in to the homes of most members of my blue collar union they would be watching Fox News and even NOW still feel sorry for the poor corporations who have to compete with high labor costs! Just so long as it is not their jobs that are going to be effected!
Why unions are failing in a nutshell!
The reason why unions are loosing is because non-members resent union members frequently acting above the fry of the common employee! Conservatives understand this and then play their game of divide and conquer! Unions have also lost their idealism and connection to the values of FDR. At least as far as the average members are concerned. Sarah Palin was a heroine to many of my fellow blue collar civil service union members!
How Unions Can Fight Back
- Stop using the horrible term of “working man“. It is sexist. Further it attacks nonunion males by saying they do not work and are not men! The term “employee” should be substituted for “working man”. The former is both non-sexist and inclusive of college educated white collar employees.
- Union members need to turn off Fox News. Non-union members do not feel “safe” in this economy and no one talks about their plight. When these people hear union members ranting like they are part of the establishment then the silent majority want to bring them down a peg or two. That is what happened in Wisconsin and Michigan.
- Unions need to fight for the 99% and their members need to become more progressive instead of elitists. Most union members today did not fight for the creation of their union. Their unions are “inherited” from the heroes of past decades. Union leadership is progressive. But even today many of my blue collar civil service union brothers actually sympathize for the Republicans in Wisconsin and Michigan. That is because they have this illusion of safety. What happened in Wisconsin and Michigan was the average American demanding that union members stop being elitists who watch Fox News. Middle Americans resented the “inheritance” of unions by workers who then have no respect for the plight of the rest of the 99%. With the exception of a few union activists I believe most members are conservative Republicans.
- Unions need to push for the agenda of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who wanted a “Second Bill Of Rights”! This bill that would guarantee the right to health care, housing, a secure retirement, an affluent wage and an America that is free from the influence of “organized money”! These rights must be for ALL Americans. FDR’s dream of a “Second Bill of Rights” must become the dream of every American. Unions must push for this and educate their members.
- Unions must push for a new Social Democratic Party on the Northern and West European model. We are not advocating a “welfare state” but a “Social Contract State” that rights the wrongs of the free market. Left to it’s own devices the so called “free market” is not our freedom! Instead it is the freedom of the 1% to make us compete against each other while they collect the dividends of our pain. The market can continue but it cannot be “free” from “Law and Order”, nor social responsibility.
- Unions must push for the separation of corporation and state. We can never have a democracy while corporations can make campaign contributions that we ultimately have to pay for.
The issue is will unions learn? Yes I know their leadership is progressive but they must educate their members to realize that Fox News is not on their side!
We must end the “celebration of ignorance” that is personified by Sarah Palin. She was unfortunately a heroine to my union’s members! We must call on all “employees”, both blue and white collar to demand our rights to become “stake holders” in our corporations.
Union members must realize they “inherited” their unions and are not superior to non-union blue or white collar employees. Such a realization demands they TURN OFF FOX NEWS and join the rest of the 99%! When union members do this then Republicans will not be able to use “union envy” as a weapon.
- How The GOP’s Assault On Michigan Workers Harms The Middle Class (thinkprogress.org)
- Do Unions Still Have Clout In Michigan? (npr.org)
- Bessent: Michigan’s union news is bad news for middle class – Newsday (newsday.com)