The Conservative Reports of the Death of Labor Unions Is a Bit Premature


Think the idea of workers organizing is as dead as the Republican Party and their owners in Corporate America are telling you? Thankfully, they are as wrong about this as they are about everything else they sell their souls over. Consider the following.

The American Medical Association voted to encourage its members to work towards organizing themselves or affiliating themselves with an existing labor union. The movement is being undertaken in order for medical providers, in the face of profit driven HMOs whose policies have decreased the level of medical care in America, to regain some measure of control over both their ability to offer that high level of medical care as well as to stop the HMOs constant pressure to decrease payments for services. (1)

The results of that vote is the creation of the Service Employees International. The SEI's organizing effort targets physicians frustrated with managed care and plans on spending at least $1 million in that drive. Should their efforts succeed, according to the HMO industry, the cost of a policy will skyrocket but the question of the industry absorbing the costs rather than forcing more Americans go without coverage wasn't, and probably won't be, addressed. (2)

Righting a wrong that has existed far too long, the California University system's Teaching Assistants voted to be represented by the United Auto Worker's union. Doing an average of 60% of the work of unionized professors, such as teaching their classes and grading their exams, the positions were once a source of needed experience towards the TA's future search for tenured posts in universities around the world. With the drastic cut backs in state and federal education funding since 1980, however, the work too often becomes the sole employment possibility for the individual employed as a TA. As always, with the movement for fair treatment spreading to campuses across the country, from Yale to Temple and from New York universities to those in Oregon, politicians and school administrators are wailing that being forced to treat their employees honorably will increase the cost of an education. Again, the possibility that state and federal politicians might deduct some small portion of the wasted budgets of prison construction and the DEA and the like which have far less usefulness to society than an educated populace hasn't been addressed. (3)

Finally, even workers in places like South Korea, once a heaven for business in as much as the government was, as unbelievable as it seems, even more under the thumb of the wealthy and the nation's businessmen, have seen strong movements demanding the right to unionize. The movement towards organizing for protection comes from such arbitrary and punitive rules as the one forbidding female employees from continuing employment if they marry as well as vast safety and health hazards commonly dismissed as minor by their employers. This female driven action mirrors what America's female employees once fought for but have lost due to nearly twenty years of conservative destruction of worker protections in exchange for massive contributions from Corporate America and will undoubtedly face the same daunting challenges in first acquiring these rights and then to maintain them in the face of the Asian conservative political powers that currently reign. (4)

While this writer finds great irony in doctors whining about their reduction in income and all of that without also offering any support whatsoever for the tens of millions of working poor and their children who receive no health benefits for either themselves nor their children, I also support any group who organizes in order to reclaim control of their lives in the face of Corporate America's malodorous drive only for profits at any cost to the average American. Corporate America controls the government and the lives and futures of the American workers and, quite obviously, has little interest in sharing their wealth in order to make those lives and future any better or brighter. The government doesn't show any level of interest in us in as much as the Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan, continues to equate high employment and better salaries and benefits for workers with his paranoiac fear of inflation and raises the nation's interest rates to raise unemployment whenever the average American worker's prospects improves.

Therefore, our only hope for a voice in our government and our futures lie in being represented by someone other than politicians or Corporate America's toadies and the only expectation for that currently lies in the power of labor unions. While many Americans have swallowed the hallucination of the Conservative movement that unions are evil and actually harm the average worker, those same Americans appear far too lazy and self absorbed to work towards improving those organizations and the way that they represent their members. The Right is completely wrong in reporting the death of labor unions, it's true but, unless we actively work against their many vile plans for anti-worker legislation like their newest push for a "National Right to Work Law" (being pushed by Jesse Helms, that ancient anti-human species gnome) we will have only ourselves to blame when every hard earned right and protection that we once enjoyed are abolished as the government kneels in worship before their corporate masters.

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Copyright 6/30/99