Stop Hating Labor Unions


United Parcel Service, UPS, has now been on strike for about a week. They are protesting management's decisions to hire more low paying, no benefit, part-time workers as well as over safety and wage issues. UPS, one of the last large groups of American workers still protected by a union are, of course, being attacked in the conservative media and by many people who envy the wages, benefits and protection that union members enjoy.

The LA Times, one of the finest examples that give lie to the nonsensical "liberal media", seems to only receive letters from individuals who dislike the wages and benefits that union members have won through negotiations over the years. In trying to achieve the appearance of a balance, one letter might be published which speaks to some one singular side issue in the strike.

What the Times and the other many politically right leaning news outlets owned by influential conservatives (Robert Murdoch, the Times-Mirror Group, Ted Turner, et.al.) pass off as reporting are simply very one-sided anti-union and anti-worker tirades. Murdoch has spent a large portion of his life "busting" every union that represented the workers of the businesses he bought and few if any of the other obscenely rich corporate owners have ever even pretended to be a friend to anyone but politicians.

This hatred of organized labor by the government, media and some members of the non- unionized population of workers was given its current momentum during the Reagan administration's destruction of the Flight Controller's Union in the very early 80's. With unemployment then high, he and his spin doctors were able to demonize these union members as just greedy, lazy and unworthy of respect.

This has become the method conservatives use to belittle any groups whom they wish to take advantage of. Union members, Welfare mothers, illegal immigrants, teachers, liberals, civil service workers and so many other individuals have been stained by the lies and baseless accusations of the right while they proceeded to undermine any advances each group made before the nation's oily slide to the right.

It has become normal these days for news reports to concentrate exclusively on the demands of the workers without any even a half-hearted attempt to describe the health and profits of the industry involved. If, in the case of UPS, the media had the courage to explain any facet of the situation which supported the stance of the union and workers, they would clarify that UPS is seeing record breaking profits and growth. The executives at UPS are among the industry's highest paid with bonuses and stock options making them wealthier still. As in most American corporations of the 80's and 90's, they try to claim complete credit for any positive growth while blaming labor for any increases in costs or slow downs in growth.

The truth is always that success is a combination of well timed, intelligent decisions on the part of management and the hard work and loyalty of its employees. As in the military, orders not carried out or carried out poorly by the troops always insures catastrophe but troops who work hard at completing assignments nearly always insures success. Any military leader who belittles his troops while claiming credit for their accomplishments can prepare themselves for little in the way of future victories.

Granted, the unions of today have huge areas which have need for correction and improvement. All organizations which have little or no competition eventually become less than proficient in their operations. The unions are no different. The right does not want the improvement but rather the complete demise of the best representation that workers have, at the moment. The right simply want workers to be at all times afraid to stand up for their rights out of fear of management's overwhelming power over the worker's lives.

The next time you feel like denigrating union members, contemplate the many, many rights that the existence of unions have won for even those they do not represent. Consider the issues of minimum wage, health and safety laws, workplace enforcement of racial and sexual discrimination laws as well as environmental inspections and on and on. None of these issues would place the power on the side of the worker without the unions and their constant struggle to protect the laborer.

Only the most deluded American could ever imagine a meeting of corporate executives called in order to voluntarily create a safer or healthier work environment for the employees. Only the brain dead could envision the possibility of a meeting called to examine smaller executive bonuses in order to increase employee salaries and benefits. Corporations are run by people who owe allegiance only to themselves and their stock holders and have no intention of receiving less so that their employees might live a better life. Only through the negotiations of equals, management and union representatives, does the worker stand a chance of coming anywhere near the once expected American Dream.

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Copyright 8/11/97