There are many different meanings of the word, labor. Yesterday was labor day and we will defined labor as work. We celebrated our work and that we have a good wage for that work. How did we get such good paying jobs? We know that it would not have been possible without the perseverance of the workers and the union struggles that preceded us. Yesterday, fast-food workers are marching for better wages and the struggle continues. They are unionizing for a better wage and a better life.
In an article by the AFL-CIO, entitled “The Union Difference,” it was suggested that the need for labor unions is there because: “Union members earn better wages and benefits than workers who aren’t union members. On average, union workers’ wages are 27 percent higher than their nonunion counterparts. More than 85 percent of union workers have jobs that provide health insurance benefits, but only 54 percent of nonunion workers do. Unions help bring workers out of poverty and into the middle class. In fact, in states where workers don’t have union rights, workers’ incomes are lower.”
The employers need protection, claims the GOP. Employers give the jobs and the profit will “trickle down“ to the worker, guaranteed. The GOP must “protect” big business from workers who are trying to band together and destroy companies by unionizing. Republican leadership seems to suggest that Labor, by asking for company benefits, a living wage, and health care, is biting the hand that feeds them.
“Protecting” big business from the wrath of the common man is one part of the GOP story. Since the Citizens United decision, the GOP wants to end union donations of organized labor altogether. They feel they can stop losing elections if they control all the money.
“In the past two national election cycles, in 2010 and 2012, organized labor has served as a massive progressive counterweight to the unchecked corporate power unleashed by the Supreme Court. The real mission for the GOP is to take down the progressive money machine by emasculating its most prolific organizing base.”
Labor unions empower workers by the use of a tool called collective bargaining. This means the workers have the opportunity to bargain with their employer as a group. The Republican Party has been relentless and successful in making changes at the state level to end collective bargaining and thereby stop unions.
Without unions to counter this terrifying Republican takeover of the American workforce, the U.S. economy will not survive. Without unions, ordinary folks would not have the power to negotiate for a better wage or to improve their families’ quality of life.
Richard Andrew is a guest blogger for Ring of Fire.