Historically it is true Democrats have been the friend of labor, not just those that were unionized, but labor in general. Their opponents have always been known for being friends of the owners of the companies the laborers worked for and their top level management. But things have changed especially on the national level of elected politicians. At the state level elected officials supporting unions and with a record of it are more needed than ever if our middle class is to be saved.
During union fights across the nation especially during 2011 state representatives were crucial and backed up their talk with fighting for workers. Sure concessions were needed. Unions have gotten their way and unfortunately in some cases things that were doable at one time became too much later on. I have been a member of a union in the past and have participated in a strike for better pay and benefits from a nonprofit that could afford what was being asked for - for the most part.
However, for some unions in some cases they got to a point where what they wanted was more than was reasonable in some areas and in certain cases. Not all or most, but certainly some. For people claiming unions are bad, I would posit the question as to whether or not health benefits have been a bad thing. I ask if racial integration of workplaces has been a bad thing. I would ask if women being represented and being given opportunities to rise in the ranks was a bad thing. Has the ability of massive amounts of people that were once low income being empowered to move into the ranks of the middle class, essentially building the large scale middle class we came to know, been a bad thing?
People talk about the need for small businesses and they are needed of course, but how would the abundance of small businesses have been able to proliferate to the extent they have in the US were it not for an expansion in the amount of people able to afford patronizing them? This new wealth came as a result of the increase in pay, pensions and benefits afforded people through unionization and the positive effects unions had on our economy. Again, there did come a time when things became inverted in some cases.
But that didn't mean it came time to abandon them. Yet, in many recent fights abandonment by national level Democrats is exactly what happened. Unions saw the need to cut things back and in some cases were willing to give everything asked for by the other side, except the right to sit down collectively and bargain for their rights as workers.
Take Wisconsin for example, and the laws passed by Governor Scott Walker and his administration barring collective bargaining. On a state level Wisconsin elected Democratic officials went to great lengths to try and stand their ground, though they were outnumbered they fought till they just could not anymore. It was really commendable to see that there were actually elected officials left in America willing to fight for their constituents like that. They weren't just fighting for their jobs, they were fighting for a belief and a cause. It's the kind of thing almost unheard of in America today.
But national level Democrats were nowhere to be found. Here was their chance to show they meant what they said when they claimed to be for union rights and collective bargaining. It was their chance to stand with the little guy not just on one piece of legislation, but to stand arm in arm and say "we support the unions and recognize what they have allowed us to have in this nation." It was their chance to put their money where their mouths have always been - at least when making campaign speeches. There were over 100,000 protesters at one point in Wisconsin fighting for the right just to collectively bargain, and what did national level Democrats currently running around saying, "look what I did for workers" do? They stayed in DC riding in limos and eating steak dinners with lobbyists and Goldman Sachs head honchos.
They sat in their offices collecting six figure salaries while ordinary Jane's and Joe's were losing their benefits, salaries and in many cases their jobs. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salaries_of_members_of_the_United_States_Congress) For all the money being paid to them where were the stars of the Democratic party's elected reps from Washington? Where was the political muscle on a national level? Win or lose to have been there so people could say, "when we needed them they were there with us in the mud and in the dirt fighting" would have been backing up what they have said. Instead, they jumped ship, headed for the hills and ducked behind trees peering out to check and see if the danger was gone.
This goes for Democrats from the White House to the Senate to the House; they left people stranded. How can they claim to be for unions when at the time they were so sorely needed most left. Yes they worked for the auto bailout and that was a good thing, but not all of the jobs they claim to have saved, if you track what they are claiming in so far as the numbers when adding together both those directly and indirectly effected, were union jobs. All jobs are important, but let's talk unions, and if you are going to be honest then don't lie and exaggerate. Don't tell me about Detroit when the city is cutting back services to whole swaths of the city because so many people have left and the city is so strapped. (http://www.examiner.com/finance-examiner-in-national/the-city-of-detroit-cutting-services-and-police-as-it-moves-towards-bankruptcy) They are actually dealing with severe urban shrinkage and how to manage it, not growth. (http://www.planetizen.com/node/50705) They aren't the only city either.
It saved many jobs, but don't lie to us about the unions that built the middle class and working to save them. It wasn't arm in arm marching reminiscent of Martin Luther King Jr. It was, "huh? Protests? Didn't hear about it." The middle class has been shrinking while the wealthier get more wealthy. All the while money to contractors in the Middle East like Halliburton get government contracts in the billions of tax payer dollars where little to no Americans have been hired. These have been getting signed off on making such corporations richer while the rest of us suffer, struggle and have to pay for them to get richer. Is that fair? Why did we have to suffer so long while companies like that made so much? Where was the hope and change for us?
The military has been running golf courses overseas and domestically for years the annual maintenance costs of which alone run in the millions in some cases. (http://www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com/golfcourses.html) Is it fair for us to be paying for that while so many of us had lost homes, jobs and saw our children's educations decline in standard during this crisis?
Of course none of that would change were members of the other party to get elected either, save for one candidate at least in terms of spending - not union support though. As far as the rights for us to gather and decide to use our power collectively to bargain for better pay, benefits or hours where needed, none of them are really ready to come to the table. The Auto Bailout was to save jobs, but it only tangentially was meant to help unions. Nationally Democrats showed their true colors when they abandoned union workers during 2011.
It was shameful and a disgraceful disappointment, but it confirmed one thing. There really are no parties truly ready to stand up for the rights of the middle or lower income Americans. Remember, though it was a Republican president that essentially drafted the bill, it was a Democratic president that signed NAFTA into law. So many good paying jobs left America as a result. Sure as lower income Americans and the middle class we have seen our incomes decline ever since Reagan was elected. But Democrats just kept that ball rolling right along. They have lied and said, "those jobs left and won't be coming back."
They often quote Steve Jobs when they say this, but of course he would say that. Apple has large tracts of their manufacturing outsourced to China. He wanted to keep it that way as his company stood to reap the most in benefits by things remaining that way as do the rest. Let's see how long they stay when our government (the Fed) stops the currency manipulation deal with those nations and brings back the troops protecting factories in East Asia and Southeast Asia manufacturing cheap goods our factory workers can't compete with. They won't do it - save one politician.
That politician's chances of getting elected president are practically zilch and I can't personally endorse that candidate due to their stance on certain other issues. The establishment pick right now is the current president and he will win again. That's how the way things are. But until we fill the seats of Congress with members from other parties, be they right, left or centrist in addition to the current two, it's the voices of average Americans that will continue to be drowned out. When things come to an impasse who's there to break the jams up? Who is there to stand up for the little guy to the influences of large corporations anymore? Neither Democrats nor Republicans will. Only Republicans admit as much.
We're being crowded out and as long as Congress holds no alternatives for us it will stay that way. Just remember, when Democrats on a national level and the president go around the nation claiming they stand for unions and collective bargaining, never forget Wisconsin, all the other states that followed suit and NAFTA. The current president will be re-elected. As John Stewart said when he was interviewing the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales regarding our electoral system, "it's a little rigged." (http://gonemild.com/2007/09/26/evo-morales-on-the-daily-show/)
We can change that over the next few decades by starting to strike a balance in Congress that benefits both corporations on the one side and the vast majority of Americans on the other. A balance few if any in Congress currently have the courage to attempt or bring to reality. Wisconsin really begged the question; why didn't they go there?
To read about my inspiration for this article go to www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com.