Town Square

Post a New Topic

Americans Continue to Support Unions, Despite Weak Labor Laws and Corporate Media Messaging

Original post made by Mike Cherry on Aug 23, 2013

Web Link

The above poll indicates that American unions continue to enjoy favorable ratings from most citizens. What is most noteworthy about this is that public approval has remained relatively stable despite only approximately 11% of American workers being unionized.

How is it that unions, beaten back by conservative administrations and demonized by the corporate media, continue to enjoy so much support?

The answer is that most Americans realize that their interests are aligned with the interests promoted by unions. It is unions, not those with anti-union views (mostly fascist-inclined Republicans), that have spearheaded most progressive, democratic change for nearly a century. 40 hour work week; child labor laws; racial and gendered diversity in the workplace; minimum wage; maternity leave. All these the naysayers have opposed, always ballyhooing that such changes would "force" capitalists to raise the price of consumer products.

What is noteworthy is that when capitalists HAVE raised consumer prices as a response to, say, union-advanced efforts to increase workplace safety, the American public has nevertheless maintained its support of union practices and values. Better to pay more to have a safe work environment than pay less with more workplace deaths and injuries as the upshot. Americans, it seems, are capable of thinking in terms of "we-ness" rather than what cognitive scientists and human development theorists have termed a cognitively stunted "I-ness" level of human consciousness. The latter are likely to celebrate valuing their own belly buttons over the welfare of others around them. With a straight face (and in all ignorance), they claim this stunted level of consciousness is 'human nature'.

What is objectively certain is that what gains unions have made have been to the advantage of all other workers. See above noted advances within the political economy. This is true of wages as well. For nearly a century union wages have been instrumental to level of American wages, generally, as employers found it increasingly difficult to pay substandard wages in the nonunionized sector in the face of publicized union wages.

Ironically, so successful have unions been in America, that companies, in pursuit of greed, have found ways to exploit cheaper, nonunionized labor overseas. Most Americans have seen this corporate money-grab for what it is: A concession by capital that Americans' wages, largely on account of unions' vanguard actions, have been well above the near-starvation wages capital now exploits overseas.

The corporate mentality urges us to blame unions for corporations' wont to make ungodly profits at the expense of its employees. In extending their joke of a position, they encourage Americans to forsake a safer work environment, to take pay cuts, work for less than minimum wage, pay into their own pensions and call this a raise.

A clear majority of American workers indicate their ongoing support for unions. The minority, mostly Republican, and inextricably wedded to views that Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya who is responsible for Katrina, continue to slather up the swill presented to them by the corporate media. And they end up saying the most fantastic things, and believing them, such as that a political perspective consonant with fascism is consistent with 'human nature'. Not so say the majority of American workers.

The struggle of organized labor against the forces of fascism continues. Which side are you on? Viva American Workers! Viva Workers Organizing Themselves! Viva the forces that fight fascism!

Comments (17)

Posted by Daveg, a resident of Birdland
on Aug 23, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Daveg is a registered user.

Mikie continues to spout his "fascism" theories and each time put on the spot to produce some kind of verification, just can't produce. He has been shot down on every posting he has submitted and each time he is called out, he resorts to school yard name calling.


Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Nice try, Dave. Very high-minded response. Readers will be impressed with your intellect.


Posted by Angry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Apprentice skill unions are VERY DIFFERENT than PUBLIC unions, First and most obvious, very different EMPLOYERS ! In skilled private sector unions, the employERS can DECLARE BANKRUPTCY AND DISAPPEAR !
.... start a different business elsewhere. We the "PUBLIC" are hostages, prisoners, made victims to a system that should NOT exist in a public agency.
We need a Governor who makes both the 'will' and the 'good' of the PEOPLE foremost in his goals and actions. We should be like Boston, New York, Chicago, and not allow PUBLIC unions to strike. Actually, like DEM Pres, Franklin D. Roosevelt believed, it is an impossible conflict, and that PUBLIC unions COULD NOT work.. Here we are with unions lacking decency, integrity, and the basic understanding of balance and economics. WE Americans have lost our basic freedoms and protections. To BE FREE, We must END this CA/San Francisco greed and insanity.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Some facts:
--Union membership is down to 11.9% of the workforce. It's been sliding down from a post-WWII high of 32% (Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics).
--Public support of unions is at a new low, at less than 50% (New Yorker Magazine, 2011).
--Twice as many people (68%) think that unions help mostly their members as think they help the broader population (34%). (Slate Magazine, 2012).


Posted by Angry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Mike, you are really misleading readers. BART is a PUBLIC union, which the public despises, and which is what WE have been discussing. You are now trying to interject an entirely DIFFERENT topic. WE are interested in unions where WE are EMPLOYERS against our will, forced to do things against our will! ! !


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 23, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

There is an annual Gallup poll on this topic (typically released at the end of August). The most recent can be found here: Web Link At best, support is stagnant.


Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Lots of really intelligent feedback. Thanks for the feedback guys. (BTW support for public sector unions is at approx. 66%, higher even than private sector unions.)


Posted by JT, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Mike has a ton of hate in his posting. Once again saying anybody who does not believe like him is evil. He has no ability to see there is more than one side to the argument.

Believe whatever you want Mike. However, if you have to keep selling everybody that the public employee unions are highly supported, that is a good sign that they are not. And in the order of support for public employee unions, any public employee union that can hold the public hostage with a strike with way above pay and benefits is despised. I think most people feel the offer by management to the unions is too generous.


Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2013 at 9:40 pm

JT ... believe what you want, you usually do. (Way to go in developing those 'other sides to the argument'. Bravo.)


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 23, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Mike, Much as you will try, a thousand words do not launch a picture.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 23, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Sorry, should have said a thousand words are not worth a picture.


Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2013 at 10:20 am

Well, there you have it. Even with considerable help from PW editors, the anti-union clown club can only muster what they've provided above, capped off with KR's prescient comments, er, nonsense, in the above two posts. Once forced to step beyond the terms provided by Fox and other corporate media, the anti-union reactionaries, after revealing the thinness of their claims, can only snipe away while showing their bitterness.

Fortunately, a majority of US citizens remain committed in its support of unions, and this in the face of daily anti-union rhetoric and pro-corporation adoration by so many pols and, of course, the corporate media itself.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 24, 2013 at 11:44 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Mike, The truth is the slim 2% margin of support in the Gallup poll could be about to shift out of union favor. And we will know that before the 60 day cooling off period expires if the annual report is published on August 31st as usual. You have the actions of three unions in the Bay Area and the numerous bankrupt cities, counties, and organizations across the country that might take support below 50%. Time will tell.


Posted by Mike Cherry, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Another extremely insightful comment by KR. Wow. Let's blame everything on the workers. Surely this will be the track chosen by the corporate media, and the gullible will go right along with it. Rest assured, however, once all the facts come out in a case, and the public is able to sift through the propagandistic tripe spooned out by management and the corporate media, a majority of the public will continue to express its support for unions.

What is funny (perversely) to me, is how quick to dump on unions the anti-union clown club is, but with absolutely no acknowledgement of why unions, and especially public sector unions, are necessary for a functioning democracy. No, all we get is a flurry of hand waving and petulant lies from the clown club about how union workers make too much money. Ignorance? Willful deceit? Damaged egos? Envy? Who knows?


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 24, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Using the Rules for Radicals playbook. Maybe we should organize the AUCC.

First. one has to make a big leap to determine not supporting union demands equates to a conspiracy against unions. I happen to think the offer on the table is generous to already well paid employees. Second, one has to believe unions are necessary for a functioning democracy. I don't. Third, one has to believe you can get rid of unions. I don't believe that either. Fourth, one has to believe that getting rid of unions is a necessary goal. I see no purpose in that goal. Acknowledgement is needed on the correlation between potential earnings and the experience/responsibilities/skills required to do the job.

The petulant lies, as you are well aware, have all been yours.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 24, 2013 at 6:45 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

From "Rules": According to Alinsky, the main job of the organizer is to bait an opponent into reacting. 'The enemy properly goaded and guided in his reaction will be your major strength.'"

It is possible to be against union demands without dismantling a union.


Posted by Daveg, a resident of Birdland
on Aug 25, 2013 at 6:59 am

Daveg is a registered user.

After reading this link Web Link it's apparent that the unions have no thoughts of being reasonable in their negotiations with BART.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

To post your comment, please click here to login

Remember me?
Forgot Password?
or register. This topic is only for those who have signed up to participate by providing their email address and establishing a screen name.

A Norman Rockwell Town
By Roz Rogoff | 7 comments | 1,354 views

David Brooks at his Best and Worst
By Tom Cushing | 11 comments | 909 views

Anti-fracking folks rail against railroads
By Tim Hunt | 29 comments | 813 views