Mr. President, it’s not easy to join a union in the United States.
At a labor-themed speech in Wisconsin on Monday, President Obama told a crowd of union members that if he were looking for a job, he’d join a union.
The president told the crowd that, “If I were looking for a good job that lets me build some security for my job, I’d join a union. If I were busting my butt in the service industry and wanted an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, I’d join a union… I’d want a union looking out for me and if I cared about these things I’d also want more Democrats looking out for me.”
But Mr. President, would you really be able to join a union today, given all the barriers employers put up to it like forcing you to sit through hours and hours of threatening anti-union meetings and presentations?
That’s exactly what’s happening in the US today.
It’s now harder than ever before to join a union, thanks to the decades-long War on Labor that conservatives have been waging ever since Ronald Reagan came to Washington.
And they’ve been waging that war with help from “right to work laws,” which should properly and accurately be called “right to work for less” laws, and from the multibillion dollar-a-year union-busting industry.
Right now, 22 states have “right to work for less” laws on the books, but despite conservative claims, these laws do nothing to protect jobs.
Instead, they undermine and destroy unions, thus undermining the basic rights of US workers to unionize. And, they’re terrible for our economy too.
According to the AFL-CIO, workers in “right to work for less” states earn an average of $5,680 less per year than workers in states that promote union membership.
Similarly, median household income in “right to work for less” states is nearly $6,500 less than in other states.
Meanwhile, people in “right to work for less” states are more likely to be uninsured, and are more likely to be working low-wage jobs.
And, as a new study out of the University of Illinois-Urbana reveals, workers in “right to work for less” states receive 24 percent more government assistance than workers in non-right to work states.
So, conservative-backed “right to work for less” laws are doing untold damage to our economy, while breaking up unions in the process.
But they’re not the only thing responsible for the rapid decline of unions in the US.
Thanks to the conservative War on Labor, the US also has a booming multibillion-dollar-a-year union-busting industry.
As the Massachusetts AFL-CIO points out, “There are now thousands of these firms across the country, and their rise has a direct correlation with the decline in union density from 29 percent of US workers in 1964 to 13 percent today.”
In one case, in the mid-1990s, Baltimore Gas and Electric paid a union-busting firm a staggering $40 million to fight an organizing effort.
It’s the job of these union-busting firms to break up union organizing drives and to literally scare workers away from voting for a union.
These are the thugs that come in, and give workers threatening presentations on the dangers of joining a union. These are the thugs that make workers sit through hours and hours of videos that demonize union membership.
They recruit supervisors to persuade workers not to join unions, and drum up as much fear and intimidation as they can.
Between the spread of “right to work” laws and the rapid growth of union-busting firms, it’s no surprise that unions are experiencing their lowest membership rates in history, and that there’s such animosity towards the labor movement.
In a recent interview with the New Republic, Rich Yeselson, a seasoned labor movement strategist, said that, “in no other advanced country is the entire political economy as relentlessly opposed to unionization as it is here. The US has the most hostile anti-union management/ownership class, and corresponding conservative politicians and media to assist it, in the advanced world.”
It’s time for that to change. It’s time for unions to once again become a major economic and political player in the US.
And that’s starts by bringing back card-check.
Prior to the passing of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947, joining a union was easy. Really easy. It was as easy as putting your name on a card and checking a box. That was your vote to join a union.
It’s because card-check was such an easy process for joining a union that corporate thugs today are so opposed towards bringing it back.
They’re afraid that with card-check, unions will once again be major political and economic players.
Well, it’s time to make the corporate thugs afraid.
It’s time to bring back card-check, and rebuild the American economy, one union at a time.
Call your members of Congress, and tell them that Americans want card-check and we want it now!