Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Obama on unions

From Salon (1)

The right of workers to come together and join a union is part of what built America's middle class. It's the reason why we've got a minimum wage. (Applause.) It's the reason why folks have weekends. It's the reason why you have basic protections on the job from an abusive employer. There are a whole range of things that people take for granted, even if they're not in a union, that they wouldn't have had if it had not been for collective bargaining.

(1) I know it's a bit of a cop-out to have a snippet of something someone else said and point it to where they said it as the guts of a post. I don't usually do that. But this is such a succinct way of saying why being in a union is a good thing and why, broadly, unions are a greater good for being here than not. Even when they get a tad snaky. Indeed, if anything, unions seem to get increasingly moribund and undemocratic the fewer members there are. Largely I think because leadership to control a union can boil down to a small network of the like-minded who hold rigidly true to certain views and/or have the capacity to be influenced by others.


  1. I'm not a member of any union. That may come as a shock. I wholeheartedly support unions, and I believe they are a necessity - not a necessary evil, but a necessity.

    However, I also wholeheartedly believe that I will not pay my dues to expensive unions that achieve nothing, and provide minimal 'real' assistance to their members.

    Whereas the Teacher's Federation is one of the most powerful unions in NSW, the AEU is one of the most powerless. To be honest, unions don't achieve much in the ACT anyway, because the government always seems to get the upper hand. Go figure.

  2. Oh I understand your views. But from a macro-participation level from what I understand that much of the fattening of the middle-class from the 50s to 80s was as a result of union strength.

    I will now quote the Simpsons.

    Boy: You can't treat the working man this way. One day we'll form a union and get the fair and equittable treatment we deserve. Then we'll go too far, and get corrupt and shiftless and the Japanese will eat us alive!
    Mr. Burns' Grandfather: The Japanese!? Those sandal-wearing goldfish tenders? Bosh! Flimshaw!
    Years Later
    Mr. Burns: If only we'd listened to that boy, instead of walling him up in the abandoned coke oven.


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