I had more than a few topics specific to NextGen and the FAA that have caught my interest lately, just waiting for me to find time to write about them. However, the recent events in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee have caused me to realize that the Imposed Work Rules (IWRs) we dealt with are just a microcosm of what is going on nationally. We weren’t the first and, obviously, we aren’t going to be the last victims of concerted union busting. The difference now is that the American public is getting involved on either side of the collective bargaining rights argument in a much more visible way.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its report on union membership rates last month. Some interesting reading there. Union membership is down. So is our economy. I’m not saying it is the cause, but it is a factor to consider. Federal public sector employees represented by a union make LESS than non-unionized employees.
There is a lady in our extended family who is firmly in the camp that unions are bad news for the economy and the country and we need to do some deep financial government cuts. The lady’s spouse worked for the federal government, raised her children on “union pay” and is receiving an annuity from his pension and Social Security and is possibly receiving Medicare benefits. I wonder if she would agree to her annuity and Social Security being cut now? Hmm, I’d be willing to bet she’d rather cut welfare, health care and unemployment benefits.
This country has long understood that by helping other peoples to a better understanding and practice of representative government, we strengthen both them and ourselves. The same truth applies to the economic field. We strengthen other peoples and ourselves when we help them to understand the workings of a free economy, to improve their own standards of living, and to join with us in world trade that serves to unite us all.
In the 1950s, when union membership was higher, an average American family could afford to live on one income. It was not unusual for an American worker to stay with one employer for decades and receive their gold watch, sheet cake and a modest pension for their loyalty and continued service. Now, union membership is down and some American families have trouble making it on two incomes. I doubt the average American worker expects to be working for the same employer for decades, let alone actually expect their money to be there in a pension plan, modest or otherwise.
From where I sit, those who believe that stripping workers of collective bargaining rights are, in essence, stating that they do not believe in our form of government. We elect representatives to represent our interests and speak for us at the town/city/county/state/district/federal levels. The mission of those representatives is to bargain/negotiate for the good of all they represent (their own “special interest group”, so to speak). Sometimes, they band together to bargain for another group that includes their own (work with other representatives from other districts to represent the state). All the while, they also need to keep in mind the needs of the “higher” level (the employer or the country). In both the union and governmental realms, if we don’t like the representation, we vote them out – but we don’t throw each other (other union members) under the bus. Last I heard, the POTUS gives a State of the Union Address to the American people.
The actions of some politicians lately reminds me of the negative stereotype of the corrupt union boss that those believe getting rid of unions throw out there. Chewing on a cigar, fat belly busting the buttons of a shirt, flashy diamond rings, making deals with the devil and throwing their constituents under the bus for their own personal gain.
If you’re one of those who believe those in unions have it so much better, the question is why aren’t you in a union or organizing your coworkers? Why shouldn’t we all be raising our collective standards of living and working conditions instead of lowering them (as the corporate fat cats – who, interestingly enough have a negative stereotype very similar to that of a corrupt union boss – would like) to the level of India, China or the other places our employers have sent their work. Ask yourself why it’s more important to take the rights of your neighbor away, who may or may not make more than you, but have better working conditions than you, than it is to protect the rights of corporations. Why is okay to target one segment of our country’s population, but not you?
What you may not realize is that if Corporate America is successful in their bid to get rid of unions and the rights of the workers, it is not a big leap to begin limiting and eliminating the (collective bargaining) rights of the American voter.