Past is the past

I notice that defensive union supporters quickly resort to the time period covered by the Labor Department’s now famous mural as they seek to burnish the image of the present-day labor union movement. And well they should!

Back in the day, unions had an honorable and necessary role to play in the economy of this nation. We're much the better as a country because of the sacrifices and struggle which characterized the early days of the union movement.

I also notice that unions do not much mention what they've been up to since, oh, World War II or so. Instead, unions present claim honor due unions past.

Unions, like the early Christian Church, suffered a moral decline once brought into the halls of power. The Roman Emperor Constantine's Edict of Tolerance did more to hobble the Church than any persecution.

Likewise, President Franklin Roosevelt's embrace of unions on behalf of the Democratic Party did more to ruin their integrity than violent corporate strikebreaking tactics.

Removing the mural may seem petty, but I see the removal as fair notice that the past is the past and the present is the present.

Unions now hang upon the economy and upon our nation's politics like so many albatrosses 'round the neck of the Ancient Mariner.

Let's put artistic depictions of the union movement's proud history where they belong: in a museum, not in the offices of a department of government which now must objectively regulate the excesses of its bloated and selfish present-day version.

Lenny Hoy, Greenwood

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Comments

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

That's my point exactly, Paul

If we lose the right to bargain collectively that motivation disappears. The only thing left will be profit. We have already traveled that road before. It was bad for the workers and frankly bad for business. Oppressed workers though they are cheap are not necessarily as good as well trained, experienced highly motivated workers. People who blame unions for the disappearance of American jobs overseas are ignoring 2 very important factors. Our own government has been and is still paying companies to move there and also many of the disappeared jobs were caused by technology. I'm old enough to remember doormen, telephone operators, milkmen, store clerks, breadmen, elevator operators and now meter readers. Even in manufacturing, you see a handful of people operating an entire factory full of robots and computers. The disappearance of those jobs had nothing to do with unions. Our economy soared while the unions were in full swing and began to decline as union membership began to decline. I don't think that is a coincidence.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Unions

While I would not be prepared to defend all unions as being perfect, nor all religions, governments, or any human organizations either, I don't think anyone can predict with 100% certainty that the need for them will never return especially if you give corporations to right to do anything they want to their workers in the name of profit. Unions do require to a certain extent the support of their members so they are more or less democratic. Corporate executive boards on the other hand answer to no one but the shareholders. The right to bargain for better, safer working conditions and better pay should not be sacrificed to ideology, panic, or indifference.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Unlike many corporations of

Unlike many corporations of the past, many today are insightful enough to realize that the best way to remain as a non-union shop is to behave as though a union existed there. Good and fair wages with generous benefits have often proven to be the best way of keeping the union out.

 's picture

What a great letter!

Thanks you, Lenny.

Mark Elliott's picture

Amen Lenny! Amen!

Amen Lenny! Amen!

KATHRYN PENDLETON's picture

My thoughts exactly.

The unions have had their day.

KATHRYN PENDLETON's picture

My thoughts exactly.

The unions have had their day.

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