Monday, September 03, 2012

Labor Day.

Labor Unions. Labor Unions? Labor Unions?! Nothing but a bunch of shiftless, worthless, work-hating, mob-embracing fat cats who live to sponge their living off the backs of decent, honest workers who wouldn't touch a union membership card with a ten-foot pole.

That's what I once thought, once upon a time. And I know I wasn't alone in that opinon. Or something along those lines.

My tune has changed over the years. When I was in college, I once wrote a major paper for one of my classes detailing the worthlessness of labor unions and how we could all do without them.

I changed my mind.

Please note: THAT does not happen very often, but it does happen. Once upon a time, I was fervently against gun control laws. That all changed, and I can tell you exactly when it happened. It happened when I was robbed at gunpoint. The most ironic part of the whole thing was that a good friend of mine was at a store that was robbed by the same person only 3 days before the place I was working at was hit--by the same guy. Most people, after being held at gunpoint, would be on the shooting range the next day. But not me. The incident, on some level, crystallized for me just how out of control this country's gun problem is.

But I, as usual, digress.  This post is about labor unions, the good they have done, continue to do, and hopefully will do in the future. Workers throughout the industrialized world were, for decades, or even centuries, treated as nothing but assets to be disposed of once they had outlived their usefullness. They were treated little better than slaves. Children would often work next to their parents. Overtime? Safety regulation? Decent working conditions? Fuhgettaboutit. It was only after workers learned to band together and overcome incredible odds that they earned the right to be treated as something other than chattel.

I have written before about why I continue to work in a union job, and am happy to pay my dues as a member. Unions are the antidote to complete corporate takeover of the country. The big corporations may control the government, the media, and almost every other aspect of our lives, but if they can't control the workforce, they will never control the country.

This holiday celebrates the power of the people. So, if today you are kicking back, enjoying your evening barbecue and drinking your celebratory beer, please take a moment to remember the many union members who gave their lives in the fight against business who wanted to exploit you. And remember that if you had today, or yesterday or the day before yesterday, off, a union member paid for that. For that, and for the fact that you only work 40 hours a week without being paid overtime. And that you are might be earning a living wage. And the fact that your children are starting school instead of working right next to you.

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