Observation…. Union membership is not growing in correlation with dividend postings for stockholders or salaries of CEO’s yet it appears that union members and organizations have become complacent. Based upon conversations with both new union members and non-union members the answer is becoming ever more clear; if I don’t feel the pain, why worry, or worse yet, the nothing is going to change mentalities prevail.
In my opinion, the problem is corporate greed and their propaganda machines. Where we as Union members and Union organizations have faltered is failing to keep pace with the corporate propaganda machines in painting a true reality as we live versus what the rich need us to believe. Starting in the late 1800’s through the 1950’s there was clarity as to why joining a union was important. In fact, there were so many reasons to join a union that corporations could not compete with their propaganda. This period of time gave birth to organized Labor in America along with its peak membership and political influence gaining Americans many of the comforts we now take for granted like; weekends, child labor and fair practice laws, labor and safety boards, workers compensation and unemployment protections, to name a few. This is proof that active union membership can positively affect our society. Now that a few generations have past and all of these gains have become so commonplace, Americans aren’t as in tune with the fights our predecessors survived to win these rights. So, why don’t more people want to unite and become a strong working class or become union members in light of all this? The answer is in the propaganda, try this comparison, sit a picture of a cashier or grocery bagger on a table next to a picture of a CEO in a business suit and ask a friend this question, to which of these photos do you most relate? Undoubtedly 90% will relate to the CEO for no other reason than they feel they work too hard to be compared to a Supermarket worker, my friends this is the propaganda winning. This is where we need to realize we indeed are closer to the cashier and bagger in almost all ways of society than we ever will be to the CEO’s. We as American workers need to understand that CEO’s will never know what it is like to make a product or contribute physically to durable goods. They operate in fiction and projection, which provides nothing tangible, yet we want to relate to them for our own self-image. I hear people talk about $15.00 minimum wage and how all Americans don’t deserve that, yet executives and CEO’s garner 400 percent or more than their workers and there is no offense. This is the propaganda hard at work; we have divided and distracted ourselves arguing against our own self-interests to the elation of the rich. Corporations make billions for their CEO’s and shareholders, so why do we argue that we as the working class don’t deserve a living wage or job protections? Why would we fight to keep America’s working class unsafe and in poverty? Propaganda, that’s why. Now more than ever we need to step up along with our Labor organizations and go on the offensive to remind American workers that we have rights in our work place, which include a living wage. We should also demand politicians who support America not just rich America. As proven from 1920 through the 1950’s strong Union membership drives political change. Let’s start this change together, be a proud Unionist and defend the belief that when we are together we win. Division only drives us down; our children’s future depends on our ability not only to maintain but also to gain on what we have inherited from those courageous enough to fight for what is right and just for all American’s not just the few. Though the reasons for joining aren’t as perilous as in the past, the attack on our livelihood is modern and aggressive which proves that Unions must go heavy on the offensive because now just as before we are still relevant.