IT'S LABOR DAY! TOO BAD WE DON'T HAVE MUCH "UNIONS" ANY LONGER

FIVE MYTHS ABOUT LABOR UNIONS

La·bor Day
noun
noun: Labour Day; noun: Labor Day
  1. a public holiday or day of festivities held in honor of working people, in the US and Canada on the first Monday in September, in many other countries on May 1.



The Washington Post
Sunday, September 4, 2016

The first Labor Day celebration took place 134 years ago in New York City, at a time when organizing a union was not yet a protected right. In that era, labor unions were often viewed as criminal conspiracies, and a few years later, with the passage of the Sherman Antitrust Act, they were treated as anti-competitive trusts. It took years for labor to debunk these myths — indeed, some still think of labor unions in these terms — but many others persist.
MYTH NO. 1
Unions are for the working class only.
Labor seems to suffer from a branding problem — specifically, the notion that unions are for blue-collar workers in old-school jobs.  The professional class has not been immune to workplace issues of mistreatment, outsourcing and stagnant or declining wages, and as a result its members have increasingly joined unions. For decades, the percentage of professional workers in unions has grown, and now professionals are the majority of union members in the United States . Conversely, the share of union members in traditional blue-collar jobs such as manufacturing and mining has diminished along with those industries. In addition to traditional unionized professions such as teaching and nursing, graduate studentsstudent athletesdoctors and digital journalists have pushed for labor representation.
MYTH NO. 2
Workers can be forced to join unions.
Right-to-work advocates have for decades repeated the phrase “compulsory unionism ” to advance the myth that workers are sometimes forced to join a union. “The fact is that ending compulsory unionism is the only way to introduce real accountability into today’s labor unions,” Stefan Gleason wrote in 2003 in theNational Review Online . At the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Robert P. Hunter declared that Michigan’s public schools are in crisis, and “compulsory unionism is one of the roots of the problem.”
The reality is that closed shops, which restrict hiring to union members, have been illegal in the United States since 1947 . In every jurisdiction in America, if the majority of workers choose to be represented by a union, any worker can object and choose not to join without risking his or her job. 
Nobody, anywhere, is ever forced to become a union member.

MYTH NO. 3
Right-to-work laws would bankrupt unions.
For the past year, unions across the country have been terrified by a single word:Friedrichs, referring to Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a Supreme Court case that was all but certain to place public-sector employees in a “right to work” status. That would have meant workers who benefitted from union contracts would not have to pay any union dues. In briefings before the court and in public articles, labor advocates cast the issue in the language of economics, as one of free-ridership: At the Century Foundation, education policy analyst Richard Kahlenberg summarized Friedrichs as a referendum on whether there is a “constitutional right to free ride on public sector unions.”
But right-to-work does not necessarily translate into high levels of covered, “free-riding” workers who don’t pay.  In a brief submitted in the Friedrichs case, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy pointed out that union membership among union-represented workers has remained around 80 percent despite right-to-work policies passed in recent years.
Yet right-to-work laws threaten to expose real weaknesses inside unions: a lack of solidarity and participation among members. Though it is difficult to gauge levels of solidarity, one way of measuring it is through the use of strikes. Strikes are among labor’s strongest weapons, but they require a great deal of solidarity to ensure that workers don’t cross the picket line or that the union does not face a decertification vote following the strike. Between 1990 and 2015, the number of strikes declined by more than 90 percent, from 801 in 1990 to 72 last year.
MYTH NO. 4
Unions help only union workers.
Critics of unions often frame them as private interest organizations that help only their members. In a 2011 column about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s right-to-work crusade, commentator John Lott alleged, for example, that AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was “fighting for some workers” but “hurting other workers.”
It is true that unions often limit their activities to matters concerning their membership. But it is wrong to conclude that this work does not help workers more generally or that unions don’t organize for the common good. A new paper from the Economic Policy Institute shows that higher union density hashistorically led to higher pay among nonunion workers. In fact, if union levels were in 2013 what they were in 1979, nonunion men would be earning an additional$109 billion per year. 
Beyond wages and benefits, research has shown that unions are among the few groups that represent the priorities of the middle class. Teachers unions, for example, have found creative ways to better the lives of students through collective bargaining, with the Chicago Teachers Union going on strike in part for increased libraries and other resources, and the St. Paul teachers union fighting to limit foreclosures during the school year for households with school-age children .
MYTH NO. 5
Unions are a bulwark against globalization.
From NAFTA to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, labor unions have positioned themselves as the primary critics of, and protectors of workers against, globalization and free trade. The AFL-CIO, for instance, states that the TPP “appears modeled after the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a free trade agreement that boosts global corporate profits while leaving working families behind.” Likewise, the SEIU calls the TPP “NAFTA on steroids” and “a secret trade agreement that must be stopped.”
The reason for their opposition is clear: Increased globalization often leads to more competition with countries where workers are paid far less, exploiting those workers while making it difficult to keep American wages high.

But despite the best efforts of labor, including large protests in the 1990s, globalization has largely continued apace, and U.S. workers have paid the price. According to the Economic Policy Institute, while NAFTA promised to create 200,000 new jobs for American workers, since its 1994 inception 682,900 jobs have been lost. Another EPI report found that international trade depressed wagesfor non-college-educated workers by 5.5 percent, meaning an annual loss of $1,800 for the average worker. Meanwhile, workers overseas often face even worse labor conditions, with fewer protections and lower wages.
NOTE:  Below is probably the most perfect representation of Union Workers as the West Des Moines Teachers kick off the new school year!


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