Here is the irony and the obscenity being played out every day: managers at AIG get cash bonuses even though we, the taxpayers, have to bail them out of the mess they created and Robert Rubin continues to inhabit the circles of power even though, on his watch, Citibank came close to collapse and required a massive government bailout...and, yet, Rubin piled up tens of millions of dollars in compensation and no one is asking him to take concessions or give back his loot.
But, the auto worker--the person who came to work dutifully every day and worked in a factory that none of the AIG managers or Robert Rubin would dare spend a day in--is the person who has to take the personal hit and try to make ends meet because the auto execs screwed up.
This is a fucking crime.
Unions have a public relations issue, many people believe many bad things about the way that labor operates and many more people have fundamental misunderstandings about the way unions operate, way labor laws work etc. All of that said as unions have declined over the last 30 years so has the size and wealth of the middle class. The fact that the middle class has seen stagnant wages, rising debt, increased insecurity in health insurance and decreased job security at the same time that the unionization rates have decreased is not a coincidence. Correlation is not causation but a declining organized work force has real consequences.
You may not think that you like unions or need unions but organization of some kind is the only way that individuals can exert any influence - be it in politics or in the economy. Think of it this way, when you buy health insurance do you get a better deal buying a plan as an individual or as part of a group?
Individuals standing alone have little power to protect themselves or effect change in society. Organization is the only method by which the middle-class can exert pressure on our political and economic systems. It's time for the middle-class to wake up and start applying that pressure. The rich are taking care of themselves, who's taking care of you?