Friday, February 25, 2011

The shifting discourse on Unions

Ever since I was a kid I was used to being the only person in the conversation who had a good opinion of unions.Maybe that was because I was generally the only person who had any first-hand experience with unions? I grew up in a strong union household, marched in the labor day parade every year with my dad. I have fond memories of playing around the union hall as a kid. I saw firsthand what unions could provide - a solid middle-class lifestyle in exchange for a hard day's work. It's always seemed like a good deal to me.

As I have gotten older nothing much has changed. Now I work for a union and I am a member of a union. But I'm still pretty much the only guy in the room who has anything good to say about organized labor. Until the last week.

Now I'm the 3rd, 4th or 5th guy into the conversation who is defending labor.

The "how" of this is obvious, Scott Walker has put basic labor I rights on the front burner of the American public discourse. But I still don't know why there has been such a popular outcry of support for collective bargaining generally and the Wisconsin workers specifically. Maybe unions weren't that unpopular to begin with? Maybe the idea of collective bargaining is viewed as a basic right of all working people, even by those who have never belonged or who don't generally support organized labor in 21st century America? Maybe this is the anti-Tea-Party and the populist economic left simply needed one defining event in order to circle the wagons?

The whole discourse has changed in the last week. It's been a nice feeling to see workers and labor being defended again.

1 comment:

darkstar70co said...

A union employee, a member of the Tea Party, and a CEO are sitting around a table. In the middle of the table, there is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across the table, takes 11 of the cookies and tells the Tea Partier, 'Look out for the union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie.'