The recent Supreme Court ruling on “Citizens United” just about slams the door on free speech for those who can’t afford it. As Bill Moyers so succinctly put it “this gives ordinary citizens laryngitis”. That goes for unions too. You now need a super pac to be heard. Super pacs will drown out any other voice.
A recent example of that was a story out of California rallying against a public sector worker who retired at 62 with a $272.000 dollar a year pension. Public sector workers came under immediate attack as having had too generous a pension system when in fact the pension system was way underfunded. Unfortunately what was missed by the reporter was that this worker didn’t even belong to the union and was actually a state executive. They created a perception that union pensions were destroying our towns. The truth was never reported. Unions will continue to be the whipping boy in this upcoming election by the right wing super pacs so hold onto your hat. Politicians cow tow to the corporate connected conservative base who, secretively, fund these pacs.
The surge of the union movement in this country was not a political movement but a social movement. There was little help from Washington. It does not appear now that we are going to be able to vote our way out of this mess we find ourselves in. There is a tiny percentage of Americans sitting at the top who are pillaging America. The unions need to identify them and go after them. They have pitted private sector workers against public sector workers by crushing private sector unions. Unions held the moral high ground when they were the champions of economic justice. When a strike occurred nobody crossed that picket line because the workers were right. Public sector unions, who are the strength of the labor movement right now, have to show that demonizing public sector workers is now the final goal for corporate America.
Washington is not going to save the labor movement. We can go out with a roar and possibly rebuild the labor movement through massive demonstrations very much like Occupy Wall Street has done to show financial irresponsibility on the part of the banking industry. People not politicians built the labor movement. I was recently in Minneapolis and participated in a spontaneous demonstration of thousands of letter carriers marching on Verizon. We were protesting Verizon for not bargaining in good faith with their workers. You did not need press coverage. Every worker in downtown Minneapolis was cheering and hooting in appreciation of outside workers supporting Verizon workers in their plight. That has to happen everywhere!