Investigative Journalism that is as
Radical as Reality Itself.

O Labor, Where Art Thou?

by DAVID MACARAY

It’s astonishing that we have all these people out there—all these wildly opinionated, patriotic folks—who, without any prompting, will spontaneously burst into rhapsodic discourse about how much they admire the “checks and balances” written into the U.S. constitution by our genius Founding Fathers, but who, alas, express nothing but contempt for the working man’s best friend: labor unions.

When you try to compare those constitutional checks and balances they so admire with the de facto “checks and balances” that labor unions contribute to the economy, these people go ape-shit.  They become emotional.  It’s like we’re suddenly talking about confiscating their guns.  It’s no exaggeration to say that these people are more likely to defend the most gargantuan and predatory corporations in the world than acknowledge the modest contributions of even the tiniest, most obscure labor union.

Over the years I’ve had these arguments many times—so many times, in fact, that I’ve broken down the “pro-union catechism” into six, user-friendly components: Resistance, Fair Play, Social Evolution, Consumer Economics, Personal Pride, and the Appeal to General Douglas MacArthur’s Restructuring of Post-World War II Japan.

(1) Resistance: without it, minorities are doomed. (2)  Fair Play: it shouldn’t be only the powerful who get the goodies.  (3) Evolution:  workers collectives are a logical point on the social axis. (4) Economics: the more affluent the consumer, the healthier the economy.  (6)  Pride: don’t act like sheep.  (7)  Douglas MacArthur (a right-wing Republican) insisted that post-war Japan establish unions.  Why?  Because he believed that, without unions, management would have too much of an upper-hand.

Oddly, none of these arguments have ever worked (not even the appeal to MacArthur).  Indeed, the most generous reply I’ve ever gotten from these hardcases was the acknowledgement that, while unions were helpful once upon a time (presumably, they’re referring to the 1930s), those days are long gone. Unions of today are not only unhelpful, they are downright harmful.  I’ve heard people describe unions as “corrupt,” as “poison,” as “job-killers,” as a “cancer on society.”

And they have the arrogance to say these terrible things with a straight face, even with union membership hovering at only 11.3-percent, even with the wreckage of the middle-class visible all around us, even with the so-called “working poor” growing faster than ever, even with the top 2-percent accumulating wealth at a record pace.  Yet these stubborn worshippers of “checks and balances” insist that labor unions are not only an anachronism, but a curse.

Yet, when you drop the big question on them, when you ask how workers can be expected to break Corporate America’s death-grip, they have no answer.  They have no remedy.  They sheepishly admit they have no solution. All they know for certain is that workers collectives are definitely NOT the way to go.  There’s a name for ignorant bastards like these.  They’re called “voters.”

David Macaray, CounterPunch’s labor correspondent, is a Los Angeles playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor,” 2nd Edition). He was a former labor union rep.  He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

 

July 07, 2015
Bruce K. Gagnon
Sanders Bullshit Meter Goes Off the Charts in Portland, Maine
ANDRE VLTCHEK
In Ecuador, Fight for Mankind; In Greece, Fight for Greece!
Nile Bowie
Obama’s Pacific Trade Deal Trails Behind China’s Development Vision
Binoy Kampmark
Warrior Economist: the Varoufakis Legacy
Shamus Cooke
Unions Must Act Now to Survive Supreme Court Deathblow
Dave Lindorff
The Greek People Have Voted ‘No!’ to Austerity and Economic Blackmail
Mateo Pimentel
The Pope’s Letter: Neoliberalism and Fukushima
Raouf Halaby
Beware Those Who Speak With Forked Tongues
Ron Jacobs
The Grateful Dead: The Ship of the Sun Bids Farewell
Jonathan Cook
Hasbara Industry: Why Israel’s Army of Spin-Doctors is Doomed to Defeat
Rev. William Alberts
Charleston: a Reality Check on Racism in America
Ellen Brown
A Franciscan Alternative: the People’s Pope and a People’s Bank?
Colin Todhunter
The Warped World of the GMO Lobbyist
John Wight
Who Will Join With Greece?
W. T. Whitney
Colombia’s Fensuagro Union is Revolutionary, Persecuted, and Undaunted
Mel Gurtov
Keep It in the Ground, Obama
July 06, 2015
MICHAEL HUDSON
Greece Rejects the Troika
Steve Hendricks
Will FIFA’s World Cup Sexism Ever Die?
Binoy Kampmark
Oxi in Greece
Gareth Porter
How US Spin on Access to Iranian Sites has Distorted the Issue
Peter Bach
ISIL and Ramadan in the Rag
Paul Craig Roberts
A Rebuke to EU-Imposed Austerity
Quincy Saul
The View from Mount Olympus
Robert Hunziker
Looking Inside Fukushima Prefecture
Norman Pollack
Capitalism’s Self-Revealing Practices
ADRIENNE PINE, RICHARD JOHNSTON, FIONA WILMOT, et al.
Seven Reasons to Scrap the USA’s $1 Billion Aid Package to Central America
Linn Washington Jr.
Storm Smashes Chris Christie’s Presidential Candidacy
Benjamin Willis
US and Cuba: What Remains to be Done?
Robert David Steele
The National Military Strategy: Dishonest Platitudes
Joan Roelofs
Whatever Happened to Eastern European Communism?
David Macaray
Could Justice Scalia Be the One to Rescue Labor?
Weekend Edition
July 3-5, 2015
Mike Whitney
The Pentagon’s “2015 Strategy” For Ruling the World
Jason Hirthler
Going Off-Script in St. Petersburg
Rob Urie
Greece and Global Class War
DIMITRIS KONSTANTAKOPOULOS
The Future of Greece Without Illusions
David Rosen
White Skin Crisis
Jerry Lembcke
Nobody Spat on American GIs!
Stavros Mavroudeas
The Greek Referendum and the Tasks of the Left
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Ecuador Fights for Survival – Against its Elites
Andrew Levine
Dumping on Dixie Again
Richard Pithouse
Charleston (It’s Not Over)
Arun Gupta
What Does It Mean to Call Dylann Roof a “Terrorist”?
Michael Welton
The Tragedy of Harper’s Canada
Brendan McQuade
The Right Wing Resurgence and the Problem of Terrorism
Chris Floyd
Heritage and Hokum in Rebel Banner Row