Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Workers of the World Unite- You Have Nothing to Lose But Your Union Shackles!

That perhaps might have been the call in Michigan yesterday, as it joined 23 other states in enacting so called 'right-to-work-legislation' that 'liberates' workers from mandatory union membership and union dues.

Passed by a Republican-dominated House of Representatives, the new law was proudly proclaimed by Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger in the following terms:

“This is about freedom, fairness and equality” ... “These are basic American rights — rights that should unite us.”

Ah yes, those famous rights that allow workers to sell themselves to the lowest corporate bidder, a foregone conclusion in Michigan and the other 'liberated' states, a fact tacitly acknowledged with a wink and a nudge by supporters of the legislation, who say it will boost the economy by creating jobs, attract new companies to Michigan and give workers more choices for employment.

But then again, perhaps I am wrong, and that surge of expected new employment will result from corporations being attracted to states where the workers are revelling in their newly-acquired 'freedom.' After all, a happy and contented worker is a productive worker.

Lest Canadian workers feel left out, our federal overlords are laying the groundwork for similar serf-like satisfaction in this country. As reported in today's Star, Bill C-377, an alleged private member's bill about which I have previously written on this blog, is to receive the full backing of the Harper regime and is expected to be passed today in the House.

Says Labour Minister Lisa Raitt:

“Our government is going to support (the bill), with the amendments that have been brought in. It makes a lot of sense” ... “Workers want to know how their union dues are being spent.

Of course, there are always naysayers when it comes to such liberating legislation:

Liberal interim leader Bob Rae said Bill C-377 “is an exercise in bureaucratic overkill that has nothing to do with transparency and everything to do with simply trying to punish trade union organizations.”

Rae said the bill, if passed, could be part of “the pattern in the United States” of limiting union rights. The next step, he warned, could by an attempt by the Harper government to eliminate the so-called Rand formula, under which workers in a bargaining unit must pay mandatory union dues.

Such carping criticism aside, can it be long before we are all living in a worker's paradise?


  1. Capitalism requires a labour market to function. The difference between what they charge for labour and what they pay is profit.
    Profit is everything if you believe in fundamentalist capitalism. Nothing matters except that one simple maxim to maximize profit.
    Henry Ford was successfully sued by his shareholders for raising the minimum wage in his factories to $5 a day.
    However like soi many of the fundamentalist math addictions there is a great deal missing from the equation, and ignoring the missing bits leads to economic collapses and armed revolutions.
    Every step our governments take to widen the gap between rich and poor creates a stronger sense of the divide between "Us" and "Them" which was seen to come into play with the recent protests by "Occupy" against the "1%."

    I hate revolutions because they are so damned expensive. The militarist police state style of suppressing them does not work well either, Not only is it very expensive but it only makes the revolutions more violent when they do happen.
    The whole idea of democratic government is to balance the opposing interests and provide a sort of safety vent. When party politics and ruling classes start gaming it they are actually removing a system that was developed to protect them from violent revolutions.

    In history every collapse of an empire was preceded by the greedy class in that empire becoming extremely rich. Whether you look at Rome, Venice, Russia or China, it follows the same pattern of excessive wealth concentration followed by economic collapse.

    1. I think you analysis is spot-on, Dan. part of the problem, I suspect, lies in the gneral ignorance of history that seems to characterize our culture. Everytime, for example, I hear someone say, "Well. at one point unions served a purpose, but we don't need them anymore," I really get apoplectic.

      That the neo-liberal agenda ignores the lessons of history, as you outlined, is not surprising, given its ravenous greed for short-term profit. That the victims of such an agenda refuse to arm themselves with both the knowledge and the means to resist that agenda is, in my mind, inexcusable.

  2. Arbeit Macht Frei!.