Last chance to organize – Will this be unions’ final or finest hour?
Scott Walker made clear during the fake Koch phone call his plan to destroy labor unions: drag out the stand-off, tire out the media attention, and be the last one standing. While unions and progressive groups have wakened to the gravity of the situation, they have been unable to gain traction outside their core constituents. According to MoveOn.org’s email Sunday night, 50 thousand people went out to the streets nationwide in capitals across 50 states over the weekend. Yet there remain more than 300 million people in the country. Walker is right: the longer the fight goes on, the weaker his opposition will become. Supporters of unions and workers must expand quickly the war on workers beyond members’ right to collective bargaining, into a genuine movement to reorganize the working class in this country.
[Please see the list of brands that in effect fund the other side in Wisconsin, Ohio, and beyond. Thanks Sandra.]
The right’s audacity comes from decades of union decline, from a high in the 1950s when a third of Americans belonged to unions. The latest figures show more than 93% of private-sector workforce are non-union, and so are 88% in government agencies. That most Americans still oppose the Midwest governor is a fortunate blessing.
Many people (not just Tea Party animals) are asking: “Why should union members have health care when I don’t? Why should they have pensions when my employer took away mine? Why should they health care when I can’t afford treatments after having a heart attack?”
The truth is, neither public employees nor union workers were responsible for the economic meltdown or Ponzi schemes from Madoff to Goldman Sachs. They did not take away millions of jobs, erase thousands of pensions, or make employers and states to eliminate the life-saving vehicle that is health insurance.
Many of the same people upset at the benefits still enjoyed by some union members used to have good jobs, health care, pensions, and all the other trappings of middle class that this country was once built on. The question is not why union members still have them, but “Why don’t you have yours?”
And the answer is that they don’t have a union anymore.
You want more than poverty wages? Join a union. You want health care? Join a union. You want weekends off and not a bankrupted retirement? Join a union.
The only way unions and their supporters can win against Gov. Walker (despite an almost silent Democratic Party) is if they can leverage the power of the millions of angry and deprived workers who do not belong to any unions; if they have the backing of 100% of the private sector workforce, and 100% of public employees.
That means fighting to get them to have everything that union members have. Because if they don’t, they will turn on the ones who do.
This is the labor movement’s last chance. You have a few weeks at most. Organize, or die.