Being a true born and raised son of the south I was taught early on that labor unions were in league with the devil. The South, more than any other area of the country, has an aversion to workers having any say in their treatment. This of course has it's roots in the old agrarian south where slave labor was employed until the middle of the 19th century. The mill towns that I grew up around were themselves a kind of slavery, notorious for their horrendous working conditions and keeping their workers beholden to the company store. I later worked for a large retail establishment so paranoid at the prospect of unionization that they wouldn't let the Girl Scouts sell cookies in their parking lot for fear that it would open the door to labor organizing.
Of course now that I'm older I realize that so much we as workers take for granted we owe to the Labor movement. A living wage, paid vacations, sick days, weekends, overtime pay, safe work environments, child labor laws, employer paid health insurance and pensions (now 401ks), and the list goes on. These aren't gifts from a benevolent market, these concessions were fought and died for by ordinary workers just like you and me. Workers who made the union label.
In 1945, just over one out of every three private sector employees (35.5 percent) were union members. That number began to decline in the early sixties and by 1980 had dropped to barely one out of five (21.9 percent) according to the Bureau of Labor statistics (BLS). Today only 11.8 percent of private sector workers nationwide, and only 4 percent in Georgia, are members of a labor union. It's no coincidence that non-union workers' average wages have barely kept pace with inflation over the last decade. When increases in health insurance costs and the loss of other employee benefits are factored in, the average non-union worker has gone backwards. Our standard of living is in decline.
The American worker is in crisis, with unemployment mired at 8 percent the boss has us right where they want us; scared and pliable. Remember that next time you hear someone bashing unions. Ask yourself where that comes from and in whose best interest it is to keep workers running scared and pointing fingers at each other. Most of all, remember that when you go to the polls in November. Vote for the party that represents us, the American worker, vote Democrat.