Rolling Back Worker Protections

As an industrial electrician, I have worked for many years in the industrial construction and maintenance field and with only a few exceptions, in the open shop environment. To keep steady employment I have crossed union pickets and threaded gauntlets for work on projects where the unions had no legal claim: however, I have never been under the delusion that my pay and benefits were not a result of past union campaigns and successes.

During America's industrial heyday the unions were instrumental in closing sweat shops and raising the living conditions of all Americans by negotiating wages and conditions in their organized jobs and as a threat to unfair employers. Most of the worker and consumer laws we enjoy today are a direct results of union influence. When you think of the 40 hour work week, child labor laws, minimum wage and prevailing wage laws, OSHA, the 40 hour work week, overtime pay, paid vacation, employer paid healthcare, unemployment benefits, and workman's compensation, they are all either laws or ideas influenced by labor union achievements.

Don't get too comfortable just yet. The pendulum swings and most everything in life comes full circle. The Taft Hartly Act, of 1947 greatly reduced the unions power and unfortunately the access to power breeds temptation in the best of us. Corruption and greed has contributed to regression in the organized labor movement and exclusivity has contributed to regression in the trade unions. In the early 1950's 35 percent of American workers were members of labor unions. by 2014 the membership had fallen to ll percent, Most of which are in the public sector.

Now that unions are in decline and less of a threat the bosses are in power again. Through political influence and PAC money they are successfully lobbying congress to roll back all that has been gained for the benefit of the working class.

As the bosses gain more and more concessions and as workers feel more and more depressed by low wages and fewer protections the labor movement is being primed to rise again but maybe in a less confrontational form. It is up to each one of us in the blue collar world to pay attention and vote wisely in favor of our own self interest.