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What A Union Looks Like

June 20, 2011

Unions used to be popular in America, or at-least popular amongst a large portion of the working population.  The American Federation of Labor eventually succeeded in marginalizing unions.  What we call unions today are no unions at all.

The American Federation of Labor unions are a combination of a collective bargaining unit and a legal support structure for unionized labor.  Both of these structures are important but hardly unions.  Also these functions can adequately be served with cooperation between these units and large employers and the American Federation of Labor is in the business of cooperating with large employers.

The building block of a union, and something that the American Federation of Labor lacks in its entirety, is solidarity.  A union must be in the spirit that “an injury to one is an injury to all.”  If a union lacks this spirit individuals or separate groups are mistreated one by one with no collective action.

Our society is divided into individual parochial interests with little to no notion of collective well being.  In such a state those with economic and political power can operate in the divided environment to secure advantages over individuals and small groups.  Those in power often pit different interests against each other to deflect action against themselves.

In a society in which individuals are concerned for the wellbeing of his or her neighbor, a mass of people become harder to divide and exploit.  When one person needs better wellbeing, instead of being the only one to work towards advance, an entire community is working towards advance.  The benefits in the likelihood and expectation of advance should be clear in this organization as opposed to an every man for himself, beggar thy neighbor mentality.

A union needs to operate in the notion both within an individual working environment and across working people in general.  It is only then that the true strength of the union can be realized with an entire community or workers working towards the advance of all who need it.  The lack of this effort makes unions meaningless and why they have such a bad name today.

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From → Economics

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