Same Decades-Old Story: Big Labor’s Decline

On October 15, 2013, in NLRB, by Staff

(from USA Today, September 1989) NORTH SPRINGFIELD, Va. — The union movement is receiving heavy press depicting it as a struggling industrial dinosaur. But the “decline” of organized labor is simply a self-created, homespun phenomenon.  High-profile public relations defeats such as the suicidal Eastern strike, the United Auto Workers-Nissan brouhaha and the reign of terror in Virginia coal-mining regions shouldn’t lull […]

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doc20130304144259_Page_2(from USA Today, September 1989)

NORTH SPRINGFIELD, Va. — The union movement is receiving heavy press depicting it as a struggling industrial dinosaur. But the “decline” of organized labor is simply a self-created, homespun phenomenon.  High-profile public relations defeats such as the suicidal Eastern strike, the United Auto Workers-Nissan brouhaha and the reign of terror in Virginia coal-mining regions shouldn’t lull us into complacency or misguided sympathy. The union agenda is not to improve conditions of employment for more of the work force but to seek crippling extractions from industries already under their influence and to brashly use political power to push everybody e\se around capitol Hill.

True, workers are fleeing union membership in droves, they represent less than 16.8% of the work force now, but total union income has steadily increased to over $10 billion. Some decline!  Their political power still enables them to get just about anything ·they want and use government privileges to force 9 million workers in 29 states to pay them tribute. But union officials invite little sympathy to their cause. Throwing away good jobs at financially sick Eastern makes little sense to most workers who can only aspire for the large salaries given pilots and bag-handlers.

The UAW’s rejection at the Nissan plant in Tennessee by a margin greater than 2-1 was also no surprise. Those workers were making cars Americans were buying while the UAW’s own Detroit members were getting laid ‘off. Union promises to get them the same benefits were a Trojan horse and the workers knew it.

The public’s distrust of union officials, however; runs deeper in our moral fiber. Public opinion places union officialdom below used car salesmen. The United Mine Workers strike explains why: Violence and terrorism are part and parcel of union organizing and strike strategies, and Americans want no part of it. No sympathy extends to the UMWA, for violence is business as usual with it and the public won’t be fooled. Even as we hear· more talk this weekend about a “decline,” Big Labor will use the excuse to cash in on its special privileges more than ever.

– Michael Avakian is general counsel of The Center on National Labor Policy.

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