Labor Day Thread

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,548
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I used to view Unions as 'special interests' who were only about getting their members unjustified high wages - basically, more harm than good.

After learning more about the history of the 'labor movement' in the US - how a society of serfs becomes a society with a strong middle class - I was amazed that this important part of our history is practically ignored in our schools' history classes. It's a remarkable history of workers developing grass-roots movements and often bravely fighting - and being shot - for core rights we take for granted today across the political spectrum.

There's a real education to be had about not only labor, but democracy and what's needed for people to protect their rights against overpowered elites.

In honor of the holiday, I'd suggest people do some reading on the history if they're not aware of it.

I don't have too many specific references handy for a good overview now, but if you want some flavor with anecdotal stories, Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" has some great stories. Unions have declined to a fraction of their peak, and 80% of Americans on the bottom get 0% of the nation's economic growth over the last 30 years (since Reagan), unprecedented - it's an education people need to keep the US a place where poor and rich alike prosper, in the times of global competition, etc.

Happy Labor Day - a holiday I don't think would have a chance of getting passed today.
 

ProfJohn

Lifer
Jul 28, 2006
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The problem with Unions today is that they are more worried about getting members and keeping the dues flowing to union bosses than taking care of the workers.

I was union for years and every time there was a new contract with a pay raise the union would raise its dues at the same time.

I do think unions have gotten better recently though. They realize that they are in big trouble if they don't work WITH companies instead of working against them. Read a really interesting story where a unionized city sanitation department was placed against a private company in competing for city contracts and how the union was able to beat the private firms. Wish I could link to that article, was very interesting. Saved the city money and helped the union people keep their jobs.
 

Woofmeister

Golden Member
Jul 18, 2004
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Originally posted by: Craig234
I used to view Unions as 'special interests' who were only about getting their members unjustified high wages - basically, more harm than good.

After learning more about the history of the 'labor movement' in the US - how a society of serfs becomes a society with a strong middle class - I was amazed that this important part of our history is practically ignored in our schools' history classes. It's a remarkable history of workers developing grass-roots movements and often bravely fighting - and being shot - for core rights we take for granted today across the political spectrum.

There's a real education to be had about not only labor, but democracy and what's needed for people to protect their rights against overpowered elites.

In honor of the holiday, I'd suggest people do some reading on the history if they're not aware of it.

I don't have too many specific references handy for a good overview now, but if you want some flavor with anecdotal stories, Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" has some great stories. Unions have declined to a fraction of their peak, and 80% of Americans on the bottom get 0% of the nation's economic growth over the last 30 years (since Reagan), unprecedented - it's an education people need to keep the US a place where poor and rich alike prosper, in the times of global competition, etc.

Happy Labor Day - a holiday I don't think would have a chance of getting passed today.
And I recommend The Imperfect Union: A History of Corruption in American Trade Unions.

Happy Labor Day as well.

 
Oct 30, 2004
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Originally posted by: Infohawk
The USA needs more mandatory vacation.
Vacation? What's that? Americans need to be competitive with the Indians' and Chinese's low wages, which means that many will have to work second and third jobs to stay afloat. Vacation, right. That's for Europeans who have a sense of self interest and who value quality of life, not American sheep. Now get back to work, slave, before your job is sent to India or China or before we import someone on a work visa to do your job for less.
 

CallMeJoe

Diamond Member
Jul 30, 2004
6,938
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Originally posted by: WhipperSnapper
Originally posted by: Infohawk
The USA needs more mandatory vacation.
Vacation? What's that? Americans need to be competitive with the Indians' and Chinese's low wages, which means that many will have to work second and third jobs to stay afloat. Vacation, right. That's for Europeans who have a sense of self interest and who value quality of life, not American sheep. Now get back to work, slave, before your job is sent to India or China or before we import someone on a work visa for you to train to do your job for less.
Fixed?
 

MovingTarget

Diamond Member
Jun 22, 2003
8,994
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Originally posted by: WhipperSnapper
Originally posted by: Infohawk
The USA needs more mandatory vacation.
Vacation? What's that? Americans need to be competitive with the Indians' and Chinese's low wages, which means that many will have to work second and third jobs to stay afloat. Vacation, right. That's for Europeans who have a sense of self interest and who value quality of life, not American sheep. Now get back to work, slave, before your job is sent to India or China or before we import someone on a work visa to do your job for less.
Heh, thats funny. Most lower-wage people I encounter either "sell" their vacations or use them as sick days for them or their children, if they get vacation at all. Salaried people (even engineers, etc.) get much more vacation, but oftentimes end up losing it because when they want to take it, some "big project" always comes up. With the shift to almost-but-not-quite-fulltime positions as opposed to fulltime positions, vacation is a pipe dream for most Americans. (what a difference the 40th vs. 39th hour makes)

I agree though. Vacation laws need to be updated to reflect the current needs of today's workers. Same with the 40hr workweek. Say 35hrs to get benefits, but 40hr overtime threshold. Companies have abused that for far too long.
 

Jhhnn

IN MEMORIAM
Nov 11, 1999
62,365
14,676
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Yeh. Can't wait to hear the glowing praise for all things Union at the RNC...

Maybe we'll get to hear the "nation of whiners" routine all over again... probably not, huh?

And this, from PJ-

"I was union for years and every time there was a new contract with a pay raise the union would raise its dues at the same time."

Yeh, but was the increase in dues as big as the increase in takehome pay, or even close? probably not, huh?
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,548
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Originally posted by: Woofmeister

And I recommend The Imperfect Union: A History of Corruption in American Trade Unions.

Happy Labor Day as well.
Absolutely there have been huge problems with Union corruption. I think they are far outweighed by their role in moving the nation from serfs to a strong middle class.

We've had corruption in every bit institution, as well - sometimes so big it's hard to recognize as corruption, as in 'corrupt wars'. Tammany Hall and Teapot Dome, Watergate and Iran-Contra, Enron and MCI, and with unions there was a history when the mob was strong of their infiltrating big unions.

But I think people are largely aware of that; the history of the labor, movement, on the other hand seems much less known, and useful to learn about in these days of the war on the middle class, by those interests who think that helping the middle class grow from the FDR era and denying them the cheap serf labor is something to reverse.

Here's a book for you:

"Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class - And What We Can Do about It" by Thom Hartmann.
 

wwswimming

Banned
Jan 21, 2006
3,702
1
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Originally posted by: Craig234Happy Labor Day - a holiday I don't think would have a chance of getting passed today.
i agree, at first. the United States has very little respect for labor,
especially labor as an organized entity.

but the United States also has a habit of "holiday in lieu of respect".
it's a show, a pretense.

so there's still a political environment that allows "holidays".
of course, American labor doesn't need holidays. they need
affordable health care & lower taxes.
 

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