Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Unions for Democrats? Why?

I already know that this post is going to rile a few of my Union brothers & sisters, but I'm going to let fly anyway...

I've been a Union member now going on 6 1/2 years and getting the Solidarity Union magazine all that time. Every time I pick up the magazine & leaf through it the message is that Republicans are against Unions, and Democrats are our friends. Vote Democrat, and all things will be better - jobs will stay in the US of A instead of going to China or Mexico. What?? I must respectfully disagree with this recommendation.

First off, I do not believe that either political party is particularly Union friendly unless it's around an election time. That's when the statements start flying around the airwaves that the opposition party is against Unions and their party will keep jobs in the state or country. It doesn't matter whether the statements are true or false, it just depends which message ticks off the right people, or whom has been brainwashed the most.

The Union Leadership touts that the Democrats are "for the little guy." Nonsense!! The Democrats are for themselves, and whatever will get their members elected and bring more power to the party. Here's a couple of examples:

Does anyone remember the debates about NAFTA? I still remember watching Al "I Love Trees" Gore having a discussion on NAFTA with Ross Perot. In it, he stated that NAFTA was a good thing because it would raise the Mexican's standard of living up to that of the United States worker, and then the two countries would be able to compete on a level playing field. I almost died on the spot!! First of all, the Mexican government sets the wages of all the workers in Mexico - I know this for a fact. And even if that wasn't true, how many generations would it take for this to happen? I don't think we could lose enough jobs to Mexico for their bankrupt economy to come up to 2nd class world-standards & the average person's standard of living to get anywhere close to that of the poorest US worker (Union or not). Who was in power when NAFTA was voted on? If I remember correctly, Democrats had the White House and both Houses of Congress.

If that wasn't recent enough, then who granted "Most Favored Trading Partner" status to Communist China? Yep, Uncle Bill and the Democrats (although I think Congress may have been Republican at the time, but Bill pushed for it). And guess what? Union jobs are going to China, and even the Mexicans are losing entire factories to China (and you should hear them scream!).

Now I'm not suggesting that the Republicans are pure as the driven snow on this issue - they just don't seem to be as covert or deceptive about what they are for or about. They are definitely pro-business at the expense of the Unions, although I am starting to think that they are tending toward a neutral position. But stop to think about this for a second - if businesses are doing well, wouldn't they be more receptive toward favorable Union contracts? One could hope, but as there is a constant reminder in Solidarity that this might not be the case.

The Electrolux company is moving a factory from Greenville, Michigan to Juarez, Mexico. It's not that the factory wasn't profitable, it just wasn't profitable enough. Corporate greed? Maybe, but it must be remembered that the company is responsible to the stockholders to maximize the earnings of the company to pay dividends on the shares that these investors have bought. The company is beholden to the stockholders, not to the Union, workers, or the management of the company.

The whole idea behind a Union is to first and foremost protect the worker from abuses from the company they work for. Fair wages and other benefits are also part of the contracts as well as a certain amount of job security if the company runs into problems. A Union is not about telling a company how to run its business!! If anything, the contract that the Union and company signs is to protect the worker from mistakes the company's management may make, which should help the company plan better.

The issue that I have is that the Union Leadership should not blindly endorse any one politcal party over another - it should pick and choose political candidates on their merits. I don't believe that Ronald Reagan was endorsed by the Unions, but he helped set up an economic boom that lasted through the Bush (1) & Clinton years, and that hugely benefitted the Unions. Unfortunately, that has been undone by shortsighted but long-reaching treaties such as NAFTA, CAFTA, and China's hugely profitable (for them) trading status.

So when you vote this upcoming midterm election, have the presence of mind and the foresight to investigate each candidate. Vote for the candidate of your choice based on his/her merits, and not their political affiliation. Don't vote for someone merely on the base that an organization that you belong to says to vote for that candidate. It's your vote, and your choice.

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