Reactionary as unions can be, they do put some floor under the wages of ordinary people. In the private sector, those wages actually declined in the 2000s. They now bid fair to do the same in the public sector in the 2010s. If not unions, what force will ensure that the benefits of future prosperity are shared by all, not hoarded by a few? David FrumBlack people are 30 percent more likely than the overall workforce to be employed in public sector jobs. Jobs like teachers, social workers, bus drivers, public health inspectors. As Kai Wright notes, the public sector employs significantly more African-Americans than the private sector. So, whether it's a purposeful thumb in the eye to Black folks or the thumb in the eye is just a consequence of GOP ideology, plans like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's stripping public employees of their collective bargaining rights hurt Black people.
Given that we all need jobs, what recourse does the lone employee have when employers squeeze him?
If my employer decides that they'd like to make me work twice as long for the same rate we agreed to when I began (as just happened to me) what recourse do I have? Quit? No. I need that job. I wouldn't have taken it in the first place if I didn't need it. With jobs in short supply, would I rather have zero dollars or the half-pay my employer has just
We're weathering an economic downturn. And yeah, it's true that some public-sector pensions and salaries are unreasonable. But teachers' salaries are not the reason that state budgets across the nation are broken. Unions and teachers' salaries did not trigger Wisconsin's budget problems. The financial crisis of 2007-2010 did that. This is not to say that the recession is the only factor crippling states' economies. Demographics, debt, and, yes, public pensions all contributed to state financial problems. But unions and collective bargaining are not the story here. Unions and collective bargaining did not get us into this position of broken state budgets, and dismantling them won't get us out.
Unions, public-sector employees, collective bargaining, and by extension Black people are all being scape-goated by Republicans. Why are we the first on the chopping block to pay for states' economic woes? Why are Republicans looking to the least wealthy to pay for the damage done to our economy by the most wealthy?
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. understood the connection between strengthening unions and uplifting workers to achieve long-term economic justice for African-Americans. He continuously showed his support for the labor movement when he addressed hospital workers at 1199SEIU in New York and marched with striking sanitation workers trying to form a union in Memphis just before he was killed. Dr. L. Toni Lewis, SEIU Healthcare ChairSphere: Related Content