Defend unions at those holiday parties!


"Those unions have a lot of nerve asking for more money and more benefits. Don't they know the economy is in bad shape?"

"Anyhow, unions are just out for themselves - and they are undemocratic outfits run by big bosses who don't let the workers have any say."

"Union workers are lazy and bad for business."

"Cities and states are broke because the public worker unions got too much."

You will be hearing a lot of this stuff not just from political enemies but from family members, friends, co-workers and associates at parties and other gatherings this holiday season.

They will say these things because they don't understand that unions are actually the key to fixing the economy and rebuilding a strong "middle class."

And there are some easy and quick responses you can give that will go a long way to changing their minds on these important issues.

American Rights at Work, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, put together a guide to counter commonly held misconceptions about unions and to help you, the pro-union activist, clear up popular misconceptions. Here's a summary of the most important points:

Are union workers really lazy? Are they bad for business?

The truth: Unions and profitable business go hand-in-hand. Unions raise productivity by 24 percent in manufacturing, 16 percent in hospitals and 38 percent in construction. Unions raise professional standards because they make it easier for members to get training, something which many unions actually offer themselves.

Are unions asking for too much? Shouldn't people be thankful these days for any job?

The truth: Good paying jobs mean a stronger economy, and that, in turn, means even more jobs.

The notion that unions are asking for too much is being pushed by the same bankers and corporate leaders who ruined the economy. Now they want to take advantage of the weak economy and our fears to give themselves even more money than they have already grabbed. The proof: They are sitting on trillions of dollars in profits - the biggest ever and they are not using it to create good-paying jobs.

Why should the people pay the bill for a Wall Street party to which they were not invited? If people cannot afford to buy the things they produce the economy will get only worse.

Unions can make our salaries and benefits grow, enabling us to spend more and strengthen the economy, creating more jobs.

Do unions really only care about their own members?

The truth: Unions improve the lives of all workers. Unions are the reason for many of the things we take for granted at our work places every day: the minimum wage; the eight hour day; child labor laws; health and safety standards; and yes, even the weekend itself.

"That may be true," some will say, "but what do we need them for now?" Well, the fact is that today unions are on the front lines to defend all of these gains and to fight for more basic reforms including paid sick leave for all and increases in the minimum wage.

Aren't public unions to blame for the budget crises in the states and cities?

The truth: Public workers actually earn less in salary than private-sector workers in similar jobs. On the question of benefits, private sector workers should be angry about the inadequate benefits they receive. The solution is not to take benefits away from the people who keep our communities strong (teachers, firefighters, police) but to improve benefits for everyone else, and that's where unions come in.

What's bad for public workers is bad for the entire economy.

The Center for Economic Policy Research reports that freezing federal workers' pay will mean a loss of 2.5 billion dollars in consumption by 2012. 18,000 private sector jobs will be lost as a result.

Aren't unions just like companies - outfits that are run by overpaid bosses?

The truth: Unions are run by workers. A union is a group of workers who get together to deal with workplace matters so they can improve their lives.

Unions are democratic institutions. At all levels - local, state, and national - leaders are elected by majority vote.

Photo: Ed Yourdon CC 2.0



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  • What a load of BS. Unlike the author of this fluff piece, I myself actually work "for" a Union. They take nearly a quarter of my paycheck every week, and the closest thing they come to ensuring any "rights" for their workers are to ensure work environments remain patently unsafem and the teamsters lazy.

    Unions again and again prove themselves to be among the biggest exploiters of workers in the U.S.

    Posted by Cody, 01/17/2011 6:02pm (4 years ago)

  • Regardless of whether there are unions or not, jobs will move overseas. The whole trade structure is designed to move jobs overseas. If unions didn't exist, and working conditions were marginally less, it would makeno real difference in the bottom line: profit margins.
    The bankers are destroying what's left of the real economy by sucking up the investment capital and channeling it into unproductive, fraudelent banking investments.
    Many gov workers earn less: my brother works for the corp of engineers and shares one toilet with several floors (some in the office work in unheated FEMA trailors).
    Even if unions aren't "deserving" of basic, first world human rights, knocking them down to lower income levels will only hurt all working conditions and decrease demand in the real economy. The piece was biased and iffy, but an elaborate explanation of why unions are beneficial to working people is too complex to be made in good faith when most of the pop. is too indoctrinated and too uneducated in critical thinking to even breach such a subject. The Repubs have adopted Lenin's policy of slogans; I suppose leftist people should too--even if it is somewhat misleading to boil everything down to the point of loss of substance.

    Posted by , 01/03/2011 2:35am (4 years ago)

  • Are there people out there who are really ready to BELIEVE this swill that Mr. Wojcik is trying to spread? Take statements like...

    "Unions raise productivity by 24 percent in manufacturing"

    The only way such a statement might be true is that the unions have chased most of the manufacturing JOBS elsewhere to where (non-union) workers ARE more productive and/or caused companies to automate their operations in order to get rid of the LESS PRODUCTIVE unionized worker. Just how many corporate managers are out there, by way of example, who are actively seeking union organization of their companies in order to INCREASE productivity? Know a bunch of 'em, do ya'?

    As for the "bankers" who "ruined" this economy, do you actually believe that it was BANKERS who made this country's workforce less competitive...and thus more susceptible to job loss to those countries where workers (again, non-union) are WILLING to compete? REALLY!?!

    As for "public workers earning less"...well, again, benefits are part of the package. And guess what the general feeling is in terms of just how economically productive (read "worth what they are paid") the public sector employee is compared to his private counterpart? Sorry to say, but generally (and I'm well aware that there are numerous exceptions) the public worker earns less because he DESERVES less. Also, no one's stopping them from trying their luck in the private sector, are they (Good luck with that...grin!)

    As for "unions rais[ing] professional standards"...yeah, right! Actually, I have seen SOME unions who do justice to that claim...but they've all been overseas. Here in this country, they function as the anchor keeping standards from moving forward...and serve as the refuge for those who are LESS "professional" and LESS competent. Take a look at the union "professionals" in the trucking industry, for example. If one considers putting 95% of the employers that once hired you out of business as being "professional", then perhaps those people qualify. But, to someone who think "professionalism" should be a POSITIVE attribute, it's hard to see it that way.

    Anyway, Mr.Wojcik's claims sounds more like the same ol' "gimme, gimme" demands that the more productive members of society have come to expect from such individuals. His comments may make for great, albeit fictitious, excuses for continued welfare demands, but make no mistake about it; it's still just the same ol' welfare demands.

    Posted by Ken Meyer, 01/02/2011 2:21pm (4 years ago)

  • This is good. I do get tired of being the only enlightened person in the room while in the South...

    Posted by A Double U, 12/28/2010 3:11pm (4 years ago)

  • I was lucky. The worst I got was a comment that it would be great to live in Saudi Arabia where women aren't allowed to drive. Not sure if the person who said this was joking or not.

    Posted by Jesse Jack, 12/27/2010 4:22pm (4 years ago)

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