Are Unions the Enemy?

According to government data, unionized workers, public and private, make about $ 250 more a month than non-union workers. You would think that working class Americans would seize upon this difference and begin organizing their workplaces so they can reap the benefits of collective bargaining and the power that comes with a united front. But union membership is slipping badly as Americans would rather complain than do something that is just about guaranteed to enhance their bottom line.

On the other hand,Wall Street traders, bankers, hedge fund managers and corporate honchos are giving themselves billions and billions of dollars in bonuses, and don’t seem to be bothered by the excess, even though they were responsible for the great meltdown and in some cases were propped up the federal government. All those Tea Partiers seem to have forgotten who the enemy is as they blame public employees for our national economic malaise.

But in a strange twist what happened at the polls last November was that American voters sent to Washington and state capitals a gaggle of right-wing anti-unionists and apologists for the business elite. Not surprisingly, they are  beginning to strip away collective bargaining rights and say little about the obscene bonuses handed out to people who are continuing the same reckless behavior that got us into this mess. Is this the change that they voted for?

So where is the social revolution against the real enemies of the middle class? Where is even the faintest sign of class warfare against those who are squeezing the working men and women of this country? Sadly, it seems that too many Americans have been hoodwinked into thinking that teachers, policemen and firemen, public health professionals and all those so-called union “goons” are the culprits in our national economic decline. Give credit to the right, they have become experts in demonizing their political competitors and painting them as the problem. And give a grade of F to liberal democrats for allowing this to happen.

Sure the unions need to make concessions on a range of economic and workplace issues, and many have already said that they would. Sure unions have hung on to outdated practices that need to be ended, and many have agreed to make changes. But without support from the Democratic leadership in Congress and a strangely silent White House, the argument is only about all those union “goons” feeding at the public trough.

I remain puzzled that Main Street Americans just can’t come to the realization that the people who are crippling this nation are not the unions but the economic elites who continue to get a free and profitable ride. This is probably the biggest example in the history of this country of blaming the victim.

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