Call In The Family, Organized Labor Is On Life Support And The Plug Is About Ready To Be Pulled.

I've always been a supporter of organized labor (Unions). I've served as a Union steward, Union officer, delegate to the Greater Louisville Labor Council, delegate to the United Rubber, Cork and Linoleum Workers International Union (Currently the Steel Workers) Convention, etc. It's not anger that's compelling me to write this, but disappointment. Disappointment in my fellow Union members.

When I was a child I had a hero and and it wasn't the Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, Superman, Captain Marvel, Tom Mix or any of those 1940's heros, my hero was John L. Lewis. John L. Lewis defied presidents and even the law, he stood up for what he believed and and fought for the American worker. In my eyes John L. Lewis, was a real life hero and a visionary.

John L. Lewis refused to sign the non-Communist oath required by the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act.

Wikipedia
After briefly affiliating with the AFL, Lewis broke with them over signing non-Communist oaths required by the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, making the UMW independent again. Lewis, never a Communist himself, refused to allow any of his officials to take the non-Communist oath required by the Taft-Hartley Act; the UMW was therefore denied legal rights protected by the National Labor Relations Board. He denounced Taft-Hartley as authorizing "government by injunction" and refused to follow its provisions, saying he would not be dictated to. Lewis made an outstanding achievement in the postwar years when he secured a welfare fund financed entirely by management but administered by the union. In May 1950 he signed a new contract with the coal operators, ending nine months of regional strikes and opening an era of peaceful negotiations that brought wage increases and new medical benefits, including regional hospitals in the hills.

My first experience with a Union.

My first job was at a bitterly anti union Winn Dixie warehouse. It was there I found that most of the employee's there didn't know who John L. Lewis or Samuel Gompers was and they didn't have a clue about the Taft-Hartley Act. I thought to myself how can it be these folks don't know who, John L. Lewis, my hero is? How is it they've never heard of the Taft-Hartley Act or the Landrum-Griffin Act? Maybe this is an anomaly, I thought, but what if isn't?

After working at the Winn Dixie warehouse for about three years, it became obvious to me that Winn Dixie management felt they could get away with anything, when it came to their employees. They used faulty time study results in attempts squeeze more and more out their workers. It never quit and they were never satisfied. For example, they would work you 12 hours on a Tuesday and then work you four hours on a Wednesday so they wouldn't have to pay you overtime, at the end of the week. These were things I could see and feel and so could some of my peers and we signed union cards (petitions) and petitioned Winn Dixie for a union, Teamsters Local 89, Louisville. Winn Dixie did everything they could, including intimidation, to keep us from voting for a Union. We prevailed and had the vote, but the workers voted the Union down and I knew my days working at the Winn Dixie warehouse were numbered. So here I was, married with a 22 month old child knowing I was about ready to get fired. So I quit and found another job at American Synthetic Rubber Corporation and started my second Union  experience.

My second experience with a Union.

October 1961, I went to work at American Synthetic Rubber Corporation and became a member of URW Local 423. I was now a member of a Union. Shortly after hiring in I was elected Union Steward on my shift and shortly after that I was elected as a Union officer. Wow an Executive board member of URW Local 423, surely my newly found fellow Union members would understand Union history and share my heroic views about folks like John L. Lewis, Samuel Gompers, etc, but I was finding out that my experience at Winn Dixie wasn't an anomaly, folks, even the Union officers, didn't know and didn't seem to care about Union history and I thought to myself how can the Union movement continue and be successful when union members have no idea what a Union stands for?

So here I was a Union officer working in a plant that was comfortable having it's black Union workers eat in the company cafeteria kitchen and white Union members looking the other way with a wink and a nod eating in the Company cafeteria proper. Also the Company and many white Union Union members seemed to be happy keeping all of the black Union members in the labor Department. It was called Department seniority and in my opinion, now and at the time, was nothing more than racial segregation and blatant racism. Thank God we, the Union, had the foresight and the knowledge of right and wrong to change those policies and I'll be forever thankful that I had a part in changing those policies that existed at American Synthetic Rubber Corporation.

Disillusion with my fellow Union members.

As a Union officer, I never got over how Union members would rather argue over petty stuff, like Joe Blow is getting more overtime than I am, rather than fight for for the repeal of the Landrum-Griffin Act or, Section 14b of the Taft-Hartley Act. It just didn't make sense and I concluded in 1966 the Labor Movement in America had a terminal disease and I haven't changed my mind since. I hope I was wrong then and I'm wrong now, but I don't believe I am. In 1964 many of my Union friends tried to get me to vote for Goldwater, I didn't. Union members all over America have been voting, anti Union (Republican) for years. Where were they in 2010? I'll tell you where they were, they were with Massachusetts voting for Republican Scott Walker:

Wall Street Journal
A poll conducted on behalf of the AFL-CIO found that 49% of Massachusetts union households supported Mr. Brown in Tuesday's voting, while 46% supported Democrat Martha Coakley.

Hello, Wisconsin!

Organized labor weakened by it's uneducated members, that for the most part don't have a clue about the labor movement, lost in Wisconsin and they lost big. Am I surprised? No! Am I saddened? Yes! But I'll tell you what hurts the most: John L. Lewis and Samuel Gompers are having to look down on this mess.

Yes Organized Labor is on life support. The question is: How long will it be before the Democratic Party joins hands with the Republican Party to pull the plug?

Samuel Gompers: "Show me the country that has no strikes and I'll show you the country in which there is no liberty."

 

 

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