Paul's Perambulations a personal blog

November 23, 2010

What is labor union? Not the following from the NYTimes.

Filed under: Politics,Work — admin @ 12:33 am

Two-Tier Wage Scales Gain Traction Union workers are reluctantly agreeing to contracts that create two levels of pay on a permanent, rather than temporary, basis.

Labor lost their battle decades ago, when they lost their idealism and settled on the independent self-centered specialties model. Unions could be as uncaring as their bosses for the average working man or woman. I admire the integrity of the old left (now mostly gone) that had high principles and truly stood for the common laborer and a common union of all workers, with leaders elected democratically in open and fully transparent elections. The Socialist Labor Party, the third oldest extant party in the U.S. and the most peaceful of these three (and you well know the other two parties), is a good example.


  1. One of my Facebook readers replied as follows: Karyn Hollis, Paul! There are plenty of good progressive unions left in the USA and lots of good people trying hard to change things in the USA. Don’t buy the main stream or ultra left view of things there! Try out CWA, SEIU, Steelworkers, UMA, AFSME, etc. They aren’t perfect, but if you look at any of their info sheets you’ll like them I promise! They are feminist, anti-war, pro-immigrant, pro single payer health care, etc.

    My reply to Karyn: There are many good people in the unions, and they do many good things and have many good principles. Totally agree, and I’ve been connected with a number of union activists. I remember when César Chavez was here…wonderful, wonderful man. But I do believe that the model of separate specialty/craft unions is flawed to the extent of being ultimately unsuccessful.

    Comment by admin — November 23, 2010 @ 12:37 am

  2. There is the long-standing question of whether folks of good intent should focus on short-term pragmatic remedies that however do not address the basis of the problem, or should we take an approach that is more idealistic but may seem hopeless for getting any immediate results. We can choose to deal with underlying structural issues or we can choose to deal with the recurring crises they create. I don’t have a simple answer, but in this case I choose to hold to the second approach because it seems that almost no one else is addressing the underlying problems or is even aware of the range of issues here. With encouragement of this sort from myself and some others, I would hope that someone more capable than I am will be able to find a way of putting this all together that is both practical and successful.

    I crossed a certain bridge when I dared declare myself a pacifist. I chose to attempt to live in accord with faith and hope, in contrast to accepting to live my life as a simple matter of immediate practicality. A single individual can accomplish only so much, humans that we are. And of course, at times anyone may feel compelled to act in a direct practical manner. In fact this may be necessary to effectively animate the underlying principle. Why did Jesus heal ONE blind man, when so many are blind? Why did he enable ONE to walk, when so many are lame? I understand this text to be not a story of Jesus’ power, but of the compelling nature of compassion, even when our goals are more broadly to eliminate blindness and handicap. Everyone should be free to choose their own approach – I tend to work on the conceptual side. This seems to be more in tune with my natural disposition and gifts, and I believe it is an aspect of peace and justice that is often neglected. For example, I love and respect those of the “just war” persuasion, but I do experience these issues in a different way and feel compelled/responsible to speak to this.

    Comment by admin — November 23, 2010 @ 12:44 am

  3. Two tier system

    Under the 2007 agreement, entry-level workers were paid $14. to $16. an hour, plus benefits, bringing their total compensation to about $25. an hour, or about half of current workers salaries. Not enough for a particularly secure life, but not starvation either. This likely assumes a wife will be working, if you have a family. $15/hour for 50 weeks at 40, or 2000 hours, is $32,500 plus some benefits (you don’t receive the value that they cost the company), so total package would be worth maybe $45,000 to you. You pay considerable union dues for making this possible (don’t think this would happen at all without unions) and can expect to face extended periods liad off with no job and no income. Today these jobs are considered very desirable, (after all, it’s about ¾ of what you get with a Ph.D. in academe) My point is not to compare working class folks with other workers, but with owners and top executives getting 450,000 or ten times more than workers get paid.

    Comment by admin — March 10, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

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