by Alex Blankman (First-Year Representative)
In the 1940s labor unions were created to protect worker’s right and give them a forum to collectively share their voices. In today’s world where corporate power continues to grow, the middle class continues to decrease and unemployment and stagnant wages persist, it would seem that labor unions have more of a place in our society than ever. Nevertheless, participation in labor unions continues to decline and American approval ratings of labor unions have also reached an all-time low.
Many economists and political scientists have offered ideas for these numbers. Some say that the nature of labor has changed. The need for unskilled workers has decreased and it is far more difficult to organize the skilled workers that are most in demand. Some cite the changing demographics and national culture. However, the most important and pervasive reason behind the decline in labor unions is a political battle.
Conservatives have gone head-to-head with unions for years. They have led the smear campaign against the unions for years, bombarding the American people with the idea that unions are simply poor economics. These actions and rhetoric are expected from the Republicans.
So, who is opposing. The answer should be the democrats but, unfortunately, over the past few decades the party has not done its job. The Democratic Party should be at the front lines of this debate. We know that destroying unions for the sake of saving some money is a short-term solution. We know that strong unions are the first step to recreating a middle class and that it is in the interest of almost every American. Yet, we have taken an entirely too weak stance on the unions’ rights.
Labor unions continue to suffer blows from every which way, yet the Democrats have effectively decided that this is not a battle worth fighting. Most recently, on November 13th, Unite Here Local 355 vs. Mulhall will be heard in the Supreme Court. This is one of the most important labor cases of our generation because if the court rules against labor, it could cripple efforts by private sector unions to organize workers.
Regardless of the case’s importance, Democrats have been silent on this issue. Our President is a former community organizer with a great amount of respect for labor unions. The democrats have no reason to not stand up for worker’s rights other than cowardice. Public approval of unions has steadily declined, which only means that it is the responsibility of the Democrats to show the country the valuable place that unions hold. It is up to us to change the precedent and it is about time that we accept the challenge