Mike Atherton’s “Thank a Democrat” series focuses on the myriad ways Democrats work to improve the lives of the American people. This column is about Unions.
With few exceptions, Democrats have the back of workers while Republicans back bosses. Unions have counted on Democrat support to make America a place that respects workers, that pays fair wages, and that protects worker health and well-being. A big reason for this mutual respect and support is that most Americans are workers, not bosses.
Unions have a long history of organizing against corporate oppression under the most difficult conditions. After weeks and months of negotiations, often in bad faith by the owners, unions have often gone on strike to tell the nation that they deserve a living wage. In opposition to such demands as a living wage and safety rules whole states have stood against workers and their families by enacting “Right to Work (For Less)” laws. These anti-worker laws make union organizing either illegal or profoundly dangerous. They give corporations every benefit and demote worker status so bosses can ignore worker needs without fear of repercussions. It is most galling that non-union workers sit back and let unions do all the heavy lifting. These scabs then swoop in to reap union-based benefits without contributing a thing and laughing all the while as they cash in a bigger paycheck. When things get difficult, companies hire thugs to break up strikes and then blame the violence on workers. Corporations pay big bucks to PR professionals who use the media to plant lies, raise doubts, and sew suspicions about unions.
What, you may ask, have Democrat-backed unions done for me? Lots. Here are just a few: Work breaks, including paid lunch breaks, Equal pay for equal work for women, Abolition of sweatshops, Sick leave, the minimum wage, Pregnancy and parental Leave, the right to strike, Anti-discrimination rules at work, Overtime pay, Occupational health and safety, 40-hour work week, Worker’s compensation, Employment Insurance, and Pensions.
A strong, proud nation supports such worthy goals. These aspirations strengthen our country through fair wages, safe work, and respecting workers as human beings and not disposable parts. And Democrats have stood arm in arm along picket lines with the workers, in the halls of Congress, and at union meetings all through these struggles. If you think workers deserve respect and laws to back up this respect, then Thank a Democrat (and unions).
These are the people who make American great and need Democrats to do it.
About the author
John Michael Atherton (Mike) has retired from 30 years of teaching philosophy after 20 years of teaching a variety of subjects from elementary to graduate school. Four years in the Peace Corps in Swaziland (now Eswatini), followed by marriage, first child, and PhD all at the University of Chicago. The family moved to Southwest Pennsylvania where wife Cynthia Walter taught ecology and he taught philosophy while they raised two daughters. They moved to Dover in 2019 to be near their two grandsons in Maine. He has consistently found the Dems to be a group that publicly and privately follows their stated values: compassion, honesty, integrity, respect the dignity of all people, expanded freedom, responsible citizenship, promoting civil society, and protecting our environment.