Pacifica, Labor Day 2010 – Is it politics? Probably. Remember Ronald Reagan? Of course you do. He’s the guy who cranked up union-busting in this country. Based on opinion polls busting up the unions was a very popular position of the anti-labor political right (still is). Reagan’s position was odd when one considers he was once president of the Screen Actors Guild, but he was pro-management and lead a strike-ending agreement in 1959 that eventually weakened the union. His position forced his resignation from union members before his term was up. He knew who provided the butter for his bread.
When he became President the war on labor and the unions geared up in the summer of 1981 when he fired 13,000 striking air traffic controllers and literally destroyed their union. This sent out a clear signal to employers that they need feel little or no obligation to their workers. Employers got that message in no ambiguous terms–illegally firing workers who sought to unionize replacing permanent employees who could collect benefits with temps who could not, shipping factories and jobs abroad. Sound familiar?
Reagan appointed three management representatives to the five member National Labor Relations Board which oversees union representation elections and labor-management bargaining. They included NLRB Chairman Donald Dotson, who believed that “unionized labor relations have been the major contributors to the decline and failure of once-healthy industries” and have caused “destruction of individual freedom.”
Under Dotson, a House subcommittee found the board abandoned its legal obligation to promote collective bargaining, in what amounted to “a betrayal of American workers.”
St Ronald went beyond just union busting by trying to lower the minimum wage for younger workers, ease the child labor and anti-sweatshop laws, tax fringe benefits, and cut job training programs for the unemployed. He even tried replacing thousands of federal workers with temps who would not have civil service or union protections.
There is more including the “voluntary compliance” suggestion to employers on safety matters – and generally didn’t get it or expect it.” Thanks to the movement from this popular president, labor had been plunged back into the “law of the jungle” that had existed a half-century before.
So when you call about your insurance policy and get someone in Mumbai and wonder why or waltz into Walmart to save a few bucks on underwear, check the label of your Fruit of the Looms, more likely than not it was sewn in a third world country. We were once a a lion of manufacturing, we were proud of our labor force but now this country of ours has been outsourced. Americans need jobs. Bring them back. Thanks Ron.
and so it goes…