Anyone trying to organize a movement today should take three lessons from the workers of the 1930s who made the modern union movement: First, a small group of people can accomplish amazing things. Second, you never know when a small movement will become a mass movement. Third, while protest movements can create mass action, they require legal changes to win. That means electing allies to office.
Erik Loomis, A History of America in Ten Strikes
It’s Labor Day, 2019.
A few thoughts.
(Where have you gone, Walter Reuther?)…
Even a casual reading of history will teach us this: owners will do all they can to get as much work out of workers, for as little pay, in every way they can. And they will find multiple ways to save money, which includes, among others, not providing safe working conditions.
(If you have not done so recently, read about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire).
This year, continuing a long-term trend, union membership is down. Wages for the common worker are up very, very little. Safe working conditions are being rolled back.
Inequality is on the rise, and the worker is being left behind. Again…
So, a reading suggestion, or two.
Read A History of America in Ten Strikes by Erik Loomis. It will teach you about the treatment of workers through the decades/centuries. It will teach you about the flaws of unions; but it will also teach you about the progress made because of the work of unions.
And read Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas about the current and growing inequality. If nothing else, it will help you grasp that things will likely get worse in the coming years.
And, resolve to be a little more appreciative of, and to, workers – the workers, not the owners – the workers who grow your food, deliver and prepare your food, make your products, and serve you in a multitude of ways.
And, maybe you/we can learn to take the long view. The long view is that for the world to work well, everybody has to be treated with respect; in word, and in pay.
Every day of our life, we are dependent on the common, everyday worker. Let’s appreciate them. And, let’s help make their lives better.