Trade Union blues
cbrown at michiganlegal.org
Thu Sep 4 12:20:32 MDT 2003
"For" Labor Day, the Wall Street Journal had an editorial calling for the
annihilation of unions. The Detroit News had an oped piece headlined
"Unions go the way of the dodo".
The AFL-CIO-UAW cancelled Detroit's Labor Day parade, for a reason unknown
Woe is we.
Letters to the editor
The voice of labor
Jack Lessenberry made some valid points but there is not enough space here
to tell the whole truth about labors ineffectiveness (Labor and other
pains <http://www.metrotimes.com/editorial/story.asp?id=5328>, Metro Times,
Aug. 27-Sept. 2).
As a former union representative for the United Steelworkers, I speak from
practical experience. I came up through the ranks from shop steward to local
president (1982-1994) and tried to do the job right, only to be told by my
own staff representative that I was rocking the boat and we have to go
along [with the company] to get along. Some leadership!
Its been nine years now since my plant was closed and I am still being
harassed by anti-union people who vowed, Were going to bury you.
Companies spend millions of dollars on consultants who effectively destroy
peoples lives with rumors and lies, and unions cant seem to find a way to
thwart these tactics. When I asked my districts legal representative how to
go about pursuing this matter he said, go ahead and pursue it if you want
to become a martyr, because thats all thats going to happen. So much for
People arent stupid. When they see this kind of crap and how ineffective
union leadership is in battling it, its no wonder they shy away from
organizers. I doubt that well ever see another true leader like Walter
Reuther. -Brian Melkus, melkusb at hotmail.com <mailto:melkusb at hotmail.com>,
CB: Actually, some of us would say that Reuther's ditching of a class
struggle theory of trade unionism is why unions are so weak now.
Jack Lessenberrys piece made me feel sad, because I believe the unions and
their members played the critical role in building the infrastructure of
this country. And like that infrastructure, the unions are crumbling to
nothing. I carry a union card and pay my dues to the American Federation of
In the mid-1980s, a very eccentric retired engineer told me that if we keep
busting up the unions and continue to allow our education system to crumble,
our country would resemble a Third World nation controlled by the
ultra-rich. I was young and full of myself then, and I passed it off as the
paranoia of an old man. Not realizing what I would face in the working world
in the next few years, I was confident that the United States would always
be that comfy place where Walter Cronkite came on the tube every night to
tell us, And thats the way it is. Now I am beginning to think that old
dude wasnt so wrong after all. -Mark Mad Dog Barringer, Farmington Hills
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