This is something I wrote about a month ago. Given the currency split occurring in the AFL-CIO, it seems appropriate to repost it. The central argument is simple: all of the “pro-democracy” Republicans are remarkably anti-democracy when it comes to the rights on employees. However, employees have every right to organize and protect their interests. Given the rise of outsourcing, crushing health costs and the lack of real growth in wages, it seems more important than ever for employees to exercise their right to use Democratic tools to achieve their legitimate goals.
Unions have gotten a bad rap for a variety of reasons. The organized crime connection was clearly their fault and caused some very negative and well-justified backlash. Unions also have some pretty antiquated and Byzantine work rules. However, whenever a corporation whose employees have a union has problems with expenses, the right wing always blames the union for increasing costs. Democracy is bad for employees but good for Iraqis.
A union is a group of people who use democratic principals to forward their economic interests. They write by-laws that govern their behavior. Unions elect leaders to represent its members. If the leaders are unresponsive to the needs of the represented, then the represented can vote them out. This looks an awful lot like the democracy Bush wants to create in Iraq. Yet, for some reason it is bad when US employees organize along democratic principals and good when Iraqis do the same thing.
Corporations have legal protections – they are enshrined in law. Each of the 50 states has a corporate statute that creates and enshrines the corporate entity. Like unions, corporations use democratic values such as voting to protect shareholder rights. It is an understood and accepted legal fiction that insulates shareholders from liability. It allows people to pool resources and develop new products and technologies. Corporations have contributed numerous benefits to society. DVDs, computers, telephones …. The list is endless.
Unions have also accomplished many good things. Work rules about the number of hours people can legally work, safe work environments, collective health benefits – these are all fabulous benefits of unions.
From the Republican perspective, when employees get together and use democratic principals to protect their interests, they are bad. But, when corporate interests get together and use democratic principals to protect their interests, they are enshrined in law.
In other words, for Republicans employees are not allowed to use democracy to further their interests.