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  • Writer's pictureFred

Unions are in Trouble

What percentage of American workers are in Unions today, in 2021? 12%

Yes, I know that Unions have been in trouble for a long time, but I think that the pandemic may push them to the brink. How do I figure?

Yesterday I came across a story at the USA Today that I was very surprised became National News: She Bullied and Insulted Students for Years, Her Florida School Let Her Keep Teaching. The villain in the story? The evil Teacher's Union. As a matter of fact, I've been noticing a lot of backlash against teachers lately.

95% percent of teachers in Ohio are back in the classrooms. But because Cleveland and Akron were two of the last districts to return to in-person learning, there is the perception that teachers didn't work the pandemic. The teachers in the district I work in were back in school, 5 days a week, last September. Because teachers in general were one of the last professions to return to work, I keep hearing the disconcerting narrative that it's time to break up the teacher's unions.

Even my usually mild-mannered partner at Beacon of Speech surprised me this week with this quote: "You know who I'm sick of? The teachers." He went on to explain to me that maybe the teacher's union was too powerful.

Newspapers used to give friendly coverage to unions, but not anymore. Why? Because no one has been more aggressive breaking up unions in the past decade than the news business. Local outlet Cleveland Plain Dealer has been using some of the most aggressive union breaking techniques in the nation.

I know I've written about it in the past, so I will only give an abridged version here, but Iron Mountain used aggressive union busting techniques in the Cleveland area around the year 2005. Currently, they only have a fraction of the employees that they did 15 years ago. If Iron Mountain had failed and the Union moved into Ohio back in 2015, those branches would be closed today.

When your business model is shrinking, unions are a hassle because the employees want to preserve their jobs. The easiest way to preserve corporate profits is to eliminate workers.

But what about when you're the largest company in the free world? Jeff Bezos has thwarted every attempt his employees have made to unionize, just like Sam Walton did a generation ago at WalMart. Every time WalMart employees even thought about unionizing, employees found themselves as former-WalMart employees. Bernie Sanders has repeatedly asked Mr. Bezos himself to testify in the Amazon union battle. So far Bezos has declined the invitation.

So the biggest corporations of today have successfully circumvented the Union Model by using the Union Busting Playbook. Companies like Amazon and WalMart don't even care about getting caught or paying fines.

Public industries with unions, which are static in employment, like teachers and policemen, are increasingly painted in a negative light for defending their worst members. When Darren Chauvin is put on trial next month, the policeman's union is going to be put under a microscope in their dealings with Chauvin.

And historic American manufacturing jobs are going by the wayside, shutting down traditional union strongholds while replacing high paying industrial jobs with lower earning service industry jobs.

What unions need to do is sell themselves to the public that they can raise their members' standard of living, while selling themselves to corporate heads that they are willing to install mechanisms to eject "bad" workers.

I'm not sure unions are prepared, or able, to do that in order to survive..

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