What Class Are You? A Labor Day Reflectionby Art Jacobson on Sep. 03, 2012, under Capitalism, Class War, Politics, Recession, Right to Strike, Unions
Are you working class? Certainly not, if you are a member of the aristocracy, or its equivalent in America… one of the great merchant families such as the Rockefellers, Fords, Vanderbilts and so forth.
Are you a landlord, living off of land rents and real estate? Happy you, if you are, and you’re not over-leveraged. But if this is not the case are you the owner of a major industrial enterprise or a financial mega-corporation? No? Oh, sorry about that.
I guess that leaves a small manufacturing operation with a handful of employees, or a small business, which is great so long as a Walmart or a giant manufacturing operation doesn’t force you out of business, and then you know what, boyo?..
…you’re a member of the working class. If you’re a wage earner with no control of your working conditions or wages, if you can be fired at will with no recourse and deprived of the right to collective bargaining then you are for sure a member of the working class, working for wages, even if you’re a highly paid middle manager for a corporation you don’t own.
Labor Unions are as American as apple pie but over the past thirty years their power has been clawed back by business interests and their political allies. The argument has been, “Well we needed unions once, in the bad old days, but we don’t need them any more.”
In good times, with a little home of their own and a bass boat parked in the driveway even many union members suckered for this argument figuring they didn’t need union protection or union dues anymore. Sweatshops, eleven-hour days, inadequate wages and wretched or dangerous working conditions are largely a thing of the past. The result is we tend not to notice or care about Capitalism’s continuous attack on the power and even the existence of the union movement. This is not a good thing.
A union is the average hourly worker’s only defense against the economic power of a system that always tries to buy raw materials at the lowest possible price. It’s not dumb, if you’re an hourly wage person, to remember you’re just so much raw material to that system.
The union maid and her guy aren’t opposed to Capitalism. If you stop and think about it, the fact is that just the opposite is true. These folks simply want to behave exactly like all the other links in the capitalist chain of supply and demand. All they ask for is the right to bargain for the price they get for their labor and the conditions under which it is supplied.
Why should they be the only players in the game denied that right?
Most of us are working class and we need the union movement more than ever.
Happy Labor Day!