Vairma: Get ready; here come the union busters

By Steve Vairma
If you’re a union member, you can count on it. You’ll soon be the target of the a vicious verbal attack by the anti-worker gang in Congress. It will begin when senators and representatives begin debating two proposals designed to drastically diminish the wages, benefits and working conditions of all workers.

One of the bills, proposing a national right-to-work law, was introduced in the House by two longtime union haters – Reps. Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) and Steve King (R-Iowa).

The other bill would repeal the Davis-Bacon Act, which ensures that fair wages are paid to construction workers employed on federal projects. It was introduced by Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) who, like his counterparts in the House, has never done anything for working men and women.

So get used to it, brothers and sisters. For awhile you will have to endure the epithets – “union thugs,” and “mob goons,” who report to the “union bosses” of the “Big Labor” gang.

Today these tired, old and trite pejoratives have no meaning. They are simply used as a propaganda tool by unimaginative bosses whose real motive is to persuade the public and their employees that management is good while labor operates under the dark shadow of corruption.

There is, of course no reason to believe this political claptrap. So how does a union member call BS on the phony attacks on their unions?

You can shut them up quickly by pointing out that corporate America today is guilty of committing some of the most costly, unethical and criminal abuses ever suffered by the American public.
For example, economists estimate that the banking disaster of 2008 – “the Great Recession,” as it has been called – cost the American public almost $13 trillion. Among losses were millions in workers’ pension funds, real estate value, 40k savings and bonds. Eight million people lost jobs and six million lost homes.

Unfortunately, the banks were allowed to pay fines for their sins. I don’t remember a single banker being sent to jail.

And the corporate record of cheating the public goes even father back, to the savings and loan scandal of the 1980s and early ’90s when the collapse of the savings and loan banks cost taxpayers at least $160 billion and demolished the concept of state-run bank insurance funds.

And, as for the phony “big labor,” accusation, the fact is that labor today is too small. Unions now represent only about eight percent of the nation’s workforce, and there are more right-to-work states than free bargaining states. It is essential that we grow bigger and stronger.

Labor today isn’t big enough. It’s time to make our case by organizing the unorganized.

Steve Vairma serves as International Vice President – At Large of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. He is also President of Joint Council 3 which represents members in eight states.

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