Yesterday on KPFA/Pacifica's "Living Room," I heard someone (I think it was David Madland of the American Worker Project - I can't check because the link on the website is broken) talking about the assault on public sector unions, which I wrote about a little while ago. He said that private sector workers need to defend the unions, even if they are not in one, because the unions are what prevent our wages and benefits from plummeting.
He is right, but he is wrong. He is right that without the unions, private sector workers would be screwed, and therefore, we should defend them. But he’s wrong to put it on private sector workers who have never in their lives seen a union organizer to step up and get out there and walk the line for the unions. As I wrote back in October, it’s the unions that need to realize that they need us, the unorganized private sector, because without us, they are very vulnerable to these attacks. The interviewee also said that polls show that 53% of U.S. nonunion workers would join a union if they had the opportunity to do so and thought they wouldn’t be fired for doing it. And that’s without the unions doing ANYTHING to reach out or counter the anti-union propaganda that we’ve all been hearing for decades. If they made even a token effort to organize any of the private sector work force, they could probably get that number up to like 80%. And if any of those organizing drives were successful, then the public worker-private worker class war would be out the window, the U.S. labor movement would be back in gear, and initiatives like cutting or privatizing Social Security and Medicare would suddenly get a lot harder.
So why do I say it’s the unions’ responsibility? Because one, they are the ones who have the resources to actually go to where those private sector workers are and talk to some; two, they are the ones who know – or should know – that we have need to get it together; and three, that would mean they were actually doing something that private sector workers could support, as opposed to now, when if one is (like me) a private sector worker who wants to defend the principal of collective bargaining, one has to look high and low for a picket line to join.
So come on, brethren. You’ve figured out that you need the support of the corporate sellout private sector workers you've shunned all these years. So now figure out that you need to do more than whine about us not supporting you, especially since the vast majority of working class people are not listening to Pacifica.