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Secretary-Treasurer's Report

How you can respond to anti-union myths

By June 14, 2018 No Comments

While anti-union groups across the country often present themselves as “pro-worker,” they are really front organizations backed by enormously wealthy individuals and companies.

They think it’s okay for wealthy folks to band together as corporations and trade groups, while regular working people should be kept weak and divided, without strong unions to represent their interests.

They are committed to making sure that workers’ voices are silenced. They want employees to accept whatever is handed to them without complaint.

To advance their anti-worker agenda, these groups promote certain myths that are pushed by their sponsored media outlets. As a result, many of these falsehoods are accepted without question by large numbers of Americans who should know better.

You may have a family member, a friend or even a co-worker who repeats these anti-union myths in casual conversation. What can you say in response to affirm union beliefs and principles?

Here are a few examples of what anti-union people say and how you could respond to them:

Anti-union myth: “Unions are no longer necessary.”

This claim is beyond false, to the point of being ridiculous. Nationwide, the decline in union membership over the past few decades has corresponded with widespread stagnation of wages and a decline in real incomes for middle class families.

The middle class is shrinking and college graduates are putting off buying homes and cars because of low salaries. Meanwhile, productivity is higher than ever and corporate profits are through the roof.

So, where is the money going? It’s not going to the worker. It’s going to CEOs and wealthy investors, leading to increasing income inequality.

This in itself, is a great argument for workers to have a union.

We all know people in our industries who worked under a union contract, left to work another job that wasn’t union, and can’t believe how much they have to pay for medical benefits. They also get no pension or guaranteed raises.

Corporations won’t fix these problems on their own and neither will government. Unions exist to put power in the hands of workers themselves so they can act in their own interests and restore their footing in the middle class.

Anti-union myth: “Unions are undemocratic.”

Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, unions are among the most democratic organizations anywhere.

As opposed to corporations, which make top-down decisions dictated by their CEOs, directors and investors, unions are bottom-up organizations where the members approve their bylaws and vote on their contracts. Each union has member committees and member meetings that help ensure opportunities for participation are available to all.

Anti-union myth: “Unions increase labor costs, leading companies to send jobs overseas.”

This allegation is completely refuted by history.

If a highly unionized workplace was, as the argument goes, the cause of companies sending jobs overseas, then the absence of high union density should lead to very few jobs going overseas, right?

Well, union density in the private sector has been declining for decades. Yet in the last few decades, American businesses have shifted millions of good paying jobs overseas, despite huge increases in productivity at home and stagnating wages.

Consider these non-union corporations that have exported jobs in recent years: Home Depot, Walmart, Nike, Hewlett-Packard…

It’s not unions that lead to job loss. It’s greedy corporate executives who simply don’t want to share the fruits of higher productivity and profits with American workers — unionized or not.

It is 100 percent greed to increase salaries for CEOs and dividends for shareholders while leaving their workers behind to struggle.

Anti-union myth: “Unions lead to lower productivity and worker laziness.”

No. Not even close.

Studies show that productivity in unionized American workplaces is higher, with a meta-analysis noting that “a positive [association between unions and productivity] exists for the United States in general and for U.S. manufacturing in particular.”

Union workers continually set the highest standards in job performance and quality.

Keep these thoughts in mind whenever someone you know bashes American unions.