In an Anchorage Daily News column entitled "We benefit because unions fought for workers' rights", progressive maven Shannyn Moore cites her own personal connection to organized labor by referring to her grandfather's membership in the United Mine Workers. Some of her own ancestors fought at what is called the Battle of Blair Mountain in West Virginia, where UMW workers organized a militia to combat police and strikebreakers backed by corrupt mine operators. She also cites recent labor troubles in Anchorage, to include the continuing dispute at the Anchorage Sheraton along with a new dispute involving Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utilities (AWWU) as "proof" that workers are "under attack".
Another ADN pro-labor column entitled "Unions helped secure benefits, fair pay for all" is authored by Alaska AFL-CIO president Vince Beltrami. Beltrami reminds us that Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894 after the deaths of 13 workers and injuries to an additional 57 workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. marshals who were mobilized by railroad owners in the now infamous Pullman railcar strike. Fueled by the heat of passion, the enabling legislation was rushed through Congress unanimously and signed into law a mere six days after the end of the strike. Beltrami also weighs in at length about the Sheraton and AWWU disputes, and suggests that unions are looking out for the interests of all workers, not just union members (conservative talk-show host Dan Fagan frequently disputes this contention, citing local project labor agreements that require workers to join unions to be employed on such projects). Beltrami notes that a working middle class is absolutely essential to a functioning democracy, and concludes that organized labor is still the key to maintaining a working middle class.
But while Shannyn Moore and Vince Beltrami represent the respectable side of organized labor, an uglier, more sinister side was placed on full display prior to a speech by Barack Obama in Detroit. Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa warmed up the crowd, and called on workers to get involved in opposing Tea Party-aligned lawmakers in November 2012. To Obama, he said “President Obama, this is your army, we are ready to march. But everybody here’s got to vote. If we go back, and keep the eye on the prize, let’s take these sons of bitches out.”
Of course, by using such extreme rhetoric, Hoffa has just ensured that wherever Tea Party-affiliated candidates get elected, organized labor is likely to be frozen out. The remora-like attachment that union leaders maintain to the Democratic Party minimizes their influence with Republicans. Many Republicans are likely to conclude that there's nothing they can do or say to satisfy union leaders, and so they'll blow off organized labor altogether.
The unions have behaved in a particularly abusive fashion up in Wisconsin. Not only did union members invade the capitol building during their protest over Gov. Walker's proposed cuts, but local union bosses in Wausau led by Marathon County Labor Council AFL-CIO President Randy Radtke told Republican lawmakers they were not welcome at the city's annual Labor Day parade. After a public backlash, the union officials recanted.
Comments posted to The Blaze indicate that Jimmy Hoffa does not speak for all union members, or even for all Teamsters. To wit:
OlefromMN Posted on September 5, 2011 at 3:15pm:
I have no problem living in the truth. Mr. Hoffa is not going to like the truth too much. I did not choose to become a Teamster. It was a requirement for the position I hold. It pays like crap and offers no real benefits. But it’s a job to keep me afloat during the term of Obama.
OlefromMN Posted on September 5, 2011 at 2:48pm:
I just ran the math through my head of my shop. Of 10 union employees, I can all but guarantee that 6 are Tea Party “friendly” and only 1 is a union loyalist. Not good math for Mr. Hoffa.
Defiant530 Posted on September 5, 2011 at 2:35pm:
Bring it boys !! I’m In a union and Not by choice, “We the People” will burn you down, and how many of your so-called members will actually follow and do as you say ? I’m betting no more than 25 to 30 % of membership…..Most union members look at the union as nothing more than a JOB and nothing more,they don’t buy the lie its a paycheck and nothing more ….you arrogant idiots!!! WE SURROUND YOU !!