Fundamentals – Labor: The Republican War on Workers

One of the fundamentals of progressive politics was labor rights.  Building the unions built the middle class and that built the powerhouse economy of the mid-20th century.

Republicans shot America in both feet when they attacked and successfully dismantled American labor.  1. the GOP were the party of business interests who shortsightedly hated the labor unions that made them spend more money on labor, never realizing that labor was their partner in creating the demand that made them successful; and 2. the GOP perceived labor unions as pro-Democrat so they reflexively saw them as enemies.

They ran a successful effort to demonize unions, and along with the trade treaties and short term bottom line mentality that sent millions of jobs overseas and to right to work for less states, and automated many others, decimated the private unions and all manufacturing unions.  That union decline mirrors the decline in the middle class: American workers have had wage stagnation since the 70s while productivity kept climbing. That share of production that used to go into the pockets of the middle class employees now goes to the upper management and shareholders.

Germany never had a national party trying to kill unions.  In fact, by law unions have to be represented on the Board of Directors of German corporations.  Unions are still strong there, the middle class is still strong there, they still build factories there and nobody says “you can’t manufacture here anymore.”  They have trade deals.  Their trade is fantastically healthy because they’re still building things, by high skilled workers making decent union wages.  Globalization isn’t used an an excuse for the hallowing out of the middle class because that never happened there.

The Republican war on workers must end and be reversed. There are policies to achieve this and globalization and automation are not arguments against them.



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