I grew up in a so-called “right to work” state. Most of my family worked in some aspect of housing construction and made good money without the benefit of union membership. I read articles in Reader’s Digest about corruption in the big unions and violence during strikes; so back in the 70s, I didn’t see the need for unions.
A few facts I didn’t realize at the time:
1. During times of full employment non-union employers have to compete with union wages. Non-union workers were benefiting from the standards set by union contracts. During times of recession, though, employers can cut the wages as low as they want.
2. Most of the people I knew making good money in construction were paid as self-employed “sub-contractors.” Their take-home pay was good, but they had no benefits and had to estimate and pay in their own self-employment tax. Unfortunately, most of the people I knew did not have the financial discipline and accounting skills to keep up with the quarterly estimated payments and ended up having tax problems.
3. Many of the self-employed workers did never got around to getting health insurance or investing in a retirement plan.
4. “Right-to-work” laws are nothing else than government regulations forbidding private businesses from entering into an exclusive contract with a labor union.
5. I was unaware of the history of the labor movement and how violent and corrupt the opposition to it was. The goons and thugs and corrupt cops worked for the corporations.
6. Organization and representation in the workforce is an extension of democracy. If we don’t accept taxation without representation, why should we accept employment without representation?
. . . more to come
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