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Of course, unions have been under attack in this country for as long as they’ve existed, and for self-evident reasons.“Historically, organized labor is the only movement that attempts to participate in virtually every type of collective action, from hiring lobbyists to shutting down cities,” writes labor scholar Gabriel Winant, a distinction better understood by the Koch brothers and the Trump White House than by many to their left.
Gorsuch dismissed Ginsburg’s objections as “apocalyptic.” I don’t mind an apocalypse as long as the angels win. Since the election of Donald Trump in 2016, I have been talking to people in and around the labor movement, going on the premise that American workers may soon be engaged in a virtual Armageddon with capital.
While the working class has hardly lost all ground, it has seen enough of its victories reversed to warrant such a prediction.
“The people who drop out of the union lose the right to vote.
So you’re losing the most middle-of-the-road members, and certainly the most conservative members, who object to collective power.
I learn about the ITUC ranking from Larry Cohen, a former president of the Communication Workers of America (CWA) who helped coordinate Labor for Bernie and now chairs the board of Our Revolution, a group that hopes to build on the momentum of the Sanders campaign.
He’s been part of the union for thirty-nine years and worked to strengthen its partnership with unions in Germany and elsewhere.With so-called right-to-work laws on the books in twenty-eight states (including every state south of the Mason–Dixon Line except Maryland), unions are understandably apprehensive over what the ruling will mean for their membership and finances should “agency fees” in public-sector unions become a thing of the past.Rand Wilson, now chief of staff for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 888 and formerly a strategist for the Teamsters during the successful United Parcel Service strike of 1997, sees danger and promise both.As depicted in the 2016 documentary In addition to better wages and benefits than their US counterparts enjoy, workers in union-friendly Europe now have a greater statistical likelihood of seeing their children live more prosperous lives than they do.The United States was once ranked in the top tier of nations for collective-bargaining rights by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).Trump had better hurry up and build his wall while the traffic is still moving north.Trump’s “big, beautiful wall” and other such cynical measures arguably have more to do with cutting labor costs than curtailing the flow of illegal immigration.“To employers, migration is a labor-supply system,” writes David Bacon, a photojournalist who studies labor issues on both sides of the US-Mexico border.“US immigration policy is not intended to keep people from crossing the border; it determines the status of people once they are in the United States.” In short, a fearful workforce is easier to exploit.As for Trump himself, he is at best a catalyst for the fight, at worst a distraction from what may already have been the opening salvos of labor’s last stand. At issue in both cases was whether public employees who choose not to join unions can still be charged for representation.In a 5–4 decision, the Court ruled that they cannot.