We’re Still in the Garden

By Richard Thayer

Once upon a time years ago in a hypothetical medium-sized town in the Triad area of North Carolina there was a post office. In this post office there was a hypothetical  postmaster who had a knack for pitting employees against employees.

If, for example, a shop steward was spending time investigating a grievance concerning a carrier who was about to be fired because he didn’t work with “a sense of urgency,” she would slither across the workroom floor, whispering in gullible carriers’ ears that the shop steward was wasting everyone’s time and causing these carriers to work overtime while he attempted to save the job of some lazy, good-for-nothing slug.

And those carriers who were prone to side with the postmaster, would believe what she whispered so sweetly in their ears, and they would grow disgruntled and become upset with the shop steward for policing the contract and/or defending a fellow carrier from termination.

And these gullible carriers who sided with the postmaster and her supervisors weren’t “scabs” either, oh, no, they were dues paying unionists.

It’s the oldest trick in the book: divide and conquer. It was first used by that wily serpent many moons ago in the Garden of Eden when he pitted God against Adam and Eve, and Adam and Eve fell for it hook-line-and-sinker. Gulp!

It worked so well, in fact, that human beings who want to “get ahead” in life, who want to climb the “ladder of success,” still do it today, just like that postmaster. It is a wide-spread phenomena, like AIDS.

Up until recently, the game has been played out behind closed doors on workroom floors, in boardrooms, in the hallowed halls of Congress, and so on.

But lately, it has been played out in the open where everyone can see it. Unfortunately, many people don’t recognize it for what it really is, just like those gullible carriers I mentioned earlier.

Right now governors of states and state assembly members are playing the game in public, pitting public sector union employees against private sector employees. In effect, they are pitting middle class union workers against middle class non-union members. They are saying to the non-union members, “Hey, have you noticed, those union folks are getting a whole bunch more than you are. They get better pay, better health insurance, a pension when they retire. And you’re paying for it. Is that fair?”

And the non-union employee says (with fire in his eyes), “Heck, no, that ain’t fair. If I’m making a paltry amount of money, living from paycheck to paycheck, if I haven’t had a raise in 10 years or a vacation, if I can’t have health insurance, and if I don’t get a pension then, by golly, they shouldn’t get any of that either.”

So, instead of joining or forming a union and helping to raise their own living standards, they fall for the lie and demand that the unions’ high standards be reduced to their standards, standards set for them by their employer, an employer who’s making way more money than they are.

What many middle class workers fail to realize when this happens is that for many years labor unions have set the standards for the non-union middle class. If it hadn’t been for the standards established by unions, American workers as a whole, would be much worse off than they are today.

If it hadn’t been for unions in this country, the labor standards that are enjoyed today, would never have been. If not for unions, the middle class in this country would be on the same level with, say, China or North Korea.

There’s a good reason why certain governors, like those in Wisconsin and Ohio, will not accept anything less than the unions’ bargaining rights. Those bargaining rights are the foundations of the unions, without them, they’re powerless.

And that’s what they want.

Those governors and lawmakers don’t want you to know who the real culprit is in this debate, that want you to think it’s your neighbor.

If they can bring down the unions’ labor standards, the private sector’s standards will fall still further. The less they have to pay their employees, the more profits America’s wealthiest will make.

And they’ll pass those profits on to their political buddies.

Here, have another apple.


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