As Go the Unions, So Goes the Middle Class

By Richard Thayer

I’ve noticed recently more and more anti-union sentiment in our local paper here, The High Point Enterprise. There have been several columns in the last several weeks, a number of letters to the editor and a couple of news articles deriding public-sector unions in particular and all unions in general. I’m confident that this is happening in newspapers all across the country.

Someone has said that a lie repeated often enough will become the truth, or something to that effect. This means that if a lie goes unrebutted, people will perceive it to be true. Those of us who are unionists, cannot allow this to happen as far as unions are concerned. There is a concerted effort right now by certain politicians to destroy public-sector unions. If they eventually succeed, they will do more than destroy unions, they will also destroy the middle-class. I’d hate to see that happen. And I know you would, too.

I would like to use today’s post to encourage you, whenever you see a anti-union article or letter in your local paper, to respond to it with the facts.

Let me share with you some information you might find useful when responding to anti-union rhetoric in your local news outlets.

Here are a few things that labor unions have done for America over the last century, laws that benefit not only union members but non-union members as well. Remind people of these things.

Because of unions we now have:

Child labor laws.

The 8 hour work day.

The 40 hour work week.

Paid overtime.

Weekends off.

Worker’s compensation.

Unemployment insurance.

Paid sick leave, vacations and holidays.

Health insurance for many workers.

Pensions or 401Ks.

Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Improved workplace safety.

The push for Civil Rights Acts and laws forbidding job discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Family Medical Leave Act.

The push for a livable minimum wage.

Without the work of union activists over the years, many, if not all, of these things would not be in existence today. Remind the paper’s readers of this.

Below is a letter I just sent to the High Point Enetrprise:

I am writing in response to several anti-union columns, articles and letters that have appeared in the Enterprise in recent weeks. First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to all of our public-sector employees. Thank you for the invaluable service you provide daily for our state and our local communities. We appreciate you. My family and I do not believe, as some do, that you’re under-worked and over-paid. Nor do we believe that your pay and pensions have contributed to our current economic woes. We believe that the people on Wall Street caused this problem, not you, and we also believe that they should be the ones to correct it, not you.

Secondly, I would like to point out that the current debate being waged in the news media about public-sector unions isn’t just an attack on the collective bargaining rights of public-sector employees, it’s an attack on all middle-class workers, unions and non-unions alike. What some people forget is that the middle-class—the life-blood of this nation—came about as the result of unions in the early twentieth century. Without unions there would be no middle-class. There is a direct correlation between the decline of unions over the last 35 years and the decline of the middle-class. As go the unions, so goes the middle-class.

If the present trend continues, like the one in Wisconsin and other states, America will eventually be comprised of two two classes of people: the wealthy and the poor; the haves and the have-nots. When that happens, America will no longer be the nation we have grown to know and love, it will then become a third world country.

Personally, I don’t think that time is too far off.


The Letters to the Editor section of your paper should have guidelines on how to submit your letter. If those guidelines aren’t adhered to your letter might not get printed, so read them carefully. For example, the maximum length of letters to the High Point Enterprise is 300 words and you have to wait two weeks before submitting another one. At the rate anti-union bias is being published in this paper, I’ll be submitting something every two weeks for the next several months. You be persistent, too. Don’t let attacks on unions and working people go unanswered.


One Response to “As Go the Unions, So Goes the Middle Class”

  1. mcoville Says:

    All though I agree that unions have done some great things in the past, I would love to hear what they have done recently?

    Because of teacher union contracts there are thousands of teachers in NYC alone that get paid 6 figures for doing nothing.

    Look what labor unions have done to the American automobile industry, how is the employment in Detroit these days?

    I think you are looking at unions with rose colored glasses. There are many unions that are doing good things, but there are also other unions that are doing nothing but leeching off of the working class and soaking tax payers for all they can. Where is the working classes protection from these unions?

    I know of several teachers that have had to find other lines of work because the teacher unions in our area protect older teachers from being released so new teachers have very little chance to get in to the profession. This is leading our schools to stagnating. These teacher unions are hurting the quality of education in our schools.

    Large unions have become leeches on the working class and are doing nothing but stifle innovation and growth. Prove me wrong?

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