The nineteenth century was a time of rapid industrialization and urbanization for America. Millions of people migrated from farms to cities and worked in the new factories instead of the fields.
Farms became more mechanized. Therefore, fewer workers were needed to plant and reap, and factories and mines greeted these displaced workers with open arms if not good salaries and safe working conditions.
The American Myth of Rugged Individualism lost its appeal when men no longer blazed trails to the west or scratched a living on newly settled land. Huddled with thousands like him to compete for factory jobs, the new American Working Man was alone and incapable of negotiating a better life for him and his family.
Then the Labor Union was born.
Strength in Numbers replaced rugged individualism. While the birth of the new labor unions was always a struggle that sometimes turned bloody and deadly, workers realized they needed to band together against the robber barons to get a decent wage and safe working conditions.
Many Americans have forgotten that struggle and have turned their back on labor unions.
Believing that somehow they are un-American, many have accepted the new robber barons’ notion that unions hurt good workers as they protect poor workers. Seeking to weaken unions, these new robber barons, known as politicians or protectors of the rich, have created Right To Work laws, which simply mean that unions cannot require membership of all workers at a plant or other facility.
It does sound American, Right To Work. I mean everything with RIGHT in front of it is American if you simply want to believe it.
In this case, you might as well call it Right To Work For The Minimum Wage.
I am pro-union, and you should be too.
My father provided for my family because he was in a labor union when he worked for Con Ed in New York City.
I was in labor unions when I worked for the City of New York and the State University of New York.
I worked for other entities in which I was not a member of a union but enjoyed similar benefits of union membership because we had other unionized workers.
Unions helped to build this country, protecting this country during times of war, stood by this country during economic crisis, and aided in all the American Century’s greatness.
Unions, like every institution in America, have not always been perfect. Discrimination and favoritism, and corruption have marred its past. But, without unions, this country’s workers would be relegated to low pay and dangerous working conditions.
Please take a minute to realize that in this year of COVID, millions of our Essential Workers are members of a Union.
Thank God for them.