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The Bitter Consequences of Corporate America's War on Unions


The Bitter Consequences of Corporate America's War on Unions

Jake Johnson

Last week, Oxfam America published a report in which it was revealed that, across the United States, workers at giant poultry factories are being denied basic human dignity in the name of productivity and corporate gain.


Jake Johnson’s article closes with:
“As Democratic Party leaders — and, indeed, the party’s likely nominee, Hillary Clinton — rely on high-profile fundraisers featuring celebrities and fat-cat executives and peddle an agenda championing incremental reform as the means to achieve revolutionary ends, working people are left isolated, angry, and without a platform. Bernie Sanders, despite being shunned by the party establishment for his efforts, has provided them with such a platform, and his remarkable campaign can serve as a foundation from which the working class can build sustainable movements that will be necessary to subvert the horrendous trends embodied by the conditions experienced, on a daily basis, by American factory workers.”

On first reading, i skipped from “As Democratic party leaders” to “Sanders… has provided them with such a platform.” With my mis-reading, i thought the author was urging party leaders to adopt Sanders’ platform. Nice to see he is instead calling on the working class to ignore party leaders, and build sustainable working class movements, to achieve the “revolutionary ends” that Democratic party elites have subverted.


The elites can always hire one half the working class to kill the other half. There really is no sense of solidarity among the proles.

“If workers want to keep their jobs, they need to endure what happens inside the plant.”

If workers want to keep their jobs, they need to endure what happens, period.

There exists a nearly limitless supply of disposable labor. The rulers know this.


The regrowth of a prosperous and powerful working class in the US would not be a disaster for the oligarchs. They would prosper under such conditions just as they did in the thirties, forties and fifties because (in this case at least) the rising tide would indeed (as it once did) lift all boats.


Two key aspects are missing from Mr. Johnson’s analysis.

One is the climate of deregulation that allowed for so much consolidation in just about every industry ranging from farming to mass media. How many “Mom and Pop” operations did Walmart put out of business?

The second was NAFTA and treaties that made it financially advantageous for corporations to ship their job bases to nations that tolerated far lower wages (in addition to few environmental protections or Labor rights).

Therefore, a lack of good jobs began to plague the nation causing lots of workers to compete for the decent-paying jobs that remained. That sort of competition makes it easy for employers to fire “troublemakers” since 10 more people are lined up for THAT job.

There’s also the problem of automation as a job decimation device.

In the housing market if there’s a glut of houses then the climate is referred to as a buyers’ market. When the contrary occurs, that there are few available homes for sale, that gives the seller advantages.

A similar phenomenon occurs when there are many people seeking the same job.

Employers have all the advantages today. Luckily, Sanders has given all of these dispossessed workers a voice. Sadly, too many think they will find remedial action from billionaire boy Trump.

Actually, I just thought of a 3rd missing factor: It’s the New Prison Plantation System and the amount of Labor it farms out for pennies on the dollar. Since lobbyists for prison corporations have pushed the agenda of prison- building (as a “jobs creator”), there are prisons all over. And in lots of rural areas, the prison labor ends up doing the work that otherwise might have made for decent paying jobs for the locals. With 2.2. million incarcerated, this is a chunk of the underpaid labor force… for real.


Please consider helping the striking Verizon workers. This is a pivotal strike for the future or all labor organizing.


This happens everywhere. I work in customer service for a large Midwestern florist - a member of, but not, FTD - and we are constantly told “if you don’t like your job, find another one.” I’ve been here for almost 10 years, and I have pretty much given up looking for another job. Our duties are constantly expanded; we get lots of “busy work” doing “projects” for other departments, but we don’t get paid for the extra work we do … we are told the money eventually gets to us via our regular paychecks, but it turns out to be referred to as “job security” or, as I call it, un-paid piecework. We may have some talents as artisans, but we are office people, and are often treated as serfs.


Back in the slave era the owners had to purchase their slaves, feed, clothe and house their slaves. There was an incentive to get as many years out of each slave as possible. Today’s defacto slavery is much better for owners. Every incentive exists to hire off the street and wear out the worker as fast as possible so they can replace said worker with a fresh one. There is zero incentive to get a lot of years out of any worker.


the only UNION we need to break up is the FOP the police unions they are taking over our country


I think this paragraph pretty much summed it up…

“This sense of helplessness is felt across many industries and is largely the result of a ruthless, decades-long effort by highly class-conscious elites to dismantle unions and undercut potential threats to the accumulation of profit.”

And that business about wearing diapers made me want to throw up. I work in a public library and there is the same sense of helplessness with the part timers here. And when I taught in the public schools not that long ago, there was that same fight going on. That same having to justify why we asked to be treated with care and dignity and make a living wage with benefits.

It just makes me shake my head. Greed sucks.


What you say is true in much of the economy, but small business owners tend to recognize the value of a good employee. Their skills and institutional memory are not easy to replace. We learned long ago that happy employees grow our business, and training new employees is costly. This is one reason why it’s important to spend the few extra dollars (if you have them) to shop locally from independent merchants and service providers. They employ your neighbors and will likely keep them employed, providing the business succeeds. For others, unions must grow to protect and procure labor rights.


We have here in Canada one of those right wing think tanks called The Fraser Institute. Politicians like to cite their research when they advocate for more of those neo-liberal policies and a total surrender to that thing called “The Free Market”.

In addition to studies this institute claims to undergo that suggest a for profit free market health care system like the US has as being superior, they also claim we need to be more competive and decrease regulations as our industries need to keep pace with US productivity gains.

Productivity gains are little more than a code word for workers wearing diapers so they do not take up company time with bathroom breaks.


We don’t really have a free market–it’s a big lie. Sure the little guy sinks or swims, but the transnationals and big box retailers–the really big employers–are the biggest recipients of government welfare programs in existence.


True, FDR used socialism to save capitalism, fearing revolution if he did not.

The US media has always propagated and exalted individualism, through story and song. This is/was not accidental. It’s the basis of the oligarchy’s divide and conquer strategy designed to control the working class.

The antidote, of course, is solidarity - such as we see in France when the government tries to screw the people over - but the wild west’s independent, do-it-alone, shit-kicker mentality still prevails in the US. This is a major reason for the continued existence of the Republican Party.

US labor could squeeze practically anything out of the capitalists with a sustained nationwide general strike, if only workers would realize the value of unified action and forget the media myths about the selfish, egotistical, uncooperative, independent cow-pokes that “won the west”.


That’s an example of what I am referring to. It happens to others in many other ways too.
That is not a good thing. I feel your pain and would like it to stop…


Reduced to wearing diapers??? Perhaps they should stop succumbing to fear, and stop working!!!


Anybody who needs that much money rather than see their fellow humans succeed is psychotic. Apparently the Kochs once said that they not only wanted their share but everybody elses also. WTF???


West VIrginia’s govenor just vetoed a bill that made WVA apparently go right to work with resulting pay deceases and benefits. Their legislature overode the veto saying it was good for business!. What! I have actually heard workers say ( no not in WVA) that unions take away rights and why should they pay after all it’s more money in unions pockets. Perhaps the unions themselves need to get more involved with people via town hall meetings instead of businesses being allowed to leave the country with the republicans cheering them on in the name of “business.” You can’t have a business if no one can buy your products!


Remember companies were not founded on the idea that they had to take care of people, they were founded on the idea to make a profit. Perhaps more grass roots people should found their own companies and be union backed. Not easy but it can be done.


I do not understand anyone not including farmers. They are the backbone of the country. Without them, and the ability to grow our own food, we could not exist. Yet, the “small” farmer has been shoved out by huge factory farms . More and more people are actually downsizing, and living off the grid which irks the elites to no tomorrow. I guess they cannot enjoy their own lives. Remember Scrooge was just a symbol of British aristocracy and corporate elites of the time not a lovable cartoon character.