We had to fight for our right to collectively bargain together

by Bob Murl Bearden

‎The news has not been so good this week. Scott Walker prevailed in Wisconsin (although it does appear that he will lose the State Senate to the Democrats) and Romney is now drawing closer in the polls and he has also out raised Obama in donations for the month of May by $17 million dollars.

Citizens United in throwing tons upon tons of millions of dollars into the race in Wisconsin appears to prove that money talks over grassroots efforts and ‘boots on the ground’. And maybe that is true. If it is it does not bode well for the upcoming congressional elections or the presidential election in November.

The scary thing about Wisconsin beyond the vast millions dumped into Walker’s campaign by a few old white guys, is the fact that 38 percent of all union households voted for Walker. Why would they vote against their own best interests? Why would they vote for a guy who has vowed to destroy unions and has done so much to destroy public employee unions in Wisconsin? It makes no sense at all. But, maybe it does.

Unions have become stagnant and self-possessed with selfish interests and have for far too many years ceded one right after another just to try and maintain their place in the middle class. They vote not for what’s good for all but strictly what they consider is good for them and if a sister or brother union has problems oh well that’s their problem. They often cede their rights just to keep their pay scale and their benefits. Instead of fighting back with their boots on the ground they say ‘well at least they didn’t take away everything.’ Well, if we keep using that mentality they will one day have nothing left to be taken away.

Unions are populated these days by workers who grew up in good economic times and don’t understand what it means to have to fight for your rights and your benefits, because when they entered the workforce those rights and benefits were assured. Unions have been derelict in teaching their newest members what unions stand for and what unions have done for not only their own members, but for our nation as well.

We have failed to convince our members that what we have won by blood, sweat and tears, can be taken away unless we stand together and say no. So many of our members have had it so easy for so long that they do not appreciate nor do they comprehend the possibility of losing all that those that came before them worked and strived so long and so hard to give to them.

So many union members today believe that management can’t take away their rights, their benefits or their pay. They don’t understand that if collective bargaining is outlawed by a governor or by congress that the people they work for can cut their benefits completely. That they can have their pay cut in half the next day. They don’t understand that without the right to collectively bargain with their employer they have no rights save what their employer decides they want to give them.

It’s a case of the more that their union has gotten for them the less they think they need the union, not understanding that bargaining rights were won after decades of strikes, lock-outs and laws to protect the right to collective bargain. That these rights were won through the hard work of unions and their friends over the period of many long years.

We have too many people out there that simply don’t know what congress or state legislators or governors can do to take away rights that they thought were inalienable and guaranteed by law and by the constitution. Our rights to collectively bargain were won at the cost of a lot of long hard work and even a lot of lives. No employer just simply walked up and said here are your rights. No governor, nor state or federal legislator just stood up and said here are your rights we give them to you.

We had to fight for our right to collectively bargain together. Just as we had to fight for the right to govern ourselves as a nation. And you damn right they can and will take our rights away if we just stand by and say they can’t do that because our right to bargain is inalienable. Because they want to destroy unions, because unions protect everyone’s rights. Because unions built the middle class. Because unions are the most democratic of institutions still yet operating in this country.

You damn well should know that they fully intend to deprive you of your rights, every last one that they believe you will cede to them. They are serious and they are winning, at least as long as we let them!” —– Bob Bearden


2 thoughts on “We had to fight for our right to collectively bargain together

  1. I actually did not agree with the Citizens United Decision, but if you believe that is why Scott Walker won, you are kidding yourself. The Tea Party movement is just mainstream America getting their information from a variety of sources and being skeptical. This allows them to make more informed decisions and not trusting either party and especially not trusting the mainstream media. Hence, the great conservative (classical liberal) gains in 2010 and the growing support for Scott Walker.

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