Why The Anti-Union Message Doesn’t Sell

Fox Nation is featuring a new video from Minnesota Majority, a Tea Party group that is radical even by Tea Party standards. The video plays ominous music behind a series of claims that they must think will dampen the growing movement for labor and working families in America.

However, like many of the attacks on the Wisconsin protests that sparked this uprising, the anti-union crowd may be hurting their own cause. The video (below) begins by noting the massive protests in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana, and it asks why these union workers are protesting. Then it answers its own question and, in doing so, makes an outstanding argument in favor of unions. The video notes that union workers:

  • Make more money
  • Have better benefits
  • Enjoy greater job security
  • Retire earlier

What a travesty! Unions are succeeding in doing what they promise to do. This cheesy attack ad is actually an advertisement for union membership.

I’m sure the Fox Nationalists hope that viewers will come away resentful that union members are better off than non-union members. But the problem with that is that it’s true. Union members are better off. So the question is whether people who are not presently in unions will want to drag their unionized friends and family down to their level, or will they be motivated to form and join unions themselves so they can reap the obvious benefits of collective bargaining? It seems to me that most people would rather advance their own interest than to hurt others. Particularly when those others may be their spouses, their parents, their children, and others who are close to them.

Of course, the ad goes on to lie about the use of tax dollars to advance the union agenda, and implies that union workers are living in the lap of undeserved luxury. But it fails to acknowledge that unions have recognized the difficult economic times and agreed to make responsible concessions that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker refuses to accept.

In the end, if you inform people who have common sense and compassion that union membership will provide them with better pay and working conditions, as this ad does inadvertently, they will almost always be more likely to choose the path that would improve their lives than one that would harm others.

That’s what makes the argument of the anti-union crowd so difficult to sell. They have to persuade people to set aside their hopes and aspirations and force their friends and family to do so as well. Sharing sacrifice during tough times is something Americans have faced before, but it never works to ask them to abandon their dreams and settle for a diminished future for their children.

Please Note: Tomorrow is the Rally to Save the American Dream. Use this link to find the one nearest you. Stand up with your neighbors for workers and families. The way out of this economic valley is to join together for progress. Don’t let the pessimists divide us.


15 thoughts on “Why The Anti-Union Message Doesn’t Sell

  1. I have heard of late a lot of anti public union sentiment, with the argument being public employees make X% more than their private counterparts. Here’s the flaw in that argument. Why do we want to bring those middle class wages down instead of bringing the private sector wages up? Of course public union employees earn more when the number one private employer in the country is Walmart! The number one employer in the nation has an average wage of somewhere around $20k per year, with a minor percentage receiving a medical benefit. And that medical insurance has a $4000+ annual deductible, making them virtually self-insured for all but catastrophic care.

    • I’ll tell you why it’s an issue, because union negotiated wages are NOT market wages – which means – at some point, they will be shown to be unsustainable. I’m not sure where you think money to pay wages comes from, but it’s not magic. Balance is required and it’s not here now. If you want high wages, then you will need to pay higher prices for everything. I’ll give you an example – Harley Davidson Motor Cycles – generally much more expensive than their Japanese counterparts by thousands – mainly due to higher union wages. guess what, when the economy took a dive, people stopped paying the higher prices – no surprise. Fortunately they company and union could negotiate an agreement to save jobs – give backs were required.

      • We have a trade imbalance that could be fixed with tariffs that other nations impose upon our goods. And we have tax laws that reward corporations for moving our jobs overseas. But you’re okay with that, Steve, because you find American wages too high. You must love Walmart and its average annual wage of $20k with a minority of those getting health insurance (and when they do, having a deductible equal to 1/4 of their annual wage). I thought conservatives were in favor of American exceptionalism. Oh, not for wages? Got it.

  2. Sometimes I think you live in fantasy land. The list of benefits you note are generally short lived and are NOT forever – the reason why – unsustainable agreements are inevitably negotiated in the life of a union relationship – which is the fault of both parties due to short sighted negotiations – people want to share in the good times, but don’t want to give back or even plan for the bad – and I can tell you that the unsustainable agreements are generally negotiated during the good times with NO plans for the down turn that ALWAYS comes. And when things go sour and reality hits, those benefits go away or people lose their jobs unless SIGNIFICANT give backs are agreed, which isn’t so easy. I’ve seen it in my community time and time again. Sometimes it gets worked out and jobs are saved, but too many times it’s not and good bye jobs – lots of them.

    • Nice to see that you’re an advocate of lower wagers for American workers. Perhaps you’d like to see them decline to the level of China. We could also roll back pensions and workplace safety and permit children to work 18 hour days. Then we could compete, right?

      Almost everything you said above is proved false by the current situation. Labor in Wisconsin are the ones willing to make concessions but the governor won’t talk to them. Worker’s benefits are not unsustainable. The present deficit in WI is the result of tax breaks given to wealthy corporations.

      And unions are a part of the marketplace, not a hindrance to it. Without them workers have no voice and employers can run rough shod over them. But that’s what you’d like, isn’t it?

      • Like I said – fantasyland – stay there if you like, I’ll live in the real world, which, by the way, is with union workers – which is who i work with every day, not in cyberspace with your goofy ideas as to what really goes on.

  3. Steve… Stop trying to bring sanity to this site!

  4. Unless they are negotiating in bad faith, those on the gov’t or private sector side are saying they agree to the CBA and their budgets are adjusted accordingly. If belt tightening is required, unions members have many times adjusted to accommodate for the bad times. WI situation is no different. Concessions on both sides are required. Walker isn’t negotiating…he’s “my way or the highway.”. And blaming WI workers, union or not, for the budget shortfall after giving the surplus to the rich folks, isn’t right nor is it politically prudent. Needing to give the surplus to those gabillionares doesn’t justify taking away workers rights.

    • Politicians aren’t good at taking responsibility for budget problems, which they create by not being responsible with our money, but don’t forget – those surpuluses are not to just be spent – that money belongs to the taxpayer, not the government. Either it should be saved to cover future downturns and shortfalls, which some states do, or it should be returned to the people who paid the taxes in the first place. “Gabillionares” have the same right to their money as anyone else.

      • But you don’t give that surplus to a group at the expense of another. The CBA was negotiated, now the governor is wanting to violate the contract that was presumably negotiated in good faith.

        • Are we talking about an actual surplus? It’s only a surplus if more money is taken in than the financial commitments. You appear to be suggesting something different.

        • Ok, I’ve been looking at why there is a deficit – it appears that this is all blamed on a tax cut that was supposedly passed – I say supposedly because I’m not sure of all the facts here. Is that the contention?

  5. When the Democrats left office, the budget was balanced with a surplus. When the Republicans took office, they passed tax cuts for corporations, which resulted in a deficit, which could “only” be fixed if unions would give up their collective bargaining rights, never mind that collective bargaining has worked for both employers and employees in Wisconsin for decades and never mind that the unions already agreed to what is, in actuality, a pay cut (see below). I believe the prank phone call proved beyond a doubt that Gov. Walker’s real motive was not to plug a budget hole he himself created, but to bust unions, which are traditional supporters of the Democratic party. Even Fox News reported that of the top ten contributors to political campaigns, seven contributed to Republican candidates and the other three contributed to Democratic candidates and were, yes, unions. The entire “budget deficit” in Wisconsin was a trumped up excuse to demolish Democratic support. In case you haven’t guessed yet, I am teacher caught right in the middle of this. In the last week, I’ve gotten letters from former students who’ve been following the news and who wanted to thank me for making a difference in their lives. They wrote letters to cheer me up because they know how hard I work. And just for the record: I pay 100 percent of my pension and health insurance. Teachers are paid by a process called “deferred compensation.” Both Forbes Magazine (“The Wisconsin Lie Exposed – Taxpayers Actually Contribute Nothing To Public Employee Pensions” by Rick Ungar) and U.S. News & World Report (“The Big Myth in Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s Union-Busting Crusade” by Robert Schlesinger) explain how it works. In addition, adjusting for inflation, teachers in Wisconsin today are earning LESS than we were in 1993 when Gov. Thompson’s “Qualified Economic Offer” went into effect, which limited teachers’ wages and benefit package to no more than a 3.8 increase–most of which was eventually eaten up by health care insurance premiums. Certainly I didn’t go into teaching for the money, but I also am not willing to work this hard for free. Is anybody? I’m tired of all the falsehoods that are being bandied about by people who don’t even bother to do research, and that includes the national corporate media. The real problem is not unions. The real problem is not working people who want to be paid a fair wage for a hard day’s work and whose unions set the standard that non-union workplaces aim for–Jeepers, where do you think the 8-hour day came from? Extra pay for overtime? The real problem is what the real problem always is: hubris and greed. The rest of Gov. Walker’s budget has just been revealed to a state that is still reeling from what it says: millions of dollars cut from schools, libraries, public transit systems, health care for the aged and the poor. Wisconsin has a progressive tradition of respecting people’s dignity by expecting effort but providing help. If you want to read more see what recently retired U.S. Representative Dave Obey has to say about this whole issue: http://fightingbob.com/article.cfm?articleID And now I have to go to bed, because I have to get up early for another rally. I will not let my state go down without a fight.

    • Folks in unions aren’t the issue – but if you think your union actually gives a crap about you as an individual, you’re naive. They care about money and the power and influence it buys for them. Go to your rally for yourself not for union, you’re a meal ticket to union leadership – nothing more.

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