How Unions Work

30 Thousand Municipal workers and Supporters making a difference
I put this together for my union to promote an upcoming rally, I thought I might share it with you because the the image we have of unions in this country needs a recalibration. Once again thanks for reading.

What is the union doing for me? A lot of people ask that about the union. It is an interesting question because it’s like asking what is my liver doing for me? You see the union is you. You are the union; the union isn’t this person or thing moving around doing stuff. The union doesn’t exist without you.
Over the last few weeks the entire world has been riveted to the events taking place in Egypt. Many people are stunned by the remarkable courage it takes to stand up in the face of what seems like unwinnable circumstances and say no we have a right to be heard. We have a right to choose our destiny; we have a right to control our country, because our country doesn’t exist without us. It’s shocking because it’s been almost 20 years since we’ve heard a cry that loud across the world, but it was effective because it was said in unison by enough people that it rose above the din and distractions of the jersey shore, and the real house wives of Miami.
What is important to realize though is they are not the only ones being heard. In Wisconsin 30,000 government employees and supporters protested in front of their capital, because their governor wants to strip their rights to collectively bargain. It is becoming a national story. Think about that when was the last time you heard pro-labor protest make national news.
Bloomberg has said city workers are too expensive, because of our pensions and our health care. He says the system we have is insolvent and these things will blow up the budget. Well let’s take a look at the budget. Bloomberg is in fact right our benefits do take up a substantial portion of it. The reason is we gave them a big fat loan. Everyone who receives a pension pays into it, and loans that money to the government we tell them you can have the money now but we want it back with interest. But times are hard, and Bloomberg wants to renegotiate the terms. I can understand that. But who else does the city owe money to? Is Bloomberg trying to renegotiate with them? The who is Wall Street and the answer is no. So to be clear the city is broke and can’t afford its pension loans so they need to be renegotiated, but Wall Street loans are untouchable. It is the equivalent of saying we can’t afford to keep the lights on because we need to spend all of our money on caviar.
The city is trying to balance the budget on the backs of it’s employees, I’m sure you’ve all been told like I have been that we have to do more with less, and we should be happy that only a few of us were laid off. I don’t believe that. I don’t believe their plan will work, and I don’t think that the city can survive the kinds of cutbacks being purposed.
The city works because we show up every day. The city works because we have a sanitation department keeping our streets clean, a transit department keeping the buses and the trains running, because we keep the good water coming out of our faucets and clean and dispose of the bad water. We are not as insignificant as Bloomberg and the city seems to think at this moment. We need to change their minds and the only way to do that is we need to follow the examples of our Brothers and Sisters in Wisconsin and of our cousins in Egypt. We need to stand up and shout until our voices are heard. Next Thursday there will be a protesting outside of city hall, I plan on being there, and I want you to join me. If you want to know what your union is doing for you come out and protest and see because this is what unions do and this is how unions have the power to create change. Thank you.

1 comment for “How Unions Work

  1. February 17, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    A true rallying cry. Really well done, hope you guys have a great turn out. (this from a guy who’s pretty much anti-union)

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