The corporate media constantly tell us that the United States is a great democracy because of its “free elections.” Never mind that Donald Trump became president with fewer votes than his main opponent. Never mind that the U.S. Senate has long been described as a “millionaires’ club.”
And never mind that few limits are set on the money spent on elections — meaning that despite numerous attempts at campaign finance reform, the candidates with the closest ties to the rich and ultra-rich almost always win. To confirm that, the current president was a multimillionaire from birth.
But what about other types of elections? What about when workers want to vote in a union so they can combine and strengthen their ability to fight the boss for better pay and conditions?
If anything, these elections are even less “free” than the ones for political candidates.
Criminal bosses vs. unions
A recent report from the Economic Policy Institute shows that bosses are increasingly breaking the law to prevent workers from joining together in unions.
In roughly 42 percent of all union election campaigns, the owners were found to have violated federal laws. Some crimes involved the totally illegal firing of workers for union activity. (EPI, “Unlawful,” Dec. 11)
And the real numbers are undoubtedly even higher. First of all, the 42 percent figure covers only elections supervised by the National Labor Relations Board. Workers in industries like agriculture and domestic work, as well as “independent contractors” – such as cab and truck drivers, airplane cleaners, freelance writers and other gig workers – are not covered by NLRB oversight.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2018, only 6.4 percent of private sector workers were union members.
However, according to the EPI, nearly half of all nonunion workers say they would vote for a union if given the opportunity. What a huge difference!
This shows that it is not worker apathy that keeps union membership down.
Criminal behavior by the bosses is a big factor that keeps workers unorganized.
Criminal activity — isn’t that where the government is supposed to get involved? Doesn’t the budget for “fighting crime” take a huge bite out of our tax dollars? But when the criminals are bosses, it’s a different story. When the bosses are exploiting our labor power, forcing us to work under dangerous conditions and committing illegal wage theft – paying below minimum wage or denying overtime pay after 40 hours – those who call for “law and order” are conveniently quiet.
These criminal bosses should be behind bars — not workers desperate to make ends meet.
No matter how much money the bosses sweat out of us, they always want more. And they will do anything — including breaking whatever progressive laws have been won — to get it.
This is why workers need unions, whether we work in the fields, on the assembly lines, in warehouses, hospitals, stores and restaurants, in offices, or in the public sector. Only a collective struggle will improve our wages and working conditions.
The multinational, multigender working class is the vast majority. Organized, we can win.