I am the beneficiary of union power. The unions gave us the weekend, higher wages, medical benefits, vacations and sick leave. Unions gave us the expectation that labor and capital were equal partners in building a better world. Those days, obviously, are over. Capital has won, and labor is now systematically being reduced to a new slave class of permanent poverty.
It wasn't always that way. In the 1960s, unions graduated my family from poverty into the working middle class. I come from factory workers, truck drivers and retail clerks. I grew up in a world where labor skills gave one both a living wage and an opportunity to advance yourself and your children. A family could thrive and the future looked bright.
Today the skies are darker and the weather stormier. My heritage has been destroyed, and now the capitalists are beginning to eat into the professional class. What was once done to the factories, sending the manufacturing base overseas, is now being done to the professional class. And there is no countervailing power capable of stopping this gutting of America.
It is neither good nor moral to allow a few to dominate the many. We used to have a tax system that helped redistribute the commonwealth of our productivity. But today both the tax system and the government that once acted as a representative of all the people are corrupt. Capitalism has infected our whole way of life, so that vast majorities submit to the interests of an elite few. This problem can't be fixed by political parities. It can only be fixed, as the signers of our Declaration of Independence knew, through revolution.
My Labor Day wish is that unions reconstitute themselves as movements and practice solidarity by offering food, housing, training and jobs to its members. I hope that we renounce hierarchy and return to the vision of equality. Perhaps then unions could again create a force more powerful than capitalism.
Unfortunately, the fundamental problem of unions today is that they too have become a class system. There are still workers on the line but they are governed by and submissive to a professionalized class of bureaucrats. In other words, the voice of labor does not emerge from the unionized but from the professional class that controls labor's voice. The recent Verizon strike is an illustration, portraying courageous, committed workers, winning the battle, then suddenly being sabotaged by organizers that sent them back to work with no victory. Until the organizers of labor become radicalized, not only will there be no revolution, there will be no future nor hope for our nation.