by Chuckie Corra, Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 02:29:54 AM EST
Its been a long time since I've been on MyDD, but its good to be back.
The talk of the town these days seems to be unions, and Wisconsin is center stage. Thats old news of course, just judging by the sheer amount of times the word "union" is mentioned on a single page alone here at MyDD. Unfortunately, when the talk involves unions you will have those who want to throw them under the bus. Many label union-members as "lazy" and "thuggish." Sadly, this totally misrepresents the vast vast majority of them (there's a bad apple in every bunch, lets be honest).
Nothing gets under my skin quite as much as when the GOP brings up the subject of unions. This may be a bit of a generalization, but I'll take the heat if any comes. I'm biased and can't help it. My family has been supported by a union for my entire life (21 years) and much longer. It runs in our blood.
Naturally, I understand that with everything there are setbacks. Unions have their drawbacks, theres no doubt. At the end of the day however, we need collective bargaining for workers in this country. Its a fundamental RIGHT that may not be explicitly stated in plain English for Republicans to read and comprehend, but its true.
To better understand the situation, I would like to offer a bit of a unique perspective to the importance of unions. In case anyone has forgotten (or never knew in the first place), I am from West Virginia and have lived here my entire life. The coal-mining industry is still thriving and powerful as ever (despite the departure of Don Blankenship).
Take a look back to April of last year, when 29 miners lost their lives in a horrible explosion. The mine was run by Massey Energy, a company notorious for not allowing unions or labor organization at all. In fact, the CEO at the Time (Blankenship) was famous for union-busting.
In the last five years, fatal accidents at three non-union West Virginia coal mines have resulted in 43 fatalities.
These deaths are causing some to question the safety records of mines where workers are not in the miner’s union.
"I think the obvious evidence in the last few years is that currently it’s more dangerous to work in non-union mines than union mines," he said.
Source: WV Pubcast
When workers aren't allowed to organize and collectively bargain, they lose any clout they have against a big corporation (in this case Massey) and are unable to refuse work because of poor working conditions. Unions provide that kind of safety net. They allow the laborers of this country to proudly stand together and not just be a number for a corporation, they are given a voice in a place where they would otherwise have none.
In the words of United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts (Paraphrased), the miners at the Upper Big Branch Mine should have had the right to say kiss my ass, I'm not working in these terrible conditions.
This is just one of many examples detailing just how important labor unions are. We need them in this country.