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Trends in Union Membership

By Smith, Currie & Hancock LLP

Critique by Punkerslut

From RadicalGraphics.org
Image: From "Consumerism" Gallery from RadicalGraphics.org

Start Date: June 12, 2005
Finish Date: June 12, 2005


     It has always been the contention of the Anarchist to the Marxist, that doing away with the Capitalist system is not enough. We must be free from economic authority, as much as we must be free from political authority. The authority that an employer holds over his employees is a glaring example, of how state Communism will effectively reinvent the Capitalist class, by incorporating it in to the ruling class. And, most of all, as all subversive Americans and united revolutionaries are aware of, Capitalism is state-sponsored slavery. The American government has done little to uphold its obligations to the international community; it has allowed its own businesses to outsource labor to third world countries. That alone is not a sin or a crime. As people become more internationalized, there will be greater understanding and comprehension of other cultures. Tolerance and acceptance -- the simple credo of the Humanitarian. But, we do not see tolerance and acceptance, when Capitalists relocate their business to foreign areas, because of lax labor laws. I do not see the comprehension of foreign cultures, when we force their children to work for sixty cents for twelve hours a day, in inhumane conditions, always under the threat of starvation and the reality of poverty. Our government has given a mandate of sanction to these practices, regardless whether the overseers of these child sweatshops beat, rape, molest, or murder their workers.

     That is where the current critique comes in. The author of the work I'm criticizing is a law firm. How coincidental, that one of the classes that benefits most from corrupt system that exploits the common man, the legal class, the caste of lawyers and manipulators of justice, is also defending the Capitalist system. Well, it's not even quite defending the Capitalist way of life here. It is attacking one of the methods that people try to achieve their interests in their social and economic life with more efficiency than by electioning or political campaigning. That is to say, the lawyers of this law firm are attacking the idea of unionizing, of workers organizing themselves and working together, cooperatively, in order to establish their interests against their exploiters and oppressors. With that, let us look at the critique.

The Critique

     The greater part of the article is showing how the general trend of American labor is to avoid labor unions, showing that labor unions are losing members. The only sectors that gained members were the public sectors and government offices. I'm not going to deny these statistics that labor unions are losing members, that more and more Americans have lost job security, that the general conditions of America are becoming less and less favorable to the average working man. All of these facts are admissible, but then, the article makes a rather interesting statement: "If your employees begin talking about organizing, you may want to mention these trends to them. In other words, ask them this question: If unions are so great, why have the vast majority of American workers decided to stay union-free?" My first sentiment: wow. Amazing.

     Let's break it down for this law firm. Unions are organized for the sole sake of establishing the interests of the workers, by the use of the strike, the boycott, and other economic tactics. By these acts of civil disobedience, by their rebellion against the system, unions have effectively gained better working conditions. Honestly, though, this shouldn't be necessary to describe to anyone who has an education. But, then again, it has been remarked with great accuracy that universities are simply overgrown nurseries, spoon feeding prejudices and lies to their students; and all the while, making a wonderful profit on the side. Allow me to quote Voltairine de Cleyre, an author of the 1800's...

Once more it says: "You who have not meat, be grateful that you have bread; many are not allowed even so much. You who work sixteen hours a day, be glad it is not twenty; many have not the privilege to work. You who have not fuel, be thankful that you have shelter; many walk the street! And you, street-walkers, be grateful that there are well-lighted dens of the city; in the country you might die upon the roadside. Goaded human race! Be thankful for your goad. Be submissive to the Lord, and kiss the hand that lashes you!" ["The Economic Tendency of Freethought," by Voltairine de Cleyre.]

     It is quite clear that the industrial era was not of "rugged individualism," but of exploitation, cruelty, and barbarism unchecked. The only method that the working class used and obtained in order to secure a better world for their children (which would be us), was through the union. It wasn't even just in the 1800's. To quote Ralph Nader, "One plant in Pennsylvania (a right-of-entry state) was using the chemical beta naphthylamine, which a health specialist learned was causing carcinoma of the bladder. The plant promptly moved to Georgia (not a right-of-entry state) and resumed operations unhindered." ["Safety on the Job," by Ralph Nader and Jerome Gordon, New Republic, Copyright 1968, Harrison-Blaine of New Jersey, Inc.. Quoted from Hot War on the Consumer, Edited by David Sanford, 1969, pages 177-178.] In order to continue poisoning their workers, plants have relocated to states that have no industrial requirements. Unions have always worked to make these hazardous conditions disappear. And, finally, let me quote Margaret Sanger, another prominent and accepted author...

Here we find the little mothers at 8, 9 and 10 years of age; here we see them already at work carrying responsibilities of the home, factory or mill; education is a thing apart from this child, childhood yearnings are crushed, childish joys are barred here, there is time for but one thing -- work. Work through childhood, through girlhood and womanhood.

We follow this child-mother up to the marriage day and find she has given her childhood, girlhood, womanhood, her strength, her very life to the factory or mill for an existence, an existence which the owner of the factory would not allow his horse or dog. Her face is pale and pinched with that hunting look of poverty; it never changes -- she is born, lives and dies with that look. She is married at night after the day's work, that she lose not one day's time.


After months of worry, toil, privation and physical exhaustion this child, too, is born. Let us see what this woman gives to society. Her child is undersized, underfed, weak, sickly and ofttimes deformed. It, too, has paid the price of birth; it has given its little strength with every heartbeat, that it may be born, and now it is here, cheated and swindled of its birthright. ["To Mothers -- Our Duty," by Margaret Sanger, The New York Call, March 26, 1911, p. 15.]

     I don't think it needs to be expounded upon. The Capitalist class is cruel, vicious, malevolent, and cold-hearted. It knows one unit of measure, and no other. It is not the measure of the hours of toil, it is not the measure of the sweat and blood; it is not the measure of the human life that was sacrificed to create this "industrial utopia." It's never been a disputed matter. All economists have been on general agreement of this point: the Capitalist system does nothing be create exploitation of the working man and enormous poverty for the general populace. Some of the modern so-called "philosophical Capitalists," who defend the Capitalist system as a social organization that allows for a system of advancement, from shit-shoveling slave to corporate executive, and a social organization that allows for artists and writers to make wealth off of their projects. None of them have read Adam Smith. None of them have read James Steuart, Thomas Malthus, or Isaac Gervaise. They also have an awkward, possibly sexually-related fetish with intellectualism, with appearing thoughtful, always ready to dish out a piece of wit or a smashing quip. I once heard one tell me that Adam Smith said that the economy best works without regulation. I asked him where he heard this. He told me, "Wealth of Nations." I immediately pointed out to him that the entire book by Adam Smith was larger than the unabridged dictionary, and for him to point out which page, chapter, section, etc.. But, he could say nothing. The contention of these neo-Capitalists is this: a Capitalist system is best for the worker and the employer, "just like Adam Smith said." Well, here's exactly what Adam Smith said...

What are the common wages of labour, depends everywhere upon the contract usually made between those two parties, whose interests are by no means the same. The workmen desire to get as much, the masters to give as little as possible. The former are disposed to combine in order to raise, the latter in order to lower the wages of labour.

It is not, however, difficult to foresee which of the two parties must, upon all ordinary occasions, have the advantage in the dispute, and force the other into a compliance with their terms. The masters, being fewer in number, can combine much more easily; and the law, besides, authorizes, or at least does not prohibit their combinations, while it prohibits those of the workmen. We have no acts of parliament against combining to lower the price of work; but many against combining to raise it. In all such disputes the masters can hold out much longer. A landlord, a farmer, a master manufacturer, a merchant, though they did not employ a single workman, could generally live a year or two upon the stocks which they have already acquired. Many workmen could not subsist a week, few could subsist a month, and scarce any a year without employment. In the long run the workman may be as necessary to his master as his master is to him; but the necessity is not so immediate.

We rarely hear, it has been said, of the combinations of masters, though frequently of those of workmen. But whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject. Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labour above their actual rate. To violate this combination is everywhere a most unpopular action, and a sort of reproach to a master among his neighbours and equals. We seldom, indeed, hear of this combination, because it is the usual, and one may say, the natural state of things, which nobody ever hears of. Masters, too, sometimes enter into particular combinations to sink the wages of labour even below this rate. These are always conducted with the utmost silence and secrecy, till the moment of execution, and when the workmen yield, as they sometimes do, without resistance, though severely felt by them, they are never heard of by other people. Such combinations, however, are frequently resisted by a contrary defensive combination of the workmen; who sometimes too, without any provocation of this kind, combine of their own accord to raise the price of their labour. Their usual pretences are, sometimes the high price of provisions; sometimes the great profit which their masters make by their work. But whether their combinations be offensive or defensive, they are always abundantly heard of. In order to bring the point to a speedy decision, they have always recourse to the loudest clamour, and sometimes to the most shocking violence and outrage. They are desperate, and act with the folly and extravagance of desperate men, who must either starve, or frighten their masters into an immediate compliance with their demands. The masters upon these occasions are just as clamorous upon the other side, and never cease to call aloud for the assistance of the civil magistrate, and the rigorous execution of those laws which have been enacted with so much severity against the combinations of servants, labourers, and journeymen. The workmen, accordingly, very seldom derive any advantage from the violence of those tumultuous combinations, which, partly from the interposition of the civil magistrate, partly from the necessity superior steadiness of the masters, partly from the necessity which the greater part of the workmen are under of submitting for the sake of present subsistence, generally end in nothing, but the punishment or ruin of the ringleaders.

But though in disputes with their workmen, masters must generally have the advantage, there is, however, a certain rate below which it seems impossible to reduce, for any considerable time, the ordinary wages even of the lowest species of labour.

A man must always live by his work, and his wages must at least be sufficient to maintain him. They must even upon most occasions be somewhat more; otherwise it would be impossible for him to bring up a family, and the race of such workmen could not last beyond the first generation. [The Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith, book 1, chapter 8.]

     To those who doubt this, or offer me any skepticism, that this is the general opinion of the book The Wealth of Nations, and its author Adam Smith, I give them this advise: try actually reading it and not just talking about it in some elitist cafe. But, wait, I just broke a traditionally accepted idea (Capitalism is good for the worker and the employer) by quoting the alleged author of that traditionally accepted idea. Well, the fact is this. Whether you're reading Karl Marx or Jean Baptiste Say, whether it's Friedrich Engels and Lenin or whether it's William Petty and Sismondi, you will always find the economists of the same opinion: "Does Capitalism oppress the worker, make his much more difficult, offer him poisoned solutions, inhibit the development of his intellectual and moral faculties? I suppose so, but I'm an economist; my job has never been what ought to be, but rather, what is. I am concerned solely with the mechanics of Free Enterprise. The fact might be obvious and apparent to all that this system is harmful to the working man, but I will only cover this aspect only insomuch that it deals with my theory of the political economy."


     So, what then is the argument of the law firm Smith, Currie & Hancock LLP? It is this: "If unions are so great, why have the vast majority of American workers decided to stay union-free?" I think this is a satisfactory response: Because, as Adam Smith so thoroughly wrote about to benefit the otherwise ignorant masses, the Capitalists are in a continual struggle against all effective, progressive organizations. Whether those organizations are international human rights groups like Amnesty International, or whether they are labor organizations, working to actualize a much more peaceful and just economic order. That, alongside the corporate media, constantly filtering all useful, progressive news information. Some news corporations, for instance, have gone so far as to file lawsuits against authors and writers who criticize them. (AKA: Fox News.) The argument, I suppose, behind these lawsuits is this: "Though we are the news, and we are responsible to give fair, honest, and relevant information to the public, we do not like it when that information reflects badly on us. So we will do all in our corporate power to hinder these so-called 'liberation movements' from publishing negative information about us." It is surprising, giving all of these oppressive elements of our society, that there is any labor movement among us. I can only hope, then, that my readership will take note of these little... discrepancies of Smith, Currie & Hancock LLP.


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