The history of unions in America is complicated. They definitely served a purpose as Americans entered the industrial age, improving wages, job security and working conditions. But the movement was also susceptible to infiltration by those who wanted to fundamentally transform or even destroy the United States of America. Unions had pervasive ties to communists, thugs and the Democratic Party. Violence and racism were systemically rampant. So how did Unions begin and flourish in the U.S.? This four-part series explores the history of unions and why their time may have passed.
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History of Labor Unions Part I
The union label song was a happy little jingle for a happy group of Americans. So happy, in fact, Al Gore once told a group of teamsters it was a "lullaby" his mother sang to him at night. Interestingly, Al Gore must have been 27 years old when his mother serenaded him, because the union label song was written in 1975.
From the beginning, unions, communism, socialism and democratic socialism have gone hand-in-hand. It may have something to do with Karl Marx and his feelings about unions:
Let the ruling class tremble at a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. Workers of the world unite.
Since both Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, authors of the Communist Manifesto, seemed to care so much for the working class, organizing workers and communism made a natural fit. That may well explain why communists were pervasive within union leadership, the union movement and the Democratic Party.
The labor movement also had significant racism. In San Francisco in the late 1880s, the union developed a slogan for their strike: "The Chinese must go." In the cigar industry, union labels signaled customers that products were made by whites, as blacks were excluded from joining unions.
History of Labor Unions Part II
Unions have been an influential force in America with some very positive results. Child labor laws, the eight-hour workday, weekends off --- all can be directly attributed to the labor movement of the late 1800s. The vast majority of union members are patriotic, hard-working Americans. But there is a seedy underbelly to labor unions.
The cauldrons of socialism, Marxism and communism, unions have fomented violence as far back as 1877. Employing both a mixture of Marxism and violence, early radical unions favored waging warfare against the capitalist society and its leaders. In modern times, Democratic allies in Congress have encouraged getting "a little bloody when necessary."
Unions became enmeshed with another seedy ally during the 20th century: the Mafia. The 20th century labor wars opened up vast new territory to Mafia influence and domination. Organized crime would move in on unions and employers nationwide, soaking up the wages and pension funds of union members, while extorting huge payoffs from businesses in return for labor peace. The mafia would take control of major international unions and find its way into executive boardrooms.
History of Labor Unions Part III
How did unions come to wield so much power and influence over American politics? How did union leaders gain more access to the White House during the Obama administration than administration officials, Democratic senators or family members? The answer is simple: money.
The most frequent visitors to the Obama White House were Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, and his second lieutenant, Anna Burger. Also at the top of the list was president of AFL-CIO Richard Trumka. Trumka admitted that he visited the White House two or three times a week and had conversations every single day. In the 2012 election, according to The New York Times, labor leaders expected unions to spend $400 million on national, state and local elections.
The left loves to accuse the Koch brothers of buying elections, claiming they surpass any other political donors on the right or left, but the claim is ludicrous. The Koch brothers have personally given $3.2 million to politicians and parties over the past 15 years. The Huffington Post estimated union spending on elections and lobbying at $1.7 billion.
According to OpenSecrets.org, the number one political donor in American politics since the 1990 election is SEIU, with total contributions of $234 million --- all but $2 million went to Democrats.
History of Labor Unions Part IV
Labor unions brought many positive changes to America, but at a very high cost. Violence and corruption have permeated unions and, in many cases, hampered the incentive to excel. Virtually nothing can remove a paying union member from a job, regardless of performance or behavior. Additionally, Americans are denied the right to work without paying union dues.
Socialist, Marxist, communist and progressive infiltration and ideology spilled into the government due to massive and unprecedented political contributions from unions. Rampant racism kept blacks from joining and laws like the Davis-Bacon Act in 1931, further prevented non-unionized blacks and immigrant laborers from competing with unionized white workers for scarce jobs during the Depression.
Has it all been worth it? Do the victories of unions in the workplace outweigh the heavy cost? Unions had their place and time in American history, but that time may well have passed.
Listen to all serials at glennbeck.com/serials