Saturday, November 13, 2010

We Often Bite the Hand That Feeds Us

This week I showed my cousin my grandfather's (his great grandfather) miner's union card. He told me something I did not know. My grandmother received a small pension from the union as a result of my grandfather's death in an accident in the Pocahantas Mine in West Virginia. It was a small amount, but in 1920 and the years following, it was a lifesaver for a widow with six kids in the N. Georgia mountains.

Ironically, my father and his brothers spewed hatred for unions, as so many southerners have done over the years. My father worked in construction over the eastern part of the country. In many instances his company was working in union territory. He often carried a firearm in order to fight unionization. All of this to "preserve" his pittance of a retirement fund. His company paid low wages and gave the impression to its workers that its profit sharing plan was the best. After 30 years, my father had little to show for his hard work. Yes, it was his choice, but he bought into the idea that so many have today that unionization is bad. It IS bad. Bad for the bottom line for companies, but not so bad for workers.

We owe a great deal to unionization. The minimum wage, eight hour days, vacations, sick leave, pensions and safer workplaces. However, in today's world unionization is still considered a bad name, especially in the South. The Teapublican Party of today rails against unions, against pensions, retirement, government safety regulations, health care provided by businesses (and government) and the minimum wage. Low income workers voted in droves for Teapublicans in the election this month. Teapublicans rail against Social Security and are determined to destroy that lifeline for so many elderly citizens as well.

It is my opinion that, should Teapublicans be successful in destroying Social Security and retirement plans, along with affordable healthcare, and government regulation, unions my very well be destined for a comeback. I would say they are poised for a major resurgence, as American workers suddenly realize what they have lost. Unionization was the result of a long and bitter struggle by workers to improve their lot through collective bargaining. It is a lesson that will once again have to be learned the hard way as voters continue to vote against their own best interests.

9 comments:

Doug B said...

I think what absolutely astounds me is the way so many poor folks buy into Tea Party and conservative rhetoric. History shows us what our country was like before it had a healthy safety net. We don't need to speculate about it. Why would a return to the bad old days be desirable?

Diane J Standiford said...

Like Doug, I don't get it either. I was a shop steward at my job. I survive now, thanks to the policies/benefits my union worked to get for me. My long term care policy, my pension, protection from racists, homophobes, and stupid bosses. YES! There ARE workers who take advantage of being in a union and see it as a get-out-of-jail free card. But those slackers are in any job. Unions saved the poor and solidified a middle class. Anyone against unions is either a greedy business owner, greedy white collar college grad, or ignorant hard working brainwashed flunky. Your post says it all. And your conclusion may indeed be necessary, I know if Social Security is cut more, *I* will sink. Not just our elderly (who we should respect for building all we have), the disabled (who we should help with our humanity because there but for the grace of God go any of us), the poor (who we must see as our weakest link, making us all weaker), but everyone who every worked to pay for shelter, food, and education, will be laid waste and left on the side to watch what was once an American dream vanish into thin air.

rainlillie said...

Great post GMM.
Poor people vote for the GOP because of social issues. As long as the GOP is anti-choice and fights to keep Barry and Larry from marrying, their base will continue to vote against their own self interest. The GOP won't even attempt to overturn Rove v wade, that's their bread and butter.

Georgia Mountain Man said...

Very good point Rain. In their case the Teapublicans would be bite the hand that feeds them if they voted down Roe v Wade. The same goes for approving gay marriage.

Anonymous said...

Why are you in love with Roe v Wade? Do you hate babies? Murder, pure and simple. I hate it!

Georgia Mountain Man said...

Anonymous, I don't know if you are the same one, since you are afraid to post your name, but I had one anonymous poster that had reading comprehension problems. Where in the world did you get that comment? Obviously, you didn't comprehend.

Anonymous said...

I think you removed something from your post so that you can deny it.

Georgia Mountain Man said...

That is funny. I think you didn't read it. Nothing has changed.

Georgia Mountain Man said...

Anonymous, you saw Roe v Wade in the comment and immediately thought the post had to do with abortion. Read it and you will see. I simply reacted in my comments to Rainlillie's comment. Try reading it all again. Maybe it will sink in...maybe.