This is a true story. I asked a young woman lawyer who had gone to high school, college, and law school what she knew about a place called Pearl Harbor. She looked blankly at me but finally said she thought it was a place in Japan. “Aaagh,” I wanted to shout; I didn’t. I just smiled ruefully thinking how little was being taught. That incident was 20 years ago. Since that time as best I can tell things in education have continued down hill.
What kind of education do those who have not graduated from high school, or graduated from high school, or even graduated from college have about our history or anyone’s history? Many in our society are illiterates when it comes to the history of the American labor movement . That, I suggest, accounts for Socialist Sanders and Billionaire Trump having such support in the recent election.
How many people do you believe know that at one time the main supporters of the Democratic party were White Immigrant Laborers; on the other side were the supporters of the Republican party who were White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. Those two groups hated and fought with each other for many decades. The WILs were on the outside. The businesses were all controlled by the WASPs. The latter had a certain idea about government which has persisted to this day which is to keep it tidy and cost effective.
The WILs knew their only chance of reaching the American dream that brought them to this land was through their numbers who could parade to the ballot box. The WILs idea of government was to use it to provide jobs and good schools to the people. Barred from getting ahead in the WASP controlled industries and businesses, they turned to politics to make their way.
One interesting fact that few know about this battle is that the women’s suffrage movement was motivated in part to offset the heavy WIL vote. it was believed that WASP women would be able to go to the ballot and outvote the WILs.
Barred from industry jobs those WILs who were unable to get a government job had to work as laborers. Many became involved in the labor movement. Unions and WASP business owners locked horns for decade after decade. In the late 1800s and early 1900s strikes were an everyday occurrence in the country. Many were put down by the use of company police or state militias or federal troops. Our government in the hands of WASPs had no problem with crushing strikes and bringing charges against union leaders.
Workers and labor eventually gained the ascendency. In the Fifties of last century labor membership in the private sector comprised about 33% of all workers. The existence of unions helped other workers to gain better wages. Now unions in the private sector represent about 5% of workers.
In the Fifties about 1/3 of workers were employed in manufacturing. Now it is about 8%. Our nation’s manufacturing base is at its lowest point in 100 years. It was those jobs that paid the blue-collar workers the substantial wage that gave America its large middle class.
The reasons for the decline in unions are many but the most important is the that the Democratic Party has ceased to care for the workingman; it has become a party of the aggrieved pushing more and more civil rights issues while ignoring the rights of the working people who are now on the outside of both parties. Even though the Democratic Party has little concern for unions the unions are stuck having no where else to turn.
Wage stagnation is a result of the union’s lack of clout. Even more so are the actions by the Democratic appointees with no understanding of the history of their party. One appointee, Boston U.S. attorney Ortiz, who happens to be married to an IBM executive who may have an inordinate amount of influence on her actions, has launched an all out attack on the Teamsters and other unions in an attempt to take aware their bargaining tools. She is criminalizing normal union activity in the same manner that it was done at the beginning of the 20th Century by the WASPs.
The progressives who run the Democratic Party have no concern that the unions are ignored, investigated and prosecuted. They only deal with civil rights. These are fine but without a decent job all the civil rights in the world amount to little. It was the working class from the WILs that made America into the nation that was great. It was the WILs who made the Democratic Party strong.
Strangers to America’s success have taken control of that party. They have little regards for the working class and less for the unions. Without having a party that represent a strong working class and powerful private sector unions the future of America is bleak.
America needs a Labor Party to fill the vacuum between the Democrats and the Republicans.