After the disappointing and frankly frightening results in this Tuesday's Wisconsin recall elections for someone like myself who has been a decades long union member and what it might mean for the future of the union movement if this emboldens Republicans to try to get rid of every union on the country, and the real possibility of seeing them push for putting a national right to work law on the books, I was glad to see at least one person leading a discussion on what's happened where we've got the working class voting against their own economic interests, and that was Ed Schultz.
If we had a few more discussions like this in our national media, rather than the constant union bashing we see instead, maybe more voters would be aware of the fact that pitting one group of workers against another just harms all of us. Sadly as Thomas Frank pointed out, this is something that's been going on for decades. And as E.J. Dionne noted, the severe decline in union membership on the United States has made it much easier for Republicans to play this game of divide and conquer with the working class.
This segment hit home for me particularly hard because it mirrored a conversation I had with a co-worker earlier the same day, who was asking me what I thought about what happened in Wisconsin and all the money poured in there and wondering how we've got so many within our own ranks who are union members and who are happy to have the security of that union membership when it comes to everything from decent wages, to health and retirement benefits, and some recourse with safety issues on the job to not worrying about being fired if they dare to speak up about problems in the work place, and yet consider themselves part of this ridiculous AstroTurf "tea party" movement.
Sadly I didn't have any good answers for him other than to make some of the same points made by Frank and Dionne here about the propaganda those members have been exposed to and the huge uphill battle we're facing to try to overcome that and the way unions are portrayed in the media.
Here's part of the conversation from Schultz's show where he was more or less following up on a discussion he'd had on MSNBC earlier that day on Alex Wagner's show and the need for union leadership to be doing more to educate their members. I agree with the points he made. The question is how do unions use the limited resources they have to potentially follow up on them when their ranks are under assault, which means their finances are as well.