Collective bargaining levels playing field

Posted: Tuesday, May 05, 2009

In the real world, individuals try to survive and earn enough to support themselves and their families. But what chance does a single individual have in bargaining with a large organization or business as "one-on-one," with equal power and rights? The answer is, almost none.

Many years ago, another plan was proposed and implemented - "collective bargaining." Karl Marx and others had never considered this possibility ever arising. They saw it as workers against the rich, wealthy owners, a one-on-one confrontation. They came up with a spurious interpretation of human history and called it "communism." When people oppose unions, they tend to call them "communist organizations." That is not the truth, nor the reality.

In the United States and other countries, there was a new idea known as collective bargaining. Today we call these groups "unions." They went on "strike," "hit the bricks," and demanded that negotiations be on an equal basis; group against group, rather than individuals against large corporations. Yes, as these groups became powerful and influential, there were those that exploited, used and benefited personally as representatives of the "collective bargaining groups." Ever since those ideological fallacies emerged, we have heard the cry that "unions are unfair," or "unions are corrupt." Now, it is obvious that those who control wealth, power, financial institutions, banks and other large businesses are perhaps even more corrupt.

There is no doubt, based on historical evidence, that both unions and management were - and may still be - sheltering corrupt and selfish, greedy individuals looking out for just personal gain. But there appears to be no better solution to the relationship between the rich and powerful and the workers who make corporate profits possible. When corporations have "collective bargaining," as unions of those with wealth and power, the only reasonable response on the part of the workers is "collective bargaining." Mexico and Japan have strong collective bargaining units. They are not evil empires, but people who understand that collective actions are better than single individuals confronting an organized group of others.

The first of May, May Day, was celebrated around the world, not by the wealthy, nor corporate executives, nor those who at times have multi-million dollar annual incomes, but by those workers, laborers and common people who decided that collective bargaining by those in power and control had to be challenged by collective workers.

Union workers and their leaders are not perfect, they are human beings, just as those in charge of large businesses, organizations and corporations are - but at least we have a level playing field when collective bargaining is enforced, supported and respected by all of us.

Wally Olson


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