Why are many UTU members participating across America in rallies opposing attacks on collective-bargaining rights?
Why have we created the Collective Bargaining Defense Fund to assist our union brothers and sisters under attack?
Because we know that those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it.
We know that if right-wing extremists succeed in busting public-employee unions, their next target is airline, bus and railroad labor unions.
The history of working men and women in America — before we fought for and won the right to join a union, engage in collective bargaining and have grievances resolved by neutral parties — was a bleak history of low wages, few if any benefits, unsafe working conditions, and arbitrary discipline and discrimination on the job.
Let’s take a short trip back to the times before workplace democracy.
Before labor laws and worker rights, courts considered any combination of workers seeking wage increases and/or improved working conditions as a criminal conspiracy, punishable by fine and imprisonment.
Picketing an employer — by even one picket — was considered by courts an unlawful restraint of trade.
Workers typically put in a 12-hour day, six days a week, with no overtime pay, no paid vacations, no employer-provided health care insurance, no process for worker grievances to be heard and no compensation for on-the-job injuries.
Railroads once hired Pinkerton detectives to spy on workers, blacklisted troublemakers and warned workers in writing that if injured on the job, the railroad had no responsibility.
There was a time in America that federal troops were used to put down work stoppages.
Infamous railroad baron Charles Crocker responded to a work stoppage by announcing it was he who made the rules — that if workers didn’t return to their jobs, he would pay them nothing for the work already performed and for which they were owed.
“Robber barons prevailed in their pursuit of endless treasure at the expense of their employees,” wrote a federal judge in 2006, describing working conditions before establishment of the very labor laws right-wing extremists now seek to eliminate.
Turn back the clock?
We will not go away. We will not forget.
Together, in solidarity, we can and will win this fight and emerge stronger than ever.
To help achieve this victory, please contribute to the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund.
Your contributions will help to provide signs, t-shirts with slogans, and other activities to increase public awareness and support for preserving workplace democracy and the union movement.
Please make your contribution today by writing a check to the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund and sending it to:UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund United Transportation Union Suite 340 24950 Country Club Blvd. North Olmsted, OH 44070-5333