U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige labeled one "a terrorist organization." Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, called them "a clear and present danger to the security of the United States." And U.S. Rep. Charles Norwood, R-Ga., claimed they employ "tyranny that Americans are fighting and dying to defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan" and are thus "enemies of freedom and democracy," who show "why we still need the Second Amendment" to defend ourselves with firearms.
Who are these supposed threats to America? No, not Osama bin Laden followers, but labor unions made up of millions of workers -- janitors, teachers, firefighters, police officers, you name it.
The hostility, while disgusting, is unsurprising. Unions wield power for workers, meaning they present an obstacle to Republican corporate donors, who want to put profit-making over other societal priorities.
Unions also benefit nonunion workers. That's thanks to the "union threat effect" whereby anti-union companies meet higher standards in order to prevent workers from becoming angry and organizing. For instance, Princeton researchers found in industries that are 25 percent unionized, average nonunion workers get 7.5 percent more compensation specifically because of unionization's presence.
The flip side is obvious: The more corporations and politicians crush unions, the more all workers suffer. It is no coincidence that as union membership and power has declined under withering anti-union attacks, workers have seen their wages stagnate, pensions slashed, and share of national income hit a 60-year low. As Council on Foreign Relations scholars put it, the decline in unions "is correlated with the early and sharp widening of the U.S. wage gap."
The Republicans who run corporate America HATE labor unions. The Bush Administration and the Republican Congress HATE labor unions. They see the efforts of their fellow Americans to improve their lives as a threat. The anti-union right wing fanatics don't want an America composed of workers who have rights, dignity, and decent working conditions.
They want slaves and serfs who keep their mouths shut because they have no choice.
Again, Vote Democratic. For America.