Unions in this country have had a checked past and now an undervalued future. In the 20's & 30's the union movement was one of violence by organizers, against organizers by business thugs and organized crime involvement. Organized crime involvement increased after WWII and strengthen its ties to organized labor. In the 50's & 60's American post war prosperity created ever increasing jobs and middle class wealth. Unions helped this process through collective bargaining. This increased wages, and benefits helping to propel blue collar workers into the middle class. Unfortunately, union leadership did not do what business leaders of successful companies do over time - they did not plan for the future. Instead they continued the continued the wage and benefit model to the point that it drove up cost to consumers, requiring close union shops in major cities (NYC, Chicago, etc). With technology change in the 80's & 90's union membership began to decrease and became less valuable. The parasitic 'wage & benefit' negotiating strategy destroyed their 'host' employers (both private companies & public governments). If they had leadership who could have built business plans to anticipate the impact technology would have on their membership, they could still be providing value to American workers and businesses. Instead, they are now only a left wing political group, forcing unions dues to be paid by non-members and using same for political benefits. With almost no value remaining for the country, they have declining membership and have become a drag on economic growth. If union leadership would develop a plan, that both political parties could align with, there is a chance they could reclaim an important role in the America economy of the 21st century.

Labor Gives Clinton Room to Maneuver on Trade Talks

from The Wall Street Journal,

Democratic front-runner has remained neutral on a hotly debated issue.

Michael Collins, a nurse and active member of his local union, isn’t happy about free-trade legislation being debated in Congress, believing it would undermine American workers. It won’t, however, change his view of Hillary Clinton, a one-time booster of the pact. In the 2016 presidential race, “Hillary’s about the only person we’ve got who’s viable,” he said. Labor unions are fighting hard to defeat legislation that would authorize sped-up consideration of a trade agreement being negotiated with 11 Pacific Rim nations. However, they are giving Mrs. Clinton the kind of breathing room they aren’t affording congressional Democrats or even the president. Mrs. Clinton as a senator voted in support of several free-trade agreements, and opposed one, with Central American nations. As secretary of state, she supported the Pacific Rim negotiations, and her former boss, President Barack Obama, is leading the effort to approve them. But in recent weeks, as the Trans-Pacific Partnership took center stage in the Senate and opened schisms within the Democratic Party, Mrs. Clinton has maintained steadfast neutrality. She issued one statement and answered one question on the matter. In neither case did she pick a side. “Any trade deal has to produce jobs and raise wages and increase prosperity and protect our security,” she told reporters in New Hampshire last month. “We have to do our part in making sure we have the capabilities and the skills to be competitive.”

Mrs. Clinton has previously recalibrated her stance on free-trade agreements. In her 2003 memoir “Living History,” she spoke approvingly of the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiated by her husband in the early 1990s. But as a presidential candidate in the 2008 race, she said the way Nafta was implemented “has hurt a lot of American workers.”

The United Auto Workers represented about 1.5 million workers in the late 1970s; today, its membership is about one-third of that. At the same time, membership in unions filled with public-sector workers has remained relatively stable. “The great old unions of the past—the steelworkers, the auto workers—these unions are seen as shadows of themselves,” said Gary Chaison, professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. On trade, “Hillary Clinton really does have much more ground to operate on, because it’s not the issue it once was.” Even manufacturing unions won’t criticize Mrs. Clinton on the issue, despite their vocal opposition to the trade bill itself.

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