Recovering From Reagan

My regular readers know I tend to trace everything bad in this country back to Reagan. That might be a tad harsh; but only a tad. I believe that the strength of the country is its working/middle class and largely the unions built them into what they are today.

Much of my mindset is probably due to the fact I grew up in a pro-labor environment. I make no apologies for that! The de facto main street of the suburb I grew up in was and still is named Union Road. It was a blue collar neighborhood and the dads who had the best jobs worked at the steel mills or auto plants. OK, that’s where I come from and I’m not ashamed of it.

I am among the many that feel that then-President Ronald Reagan’s handling of the PATCO strike was the worst thing that ever happened to Americans who work for a living and a paycheck. He basically declared open season on unions and in the process their members. Today we may be seeing the beginning of a comeback.

With limited success places like Amazon and Starbucks have been unionized at least to a small degree. Even those modest victories would have been unthinkable a few years ago and certainly not under a President Donald Trump.

When a potential UPS strike looked like it might set the economy back from its post-COVID supply chain issues, (and with that hurt Biden’s chances of reelection), it was averted short of a work stoppage and with significant improvements for the labor force.

Public opinion has shifted. Perhaps some of the disgruntled blue collar people have finally begun to wake up? Support for unions stands at 71%. That is the highest it has been since the 1960s. I’m old enough to remember when unions were the backbone of Democrats’ GOTV efforts. Their members walked the streets, knocked on the doors, made the phone calls and stuffed the envelopes. (The envelope days are gone but the other three “ground troops” maneuvers are still both effective and essential.)

Today unions aren’t the political players they once were. The notable exception is Nevada where the casino related unions are still a force. It will be interesting to see if that will continue to be the case now that Harry Reid is no longer among us. Can the organizing and striking energy be harnessed anew?

Unions work and they, not Voodoo Economics, actually provide a trickledown effect raising all boats. The UAW won a historic strike this year and no sooner was the ink dry on their contracts with the Big Three that Hyundai, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota and Volkswagen all raised the wages of their nonunionized workers. You can say it was coincidence or the they suddenly became benevolent. I’d say it was a market force reaction.

We are a long way from where we need to be but 2023 was a very good year for people who work hard, sweat and get dirty earning a paycheck! If you want that to continue vote for Democrats. If you think those who are not members of the Lucky Sperm Cell Club should work for whatever they can get, shut up and be thankful that they have a job; vote for Republicans. Elected officials largely make the laws, hire the regulators and appoint the non-elected judges.
Trump already has a track record of being especially egregious. His regulators will come from management and scab outfits, not labor.

Judge the two likely nominees by their most recent actions. During the autoworkers strike Biden marched on a (albeit staged) picket line with UAW President Shawn Fain. Trump spoke at a non-union factory at the invitation of its anti-union ownership. I’d say that is a pretty clear contract!

Ronald Reagan did incredible harm to America, mainly to its working class. Joe Biden and unions represent the best paths to recovery and then forward. Donald Trump offers workers the opportunity to go further down the road to doom.

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