Billy Bragg performing “There is Power in a Union.” It is important on this day honoring labor that we remember all the good that unions have done for workers and for our country as a whole. All that more important as corporate interests across the country are pushing to stamp out the last vestiges of organized labor.
“Money speaks for money, the devil for his own
Who comes to speak for the skin and the bone
With our brothers and our sisters, together we will stand
There is power in a union”
I posted the other day about knowing that much of the money I spend likely goes to causes that I don’t support. Well, tonight I can be a little more specific about that, as I know damn well what is wrong with Target: they are vehemently anti-union.
I am a proud member of the National Education Association. While I realize that not everything is perfect with the union structured working environment, I am very reassured to know that I can call on the resources of the NEA if a conflict or problem with my employer were to develop. I am pleased to know that my union is working at advancing the needs of educators at the local, state, and national level. And I am glad that my contract is negotiated between my local chapter and my school district.
Target, well, they feel differently about unions. In fact, every new employee is forced to watch this anti-union training video. “Trust us, we’re a team, the union just want to steal your money, yadda, yadda, yadda.”
The sad part is, I benefited today precisely because Target is so successful at keeping unions out. By not paying their workers more, Target is able to keep costs down (well, that and pad their pockets–Target ain’t hurting for money). That said, would I be willing to pay more for patio set if I knew I was buying it from union protected workers? What about if I were to want to ensure that the workers who made the table were unionized, or heck, even just in the United States? While I’m at it, am I willing to pay extra to ensure that the factory my patio furniture was made in is relatively non-polluting? Or to pay the true environmental cost of the fuel that it took to transport my patio set to Target?
The deeper we dig, the harder the questions get. Regardless, we should at the very least acknowledge our complicity in a system that undervalues the labor of its workers while simultaneously shitting on our earth.
Happy May Day.