Talking points to help trade unionists and their supporters rebut conservative attacks.
Fletcher (co-author: Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice, 2009, etc.), the director of field services for the American Federation of Government Employees, organizes his argument as a refutation of 21 “myths” that opponents typically use to discredit unions. His historical context begins in the early 19th century, when unionists fought bloody battles to win the right to organize. By the end of World War II, at the height of their power, unions had consolidated gains won during the New Deal. They were considered to be “a part of the so-called mainstream,” although their numbers never exceeded “35 percent of the non-agricultural workforce.” A turnabout began during the Reagan administration, when the president fired striking air traffic controllers. Fletcher makes a strong case that the slogan “right to work” is a misnomer because without a labor organization to defend their interests, individual workers are without job protection. In answer to the first myth—“Workers are forced to join unions, right?” he responds, “The phrasing of a right to work statutes suggest they are about freedom of choice. Actually, they are not. They are about weakening the ability of workers—as a group—from exerting any sort of power.” Throughout, the author elaborates on the theme of the necessity of workers to be free to organize in order to fight for their own rights and also to stand up for social justice. He suggests that deceptive language is deliberately used to disparage unions and that today, unions are becoming increasingly marginalized by unemployment and outsourcing. These circumstances can only be turned around, writes Fletcher, when people assume responsibility for fighting for social justice for all working men and women.
An effective presentation of the importance of trade unions in a democracy.