Unions - Why Be a Member?
July 20, 2013 at 8:07 PM
For the past ten years, I have served as an International Delegate to the International Convention of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada on behalf of the Central Florida Musicians’ Association. As we approach the upcoming convention, my mind has been tasked with understanding the significance and purpose of my responsibilities as a member and a delegate. This has led to my questioning the need for unions in today’s America.
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Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this important issue. My great-great uncle was a founding member of the Denver AFM chapter. My great uncle and his son were union side labor lawyers. I am a fan of unions, and I think they are particularly useful in professions like music where the members do not all work for one employer. I hope your meeting is successful. You are doing important work.
As a professional musician, I realize that without the Union and the hard fights and sacrifices of musicians who came before me I would not be able to earn a living. It's that simple. Today's America (and world) is on a scary path that has already reversed many of the gains that labor made. The outcome will be a corporate dominated system of neo-feudalism where wealth is concentrated in the hands of a small minority while most people are effectively slaves. As union membership has dropped, pay has also stayed flat and the "middle class" is being relentlessly destroyed. Wages have not kept up, so consumers are not able to maintain the economy, instead having to rely on debt to survive. At the same time, Wall Street banks continue to engage in illegal behavior with impunity because they own the government. They are the real mafia and they hold the entire global financial system hostage. Most people are unaware of the frightening wealth disparity that has developed and continues to grow:
Workers in the developed world are told they have to be competitive with sweatshop labor in the third world. Multinational corporations have no loyalty to the country and are actively working to undermine the power of the nationstate and destroy democracy. As musicians, our challenge is to hold onto the gains that were made in the past as other workers around us are stripped of pay and pensions. The corporate controlled media encourages workers to stay divided and fight each other, instead of joining together to fight the system. We've seen that in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states as public workers are demonized. These workers often accepted smaller salaries in exchange for pensions which now are being taken from them. It's divide and conquer. Instead, we must join in solidarity with these other workers to fight for a more just world.
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