For those of you with today off, feel free to thank unions. No really. Labor Day was started as a day to celebrate the labor movement and the millions of workers who did much of the heavy lifting as this great nation rose to the superpower it is today.
But, that was in the time of Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle”. For those of you not forced to read this in school, it is a sensationalist novel that highlighted some of the dangerous labor practices and unsanitary conditions in the meatpacking industry in the late 1800s to the early 1900s. It was also a propaganda piece for socialism. The sweatshop conditions described in Sinclair’s writing are a very distant memory, and unions have long out-lived their usefulness.
Except in the political process, where organized labor, often the state’s largest political donor, regularly donates seven figures to candidates and issue committees in Colorado.
Unions have morphed from crusaders of working conditions to political machines, electing those who serve to enhance the power structure of the union, nevermind the workers.
Perhaps that’s why union membership in Colorado is below national average and still remains below its 1990 high of 10.5%. While union membership inched up in Colorado in 2014 due to forced-unionization jobs rebounding after the recession, union membership has been declining across the country for years.
Today, have a hot dog or hamburger in your backyard, and honor the contributions that American workers have made to our country’s success for the past two centuries. But, don’t confuse the aid of last century’s labor movement with the political expedience of today’s unions. It’s time to move Colorado forward and beyond the stranglehold of its unions.