Reader: Don't forget where your benefits came from 


The recent Supreme Court ruling regarding non-members paying union dues was not surprising given how interwoven modern workplace benefits have become. Current workers do not have long enough institutional memory regarding the advantages that the unions brought them in terms of pay and benefits (sick leave, overtime, the eight-hour day, 40-hour week, overtime pay), back from a day when labor was an exploited, disadvantaged commodity at the mercy of corporate rule and government law.

As a result, what benefits the unions brought them are too far removed from the current day to understand what it cost former generations who toiled without the benefits that they enjoy today. I imagine that these non-members will be glad to keep the benefits so procured while not actively supporting members and non-members, past and present, who fought on their behalf.

I recognize that the political speech they think is being compromised is worrisome and unions, like all people-run organizations, are not without their problems. But I want to remind readers that if you want to see an industry without the hard-fought protections and/or benefits that the union and non-union workers of today take for granted, look at the truly exploited illegal immigrant working class. Believe it or not, that was the norm last century. Make no mistake: Non-members have benefited and will continue to benefit from the work of unions, but now non-members will not have to pay for it. In the larger picture, I tire of Americans' obsession with idealistic purity only when it suits them; as if nobody else in America tacitly supports causes, people, policies, corporations or governments with whom they don't 100 percent agree, yet still explicitly benefit.

— E.W. "Chip" MacEnulty II, Colorado Springs

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