Recently various labor unions have been aligning themselves with the Occupy movement. This begs the question – why? What advantage could a social movement bring to a labor union? What would the Occupy movement stand to gain? The answers to these questions are quite logical if you look at the goals and objectives for both groups.
The Occupy movement is a social phenomenon that is based on the premise that 99% are working citizens that are up against the remaining 1% that are corporate wealthy. They are tired of the working American not having a fair way to compete for a comfortable living because they are exploited by the corporate wealthy who continuously get more wealthy from that exploitation. They feel corporate greed drives decisions that put the worker’s earning potential further and further behind. The wealth gap widens. The 99% feel that this effect is created both directly and indirectly. The direct approach is by corporate leaders limiting the earning potential of the workers through tight contracts and rigid pay policies. Indirectly, the deteriorating economy was created by corporate greed-driven malfeasance. The effects of that poor economy has a greater negative impact on the working family just trying to survive, than it does on the wealthy who just need to adjust their investment portfolio a bit.
Now look at the objectives of the labor unions. Capture the collective bargaining power of the workers to leverage better compensation for those workers through better contracts. The corporate leaders work to hold back ‘cost of goods sold’, especially in the labor cost area, in order to increase profits and their own profit sharing. Of course, they do this under the mantra of ‘shareholder value’ but with many of those same corporate leaders being major shareholders. Now granted, union strength is entirely in amassing higher member numbers for collective bargaining power. However, having more sympathetic social support from masses of people that will add to the collective spirit of the worker’s cause does not hurt them at all.
Whether picket lines, supported by the 99%, will help their position at the bargaining table during strikes remains to be seen. Certainly a louder voice and larger community support can be a valuable asset. As long as both sides are not civilly disobedient in their demonstration tactics, unions have nothing to lose and Occupy has nothing to lose.
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