Labor unity can blunt these attacks

Think of your worst day ever: no staff, equipment, training or support.

Then consider that you face many more days like that, worsening over time.

Ponder dangerous conditions — with no safe avenues to demand your own health and safety needs. Reflect upon a work situation where you’re subjected to disrespect, bullying and violations, with no recourse to defend your rights.

Imagine living in poverty, even as you work as a professional, with little hope for improvement. Then see these dynamics in every context where people work.

That is the world without unions.

Free ride a dead-end

Right-wing sectors of billionaires, corporations and their political allies aim to return to that world without unions. The increase of “Right to Work” states (a clever misnomer) to 26 and the specter of Friedrichs v. CTA — the historic Supreme Court case which would make it illegal for public workers to negotiate a Union Agency Shop — are leading us in that direction. Disguised as “individual rights,” the American public is being manipulated yet again.

The “Open Shop” in these 26 states allows workers, in which a majority have elected a union, to get a free ride: they get all benefits, salaries, healthcare, retirement, and representation but don’t have to pay one penny of union dues. The consequences are obvious: in southern states, historically “open shop,” and low “union density” is the norm, resulting in lower salaries, few benefits and worse working conditions.

Friedrichs sidelined... for now

With the unexpected death of Justice Scalia of the Supreme Court, there’s now likely a 4-4 split vote; precedent indicates that the lower court ruling against Friedrichs would stand — for now. If President Obama nominates a new justice, the Senate needs to approve.

We all need to be more knowledgeable about legislation, case law, the intricate economic relationships between corporations and politicians and our own history. School textbooks often omit or gloss over the struggles of the people who built this nation: slaves, exploited workers, family farmers and migrant laborers, women, people of color and immigrants — most of them poor and many of whom were subjected to squalid living conditions and discrimination. Black History Month (see page 3), Women’s History Month, Nurses Week and a variety of other holidays and celebrations pay tribute to the contributions of people whose legacies have been denied.

Historically, the downtrodden of our country had one hope: that their children would inherit a better world and thrive in a vibrant nation. That hope hinges on unions with active memberships. At stake is stability in the form of guaranteed work, health benefits, a dignified retirement, good wages and affordable housing.

No voting from fear

NYSNA, through tireless efforts of dedicated leaders, active members and staff, is taking a lead in fighting for workers and communities. Our success depends upon the work that we do as a collective. Sometimes we win, sometimes we don’t — but fight we must. Without your active participation that work would be impossible. Bear in mind that the “Open Shop” is designed to paralyze us.

In this election year, it’s best to be aware that we often vote based on emotion rather than intellect, out of fear rather than hope. We wish to provide you with accurate information regarding candidates’ views and practice surrounding issues seen as important to our members and patients.

Scientists have said that the human brain has infinite potential.

Let’s tap that potential and see where we can go.

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