Synopses & Reviews
From Wisconsin to Washington, DC, the claims are made: unions are responsible for budget deficits, and their members are overpaid and enjoy cushy benefits. The only way to save the American economy, pundits claim, is to weaken the labor movement, strip workers of collective bargaining rights, and champion private industry. In "They're Bankrupting Us!": And 20 Other Myths about Unions, labor leader Bill Fletcher Jr. makes sense of this debate as he unpacks the twenty-one myths most often cited by anti-union propagandists. Drawing on his experiences as a longtime labor activist and organizer, Fletcher traces the historical roots of these myths and provides an honest assessment of the missteps of the labor movement. He reveals many of labor's significant contributions, such as establishing the forty-hour work week and minimum wage, guaranteeing safe workplaces, and fighting for equity within the workforce. This timely, accessible, "warts and all" book argues, ultimately, that unions are necessary for democracy and ensure economic and social justice for all people.
"In his latest, labor leader Fletcher (Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path Toward Social Justice) tackles the subject of labor unions and the slanderous assault they've endured in the media. Divided into 21 sections, each focused on a different myth, readers learn about the history of labor reform in America from its humble beginnings at the end of the world wars, through the civil rights and women's movements, until today. The argument that the 'employer class' holds incredible influence in the workplace feels timely, and the ways in which unions can help level the playing field is clearly rendered. The book is at its best when offering nuanced evaluations of America unions, acknowledging past shortcomings with regard to membership diversity or organizational failures. However, the book doesn't address the necessity of unions in a time when jobs are being outsourced to countries where employees make fewer demands. While global unionization and outsourcing are touched upon, the dwindling job market feels like an oversight that hangs over much of the book. Though the benefits that labor unions have with regard to negotiations and creating a positive work environment are numerous, they are irrelevant if the jobs are not there to begin with." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Bill Fletcher Jr. is a long-time racial-justice, labor, and international activist, scholar, and author. He has been involved in the labor movement for decades, and is a widely known speaker and writer in print and on radio, television, and the Web. He has served in leadership positions with many prominent union and labor organizations, including the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union. Fletcher is currently the director of field services for the American Federation of Government Employees.
Table of Contents
What Is a Union?
Myth 1. “Workers are forced to join unions, right?”
Myth 2. “Unions are bankrupting us and destroying the economy.”
Myth 3. “Unions are actually run by ‘labor bosses,’ aren’t they?”
Myth 4. “Public sector unions cause budget deficits, right?”
Myth 5. “Unions make unreasonable demands that result in lots of strikes!”
Myth 6. “Unions were good once, but we don’t need them any longer.”
Myth 7. “Unions are only needed by workers who have problems and get into trouble.”
Myth 8. “The union uses our money for political action and I have no say in the matter!”
Myth 9. “Unions hold me back from advancing, and if I join I will never be promoted.”
Myth 10. “Unions are corrupt and mobbed up!”
Myth 11. “Unions have a checkered history and were started by communists and other troublemakers.”
Myth 12. “Unions are all racist and people of color need not apply.”
Myth 13. “Unions have a history of sexism . . . what makes them better now?”
Myth 14. “Unions deal with wages, hours, and working conditions; what about other issues?”
Myth 15. “Yes, unions are good for their members, but they hurt the rest of us!”
Myth 16. “Unions and corporations are both too big and don’t really care about the worker.”
Myth 17. “Let’s face it, in a globalized world, unions are powerless.”
Myth 18. “Where do unions stand on immigrants—you either ignore them or you ignore the rest of us?”
Myth 19. “If unions are so good, why aren’t they growing?”
Myth 20. “Unions are so partisan; they always side with the Democrats, right?”
Myth 21. “If unions are so great, why aren’t more people around the world forming them?”