The Bias of Unions (Randyjw; August 3, 2016)
I’m not well-informed about unions, but I do know they’ve played an important and storied role in American history. Disasters such as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire on March 25, 1911, in which garment workers had been trapped in a burning building, leading to the deaths of 146 people, and injuring 71 more, led to the strengthening of worker’s unions in providing alternative voices favoring worker’s rights and to new safety regulations in the workplace and improvements in building codes to meet these requirements. Fire escapes, fireproofing, sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers, and fire alarms were all part of the many new building code laws which went into effect as a result of the reports of the investigating committee inspecting other commercial buildings after one of this most deadliest of incidents in U.S. history (1).
It was important to strike a balance between industrial or corporate productivity versus requiring fair and safe working conditions for the individual. These always start off favoring the employer in developing nations, and slide to the other side of the scale toward the employee, once a nation begins to develop a sustaining economy and industry.
Similar developments led to more concentrated centralization in particular trades and industry, such as in construction methods and other occupation-specific practices, which affected the modes by which these entities could operate. It trickled down, over time, to encompass our broad-ranging worker’s rights platforms and, now, our even more-recent human rights categories.
All of these were essential in creating regulation and practices which would protect the worker in the workplace. Work conditions and hours became regulated, to a fashion. But, the issue is, Of what relevance are unions today?
Of those requiring skilled, professional knowledge, where standards of the industry, such as in construction and medical practice, require essential and specific, applicable knowledge to be maintained, then I think that such unions — more, I would say, such “guilds” — need to remain in place.
Industrial trades, such as machining, or welding, also require specific aptitudes, and a good schooling is essential; so a union would help to ensure that industry standards and certifications are met.
Transportation, logistics, longshoremen, shipping and aviation regulations help ensure the efficiency of the fleets which insure our goods and people in transit. Their workers have been some of the hardest-working, longest-suffering, non-complaining individuals of their industries. Yet, they have had to raise their voices to stop the physical toll of long hours and lack of sleep, which raised the possibilities of an accident.
At times, though, worker demand became incessant. They’d realized the political leverage of a unified voice and caused industry shutdowns, driving businesses to complete standstills. There were longshoremen’s strikes, where vessels couldn’t complete seabound deliveries, causing manufacturers to default on shipments. There were aviation and control-tower strikes, affecting commercial and passenger flights and deliveries. President Reagan had to put an end to such a dispute, and made the airline industries get back to work.
That’s kindof my attitude, too. I don’t think unions should necessarily be allowed in all industries, and I don’t particularly think it’s helpful when certain workers make a job out of picketing their employers, on a continual basis, without consequence. Granted, these are some of the lowest paid workers around, and their wages really do not provide sustainable living. That’s not really right, but neither is a $15.00-per-hour wage minimum the right amount, either.
Are unions necessary for our service people, such as firefighters and policemen? They have to be on-call, on-demand, through night and day and holiday; perhaps they should have some say in their treatment.
And teachers? I don’t know. I’m not one, and I hear how they’re always having to pay for supplies out-of-pocket. Supposedly, they don’t earn very much. But, I feel like we’re sometimes being hoodwinked with that argument. Some of the budgets for teachers are just incredible. Plus, they often get the summer off, so their salary counts for more, as it covers just about 9 months. On top of that, they might get tenure, meaning their job is practically guaranteed; plus, they usually get government benefits and a pension, to boot! So, they collect a lifetime salary for the lesser duration of time actually worked!
Unions, in essence, have crept into the mundane of everything that we do. There are unions and associations for just about every group, and club, and social group imaginable — especially at the college level. You can find video clubs, and Spanish clubs, and political clubs for every party. There are athletic clubs and associations, debate teams, and intramural sports teams at every grade level.
Unions can work to the advantage of its membership, or to the disadvantage, at times, of individual members. I recall one-time, during the housing market downturn, when a normally gainfully-employed construction worker couldn’t find work, because he had to wait his turn to be placed by the union at a job site — there were 95 people on the waiting-list before him.
Unions also take political stances, whether Democrat or Republican, and it’s been intimated that they tend to bully their members to vote the same way. Is it right, though, that they should have so much political influence in what should be your individual, and private, right to choose — free from intimidation/coercion (or the “feeling” of such)?
The school associations are all funded through the school’s budget, although sometimes fund-raising efforts are required by individuals who participate, such as in the younger team groups, at times. Occasionally, some groups raise eyebrows and concerns with their activities, such as those of the Muslim Student Associations, who are often responsible for hosting lectures by visiting specialists, of whom, occasionally, also, specialize in terrorism, or promote anti-Israel “Apartheid Week” campus demonstrations, which are libelous and slandering of the Jewish people, not to mention intimidating and physically harrassing to Jewish people on campus. It has become quite scary and difficult for Jewish people to remain safe at these Universities, but the faculty are on-board with the Palestinian incitement and do just about nothing to protect the Jews.
In Britain, the new president of the Student Association, which oversees the bearings of thousands of school groups, is an avowed sympathizer to the Palestinian cause, and has clearly stated her viewpoint indicating agreement with these groups, which perpetrate violence. The recent discovery of approximately fifty British Labour Party ministers with anti-Semitic tendencies has also been brought to light. Many are being released from the Party; most are quite severe and shocking in the hostility of their remarks about the Jews.
There is institutionalized anti-Semitism on American campuses, as well, especially with the anti-Israel group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). They verbally and physically harrass Jews on-campus, in an onslaught without unseeming end.
The tragedy is that anti-Semitism is en vogue. It’s fashionable to be anti-Semitic, at the moment. This, too, shall pass. But, meanwhile, we have faculty who encourage, and even teach, that Israel has no right to its sovereign land, and these teachers act to promote the usurpers of our land, the Palestinians, in achieving their goal of eradicating the Jews by violent means to take the Jewish land which they’d like to have for their own.
Because student groups receive funding from their schools to operate, they are often being funded with taxpayer dollars, if they are a state, and not a private, school. So groups which promote violence against the Jews should not only receive no funding, but should be banned for not meeting basic human rights, right? But, they’re not.
One such group is trying to do everything they can to create a nationwide boycott of Israel: its goods, its people and academicians, its scientists — from any collaboration with American Universities nationwide. This is not limited in scope to an action at one location; this is the American Anthropological Association (Founded 1902), trying to rewrite history in their own image.
The first article I wrote for Newsnotes1 in May of 2012 was called “The Semantics of Warfare” (2). The premise of my statement was that language plays a crucial role in defining the argument. Choose its verbiage, and you influence its outcome. In public relations parlance, that’s called “spin”. By reframing the way an issue is presented, one can favorably bias an individual’s perception of the way in which he will view that particular argument. A person doesn’t even need to be aware that it’s occurred, but just that the desirable reaction has been achieved.
Below: Two screenshots from the American Anthropological Association indicating focus-bias on singular state (country) entity, Israel, and the organization’s interference in attempting to influence political policy-making decisions of domestic (US) and foreign (Israel/Palestine, and World) governments:
Anthropology is just that. It frames how we view people and their relationships to the society in which they live, and to the broader aspect of a society, as a whole. The onus is a major responsibility in this profession to present a fair and unbiased presentation of all of humanities’ people groups, as that is the gist of their supposedly scientific studies. Except, where Israel is considered, it is, as always, the exception.
Below: Two screenshots in the chat forum in which individuals question the legitimacy of the American Anthropological Association to implement biased actions due to their proposed boycott of Israel:
Within this organization, almost half of its membership subscribe to the belief, wrongly held, that Israel is a colonial occupier (of its own land) oppressing indigenous (no, the Jews are indigenous) “Palestinians” (a name coined around the 1960’s for Arabs of varying nationalities and backgrounds claiming Israeli origin, since at least 1946), who must be boycotted/sanctioned/divested of all investment from this apartheid (democratic) country.
This is a major problem, when an entire trade association singles out one country (in only one spot of their entire mission listing do they single out any country at all, which they do by naming Israel) to initiate a vote on whether to proceed with Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions (BDS).
Below: Two screenshots from the American Anthropological Association website: A list of Committees and Task Forces. Note that the only country listed singly, and exclusively, in the second screenshot (third from bottom), is Israel-Palestine; all other committees are generically issue-related and actionably broad-based to suit any group:
Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions discriminates against Jewish people. They wish to divest from and ban all interactions with Israel and its professional people: academics, scientists, etc. at the institutional, but not personal, level. That is still illegal discrimination. The vote just barely missed passage.
And it is not limited to the American Anthropological Association. Accoording to an article by Elizabeth Redden in “Inside Higher Ed”, the American Anthropological Association would have joined the boycott of Israel since 2013 by these groups: the Association for Asian American Studies; the American Studies Association; the National Women’s Studies Association; the African Literature Association; the Critical Ethnic Studies Association; and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (3).
It is acknowledged among the membership of the American Anthropological Association that it is the Palestinians who are the initiators and instigators of the drive to boycott Israel.
Below: Two screenshots in the chat forum indicating the proposed boycott of Israel by the American Anthropological Association to have been initiated by Palestinians through requests to the Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions, the group sponsoring the resolution:
The Jerusalem Post reports:
“Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions, who pushed for the resolution, said: ‘As heirs to a long tradition of scholarship on colonialism, anthropologists affirm, through this resolution, that the core problem is Israel’s maintenance of a settler colonial regime based on Jewish supremacy and Palestinian dispossession. By supporting the boycott, anthropologists are taking a stand for justice through action in solidarity with Palestinians'” (4).
The first vote favoring putting forward a resolution to implement the BDS boycott and other measures passed favorably amongst the minor subset of individuals attending a business meeting who voted on its passage. The entire membership of greater than 9,000 individuals were then asked to participate in an online vote of the resolution, where it failed by a fairly narrow margin of just 39 votes: 2,423 against its passage versus 2,384 in favor of passage (extracted from (3) and other articles).
Below: Two screenshots in the chat forum discussing the resounding passage of a favorable vote in their initial business meeting to present a resolution of the American Anthropological Association to boycott Israel. It eventually failed the general membership vote by only a 39-vote margin:
The group still plans to do all it can to attack Israel, and, by extension, to discriminate against Jews.
(1) Information on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire extracted from a treatment contained at Wikipedia.org, under the same heading; accessed August 3, 2016.
(2) Randyjw. “The Semantics of Warfare”; Newsnotes1; May 4, 2012: https://newsnotes1.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/the-semantics-of-warfare-17-2/
(3) Redden, Elizabeth. “Anthropology Group Won’t Boycott Israel”; Inside Higher Ed; June 7, 2016: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/06/07/anthropology-group-rejects-resolution-boycott-israeli-academic-institutions
(4) Gravé-Lazi, Lidar. “US Anthropological Group Votes to Boycott Israeli Universities”; The Jerusalem Post/JPost.com; November 21, 2015: http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/American-Anthropological-Association-votes-to-back-boycott-of-Israeli-academic-institutions-434864