Rep. Jason Metsa and I have something in common. We are both former union organizers and understand the difference between the historical union (which stood up against corporate abuses) and today’s union (which enables corporate abuses).
Rep. Metsa is now working on a bill that would add labor union history to our public school curriculum. In my opinion, this is a decent idea if we also educate students (and adults) about the current reality of labor unions and how non-heroic much of their activities are today.
For example, Rep. Metsa’s idea of “pro-union” is to support copper-nickel (sulfide mining) and companies such as PolyMet, whose parent company Glencore is responsible for busting unions in Columbia and Peru, while polluting the water, then leaving locals to clean up the mess. To be an apologist for PolyMet /Glencore while considering yourself a hero of the working class, is absurd.
Today’s labor unions also squander millions on politicians like Barack Obama who stacks his cabinet with Goldman Sachs executives, advocates job-killing free trade bills (TPP), and squashes union organizing rights (FAA Re-Authorization Act).
To quote the author Chris Hedges, modern unions are “in collaboration with the power elite.”
Rep. Metsa should not idealize the historical union while ignoring how his own union behavior is the exact opposite. Metsa is a company man, a lapdog for the mining companies, the Chamber of Commerce, and the union-busters of America.
Union history should be a model for today’s unions. It has not been.