SCAPEGOAT – a person or group made to bear the blame for others or to suffer in their place.
Scapegoating the unions has become the game of the day. Labor unions are scapegoated for every ill in this country – even though private industry membership in unions is only 7.5% of the private workforce. That membership of 7.5% provides corporations and free-marketers with a focal point upon which to blame every economic crisis that flows down the pike. That number also means 92.5% of the private workforce is non-unionized and subject to corporate polices that keep wages low while avoiding any kind of payment of benefits.
In 2007 35.9% of public sector employees – 5 times the number in private industry – were unionized. But the public and government don’t go after unions in the public sector. The auto worker unions in particular are the ones that generally bear the brunt of the wrath of the public. And with the sour mood and animosity in the country today, what better group to scapegoat than the unions?
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Unions have become the black sheep of the workforce. Even with so few numbers overall, corporations and free-market capitalists continue to unjustly and unabashedly blame unions for every economic crisis, every failed enterprise, every dip in profits, and every rise in costs.
The auto industry predicament has even trumped the Wall Street debacle and has given the corporate moguls the opportunity to finagle its unwarranted share of the American pie by instilling the fear that if financial institutions fail, the country is gone. In the last several months, we have been bombarded by daily cries of doom. Along with those cries of doom, Wall Street insisted that it needed a bailout to keep the United States on its feet.
And, it worked. Wall Street has managed to drag an $850 billion bailout package from the bowels of Congress. Negotiations, heavily favoring Wall Street moguls with their behemoth corporations, resulted in no oversight committee or commission being created to ensure that Wall Street really used the money as it was supposed to do – that is to pump money into the credit markets.
Instead, unfettered by any oversight, the corporations have hoarded the money, and what they have used has gone toward swallowing up smaller fish in the Wall Street pond. Following on the heels of the financial crisis, the auto industries held out their hand for assistance.
Called a “bailout”, the aid is really in the form of loans which must be repaid. As the current debate continues over whether or not to bail out the auto industry, many have focused on the union contracts suggesting that the contracts be torn up. Corporate America and Wall Street would love nothing better than to weaken the auto unions and extract as many concessions as possible.
Americans tend to be good at scapegoating, and, in the present crisis, that scapegoating is being driven by Wall Street’s and corporate America’s desire to break the backs of the remaining unions. Wall Street got its bail out, and, if an auto industry bail out comes with the anticipated strings of union concessions, corporate America will have taken a giant step toward eliminating one of the few remaining worker protections – unionization.