(Page 3 of 17)
Mr. Henry’s insight into what happened to the unions in America is, in my opinion, only one component of the larger story of the demise of organized labor.
I grew up in a very blue collar neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA, a very blue collar city. My grandfather was a craneman at one of the small steel mills that lined the Allegheny River, within walking distance of our neighborhood. Almost all of the men in the neighborhood worked in the mills and almost all of them walked to work. Grandpap was part of the union organizing movement in the 1930s and a proud member of the United Steelworkers of America (the USWA) for his entire life. My Father and my uncles all went straight from High School to the mills. And while my uncles eventually moved on to other jobs, my Father stayed with the small company where he originally started. He joined the USWA local at his mill and became an active member, eventually becoming president of the local for two years in the 1970s. In the 1980s the floor fell out of the domestic steel industry and the mill my Father worked at closed, as did so many other steel mills across the country. My father and all of his friends were convinced that the shut down was temporary and that the mill would come back. To his dying day, Dad never understood why it didn’t.
No small part of the problem was the union leadership. Not that the leaders were corrupt (although many were), but I believe that the main problem was that they were grossly incompetent. The men who organized the Unions in the '30s and led it through the three decades that followed were hard, tough, and intelligent. Then they retired and there were few good men to follow them, mainly because of the very success of the Union.
Fifty years ago, I and my brothers would have followed our father into the mill. Growing up, I was raised in a union household, surrounded by talk of Union matters and happenings. My father would no more have crossed a picket line than she would have missed Mass on Sunday.
But working in the mill and joining the union were never really an option for me. Working in a steel mill is hard, brutal and dangerous. Thanks to union wages, my father made enough money to allow me to go to college, the first in my family to do so. I became an engineer and eventually went to law school. My brothers’ stories are variations on that theme. Grown now, with families of our own, we have all moved out of the old neighborhood and live in the suburbs. My father never quite knew how to handle the fact that his sons had become part of “Management.” On one hand, he was proud of our success; on the other, we had joined the other side.
And our story was repeated all over the neighborhood, all over the city, and I suppose all over the country. The best and brightest of a whole generation of young men who would have replaced their fathers in the union were suddenly not there for the labor movement. The men who did manage to find jobs at mills that remained open were, frankly, the men who were not bright or ambitious enough to get ahead elsewhere.
Today’s Union leaders have inherited an organization that they had no hand in creating. They are small men trying to fill very big shoes and not doing a good job of it.p>Technology certainly played a part in hurting the unions, as did foreign imports. But in the end, I think it was the lack of leadership that hurt most of all. br> — Robert F. Casselberry /p> p> PARTY TO SLAVERY br> Re: John Carlisle’s Slave Disclosure Shakedowns
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?