Imagine what life would be without unions. To arrive at an accurate portrayal, go back in time when unions didn’t exist… back to the Dark Ages and feudalism, back to slavery, indentured servants, castles surrounded by paupers’ villages of thatched-roof shanties. Back to the days Republicans would love to drive this nation.

Yes, picture what it would be for you to live without a union. It’s a journey you’ll never forget.

Without an ounce of shame, rightwing extremists over the country now call union members “thugs.”  I personally heard that derogatory remark on my visits to Wisconsin in 2011 and 2013, and now I hear it from several politicians, governors, and so-called religious folk (blinded by the right and their mythological suppositions, such as a “chosen” flock destined by prophecy to be transformed into royalty over an infidel population). Their vision of a monarchial theology clouds their social mores. The contradiction is glaring.

Apparently there’s a lot of hate and animosity out there for folk that bargain with their bosses to get better work conditions, benefits and pay. Is that wrong? Many Americans think so. Unfortunately, they’ve been brainwashed by the rightwing machine. (FOX is the curse on America leading it to division and decline.)

Labor unions have a long and challenging history in the United States. To some people, they conjure up thoughts of organized crime and gangsters like Jimmy Hoffa. To workers who actually know first-hand, labor unions represent solidarity among the working classes, bringing people together across many levels to lobby for better rights, wages and benefits. Unions are one of the strongest forces against racism; it unites people of all creeds and backgrounds. Unions are also an important and fundamental part of the history of United States commerce and the country’s growth into an economic powerhouse.

Without unions, there’d be no Middle Class, no 40-hour week, no weekends, no over-time, no child-labor laws, no pensions, no healthcare, no workers’ comp, and no job safety regulations.

Without unions, you’d be making less than minimum wage. Without unions, you’d be fired for no reason with no one to represent you in case you wanted your job back.

So what do unions do and why are they still important? Labor unions help ALL workers today – including those in a non-union shop.

Events in U.S. Labor History

In the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution produced a rapid expansion in factories and manufacturing. As workers moved away from agriculture to factories, mines and other hard labor, many faced terrible working conditions: long hours, low pay and health risks. Many children worked in factories, and women and children generally received lower pay than men. The government did little to limit these injustices, and in the United States, along with much of the industrialized world, labor movements developed which lobbied for better rights and safer conditions.

In the evolution of the Union Movement, labor leaders were imprisoned, beaten, assaulted and even murdered. Thousands were arrested for simply picketing or passing out information leaflets.

Without a union, not just some, but all except the 1% would be working minimum wage [if Republicans don’t eliminate it beforehand]. They’d be just as well off flipping burgers at McDonald’s, or waiting tables at the greasy spoon. Without unions, America would truly be a Third World nation.

So, next time one feels particularly critical of the union, think what it’d be like without one. Of course, that’s where the majority of Republicans would like to take us – back to the bad-ole-days when folk were mostly enslaved. Lincoln is rolling over in his grave.

Unions are also the backbone of the Democratic Party. The elite would like to ignore that fact to their own peril, but working people are not only the bread and butter of the world’s leading economy, but the Democratic Party itself. The “job creators” are the consumers that earn a paycheck where they’re able to buy goods and services, not the 1% that sit on their assets and stash their cash away overseas.