But, the reality of the story is a bit more complex. And, today's the day to look at all of it.
Yes, Labor Day is more than a day for a picnic or a barbecue. It's a day to remember the advances of organized labor in the past and its declines today.
First, a couple of today's anti-worker issues.
Wage theft, from hourly employees, but also to salaried persons, is becoming ever more common.
And, its methodology grows.
The story notes reclassification of workers as independent contractors, a practice that continues to grow, and in my profession, at daily newspapers, is highly stressful. That delivery driver who throws your paper? He or she is an independent contractor, not a newspaper employee. And, at a daily newspaper, responsible for finding a replacement if sick, wanting any vacation, etc. Remember, a seven-day daily paper gets thrown every day. Think about that next time you hear the phrase "liberal media."
Another trick, seemingly new in the mode of execution, is an electronic version of pencil-whipping time cards.
That said, the penalties, under statutes like the National Labor Relations Act, are usually weak, limited to no more than back pay, possibly with interest.
Michael Rubin, one of the lawyers who sued Schneider, disagreed, saying there are many sound wage claims. “The reason there is so much wage theft is many employers think there is little chance of getting caught,” he said.
And, that's the case.
Or, as Harold Meyerson notes in a must read, there's little penalty:
To get some perspective on how negligible such penalties may be, one just has to look at the 2007 unionization campaign at the Yale–New Haven Hospital, conducted outside the framework of the NLRA. An independent arbitrator ruled that management had committed numerous fair-practice violations and fined the hospital $4.5 million. During the decade of 2000–2009, by contrast, the total of all fines levied nationally by the NLRB for illegal punishment of workers for their union activity came to $36 million, or $3.6 million a year.
That said, wage and hour problems, and the problems of unionization in general, have been almost as bad under Democratic presidents as Republican ones.
(G)lobalization by itself doesn’t necessarily lead to a weakened labor movement and declining worker income. If it did, unionized German manufacturing workers would not enjoy pay and benefits that exceed those of Americans even as their country has become the export giant of the Western world. Because unions are more powerful in Germany than they are in the U.S., and because German law requires large companies to divide their corporate boards equally between workers’ and management’s representatives, multinationals like Siemens, Daimler, and BMW have kept their most highly productive and best-paid jobs at home. Only where corporations have been free to structure globalization to their workers’ disadvantage—that is, in the United States—has it led to massive union decline.
And, it's not just that neoliberal Democrats focus on a couple of hot-button social issues to fluff Hollywood and Silicon Valley donors, even while Silicon Valley is relentlessly anti-union, though that is a problem itself.
Beyond that, those neolibs are moving into big-city municipal government, not just the White House and statehouses:
Already, some Democratic mayors, among them Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel and Newark’s Cory Booker, are building coalitions that array their city’s corporate elites and minority communities against their cities’ unions.
Even in such progressive bastions as California or New York, there’d be no guarantee that Governor Jerry Brown, who vetoed a card-check bill for California farmworkers last year, or Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has cultivated an adversarial relationship with many of New York’s unions, would be inclined to make it easier for workers to organize in the private sector.
Indeed, the development of Labor Day, rather than May Day, as the "workingman's day" in the US, argues for that. May Day, which of course had been a pagan Germano-Celtic holiday for centuries, either Beltane or Walpurgis Nacht, was made the International Workers Day in Europe in 1886 — precisely because of the Haymarket Riot of May 4, 1886.
Who made it that? Per Wikipedia:
May 1 was chosen as the date for International Workers' Day by the Socialists and Communists of the Second International to commemorate the Haymarket affair in Chicago that occurred on May 4, 1886.
Labor Day was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, who organized the first parade in New York City. After the Haymarket Massacre, which occurred in Chicago on May 4, 1886, U.S. President Grover Cleveland feared that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the affair. Thus, in 1887, it was established as an official holiday in September to support the Labor Day that the Knights favored.
That all said, I have some personal background for commenting on all of this.
I've never belonged to a union, but I would have no problem joining one as part of a job.
That said, as an adjunct college instructor, I taught at a place in Michigan called Baker College. It had a separate division called "Corporate Services," which was really "UAW Services." Almost every person in every class I taught was a union member trying to get a college degree to do something — to do anything — before the next layoff. The few exceptions were people promoted from the line to white-collar salaried engineering jobs, still in auto plants.
I had not just union workers but one steward, at Flint Truck and Bus, in my classes. We talked, outside of class — and inside of the sociology class I taught — about union sociology issues.