The Last Union Stronghold

By Marc Dion

June 29, 2018 4 min read

The real aristocrats of the working class aren't bartenders, they're cops — and firefighters. If the place where you live is poor enough, they're $30,000 a year clerks in city hall — and high school janitors.

A recent Supreme Court decision is going to make it hard for those workers to exercise power through their unions.

As the rest of America de-unionized, losing health care and pensions along the way, government employees became the last stronghold of labor unions in this country. An attack on public employee unions is the last step in dismantling, not just individual unions, but the idea of unions.

Even if it smells a little musty these days, the idea of a union terrifies bosses, and the presence of a union angers bosses.

At its bottom, a union means there is one tiny little scrap of power that doesn't belong to the boss, to the board of directors, to the shareholders. It means there are things the boss can tell you to do that you do not have to do. It means you can say, "no."

You want to know how a union really works?

You and Phil work together. Phil is a complete suck up who will die from lack of condescension if he doesn't spend at least 30 minutes a day agreeing with the boss.

You do not like Phil. Phil does not like you.

Eventually, and this is how the real world works, Phil becomes your boss, and he tries to fire you, or get you moved to a job that pays less.

If you have a union, it's a lot harder for newly promoted suck up Phil to take your job, or part of your paycheck. You own a little part of your job, and there is a printed union contract that says what Phil can and cannot do to you.

Now, the Supreme Court, a wholly owned subsidiary of the bosses, is helping them mount their attack on some of the last unions in America.

I knew a long time ago, that if the unions of nonpublic sector workers were being broken, the bosses would not let public employees have their unions, not for long. The aim of the people who run America is to crush and kill every union, to drive wages ever downward, to take and keep every tiny little scrap of power for themselves. If check out clerks can't have a union, what make you think firefighters will get to have one?

Bosses don't like the unionized worker. They like Phil, or at least they like having him around until he says the wrong thing. Then they pitch him out the back door with the rest of the day's trash.

As for my qualifications, in a working career that spans 41 years, I've worked union and nonunion. I've worked behind the bar and in an office. I've been a janitor and a laborer. I've been a reporter and a college teaching assistant. I've worked indoors and outdoors, day shift and night shift and in a furniture warehouse. The only jobs on which I had any kind of power were union jobs.

Owning a gun doesn't give you a voice at work, at least not until they fire you for no reason, and you come back with a pistol. That American flag on your porch doesn't give you a voice at work. In fact, more and more it marks you as a sucker for the people in charge.

We are working people. We go forward together, or we go backward together.

No Muslim terrorist, no bomb, no crazed gang member, will or can do as much damage to cops and firefighters as this most recent Supreme Court decision. Meet the new boss, and his friend, Phil.

To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Dion's latest book, "The Land of Trumpin," is a collection of his columns from before, during and after the last election. It is available in paperback from, and for Nook, Kindle, iBooks and GooglePlay.

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