Up with Unions!

Bob King speaks to UAW in Charlotte

Bob King, president of the UAW, speaks to members at the Blake Hotel, in Charlotte, N.C.

Bob King, President of the United Auto Workers spoke in prime time at the Democratic National Convention, the first time in about 40 years that a labor leader has been a prominently featured speaker.  While it may seem natural that a representative of the auto workers, whose jobs were saved by the Obama administration, would be featured, I can imagine times and administrations–even Democratic administrations–under which the head of GM or Chrysler would have been given the spot.  The featuring of Bob King (and of Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, earlier in the same evening) strongly signaled the Democratic Party’s support for labor unions and the right of working people to organize and bargain with the corporations for whom they work concerning their pay and their working conditions.  It was an especially important signal of support at this time, when unions have been eviscerated and the accumulated gutting of regulations concerning safety, wages, outsourcing, etc., has permitted corporations to operate without restraint on their excesses; and when working people have been under attack in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and other states.  Perhaps giving labor a voice at the convention can also begin to compensate for holding the convention in a state so hostile to unions.