On Sunday, Colombian business columnist Courtney Sherwood wrote that labor unions are under fire locally and nationwide, by business and politicians. She wrote:
I asked Brad Clark, president of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 4 in Vancouver, to defend organized labor. He made some pretty compelling points.Unions brought an end to child labor, fought for eight-hour work days and pushed for workplace safety laws when horrible accidents were common. Weekends were a union initiative. It’s no coincidence that in the past 25 years, as unions have waned nationally (if not in Washington), the gap between rich and poor has grown ever bigger.
Clark says people have the right to band together to ask for decent pay. “I make a good living,” he said. “But I don’t make as much as the people who run these businesses, and I’m the one that does the work.”
He also points out that some of the business groups that bash unions for draining state budgets turn around and ask for handouts for themselves. Businesses operating in the state keep .5 billion every year because of tax breaks. Get rid of those, and you’d eliminate the entire 2011-2013 state budget deficit, with money left over.
We shouldn’t eliminate all the state’s business tax breaks, of course. Tax incentives can create jobs by luring companies or spur them to grow.
Still, it’s odd that tax breaks for wealthy corporations are off the table, but not the retirement plans of middle-class folks who’ve spent decades on the job.