I have recently heard the anti-union radio ads on WDEV. I am not sure who is paying for them. Could it be the Ethan Allen Institute, or some unknown corporate backer? This is another way the wealthy undermine the efforts of workers. Let’s look back to when there were no unions. Most people probably don’t give the 40-hour work-week a second thought — much less the hard-fought battle that came before it was law, not to mention safety protections or child labor laws. I may not have been around when unions were fighting for workers’ rights initially, but I want to remind others not to go backward.

I am grateful that I have union representation at the bargaining table when the state negotiates its contract with employees, often proposing pay cuts and large increases to our health insurance costs. These ads encourage people to leave their unions. If there are no unions, there are no negotiations. We get what we get, and that’s that. Don’t fool yourself to think that you might be saving money to opt out of the union. They are trying to erode the effectiveness of the unions in Vermont and across the country. It is an attack on the middle class. We have been doing the hard work educating our members about the benefits of membership and subsequently our membership has increased, not decreased as they might have hoped.

Sue LaFleche


The writer is president of the Barre chapter of the Vermont State Employees Association.

(1) comment


"The Rise of the Working-Class Shareholder" by David Webber should be mandated reading for every worker in this country.

I have not heard these ads but I am sure that anti union rhetoric has always been a tool to suppress the working class and these ads are just the latest salvo. Corporations are interested in making money. Any power lost to the workers reduces their profit margin.

As the book title indicates there is a power in labor's capital that is only now being realized to carry an enormous potential. Unions, public and private, have awakened to the reality that the money in their pension funds, that is the hundreds of billions of dollars belonging to the millions of members, gives them a "shareholder power" defining how their money can be used. To wield that power is a capitalist weapon not intended for labor.

Breaking unions, pushing the individual to "run" their own individual pension breaks the threat held by the union. No one person can hold the threat to withdraw their "pension" from a fund and impact the investment strategy of that fund.

The union has always had one trick in it's bag, a strike. Add to that a "shareholder campaign" i.e. we pull out our money from your fund unless you remove the anti-labor CEO, and you begin to see the voice it gives to middle- and working-class people in "the corridors of power from which they have otherwise been exiled."

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