Gershon: Unions Aren’t Obsolete, They’re Being Crushed by Right-Wing Politics

Labor News

Reprinted from Vice by Livia Gershon on September 10, 2017.

Growing up in heavily Republican Missouri years ago, Dawn Burnfin was sure that workers in the modern world didn’t need the labor movement.

“I was taught that unions were just a bad deal all the way around,” she said. “I don’t know if anybody specifically took me aside and said, ‘Hey, unions are bad.’ It was just the implied attitude of everyone there.”

Then Burnfin moved to Minnesota mining country. Here, she was horrified to find, even the bagboys at the grocery store were union. Gradually, though, she absorbed a different attitude toward organized labor. “I could see that the union jobs had higher wages,” she said. “They had insurance. They had somebody to go to if there was an issue at work.”

Those benefits—routine and almost unnoticed much of the time if you have them, impossible to even imagine if you don’t—make a real difference, as Burnfin has discovered through personal experience. …

Vice 9/10

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Jeff Burman represents assistant editors on the Guild’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at

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