It Takes A Village – VNV Tuesday 3/28/17 Unions Empowered Us

Once again, I’m continuing with my theme of historical political cartoons and what they can show us about our history, taught and untaught. This week, I’m focusing on unions and made the discovery that during the Gilded Age and beyond, the unions had a more mixed perception than I anticipated. There was still suspicion and distrust, largely because of the associations made between socialism and violent anarchists. Strikes were often portrayed as anti-American. However, the oligarchs of the time were increasingly viewed as a threat, and unions were often represented as a bulwark against them. Additionally, there was a rising independent, alternative (often socialist or union) media with their own political cartoons, which often countered that found in the general circulation media. (Socialist Newspapers by Circulation) Today, union membership is dropping just as their popularity is increasing (Unions More Popular), and how effectively the unions and voters respond to the anti-union efforts will determine their future.

Unions are portrayed as inconsequential, even as the issues they amplified are acknowledged

Strikes by union labor was an un-American tactic

Keeping Warm (referencing the Coal Strike of 1919)

Leaders of unions were demonized

The cover of an 1894 issue of Harper’s Weekly, referencing the Pullman strike and Eugene Debs, the president of the American Railway Union

And yet, alternative media presented a very different view

Identified as being from the “Socialist Newspaper Union St. Louis” this cartoon offers are rare sympathetic view of the causes of the Pullman strike and a good picture of the issues.

Unions are held responsible for any number of evils

(Anti-IWW cartoon from The American Employer, published 1913, with the Industrial Workers of the World organizing drive editorialized as “a volcano of hate stirred into active eruption at Akron, by alien hands, which pour into the crater the disturbing acids and alkalis of greed, class hatred and anarchy. From the mouth of the pit rise poisonous clouds of suspicion, malice and envy to pollute the air, while from the cracked and breaking sides of the groaning mountain flow streams of lava of murder, anarchy and destruction, threatening to engulf in their path the fair cities and fertile farms of Ohio.” [Source: Wikipedia])

But the unions pushed back

The dream has not been fulfilled…

…but victories have been won…

…and they will persist

About DoReMI 165 Articles
Now a Michigander, by way of Ohio, Illinois, Scotland, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania. Gardener. Sewer. Democrat. Resister.


  1. {{{DoReMI}}} – wonderful roundup – and more evidence of what I keep saying about the media. Unions had to create their own to get any favorable information out. And in that less connected time, while it didn’t work well, it worked. We have to find a way to circumvent the 6 RW corporations that own 90% of the media and influence the rest before we will be able to get our favorable information out. Like, oh, maybe Hillary’s plan for improving the ACA that folks are now discovering. Or her plan for improving the criminal justice system that BLM liked so much – after the election when somebody showed it to them and then told them whose plan it was once they’d raved about it.

    Well, the Hillary part of the Dream is gone – but the Hillary’s plans part of the Dream is alive and well and just like the Unions getting The Word out about what they were fighting for and why, we need to do the same however we can manage to do it. And as with the Unions, we cannot depend on or even trust the MSM because their owners are our enemies. But has been done, can be done, will be done as long as we keep at it. {{{Village Peeps}}}

    • I thought you’d appreciate the use of alternative media. I suspect that today social media fills some of that role, but even with that, the proliferation of bots and propaganda sites calls for some circumspection and individual responsibility. I stay away from FB “news sites” for that reason and view Twitter as mostly a rapid-response tool.

      • yes – I had hoped that social media would be our “radio” that FDR was able to use to circumvent the MSM (newspapers) of his day but there is even less in the way of standards for truth and accuracy on social media than there is the MSM so rapid response is the best use. i really don’t know how we can break up that consortium, but we will have to in order to make true progress and not just a win here and there to clean up the Rs’ messes.

    • Or her plan for improving the criminal justice system that BLM liked so much – after the election when somebody showed it to them and then told them whose plan it was once they’d raved about it.

      That really shocked me that people on the left never even bothered to see what she stood for…never bothered to listen or investigate…as Melissa McEwan at Shavesville wrote today…

      I have a pretty damn good idea what she would be doing if she were president, and I have a pretty damn good idea what she wouldn’t be doing. I have a clear picture of the differences in what our domestic policy would look like, and of what the diplomatic differences would be.

      I don’t know these things because I’m a mind-reader. I know because she told us.

      I will never get over it.

      • {{{shenagig}}} – that’s the part that makes me angry. She was proposing exactly what they were screaming and hollering that they wanted. And instead of reading or listening, they just kept insisting that the ebil oligarch warmonger Hillary was an ebil oligarch warmonger. It would have been so easy for them to find the truth. Just shut up a minute and listen to her. Not the media. Not the opposition. Her. (And of course that’s not counting the real Haters who when shown her plans just said she was lying.) We wouldn’t be in the situation we are in if the holier-than-thou not gonna investigate cause it might change my mind purists had paid attention to the real instead of adding more straw to the myth. And no, i will never get over that.

        • I know…people over at DK where saying that people need to see that the Democratic party is listening to them…excuse me…Hillary listened and was laughed at by these same people…a listening tour…how dumb is that…they keep yelling that we need better messaging but when she shaped her very liberal positions in tone and terms to appeal to a great range of people then she was selling out…If she had gotten up and yelled like Bernie or even like Warren she would have been criticized for days or weeks or even months…everything was against her and yet she persisted and in reality won…whether or not she is President now….

          • And the Berners are back at it. We’re averaging under 30 recs for the DK morning diaries, under 50 for the Evening Edition – so about twice as many folks still participating there as here, but that includes those of us who do both. I hope Chris’ site is doing better because I’m afraid there’s another push coming at DK to get rid of the Village folks entirely. I don’t think it will be successful but every person taken out is important. sigh. But she did win and her platform won and we need to implement it as soon as we can get out of defense mode.

  2. thanks DoReMi and especially for the reminder that there is a long history behind our resistance. I will be scarce for awhile I think as I am finding the need for more solitude in response to the aggressions I’ve been seeing from both the right and the loony left. The good news is that I’m working on refinishing the exposed wood parts on a chair I’m having recovered and since I don’t want to talk to anyone it’s been getting so much of my attention it will be done soon.

    • {{{wordsinthewind}}} – just remember to check in so we know you’re (relatively) OK. The Moose Pond is a great Village for checking in. It’s very calm and supportive. Even when we’re P.O.’d about something, we’re mostly calm and always supportive. moar {{{HUGS}}}

      • oh absolutely bfitz! The Moose Pond is a very comfortable home, I will probably check in regularly here just not so much as the overtly political sites. I promised myself as a child that if I got through that I would live in peace and I intend to honor that. It’s never been as difficult as it is now and that’s saying something there.

        • I promised myself as a child that if I got through that I would live in peace and I intend to honor that

          Good for you…one needs to take care of themselves…

        • Yes it is difficult to live in peace right now which makes it next best to critical to have a peaceful place to visit and check in. moar {{{HUGS}}} and Healing Energy.

  3. Good morning, Pond Dwellers. Thanks for your 2nd delightful diary today, DoReMi. Love the old advertisements/posters you’ve been sharing in your ongoing theme. We have come a long way. It probably didn’t seem like they were making progress back then, but they were. So it is today. It may seem like we’re losing the war but we are winning battles along the way. We will resist. We will persist.

  4. Way awesome diary, DoReMI! Unions are under massive attack and need to be recognized and supported!

  5. Wonderful as always Sherry…Unions and the problems they had getting hardly anything at all from the ruling class of oligarchs back in the early 1900’s and up to the 1950’s or 60’s were a lot different than they are now. Violence was a mainstay of unions trying to get anything, mostly propagated by the oligarchs but not always.

    That view has come down today to hurt the unions IMO because people don’t really look at what happened and why. Reason being is the press and the view of those troubles they show even now is mostly of the violence that ensued.

    It’s the same kind of problem we are having now with the narrow and often skewed reporting so often on the conservative side of things.

    Fitz is right on us having to break the hold on the press because people so often only read or hear one side of things and then turn a deaf ear to anything further.

    • {{{Batch}}} – it’s worse than just getting the one side, they’re dang-near programmed to believe that one side – the propaganda of the background, the stage set, the whole way the story is set up in our “entertainment” programs people to expect certain things and reject others unless very careful lead out of that fantasy. Which they mostly aren’t because somebody is getting richer and more powerful by them believing what they were programmed to believe. sigh.

      moar {{{HUGS}}} and Healing Energy.

  6. Thank you everyone for the kind comments and friendly conversation. I haven’t been around much here or at The Orange place the past few days; I’ve been dealing with a few curveballs life has thrown my way. Nothing at all serious (car repairs, family health concerns, etc), but just enough to keep me distracted and away from my family here. (((Hugs to you all.)))

    • Thanks for posting here, DoReMI. I don’t always have time to comment but I try to at least scan the village posts. These cartoons, from the business side – especially the one where the Misunderstood Manufacturer is pushing the wheel all by himself to make America better – could have been drawn in the last decade. When the Midwest got itself teabagged and unions were crushed in Wisconsin and Michigan and Ohio (and now Iowa), it was a huge loss that many are only now realizing. I am so angry with the shortsighted people who kicked Howard Dean and his 50-state strategy to the curb. The states have been steadily undermining the unions and, with it, middle income wage earners.

      • As a Michigander but not a union member, I have seen the Wisconsin strategy successfully used here. When we became a right-to-work-for-less state, the unions rose up briefly, but then settled back to a sort of complacency. (The UAW estimated that something like 30%+ of their membership were Trump voters…I’d have to dig for their exact estimate.) Of course, the auto unions are not universally beloved here; my understanding as an outsider looking in is that there was a period (’60s, early 70s) when the unions had gained so much power that the leadership became corrupt and worked less for the worker and more for themselves. I don’t know how true that is, but it’s certainly the perception that prevails. As a result, there’s a whole generation in MI that belongs to unions but doesn’t particularly value them. As that generation retires, I’m hoping that some of that negative attitude will die away, but it’s not a sure thing.

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