“What Happened to our Unions?”

Note: This pamphlet was written about ten years ago and is a bit out of date in some ways. However, the main points it makes are even more true today then back then. The pamphlet focuses on the Carpenters Union and its International president, Doug McCarron. That is for two reasons. One reason is that McCarron is the most conscious and clear of all the union presidents in how he views “his” union, which is as a combination hiring hall/employment agency for the contractors and as a means of helping the contractors maintain some sort of order in the industry. The other reason this pamphlet focuses on the Carpenters is that the author had 30 years as an active member of that union and another ten (almost) working in the industry after he was expelled from the Carpenters for fighting for the membership. The pamphlet uses extensive quotes from McCarron and other leaders of the Carpenters to document its analysis.


McCarron has swallowed whole the propaganda about the “free market” as god; in other words it is perfect and self-correcting at all times. He sees no alternative to the capitalist free market; on the contrary, the free market will solve all problems. This is the end of history. This is what was preached in the ‘80s and ‘90s and this is what McCarron clearly believes. In McCarron’s view, as inherited from the corporate CEO’s and the likes of Ronald Reagan, it is impossible for the union to try to successfully limit this free market and there is no alternative to it; all that remains is to accept the free market and make the best of it. In practice, this means accepting cuts, just so long as they are not too severe and too sudden.

It is presented here in two formats. The first is a format to read it online; the second to be printed up (back-to-back) as a fold over pamphlet.

Read pamphlet online:What Happened to Our Unions?

Print out version: laid out pamphlet 2009 edition


4 replies »

    • Thank you for your comment. It’s not clear, though, exactly what you mean by the idea that “the union bureaucrats have decisively broken with the workers to align themselves with the contractors.” If you’re saying that they are part of the other class – the “class enemy”, you might say – I think that’s a stretch. They might like to be, but for as long as the Carpenters Union (or any other union) remains a union and not an employers’ organization, these bureaucrats still rest on the workers’ organizations. That’s exactly the contradiction they find themselves in. They’d like to become part of the employers’ class, but they can’t. Maybe in the future, they will succeed in fundamentally transforming the nature of the union and with it their class basis, but I think it’s more likely that the union would collapse entirely before that.

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