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Unions are good for workers. Today, median weekly pay for union members is $886, compared to $691 for nonunion workers. Moving cargo on the Oakland waterfront pays three times what stocking shelves does at Wal-Mart, because longshore workers have had a union contract since 1934. Wal-Mart has fought down every effort its workers have made to organize. That longshore union contract came at great cost. Nick Bordoise and Howard Sperry were shot down on Rincon Hill in the 1934 waterfront strike. All work in San Francisco stopped for three days in protest. When companies couldn’t load ships for weeks on the whole Pacific coast, they finally settled the first contract. Two years later, Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), setting up a legal system in which private sector, nonfarm workers could join unions and bargain without paying that terrible price. continue reading

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