What Ever Happened To Solidarity?

July 9, 2012
By Salvatore J. Armao, CPA/PFS, CFP, CFE, CGMA Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Armao, Costa & Ricciardi, CPAs, P.C.

Solidarity is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “unity (as of a group or class) that produces or is based on community of interests, objectives, and standards.”

Key in the definition is unity.

I haven’t been seeing much unity in the labor movement in the past several years.

Just to give you some background, my father, rest his soul, was a union member for most of his adult life. He started out as a printing press machinist at the New York Daily News sometime in the 1950s and became a member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District Lodge 434. He later became a shop steward, then recording secretary and finally became a business agent and served as secretary/treasurer. He retired in the late 1990s.

While growing up I learned from my father about why the union was important to help its members obtain decent wages, benefits and job security. Everything we owned was union made, from automobiles to clothing. My father wouldn’t have it any other way. He marched in the Labor Day Parade every year to show his solidarity. He always took me with him when I was a kid.

I remember a time when if one labor union was on strike no other labor union members would dare cross its picket lines. I remember when the Democratic candidate would always get all of labor’s support. There was unity and solidarity among labor unions and members. Going from a high-water mark of 35% in the 1950s, to the meager 12% it is today, national union membership has clearly taken a beating.

We have seen labor unions defect from the AFL-CIO to join other groups such as Change to Win. We see municipalities causing divisiveness between municipal union employees and their private industry counterparts. We see government officials attempting to take away collective bargaining rights from union workers.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. If union leadership on the local and national level don’t create a plan of action to reverse this trend and bring back solidarity to the union movement, pretty soon labor unions will be added to the endangered species list.

Solidarity is key.

To quote a verse from "Solidarity Forever", written by labor activist Ralph Chaplin in 1915, “When the union's inspiration through the workers' blood shall run, there can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun; yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one, but the union makes us strong.”

For over 25 years, Armao, Costa & Ricciardi, CPAs, P.C., has been providing accounting, auditing, tax, financial and wealth management and advisory services to labor unions and employee benefit funds. Visit us at www.acrcpa.com. Mr. Armao can be reached at 516.256.3200 or sarmao@acrcpa.com.

July 9, 2012

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