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Stakes are high in the US war on unions

US unions are lining up behind Barack Obama and the Democrats in this year’s presidential election, likely to fork over more than the $400 million they handed him in 2008.

At a union conference I attended recently in Washington, the battle cry was this: “There is a war going on, a concerted attack on union workers, and we are losing.”

Losing what? The right to work together to try to improve working conditions, to an 8-hour workday, to be paid fairly, to have hope of a pension and a medical benefits plan. All gains workers have fought for for decades.

The anti-union forces in the US are formidable, and very well financed. It is heart-wrenching to hear how rich CEOs in the US spend millions on political campaigns, effectively buying elections and promises of business-friendly and anti-union legislation.

Although there was a lot of disappointment that Obama didn’t pass legislation to make it easier for workers to join unions this term, there is also a sense the alternative is untenable.

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