“They’re Bankrupting Us!” And 20 Other Myths about Unions

By Bill Fletcher Jr.

Publisher: Beacon Press (August 28, 2012) | ISBN: 0807003328


"They're Bankrupting Us!": And 20 Other Myths about Unions

“They’re Bankrupting Us!”: And 20 Other Myths about Unions

From Wisconsin to Washington, DC, the claims are made: unions are responsible for budget deficits, and their members are overpaid and enjoy cushy benefits. The only way to save the American economy, pundits claim, is to weaken the labor movement, strip workers of collective bargaining rights, and champion private industry. In “They’re Bankrupting Us!”: And 20 Other Myths about Unions, labor leader Bill Fletcher Jr. makes sense of this debate as he unpacks the twenty-one myths most often cited by anti-union propagandists. Drawing on his experiences as a longtime labor activist and organizer, Fletcher traces the historical roots of these myths and provides an honest assessment of the missteps of the labor movement. He reveals many of labor’s significant contributions, such as establishing the forty-hour work week and minimum wage, guaranteeing safe workplaces, and fighting for equity within the workforce. This timely, accessible, “warts and all” book argues, ultimately, that unions are necessary for democracy and ensure economic and social justice for all people.


OUTLINE (top ⇥)

  • Introduction What Is a Union?
  • Myth 1. “Workers are forced to join unions, right?”
  • Myth 2. “Unions are bankrupting us and destroying the economy.”
  • Myth 3. “Unions are actually run by ‘labor bosses,’ aren’t they?”
  • Myth 4. “Public sector unions cause budget deficits, right?”
  • Myth 5. “Unions make unreasonable demands that result in lots of strikes!”
  • Myth 6. “Unions were good once, but we don’t need them any longer.”
  • Myth 7. “Unions are only needed by workers who have problems and get into trouble.”
  • Myth 8. “The union uses our money for political action and I have no say in the matter!”
  • Myth 9. “Unions hold me back from advancing, and if I join I will never be promoted.”
  • Myth 10. “Unions are corrupt and mobbed up!”
  • Myth 11. “Unions have a checkered history and were started by communists and other troublemakers.”
  • Myth 12. “Unions are all racist and people of color need not apply.”
  • Myth 13. “Unions have a history of sexism . . . what makes them better now?”
  • Myth 14. “Unions deal with wages, hours, and working conditions; what about other issues?”
  • Myth 15. “Yes, unions are good for their members, but they hurt the rest of us!”
  • Myth 16. “Unions and corporations are both too big and don’t really care about the worker.”
  • Myth 17. “Let’s face it, in a globalized world, unions are powerless.”
  • Myth 18. “Where do unions stand on immigrants—you either ignore them or you ignore the rest of us?”
  • Myth 19. “If unions are so good, why aren’t they growing?”
  • Myth 20. “Unions are so partisan; they always side with the Democrats, right?”
  • Myth 21. “If unions are so great, why aren’t more people around the world forming them?”
  • Concluding Thoughts Acknowledgments Notes


REVIEWS (top ⇥)

“Isn’t it curious that the loudest, most venomous voices against unions are the CEOs and Wall Streeters who profit by keeping America’s working families down and unions out? In this powerful book, Bill Fletcher exposes their self-serving lies, and points out the obvious: unions work. Not only do they advance our economy, but also our democracy and our nation’s historic pursuit of social justice.”
—Jim Hightower, author, radio commentator, public speaker, and editor of The Hightower Lowdown

“Even before I read Bill Fletcher’s new book, I knew it was a ‘must read.’ Having read it now, my instincts have been confirmed. Bill Fletcher is a brilliant thinker in Ella Baker’s tradition. He is an organizer extraordinaire who writes from thirty years experience in labor and freedom movements. “They’re Bankrupting Us!” speaks to a very broad audience about the diversity, complexity and vitality of the United States labor movement. And who better to tell that story and teach that lesson, than this amazing intellectual, committed activist and tireless movement teacher.”
—Barbara Ransby, Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago and author of Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement

“Bill Fletcher’s new book is a must read for every worker in America. Full of surprising stories and useful facts, “They’re Bankrupting Us!” uncovers everything we ever wanted to know about how unions work, and the true role that unions have played in shaping the nature of our work today.”
—Ai-jen Poo, Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance

“They’re Bankrupting Us!” he answers the question of why unions are so essential—not just for economic uplift, but for democracy itself. Fletcher is one of our leading labor intellectuals, and once again, he has the last word on a subject of central importance to all Americans.”
—Barbara Ehrenreich

“It’s amazing how much nonsense about unions is believed, and how little is really known about their purpose and proud history. Bill Fletcher sets the record straight, and he tells us a thrilling story while doing it. A thriving union movement is crucial to the well-being of working men and women and to the overall health of our democratic way of life. This book – better than any other I’ve read – explains why.”
—Bob Herbert, Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos and former Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times