The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



The fruit of labor

Mikey Pilger | Friday, March 25, 2011

At first I greatly appreciated your piece (“Where idealism and realism don’t intersect,” Mar. 24) as satire, but eventually I became worried that you were serious. I am responding to what I am afraid are your actual opinions.

Instead of joining a union, Mark wants the average American worker to fight for his/her rights by independently suing his/her employer. As such disputes are resolved in the American legal system, where lawsuits drag on for years and cost tens of thousands of dollars, and where teams of corporate lawyers can easily outlast individuals who can’t pay outrageous legal fees in what often become legal wars of attrition, I think the average American worker would be thrilled by this suggestion! Who needs a union to pay for lawsuits on his/her behalf? This is America — we are free to bankrupt ourselves fighting in vain for what’s right, thank you very much!

Mark says unions discourage employers from staying in the United States. Indeed, the sub-human working conditions in many developing countries are very attractive to employers. We should be ashamed of ourselves for not aiming to be just as attractive. How can we convince employers they can treat American workers like animals? Mark suggests we support right-to-work legislation, which is a step in the right direction!

To the maligned “left-wingers, lifetime union members and subscribers to Catholic social teaching,” in solidarity I leave you with the words of Abraham Lincoln: “Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”

Mikey Pilger


Fisher Hall

Mar. 24