Above, by artist Homer Davenport, from back in the days when corporations hired thugs to beat up, & sometimes murder, striking workers (and often with the help of the government and the police), comes “Arbitration in a Strike” — Plate 17 in Davenport‘s collection, The Dollar or the Man?.
Republicans have been especially on the attack against unions, attempting to destroy them, and take away workers’ rights. On the campaign stump, they rail against unions and their members, as enemies of America. Many workers fought and died for what we mostly take for granted today — worker’s safety regulations, 40-hour work week, minimum wage, ban on child labor, etc. Americans may feel these rights are guaranteed, but once unions are gone, the way will be clear for corporations to throw Americans back into wage-slavery — squeezing down our standards to that of Third World countries to compete at their level, while the corporate wealthy rake in more profits for themselves. (Blind to the fact, that it is the middle class which are the true job creators, by their ability to consume, and by decimating the middle class with their policies, corporations in the long run decimate themselves.)
Click on the above & below pictures, to view the cartoons in greater detail, and read their captions.
Below, one target in particular of Republicans, has been the Department of Education, and teachers. As they have been for decades. Below, three McCarthy-era cartoons by Fred Ellis, involving the Republican-sponsored Feinberg Bill, which not only sought to find & purge teachers with any communist associations (as one might expect during the McCarthy-era), plus went still further in unconstitional overreach, by seeking to fire school employees for the “utterance of any treasonable or seditious word…or the doing of any treasonable or seditious act…” regardless of their affiliations. As we know from history (though Republican school boards have, ala Stalinist Russia, been seeking to rewrite that history in school history books), the interpretation of what was “treasonable” was extremely broad, subject to no review, and could be abusively utilized to settle petty personal grievances.
Okay, I’ve digressed. Back to cartoons involving strictly Union-Busting.
Above, by Ellis, Expulsion? — The Hell You Say!, from the 1926 collection, Red Cartoons, which reprinted it from the January 2nd, 1926 Daily Worker.
Above & below, two more by Syd Hoff.
Above and below, two more by Fred Ellis.
Our last four cartoons come from Red Cartoons 1928, and deal with one of the more extreme examples of Union Busting — but one which was not at all isolated, and which is an example of the kind of actions allowed under the Republican Presidencies of Calvin Coolidge, and afterward, Herbert Hoover. They depict the Columbine, Colorado, Mine Massacre of 1927, in which guards and state police officers, some armed with machine guns, fired upon a crowd of 500+ striking miners and their wives and children, killing six, and wounding dozens.
Art by Fred Ellis and Jacob Burck.
As you have doubtless noticed, nearly all the cartoons in this post come from Communist publications. In pre-WW II America, the extreme inequality and abuses of power wielded by corporations and the super-rich, pushed a much higher percentage of Americans towards radical politics than we can currently imagine. Or at least, towards those willing to help them, when others were not. This included many great cartoonists, creating powerful depictions of social injustice, that we can recognize as true today. Communists were involved in the early Union movement, as the two were allies on workers’ rights. The eventual success of unions, however, ensured the failure of communism rising in America, by providing workers with an outlet for their frustrations, and real, visible progress.
The rise of inequality in America, and the attempt to destroy unions, however, if allowed to follow the path that the Tea Party and G.O.P. radical-right want to take us, will inevitably lead to a backlash, and the re-radicalization of the poor and the failing middle class. I say this not with anticipatory hope, but, as a warning, that the further towards a corporate plutocratic fascist state, the far-right wing of the Republican Party (and the Libertarian Party which has infiltrated and seized control of it) pushes the U.S., the more extreme the backlash counter-response to come.