How do American unions compare to Poland’s Solidarity Union?

By Tom Quiner

Lech Walesa (John Busbee) leads the Solidarity Labor Union in this scene from The Pope of the People

My new musical, The Pope of the People, is in the middle of its three weekend run. It’s a musical about the impact of John Paul II on Poland and the world.

The musical drama depicts the famous strike led by Lech Walesa at the Gdansk shipyards. Mr. Walesa made 21 demands on behalf of the fledgling Solidarity Labor Union back in the early 80s.

My liberal friends have taken great delight in pointing out my sympathy for Solidarity, and lack thereof for American unionism. The suggestion is that unionism is unionism, right?

I think not.

Mr. Walesa called for rights like freedom of speech and access to a free mass medium, rights Americans enjoy.

He called for management based on merit, not party affiliation, something American Unions certainly don’t embrace.

Polish laborers had it tough. So did American laborers. Our labor unions deserve credit for improving working conditions for the common man. But today’s public union employees live better than Solidarity’s communist masters!

Good grief, the health insurance for Wisconsin’s public union employees includes coverage for Viagra, paid for by taxpayers.

They pay little for their health insurance. Taxpayers pick up most of the tab.

They enjoy defined benefit pension plans. Most taxpayers have defined contribution plans which provide less security than the former.

In some respects, today’s unions remind me more of the communists than the Solidarity union. After all, in states without right to work laws, workers often get stuck paying compulsory union dues, a good chunk of which go to support “the party,” also know as the Democrats. So much for choice.

If someone wants to donate to the Democratic Party, fine. But they shouldn’t have to do it against their will. They shouldn’t have their money taken from them before it even touches their hands to support efforts to liberalize abortion and gay marriage laws, as Democrats are attempting in every state.

I won’t even talk about the players union in the NFL where millionaires are going on strike.

No, there is no comparison between yesterday’s Solidarity labor movement and today’s American labor unions.

[Be sure to see The Pope of the Pope of the People this weekend. Check the website for showtimes:]


  1. Monte B Gray on April 6, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    I respectfully disagree! There are many comparisons between the Polish Solidarity movement and American Unions! Give them time and Polish Solidarity may achieve what unions here have accomplished!

    Also, in the play, if I remember correct, there were 21 points the Solidarity workers wanted to address, including better pay and benefits! You forgot to mention those, which are very similar to what most unions members here desire!
    You also need to address whether your discussing Public Labor Unions or all unions. At the beginning of your article you’re discussing Public Labor Unions, but by the end of the article it appears your lumping all unions together in your piece!

    Seriously though, in regards to unions, even though there have been abuses in what they have obtained they pale in comparison to what managers and CEO’s get paid from those same companies. Your typical CEO compensation is rapacious compared to the common worker.

    Football unions, you’re right, you should’nt go there as they are’nt what I consider the middle class workers that most unions represent.

    If I remember correct Viagra treats a medical condition. If viagra can relieve a medical condition that prevents a male from being sexually active with the one he loves why should’nt that medicine be covered?

    Finally, perhaps unions would’nt donate so much to the Democratic party if there was’nt the impression that Republican leaders are pro business, and anti-union!

  2. Paul Sharp on April 7, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Mr. Quiner is correct; public labor unions are out of control. Watch the sad events unfolding in WI for example.