Laughing off hard truths in New Orleans
I just never understood the hatred that Conservatives have towards unions. Are unions 100% right 100% of the time? Of course not. But without them we wouldn't have workplace safety laws, overtime laws, or any other law that makes it harder for businesses to mistreat their workers.
You must understand it better than you think, since you explained it perfectly.
Daniel Z,It's rather simple, really. First of all, unions often use the threat of a general strike to get benefits that are excessive. If the union is strong enough, this can harm America's competitiveness in a given industry by increasing its labor costs to unsustainable levels. This is why overall labor costs are lower in nonunion auto plants than in union auto plants.Secondly, unions tend to be corrupt and thuggish. They have a long history of colluding with organized crime and intimidating nonunion workers (the end of the secret ballot currently being championed by Democrats is simply a way to make intimidation easier). Thirdly, some of the laws championed by unions have gone off the deep end. OSHA is well-intentioned, but OSHA regulations are so pervasive and so particular that no business in America isn't violating the regulations in some fashion or another. Construction firms will actually shut down automatically if an OSHA inspector comes out. So there are actually a lot of reasons to dislike unions.
As someone who regularly works in a highly dangerous workplace (offshore oil), I'm very grateful for OSHA and other regulations. Yeah, they go overboard for white collar offices, but they provide a mechanism for doing dangerous work safely. Also, isn't it ironic that a bunch of southern republicans are probably going to kill off NASCAR?
I hate to say it with Vitty but if we save the car companies, can't we save the waiters and the retail people and everyone? Why just the car people with the big benefits? So many getting laid off and we just save one? Good op ed in NY Times today about this. And by the way, I hate Vitty.
Owen: "It's rather simple, really. First of all, unions often use the threat of a general strike to get benefits that are excessive."As I mentioned on my blog, isn't that part of the "free market" that conservatives love so dearly? Why shouldn't workers be able to determine the maximum profit that they can reach from their services? "Secondly, unions tend to be corrupt and thuggish. "Well, when you are dealing companies that are corrupt and thuggish... are you supposed to bake them cookies? Perhaps if corporations didn't use their corporate might to keep the worker down, the unions wouldn't have to return the favor to help bring the worker up. "Thirdly, some of the laws championed by unions have gone off the deep end. OSHA..."OSHA can be rather silly. One of my first jobs out of high school was dealing with MSDS reports. They actually had one for what you need to do if you get DEIONIZED WATER in your eyes. (You are supposed to rinse it out with tap water). And what happens if you get liquid hand soap on your HANDS? You are supposed to wash it off with water (thanks geniuses). But if the enforcement of the laws are taken to far, the response isn't to just blame the unions. Work on getting the enforcement to a more reasonable level. If conservatives got their wish and unions went away, how long do you think it would be before businesses started cutting benefits and pay from workers?
Anon, manufacturing sector jobs are considered far more important than service industry jobs because manufacturing jobs create new wealth, while service industry jobs spread it around. It's a primary vs. secondary thing. It's something pretty much all economists agree on.
Daniel Z,As I mentioned on my blog, isn't that part of the "free market" that conservatives love so dearly?Sure; workers certainly shouldn't be forbidden from forming unions. However, they can certainly be regulated (and this has been done both to their advantage and to their detriment). Well, when you are dealing companies that are corrupt and thuggish... are you supposed to bake them cookies? Perhaps if corporations didn't use their corporate might to keep the worker down, the unions wouldn't have to return the favor to help bring the worker up.I'm not always a fan of corporate behavior either, but the notion that it's all tit-for-tat from the perspective of the unions is a whitewash. Not all union thuggery is an equal response to corporate actions. In fact, I'd say most of it is not. But if the enforcement of the laws are taken to far, the response isn't to just blame the unions. Work on getting the enforcement to a more reasonable level.I agree. I was just pointing out that the pendulum has arguably swung too far in favor of worker safety, which is arguably a downside to the power of labor unions when these bills were originally drafted. If conservatives got their wish and unions went away, how long do you think it would be before businesses started cutting benefits and pay from workers?It wouldn't be long, at least not to the extent that unions prop up wages above market levels. However, unless the government steps in and bails out the auto industry, the UAW will probably be broken in the ensuing bankruptcies of the auto companies. In some industries, wages and benefits need to go down so that we can compete internationally. That's tough, but necessary.
Let's keep unions...Let them keep their high wages...Let them strangle automakers by refusing to work on lower-grossing profit margin automobiles because they can't make their ca$h...When their jobs are all outsourced to TATA motors in India, like Ford did with Jaguar, and there are no jobs left due to competition...But, don't allow them the cash lifeline to do it from us, the taxpayers...Let them see where their own greed and avarice leads them. I agree with others that its disingenuous of anyone-on either side of the argument-to argue that one side or the other has the monopoly on red paint being used by their opponent on the other end...But, just look at Ford Motor. They pared themselves down to the bone. They sold off Jaguar to TATA, they reduced their workforce significantly, and after all of that, they STILL had to mortgage every piece of office equipment, cellphone, and even the Blue Oval to get enough cash to operate for one year...Thus meaning they'll get a lifeline, but hopefully, they won't rape the common taxpayer by using it. The bottom line-and the ugly truth-about the free market is that any businesses easiest avenue to reduce overhead is to cut labor. Unions were designed to blunt this ability. The current model of Detroit is untenable. People making $70 an hour to work on an assembly line and produce cars that are not competitive in the open marketplace aren't "the middle class". $70/hour ain't middle class. Hell, $35/hour ain't middle class, folks...Not in Louisiana...$35/hour is $73K/year, people...and they're making TWICE that...Oh, wait...Lest we forget...they don't REALLY make that...Almost a third probably goes towards UNION DUES...Sort've like your local church's "building fund"...In the famous words of Steve Harvey, "You know the building fund...Ain't changed a doorknob on the churc in 30 years!"The system is broken, and the situation they are in is self-evident proof of this fact...The TAXPAYER isn't the solution to the problem. Ending the corporate top-heavy salaries isn't the only solution. Labor-organized and otherwise-needs to realize that we're in a global marketplace, now. Yes, folks...You can kill the goose that laid the Golden Egg...
Of course, as has been widely reported by even the Big 3 domestic corporations themselves, the "$70/hr." is something of a red herring, as it represents a combination of actual salary (which both Ford and GM themselves have reported is more in the $30-35 range for veteran skilled labor and about $14/hr. for new hires--right about the same as workers at the Southern foreign-owned plants get) and benefits. This $70/hr. salary-and-benefits figure is usually compared to a $35/hr. figure representing salary-only by the southern GOP Senators. Of course, the union workers do substantially better benefits-wise, based on decade after decade of open negotiation with management with labor offering the value of their labor against the value of management's offered compensation. The union workers are, as a rule, decidedly middle-class, despite the GOP's efforts to use their standard divide-and-conquer playbook to pit union labor (who they, of all groups, attempt to paint as rich "fat cats") versus non-union labor, much as they've been able to successfully pit white middle-and-lower-class America against black middle-and-lower-class America to both's detriment for decades.The foreign corporations business model doesn't include generous benefit packages, of course...because many of the benefits that in America are part of the employer-supplied compensation package are in their countries of origin seen instead as functions of government--health care, retirement needs, etc. But of course we can't even discuss that flip side of the Japanese/European non-union labor business model. Can't have any of that "Socialism" stuff...And thus, by simply noting the GOP's almost fanatical insistance that the corporate-friendly side of the Japanese/European model (no unions, few benefits) be adopted while at the same time refusing to even consider talking about the labor-friendly side of the model (government role in supplying health and retirement needs) one can easily discern whose interests the Senators from Toyota are honor-bound to serve.
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