God's Politics

God's Politics


Michael Sherrard: A Missed Opportunity for Labor Fairness

posted by God's Politics

Too often, unions are portrayed in our culture as products of a bygone era, better suited for the days of nine-to-five industrial jobs than the more complicated global economic realities of the 21st century. It’s certainly true that organized labor has declined in recent decades—a smaller share of America’s workers belong to a labor union today than in any period since the 1930s.

But that’s not for lack of trying: Workers who organize to seek a voice at work are threatened, intimidated, and fired with increasing frequency. As writer Harold Meyerson explained in a recent article:

Firing employees for endeavoring to form unions has been illegal since 1935 under the National Labor Relations Act, but beginning in the 1970s, employers have preferred to violate the law—the penalties are negligible—rather than have their workers unionize. Today, employer violations rank somewhere between routine and de rigueur. Over half—51 percent—of employers illegally threaten workers with the specter of plant closings if employees choose to unionize (1 percent actually go through with this threat, according to Cornell University professor Kate Bronfenbrenner).

It’s outrageous enough that the world’s wealthiest nation fails so miserably to enforce its own labor laws (not to mention the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), but the consequences of a declining labor movement go far beyond lofty ideals. The fate of the labor movement—which has lifted millions of working families out of poverty and into the middle class—is closely bound to the condition of "the least of these" in our society.

This makes it all the more troubling that the United States Senate missed an opportunity this week to give workers a free and fair chance to join a union by failing to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. (Click here to see how your senators voted.)

The legislation would have fixed the broken and unfair process through which workers currently form unions—in which employers are free to wage campaigns of fear and intimidation with impunity—in favor of simply requiring employers to recognize a union whenever a majority of eligible workers sign a card indicating their support. It also would have prevented employers from endlessly delaying contract negotiations, and dramatically increased the penalties they pay for breaking the law.

The good news is that the Employee Free Choice Act got further this year than ever before, passing the House and winning a 51-49 majority in the Senate (fewer than the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster), and that it is virtually certain to come back in the next Congress.

In the mean time, every 23 minutes someone in the United States will be continue to be fired or discriminated against simply for seeking to join with their fellow workers in seeking dignity and justice on the job.

Michael Sherrard is the online organizer for Sojourners/Call to Renewal. For more about the Employee Free Choice Act, check out Kim Bobo’s article, "Justice at Work," in the July issue of Sojourners, or visit American Rights at Work on the Web.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(50)
post a comment
jurisnaturalist

posted June 29, 2007 at 1:48 pm


“workers who organize to seek a voice at work are threatened, intimidated, and fired with increasing frequency”
I don’t believe that organized labor would be perceived as threatening if it did not simultaneously claim special status under the law.
Why can’t each individual take the initiative and responsibility to negotiate their own contract?
Problems with the EFCA:
1: Card Check. If half the employees vote for a union, they get one. Which half of the employees are most likely to want a union, the most productive, or the least productive? Assuming all employees are paid according to their productivity minus costs, such as benefits, etc. it will usually be the lower half of employees who perceive “unfairness.” They will want to be paid the same amount as the more productive earners. When a contract is negotiated, it will most likely involve leveling out of wages across the firm. The more productive employees will be gradually paid less than their productivity would dictate. They will eventually leave the firm for a better opportunity elsewhere. The firm is now forced to face a situation where their most productive employees have left, so their overall productivity is less. But they are unable to decrease wages because of the union. Their profits fall. Their investors decide to put their money elsewhere, to earn better profits. Eventually the firm may go out of business, and all of the employees will be out of work. Most likely they will find a job with a non-union firm elsewhere. Then they will push for a union at their new place of work (because it worked so well for them at their last job…) and the cycle might repeat itself.
But unions have been losing membership, which says to me that some of these temporarily unemployed union members wizened up and decided that getting paid according to their productivity wasn’t so bad after all, and that trying to form a union might get them and their friends unemployed eventually.
2. Increased fines. Who gets the money from the fines? The disparaged worker? Probably not. Most likely the state. Punitive measures in regulating industry merely encourage the costly search for loopholes which decreases productivity. This is not the kind of thing we want to do to improve the economy.
3. Binding arbitration. This eliminates the opportunity for firm and employee to come to an agreed upon transaction. If the contract is beneficial to both parties, then it will pass without the need for arbitration. To impose a contract which is not voluntary forces one or both parties to endure a loss. This reduces potential gains from trade and hurts labor in the long run.
We are best off with a more liquid labor force. Nations with more stringent labor laws also suffer greater unemployment, and lower standards of living. The US currently has below 5% unemployment. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.



report abuse
 

Kantexmama

posted June 29, 2007 at 2:24 pm


Jurisnaturalist, it is apparent that you have little experience with actual unions. My husband was a crane operator for the International Union of Operating Engineers for 25 years, and I can tell you that:
1) the union hall had stiff requirements for work ethics and expertise, and would not send out someone who was not an extremely hard worker, willing to go above and beyond the basic job requirements;
2) Unions negotiate contracts that are AGREED TO by BOTH union members and contractors;
3) Union membership has declined enormously because of “union-busting” with the active help of anti-union government and corporate policies, not because of declining interest.
As far as “binding arbitration”, that only holds people to legal agreements they have made. All kinds of entities use binding arbitration, from real estate to family law to corporate law. There is nothing sinister in that; it is good legal practice.
Unions have helped not only their members, but all workers, to have better pay and improved working conditions. They brought hardworking blue collar workers (and pink collar) into the middle class, which only benefits the country, as it increases the consumer pool for products.
The trend now is anti-union because powerful corporations want their labor pool as cheap as possible. That is why the outsourcing, the encouragement of illegal immigration, and squelching unions. It’s not as if they can’t afford to hire Americans for decent pay; they used to do it and made plenty of profit. They just want MORE, and more.
It’s a sorry state that America has come to, when only enormous profits mean anything, not the welfare of our citizens. But the propaganda has been working only too well.



report abuse
 

jerry

posted June 29, 2007 at 3:03 pm


i can’t resist this one. juristnaturalist said it right. simple observation and comment. kantemama is living in the past. i agree totally with her observations of the historic union movement. i have watched for several years now as teamsters tried to unionize office types in tucson. always voted no by big margins. why? union management is so selfserving, historic union benefits are so poor and the reasons for unionizing are so weak. i can’t think of one recent instance where unionizing has benefitted anyone. i can site many unions that have been very detrimental to it’s industry. try teachers for one. maybe auto workers?? farm laborers, rail roads??



report abuse
 

Paul C. Quillman

posted June 29, 2007 at 3:06 pm


What about those of us who do not want unions, and leave a company if a union gets in?



report abuse
 

donald

posted June 29, 2007 at 3:08 pm


Wow.
First off, you’re just spouting thought puzzles that aren’t based in anything empirical. Productivity per hour worked is higher in France, Germany, Belgium, Norway and Ireland than in the US. (From the International Productivity Monitor, 2002). These countries have very strong labor movements, high rates of unionization, and higher income equality within firms and across society than we do in the United States. Your overall theme of attaching labor unions to productivity decline is totally ungrounded.
In fact there’s some good evidence that union firms with good relationships with management have higher productivity rates than nonunion firms. See for instance the work by Lynch and Black, from the August ’98 Scientific American, “Labor Unions and the Worker of the Future.” They find that productivity in the average unionized firm was 27% higher than the average nonunion firm. Here’s an excerpt:
“The average unionized establishment recorded productivity levels 16 percent higher than the baseline firm, whereas average non-union ones scored 11 percent lower. One reason: most of the union shops had adopted so-called formal quality programs, in which up to half the workers meet regularly to discuss workplace issues. Moreover, production workers at these establishments shared in the firms profits, and more than a quarter did their lobs in self-managed teams. Productivity in such union shops was 20 percent above baseline. That small minority of unionized workplaces still following the adversarial line recorded productivity 15 percent lower than the baseline, even worse than the non-union average.”
Also, your arguments about productivity, pay and employee mobility is tailored to a professional market, not the vast majority of low-medium waged white and blue collar jobs. The pay differentials between workers are dwarfed by differentials between employees and upper management, or employees and corporate profits as a whole.
Honestly, all of this is really secondary to the basic reality that solidarity is Christian and greed-driven individualism is anti-Christian.
Now you definitely don’t sound like a genuine Christian or person of faith, which is of course your business and not mine, but maybe you shouldn’t bother asserting secular, individualistic values from a business school to a forum devoted to faith-inspired social justice.



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted June 29, 2007 at 3:38 pm


“Honestly, all of this is really secondary to the basic reality that solidarity is Christian and greed-driven individualism is anti-Christian”
This is a false choice between union-imposed solidarity and individualism that is motivated solely by greed. Further, I am unsurprised that a pro-union think tank with Canadian and French membership authored a study extolling the virtues of a unions in Canada and France.
But this bill wasn’t about whether unions could exist. The card-check issue sank the bill. Period. For 72 years, workers had the right to cast private ballots. Union organizers wanted to do away with that, for rather obvious reasons. It killed the bill.



report abuse
 

Blake

posted June 29, 2007 at 3:55 pm


Take it up with the Dems, it’s their Senate and House.



report abuse
 

jurisnaturalist

posted June 29, 2007 at 5:48 pm


Kantexmama,
Your experience sounds interesting:
1. An overly-qualified individual is not always necessary for a job. A union limits entry into the workforce making it more difficult for the marginal individual to get work. There is a line just above which you are admitted and just below which you are not. If you make the cut you earn a higher wage than you would on your own. The top performers earn a wage lower than they would be able to negotiate individually. The person just below the cut has a much more difficult time finding work, and experience towards making the cut.
2. Unions often work under majority rule, which places the mediocre in control rather than the excellent while simultaneously neglecting the weak performer.
3. I think union-busting is a waste of time. Just remove the special status under the law which unions have enjoyed, and allow voluntary membership in unions.
The binding arbitration described was involuntary and forced term which the firm might not otherwise agree to.
“Unions have helped all workers to have better pay.” Of those workers which still have jobs. It limits entry into the work force, as described before. I don’t need a fully qualified electrician to install my ceiling fan. A grunt with a screwdriver will suffice. But unions frown on independent contracting, ostracizing scabbies and preventing them from accepting contracts they would otherwise be willing to accept.
The increased productivity of the average worker is what has brought them into the middle class. Americans on average now enjoy a quality of life five times higher than 100 years ago. My wife and I don’t bother with the hand-me-downs we dealt with as children because new clothes are so inexpensive compared to twenty years ago. Little of this increase in productivity is creditable to unions.
Outsourcing and open borders are wonderful voluntary mechanisms for increasing the wealth of everyone involved. Let everyone do what they do best, and let everyone work to constantly improve themselves.
I want more, and so do you. And we all get more when free exchange is the rule of the day. Your comment “It’s not as if they can’t afford to hire Americans” demonstrates an entitlement mentality which will eventually impoverish all of us. No one is guaranteed anything. We all have to work, and compete.
Enormous profits mean that people are getting what they want at a price they are willing to pay. Where do the profits come from otherwise? You want the can of beans more than the money you pay for it. The grocer wants the money more than the beans. You make the transaction and both say “Thank you.” You both are better off than you were before the transaction. The grocer performs more transactions than you do. More people say “Thank you” to the grocer than to you. He has made more people better off than you have, and for that he has earned greater profits. Bill Gates has made all of our lives infinitely better off, that’s why he’s so rich. He didn’t lie or cheat anyone.
The welfare of our citizens is just fine, could it be better. Of course, especially for the poor whom the church ought to be caring for.
Nathanael Snow



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted June 29, 2007 at 5:58 pm


But this bill wasn’t about whether unions could exist. The card-check issue sank the bill. Period. For 72 years, workers had the right to cast private ballots. Union organizers wanted to do away with that, for rather obvious reasons. It killed the bill.
Apparently you’ve never belonged to a union. I belong to one now and was in another when I worked another job two decades ago, and in both cases secret ballots were never an issue — they just weren’t done nor were they even seriously considered.
The welfare of our citizens is just fine, could it be better. Of course, especially for the poor whom the church ought to be caring for.
You assume that the poor are poor because of bad choices or bad luck. Not necessarily and probably not even generally — there actually are political forces at work actively trying to keep them poor, and those are the same forces that oppose unions in the first place.



report abuse
 

jurisnaturalist

posted June 29, 2007 at 6:11 pm


Donald,
Productivity per hour worked is higher in France, Germany, etc. because the less productive are not able to work. Also, these nations enjoy a higher level of capital per worker. Income equality is unimportant to me. The only equality I’m interested in is equality under the law, and unions consistently seek to gain special status under the law. Their workers have less distribution in wages because the more productive are prohibited from negotiating their own contracts to higher wages, and less productive workers are not hired.
Bottom line: unions are very good for people who already have jobs, especially mediocre workers. They are not so good for the more productive and the less.
Pay differentials between employees and upper management ought to be monumental. People ought to get paid what they are worth, according to what they contribute, in an environment that rewards excellence in areas of high demand. CEO’s have to be paid enough to attract them away from other corporations or other opportunities they are presented with.
Solidarity is Christian for Christians and for Christian actions. Self interested individualism is real. It is they way people really behave and forcing them to behave otherwise does no good. Conservatives are always trying to pass laws that force people to be good and liberals are always trying to pass laws to force people to be nice. What a waste of time.
Social justice belongs to the church and the church alone. Sojo tries to impose social justice on people who don’t believe in it. That’s why I contribute to this forum.
Nathanael Snow



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted June 29, 2007 at 6:13 pm


“Apparently you’ve never belonged to a union. I belong to one now and was in another when I worked another job two decades ago, and in both cases secret ballots were never an issue — they just weren’t done nor were they even seriously considered.”
I have belonged to one, but the secret ballot question is one of whether to join a union, which is not relevant to existing union members.



report abuse
 

Anonymous

posted June 29, 2007 at 6:19 pm


I have belonged to one, but the secret ballot question is one of whether to join a union, which is not relevant to existing union members.
I then misunderstood the question. That said, it doesn’t change my view, as corporate America wants to destroy organized labor. All these complaints are a smokescreen to deal with the real issue, which is power.



report abuse
 

jerry

posted June 29, 2007 at 7:07 pm


what is with noname? bill???
great discussion. but the unionists are at bay. i too was a teamster in the 60s, and secret ballot never existed. walk on stage in los angeles and put your ballot in either yes box or no box. for all to see. intimidation, osterization, physical threats. my boss was sent to jail under the landrum griffin act. you want unions, go to europe and try to get a job, then pay the taxes, then pay the cost of living and live the european life. individualism is the christian way. its between you and God, you choose, you live the life. no free lunch, no group benefits. do the best you can. the social engineers want to organize and dictate through government. like they know what is good for all of us. unions are self serving and no longer part of the global economy. union managment is just like corporate management and politicians. they go to the same schools and same seminars.



report abuse
 

Eric

posted June 29, 2007 at 8:09 pm


It’s no wonder this bill failed. You’ll never convince the average American that a situation in which union leaders approach employees individually, hand them a card, and tell them check it is superior to a secret ballot. Dumb tactics there on that one guys.



report abuse
 

Shawn

posted June 29, 2007 at 9:20 pm


Brilliant points Nathanael.
You can take all of the lies, damned lies and statistics that union bosses and management bosses have told about each other and boil this bill down to one salient fact: it would prohibit the secret ballot.
That and the fact that unions haven’t always been averse to violence and intimidation (and that they strongly supported this bill) ought to lend more than enough doubt as to their intentions.
If the ballot is to remain secret than neither unions nor management have anything to gain except by presenting their case.
Furthermore, Sarkozy was just elected in France–as strong a repudiation of union-entitlement mentality as you can get in that country. The union-mandated socialist-minded thirty five hour work week wasn’t working.



report abuse
 

ShawnW

posted June 29, 2007 at 10:16 pm


Would the author suggest putting someone in between his relationship with his wife? Yet he suggest that this is the best situation for employment. When you actually work in a union enviroment you understand how little a voice union employees have and is dominated by officers and local, state, regional and national employment interest. There is a reason new foreign car manufacturers have not unionized and its not because of fear or intimidation. Its because those workers realize 1) I am making a fair wage for what I do, 2) being in a union actually reduces my voice to the employer, 3) does not the law and the many lawyers not already protect my rights. Unions that fear kaizens because it means improvement and they must protect jobs means the business cant improve and we all know what happens to the slow gazelle.



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted June 30, 2007 at 9:35 am


If the ballot is to remain secret than neither unions nor management have anything to gain except by presenting their case.
Not at all true — unions work by sticking together and speaking with one voice, which anti-union employers understand; that’s why it’s called a “union.” That’s why employers prefer secret ballots — so they don’t have to listen to the union — and unions prohibit them.
It’s because those workers realize 1) I am making a fair wage for what I do, 2) being in a union actually reduces my voice to the employer, 3) does not the law and the many lawyers not already protect my rights. Unions that fear kaizens because it means improvement and they must protect jobs means the business cant improve and we all know what happens to the slow gazelle.
No offense, but you can’t be serious. Many of those plants are located in the notoriously anti-union South precisely because the employers don’t want employees to have a voice, including more pay.



report abuse
 

jurisnaturalist

posted June 30, 2007 at 9:37 am


Rick,
“You assume that the poor are poor because of bad choices or bad luck. Not necessarily and probably not even generally — there actually are political forces at work actively trying to keep them poor, and those are the same forces that oppose unions in the first place.”
My definition of poor is extremely limited. It includes only those whom are not able to fend for themselves. The Bible names widows and orphans. I add physically or mentally incapable of earning a living. For these I recommend the church’s complete concern. It is the church’s responsibility.
Another group of legitimate poor are the politically oppressed, as you have mentioned. For this I recommend activism to change the laws. The best laws are those which provide equality under the law and are restricted to protection of rights and enforcement of contracts.
I am dubious about how many are actively trying to keep the poor poor. It seems a foolish enterprise. We want everyone as well off as possible, so that we can all take advantage of mutual gains through trade. What we don’t want is able bodied people sitting around unemployed.



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted June 30, 2007 at 10:43 am


“No offense, but you can’t be serious. Many of those plants are located in the notoriously anti-union South precisely because the employers don’t want employees to have a voice, including more pay.”
Or, rather, they simply don’t want to deal with unions. And a lot of employees don’t want to deal with them either. This law was an attempt to do an end run around the wants of employees and employers. Under the guise of reducing intimidation, they guarantee intimidation by forcing voting out in the open.
Since nobody has offered a real defense of this practice, I am left to assume that there is not one. The assumption that unions automatically guarantee better livelihoods for employees carries with it a religious fervor (see above the fellow who compared “solidarity forever” to the grace offered by Christ).
However, history has left me unconvinced. I am not part of a union, and I am glad of it.



report abuse
 

Wolverine

posted June 30, 2007 at 11:06 am


I hate to break it to you guys, but we have some of the strongest unions in the country right here in Michigan, and what’s happening right now is: employers are leaving the state, workers are losing jobs, and UAW members at Delphi are looking at pay cuts as high as 50%. If you think unions are The Answer To Workers Problems, you really need to think again.
Wolverine



report abuse
 

Anonymous

posted June 30, 2007 at 12:23 pm


“”Not at all true — unions work by sticking together and speaking with one voice, which anti-union employers understand; that’s why it’s called a “union.” That’s why employers prefer secret ballots — so they don’t have to listen to the union — and unions prohibit them.””
Oh Democrats or Republicans would really “stick together” if there were no secret ballot, wouldn’t they?
Sorry Rick, but collectivism just doesn’t work, period. Unions have had their use–in the past–now more than enough safety regulations and fair wages and job mobility and freedom exist that the cassus belli of unions–that workers are somehow oppressed or under-represented just is not a credible argument anywhere in the developed world.
And why is it that unions hold themselves as the true representative of the common worker? How do unions represent the views of each worker in their membership? Answer: they don’t. Unions reliably represent the views of big bosses (and historically, the mafia), big government and the very liberal wing of the democratic party. History shows that the worker these days is better off looking out for himself. Workers know this, and they would rather not be intimidated into voting (by non-secret ballot) in the way that the union wants.
Why do labor unions give the bulk of their campaign contributions to candidates that support abortion? Is that “representing” their membership?
I’ve been a member of a union too, when I worked for UPS. What did I get out of that? For the honor of membership, they got a cut of my paycheck. I also got the satisfaction of knowing that part of my contribution was going into the campaign purse of one Cynthia McKinney–one of the five greatest idiots in Congress in the last twenty years. The union goons I knew were men (mostly) of far lesser character and purpose than management at UPS. Do unions benefit companies and American competitiveness? That sure is the marketing agreement they sign with companies when they get their contracts, but don’t be fooled. Union-ism stifles individuality, individual effort, which is one of the strengths of this country. Ever heard the words, “don’t work too hard, or you’ll make us look bad”?



report abuse
 

Anonymous

posted June 30, 2007 at 1:44 pm


“No offense, but you can’t be serious. Many of those plants are located in the notoriously anti-union South precisely because the employers don’t want employees to have a voice, including more pay.”
Or, rather, they simply don’t want to deal with unions.

Same difference — because that’s what it’s really all about.
Another group of legitimate poor are the politically oppressed, as you have mentioned. For this I recommend activism to change the laws. The best laws are those which provide equality under the law and are restricted to protection of rights and enforcement of contracts.
The political right doesn’t want that, either, because it represents the people who want to maintain the stutus quo.
I am dubious about how many are actively trying to keep the poor poor. It seems a foolish enterprise. We want everyone as well off as possible, so that we can all take advantage of mutual gains through trade. What we don’t want is able bodied people sitting around unemployed.
No one wants that, at least theoretically. But American economic culture since the Reagan years is based less on wage earning than speculation (e. g. Wall Street and real estate). It’s no accident, then, that health insurance premiums and drug costs are sky-high and companies shed workers as a result — that’s done to keep stock prices up.
Oh Democrats or Republicans would really “stick together” if there were no secret ballot, wouldn’t they?
Irrelevant to this discussion.
Sorry Rick, but collectivism just doesn’t work, period. Unions have had their use — in the past — now more than enough safety regulations and fair wages and job mobility and freedom exist that the cassus belli of unions — that workers are somehow oppressed or under-represented just is not a credible argument anywhere in the developed world.
The very history of my city, which includes a strong labor movement, belies your comments; the collapse of its manufacturing economy in the 1970s was based on management never investing in modernizing its plants to compete with companies overseas. Further, my sister-in-law, a nurse, was on the ground floor of building a union at the hospital where she works precisely because management was abusing the nurses. Bottom line, management cannot always be trusted to do the right thing by its employees; thus, someone needs to hold its feet to the fire.
History shows that the worker these days is better off looking out for himself.
Not where I’ve worked, it isn’t, for reasons I’ve already mentioned. In fact, my company concluded negotiations in February on a new contract, and I can tell you they were at times ugly, so much so that I even organized a prayer meeting.
Why do labor unions give the bulk of their campaign contributions to candidates that support abortion? Is that “representing” their membership?
If “pro-life” candidates agitated for workers they would get union support — but since most of them are Republicans and side with employers who want unions out, well … you do the math. Bob Casey Jr., long sympathetic to organized labor, had the union vote practically locked up in Pennsylvania last fall in large part because of Rick Santorum’s unwavering support of the Bush economic policies; Casey had even made health care an issue in the campaign. And those are the people that won during the last general election.



report abuse
 

Anonymous

posted July 1, 2007 at 2:50 am


“Same difference — because that’s what it’s really all about.”
No it isn’t. And that’s what it’s really all about.
“But American economic culture since the Reagan years is based less on wage earning than speculation (e. g. Wall Street and real estate).”
The interests of which are generally diametrically opposed, but whatev…
“It’s no accident, then, that health insurance premiums and drug costs are sky-high and companies shed workers as a result — that’s done to keep stock prices up.”
Are companies shedding workers? Is that what has happened since 1980? How, then, did the unemployment rate decrease? I’m interested to see which card you play here.
“Bottom line, management cannot always be trusted to do the right thing by its employees; thus, someone needs to hold its feet to the fire.”
That management cannot always be trusted is not a proper defense of unionization. I trust my management. I would trust it less if we were unionized.
“Why do labor unions give the bulk of their campaign contributions to candidates that support abortion? Is that “representing” their membership?”
Because Democrats support legal abortion, and they agitate for senseless laws like the one mentioned in this post. If Democrats supported catapulting newborns into outer space, union chiefs would support them. They have big dollars at stake, just like every other special interest. Welcome to politics.



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted July 1, 2007 at 8:52 am


No it isn’t. And that’s what it’s really all about.
Quit denying reality. Companies still want to call the shots and today will do whatever it takes to keep that authority.
Are companies shedding workers? Is that what has happened since 1980? How, then, did the unemployment rate decrease? I’m interested to see which card you play here.
1) The jobs they take pay less — more people were working at places like McDonalds — and 2) others were not even looking for work, which would skew the unemployment rate, which is determined by umemployment claims. Much of that “growth” was isolated.
Because Democrats support legal abortion, and they agitate for senseless laws like the one mentioned in this post.
Reread my comment about Bob Casey Jr., who certainly does NOT support legal abortion.



report abuse
 

Carl Copas

posted July 1, 2007 at 4:07 pm


I’m a voluntary member of a statewide union and serve as an officer in the union local where I work.
Unions are sometimes necessary evils. They are human-made organizations and therefore not perfect.
A few are out and out corrupt. Sometimes some unions protect the mediocre. So do, sometimes, political parties, corporations, the health care industry, nation-states, and families. I would not advocate getting rid of any of these organizations simply because they are imperfect.
Imperfections in human-made organizations should not surprise anyone who claims to be a Christian. Contrary to popular opinion that Christians are naive idealists, we are thorough-going realists who understand that humans are inherently flawed and made perfect only by God’s grace.



report abuse
 

jurisnaturalist

posted July 1, 2007 at 4:59 pm


Carl,
Would you agree that unions should not seek nor exercise special legal status? Should individuals be allowed to negotiate their own contracts with employers even when there is a union? Should the government step in and force a contract the firm would otherwise have rejected?
Nathanael Snow



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted July 1, 2007 at 6:15 pm


“Quit denying reality. Companies still want to call the shots and today will do whatever it takes to keep that authority”
This statement is too absolute to be true, or even be reckoned with. Companies have good reasons for not wanting to deal with unions. I have good reasons for not wanting to deal with unions.
“Reread my comment about Bob Casey Jr., who certainly does NOT support legal abortion.”
I’m aware of his stated opinion. Doesn’t really change my point.
“1) The jobs they take pay less — more people were working at places like McDonalds ”
Grocery stores, for example? Are you arguing that the increased demand for fast food spurred a decrease in the unemployment rate? Can you provide evidence that available jobs are skewing toward non-union fast food work? How do median salaries now compare to 1980, adjusting for inflation and costlier benefits?
The argument that people are not looking for work does not speak to trends in unemployment over multiple decades.



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted July 1, 2007 at 10:09 pm


Would you agree that unions should not seek nor exercise special legal status? Should individuals be allowed to negotiate their own contracts with employers even when there is a union? Should the government step in and force a contract the firm would otherwise have rejected?
Those are the biggest arguments in favor of indepedent unions — because your questions are completely bogus. And what if a union rejects a company’s offer? In my case, the union contract represents a floor as far as pay and benefits go; individuals actually are free to bargain a salary above that.
This statement is too absolute to be true, or even be reckoned with. Companies have good reasons for not wanting to deal with unions. I have good reasons for not wanting to deal with unions.
You know you’re dodging the issue.
Grocery stores, for example? Are you arguing that the increased demand for fast food spurred a decrease in the unemployment rate? Can you provide evidence that available jobs are skewing toward non-union fast food work? How do median salaries now compare to 1980, adjusting for inflation and costlier benefits?
Back in the day there were several stories in major newspapers showing that trend. (Not necessarily grocery stores, because many of those workers — I was twice one — were unionized.) Furthermore, many of those folks were taking two, sometimes even three, of those lower-paying service jobs (including restaurants, Wal-Marts, Home Depots and the like) because they tended to be part-time and as such didn’t have the same benefit package as their previous employer before “downsizing.” Anecdotally, I noticed this happening in the late 1980s, and it’s one reason George H. W. Bush lost the 1992 election.



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted July 1, 2007 at 11:09 pm


“You know you’re dodging the issue.”
That companies will do anything for absolute control? No. I simply disagree that this is the issue.
“Back in the day there were several stories in major newspapers showing that trend”
The trend toward working in fast food? Was there such a trend? Was it a function of non-union companies shedding jobs, or simply more people consuming fast food?
Has pay for fast food employees stagnated since that time? How does an Arby’s employee fare against, say, a Barnes & Noble employee? Has median real compensation gone down since 1980? By how much?
“(Not necessarily grocery stores, because many of those workers — I was twice one — were unionized.)”
That was why I brought them up. Incidentally, grocery unions allow the same sort of part-time shenanigans practiced by non-union companies.
“Furthermore, many of those folks were taking two, sometimes even three, of those lower-paying service jobs”
That would increase unemployment, not decrease it.
“Anecdotally, I noticed this happening in the late 1980s, and it’s one reason George H. W. Bush lost the 1992 election.”
Bush lost the election because he raised taxes, was running during a recession, and had Ross Perot syphoning votes.
But, to the main point, I would be interested in hearing a proper defense of the card check proposal. One that goes beyond “solidarity forever!!!!!!!! Blaaaaaarrrrghhhh!!!!”



report abuse
 

Amazon Creek

posted July 2, 2007 at 2:15 am


Carl, I like the comment you made about sometimes unions being “necessary evils”. Yeah…I worked at a place years ago – where, believe me, a union was needed. Went through a union drive. Some there even wanted me to be one of the shop stewards.
[b]But, hands down, the best solution is just a place to work where management is enlightened enough to know that we all have to work TOGETHER in cooperation! And everyone just MUTUALLY values and respects each other.[/b]
The place was a nursing home run by a huge conglomerate and mannnnnn….management there were a bunch of bean-counters! Always “keeping score” – always looking for something folks were doing wrong. They would make people working for minimum wage work “short” (not enough working that day or night) and make the ones there pick up the slack. And when the workers wound up injuring themselves – tough luck, they were thrown to the wolves. Absolutely no care or concern by management. Automatic assumption that the workers were faking it.
One manager ACTUALLY had the gall to say, “Our workers are like toilet paper. When they are used up, we just get another piece.”
And so….THERE a union was needed.
But…the flip side – my frustration. Many unions “keep score” the same way! If you’re already scheduled for your break – you’re not allowed to take care of a situation that has just developed on the floor. You’re on your break – and that’s the law. You are supposed to press that point – don’t make me do anything on my break!
That kind of stuff is just plain stupid to me! If my employer CONTINUALLY makes me work through my break, THEN I am being abused. But SOMETIMES, situations just develop at inopportune times. And I want the freedom to just take care of it – even if I’m on my break. Even if I’m getting a bit shortchanged.
I have trouble with “scorekeeper” type people. Their brain works one way – and my brain just doesn’t work that way.
I just believe in mutual cooperation. And I don’t like Unions (although I voted for the Union at the nursing home) telling me I can’t be cooperative.
They tend to turn everything into a “we-them” confrontation mode. And too often, I don’t see the “we’s” and the “them’s”. I just want to get the job done – with…well, whoever you are.
I attended an issue conference once where a union organizer attended and spoke – and she would have been very funny – except she was serious! She kept on referring to management as “those S.O.B.s”. (I’m abbreviating out of respect for this being a family board. The woman did NOT abbreviate – believe me!) And “management” NEVER did anything right and was ALWAYS out to get the workers.
Now, I know very, very bad companies exist – but some very, very good ones do too! And I refuse to be divided from people like that. Just because I’m a worker. And other people are managers.
That union lady was every bit as goofy as the big conglomerate that ran the bad nursing home. Goshhhhh…how do some people LIVE like that? Every other word out of that woman’s mouth was “that S.O.B.”? I think she ENJOYED those “S.O.B.s” – me-thinks she would have been LOST without them to swear about. LOL! You think maybe?
I can’t get into that mindset. I WON’T. Sorry, but my brain works wholistically – not by slicing people up into tiny little sections like some Ruby Red grapefruit.
Anyway…I would definitely WANT a secret ballot for a union election. Yes…you can be pressured to check those little union cards. So..yes, you need a secret ballot. But something definitely needs to be done to make elections less of a nightmare. They ARE a nightmare.
And another thing – there needs to be more individual say-so in union dues going to pay for political stuff. All union members do not vote in lock-step. And some of the stuff unions support or oppose – have little to do with core union issues.
Again, the best solution to problems in the workplace – is enlightened management that treats their employees with respect, and enlightened workers who believe in cooperation. THAT is what gets the daily, weekly, monthly JOB done. Not a bunch of picky-ninny managers and union members who keep score and count every little tiny violation or every little tiny offense.



report abuse
 

Greg Koelpien

posted July 2, 2007 at 7:20 am


To anyone that thinks that unions are outdated relecs of a bygone ere, look at the recent moves by Circuit City in firing a large chunk of its most experienced workforce. When more experience = more pay = dismissal and replacement by lower-paid new hire, there’s something fundamentally wrong with the system.
Corporations don’t have consciences, and have no moral or ethical problem if every worker made $8.00 an hour.
Unions aren’t about protecting the incompetent, but protecting a decent and sustainable wage for its members. Google “Circuit City Firings” if you want to learn more.
[i]Circuit City fired 3,400 employees in stores across the country yesterday, saying they were making too much money and would be replaced by new hires willing to work for less.
The company said the dismissals had nothing to do with performance but were part of a larger effort to improve the bottom line. The firings represent about 9 percent of the company’s in-store workforce of 40,000.
Steven Rash, 24, said he was one of 11 workers fired at a Circuit City in Asheville, N.C. The store manager broke the news during a meeting at 8:15 a.m. and escorted them out of the store. Rash said he has worked for the retailer for seven years and was one of the most junior members of the affected group.
He said he earned $11.59 an hour and worked from 15 to 20 hours a week. He received four weeks of severance pay. Though he has a full-time job at Bank of America, he said he needs to find part-time work to help pay his student loans.[/i]



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted July 2, 2007 at 8:23 am


No. I simply disagree that this is the issue.
Once again, you’re in denial — this was the case when the union movement started and it’s the case today.
That was why I brought them up. Incidentally, grocery unions allow the same sort of part-time shenanigans practiced by non-union companies.
About a quarter-century ago, one of the local major grocery chains here, for which I would later work, managed to squeeze large concessions out of its unionized workforce. The cuts were so draconian that another chain, which I had previously worked for, sold out rather than try to compete. Bottom line, you don’t know what you’re talking about.
That would increase unemployment, not decrease it.
Not quite, as retail store construction was booming at that time. Even today, at least around here, such places have a hard time finding workers.
Bush lost the election because he raised taxes, was running during a recession and had Ross Perot siphoning votes.
And how do you think the recession started? A lot of middle-management people were laid off after so many companies merged in the 1980s; thus, there was less money floating around. Similarly, the rising cost of health care had as much to do as anything with Democrats recapturing both houses of Congress in November.
They tend to turn everything into a “we-them” confrontation mode. And too often, I don’t see the “we’s” and the “them’s”. I just want to get the job done – with…well, whoever you are.
That has happened, unfortunately; when I was working grocery in 1991 and about to go on strike the union president referred to the “enemy” being at corporate headquarters. But in this case, upper management was demanding more and more concessions, such as straight time for Sundays and holidays; the proposal was so ridiculous that when I read it I said, “The union will never go for this,” and days later we then received an angry letter from union leadership. The strike lasted six weeks but the stores stayed open; we ended up winning because the customers boycotted.



report abuse
 

Anonymous

posted July 2, 2007 at 12:00 pm


“To anyone that thinks that unions are outdated relecs of a bygone ere, look at the recent moves by Circuit City in firing a large chunk of its most experienced workforce. When more experience = more pay = dismissal and replacement by lower-paid new hire, there’s something fundamentally wrong with the system.”
But Circuit City is doing this because they are losing business. They have no strategy and a lousy reputation for customer service. This will make the problem worse, and they will eventually be bought or driven out of business. All a union presence would do is hasten the process. Unions can’t keep companies afloat.
“Corporations don’t have consciences, and have no moral or ethical problem if every worker made $8.00 an hour.”
No, but they would have a business problem. When people can’t get questions answered, they go elsewhere. Unions don’t have consciences either. They have different objectives, to be sure, but union heads make big bucks just as much as businessmen do.
“Unions aren’t about protecting the incompetent, but protecting a decent and sustainable wage for its members.”
Unions are about assuring the best possible wages for its members. They are no benevolent arbiters who simply want to make sure that everyone is happy.



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted July 2, 2007 at 12:14 pm


I wrote:
“That was why I brought them up. Incidentally, grocery unions allow the same sort of part-time shenanigans practiced by non-union companies.”
To which you responded:
“About a quarter-century ago, one of the local major grocery chains here, for which I would later work, managed to squeeze large concessions out of its unionized workforce. The cuts were so draconian that another chain, which I had previously worked for, sold out rather than try to compete. Bottom line, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
So, I made the case that unions fail to protect against shenanigans. You counter with an example of a company perpetrating shenanigans against a unionized workforce. Somehow, this proves I don’t know what I am talking about. Also, you use the term “draconian” incorrectly.
“Not quite, as retail store construction was booming at that time. Even today, at least around here, such places have a hard time finding workers.”
In situations where there are ample job opportunities, you are correct that working multiple jobs has little bearing on employment rates.
“And how do you think the recession started? A lot of middle-management people were laid off after so many companies merged in the 1980s; thus, there was less money floating around. Similarly, the rising cost of health care had as much to do as anything with Democrats recapturing both houses of Congress in November.”
Recessions are inevitable. The mergers of the 1980s created opportunities and contributed to a recession. The tech boom also led to a recession. I’m still glad we had a tech boom. This is off the subject of unions however. White collar jobs are almost never unionized. It just wouldn’t work, and nobody would want it. This, as much as anything, explains why unions are quickly becoming a relic.
“The strike lasted six weeks but the stores stayed open; we ended up winning because the customers boycotted.”
And when customers abstain from shopping at a store, the store can’t stay in business. When I go to the grocery store and order deli meats, the butcher better know what he’s doing. Otherwise, I take my business elsewhere. If I go to Circuit City, and the person working the register is incompetent, I go elsewhere. Loew’s is putting Home Depot out of business. Why? Better customer service. Maybe they are getting it without paying for it, but I doubt that very much.



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted July 2, 2007 at 1:13 pm


So, I made the case that unions fail to protect against shenanigans. You counter with an example of a company perpetrating shenanigans against a unionized workforce. Somehow, this proves I don’t know what I am talking about. Also, you use the term “draconian” incorrectly.
Well, then enlighten me to its correct usage. For the record, top-rated workers were forced to swallow $2-per-hour concessions among other indignities. Also, grocery store unions tended to be less strong than industrial unions, considering that most were part-timers.
In situations where there are ample job opportunities, you are correct that working multiple jobs has little bearing on employment rates.
Yeah, but try feeding a family working for that amount of money. The problem isn’t “ample job opportunities” but making enough money in wages and benefits. Some of these stores offer wages beginning at $9 per hour because they have a hard time attracting people; on the other hand, $9 for 30 hours of work, only $270 a week, just isn’t a whole lot.
Recessions are inevitable. The mergers of the 1980s created opportunities and contributed to a recession.
What did Ronald Reagan say? “Recession is when your neighbor loses his job and and depression is when you lose yours.” As far as the tech boom in the 1990s, Clinton’s targeted tax cuts, which conservatives opposed (and one reason he lost Congress in 1994) nevertheless are credited with such a boom.
White collar jobs are almost never unionized. It just wouldn’t work, and nobody would want it. This, as much as anything, explains why unions are quickly becoming a relic.
White-collar workers actually have always had more say in pay, benefits, working conditions, job descriptions and other things than blue- and pink-collar workers. In addition, they are less likely to lose their jobs in bad economic times.
That said, I work in the unionized newsroom of a major metropolitan daily newspaper, and some years ago one of our columnists wrote a piece on why he later came to support a union. He had worked at the afternoon paper that was not unionized (in 1993 the two papers were merged), and right before that he found out he had been terminated at the whim of management.
An interesting piece I found on line:
http://www.teambuildinginc.com/article_valuing_people.htm



report abuse
 

Anonymous

posted July 2, 2007 at 5:35 pm


Nathanael: “Carl,
Would you agree that unions should not seek nor exercise special legal status?”
Carl: No i would not agree. The only chance an individual worker has in dealing with a large corporation or firm is to deal with it collectively. In this nation’s history, the only periods in which unions have been successful is when they had the full force of federal law behind them.
Nathanael: “Should individuals be allowed to negotiate their own contracts with employers even when there is a union?”
Carl: no. see above.
“Should the government step in and force a contract the firm would otherwise have rejected?”
Theodore Roosevelt did just that in dealing with a miners strike in, I believe, 1906. He was hardly a radical.
Amazon Creek: “[b]But, hands down, the best solution is just a place to work where management is enlightened enough to know that we all have to work TOGETHER in cooperation! And everyone just MUTUALLY values and respects each other.[/b]”
I agree wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, in the kind of viciously competitive global economy we have today, such places are all too rare. What you’re suggesting, Amazon, is somehow building on the type of community described in the early chapters of Acts. I wish more Christians took that model seriously.



report abuse
 

carl copas

posted July 2, 2007 at 6:06 pm


that last posting was by me.



report abuse
 

jurisnaturalist

posted July 2, 2007 at 8:18 pm


I’m gonna work this backwards.
1. Undercutting the union wage.
Unions apparently don’t have a problem with more productive workers earning higher wages. Fine. The real problem is the less productive worker. The guy who just sweeps the floors. He has to earn a union wage. He’s not allowed to negotiate his own wage with the firm. Most likely consequence: outsource the job. In this case both the firm and the union lose. If the job isn’t outsourced it will just be eliminated. Again both lose.
2. Circuit City.
Firms pay workers according to their marginal productivity. If they can pay someone else to do the same job almost as well, why not fire the guy who makes more? Why is this wrong, or evil? People should only get paid according to how much value they add to the firm’s profits. Management should work to cut costs. People who earn too much should get fired! No one is entitled to a raise to keep up with cost of living if their productivity is not also increasing. There seems to be this attitude that the firms owe something to the workers. Why? Explain the ethics of this to me please.
2b. Theodore Roosevelt: One of the worst presidents ever. Imperialist, Xenophobic, anxious enough for government regulation over industry (in order to control the dispensation of favors to political allies) that he may his Supreme Court nomination of Oliver Wendell Holmes just to break up Northern Railroads – the only unsubsidized Rail in America. Statist to the core.
3. Rick. You are a very reasonable person. Some of your ideas on this thread seem grossly misinformed.
“But American economic culture since the Reagan years is based less on wage earning than speculation (e. g. Wall Street and real estate). It’s no accident, then, that health insurance premiums and drug costs are sky-high and companies shed workers as a result — that’s done to keep stock prices up.”
I’m gonna pull a Guliani and say, I’ve heard of a lot of explanations for unions, but that’s a new one to me.
American economic culture has become increasingly more prosperous over the last 30 years, thanks, in large part, to deregulation and freer trade. Health insurance and drug costs are influenced by increased demand as we live longer and cope with diseases. Both of my grandmas and Magic Johnson are still alive! Also, the easy access and application of Medicaid encourages prices upwards.
The whole stock market thing would be interesting, if our standard of living were not outpacing it so significantly.
“the collapse of its manufacturing economy in the 1970s was based on management never investing in modernizing its plants to compete with companies overseas”
Or maybe management just realized that they couldn’t keep pace with competition overseas even with modernization and decided to invest in something different which they could compete in. Workers should take a hint: It is your responsibility to remain marketable in a competitive environment.
4. Recessions. What causes them? The central bank. The Fed. That’s it.
The Fed inflates and adversely affects the economic calculation of investors, who buy into too many durable goods. Then when the Fed stops inflating the prices of variable inputs swing wildly to compensate. The information necessary for decision making gets all confused, and people start venturing into more secure assets, things more likely to hold their value. Markets shift and close. And then the Fed usually does the wrong thing to fix the mess it made. You can blame the entire depression on a few guys, messing with our money, trying to control the show for their own private benefit.



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted July 2, 2007 at 9:36 pm


“But American economic culture since the Reagan years is based less on wage earning than speculation (e. g. Wall Street and real estate). It’s no accident, then, that health insurance premiums and drug costs are sky-high and companies shed workers as a result — that’s done to keep stock prices up.”
I’m gonna pull a Guliani and say, I’ve heard of a lot of explanations for unions, but that’s a new one to me.
American economic culture has become increasingly more prosperous over the last 30 years, thanks, in large part, to deregulation and freer trade. Health insurance and drug costs are influenced by increased demand as we live longer and cope with diseases. Both of my grandmas and Magic Johnson are still alive! Also, the easy access and application of Medicaid encourages prices upwards.

You may indeed have never heard of this explanation. But considering the upheavals in my city (indeed, probably many cities), that’s the only sensical one.
One reason real estate boomed in the early 1980s was the promise of new, white-collar jobs which were connected to “Reaganomics.” What actually happened, however, thanks to all those mergers, was (as I mentioned) just the reverse — companies actually shed white-collar workers. In addition, one major employer in my city sank much of its holdings into real estate, and when the market tanked the company went with it.
Or maybe management just realized that they couldn’t keep pace with competition overseas even with modernization and decided to invest in something different which they could compete in. Workers should take a hint: It is your responsibility to remain marketable in a competitive environment.
Nonsense — see above. This was not at all connected to unions or unionism.



report abuse
 

jurisnaturalist

posted July 3, 2007 at 8:45 am


Rick,
I don’t agree with you. I believe globalization and outsourcing ought to be encouraged. We ought to open our borders to everyone who will pay their own way.
But irregardless, at what point do we place the responsibility on the individual? Whatever happened to “buyer beware.” Why shouldn’t this principal apply to jobs as well. Where did this idea that the state ought to be our nanny and take care of us beyond protecting our rights and enforcing contracts emerge from? This entitlement mentality is what I call “nonsense.”
Nathanael Snow



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted July 3, 2007 at 9:01 am


But irregardless, at what point do we place the responsibility on the individual? Whatever happened to “buyer beware.” Why shouldn’t this principal apply to jobs as well.
Sorry, Nathanael, but that’s frankly unbiblical because of something called “justice,” a theme that recurs especially through the book of Isaiah — in fact, God calls us to work for the rights of everybody. The idea that companies (“merchants” in the Scripture) should only make profit BAMN is simply condemned, in no uncertain terms. Now, I’m not saying that non-believing companies can obey Scriptural edicts, but we who are Christians are obliged to speak the truth and operate in a different paradigm so that they understand that “there’s a better way.”
One of the major problems we Christians have in evangelism is that too often we side with the powerful in large part because we want to be there ourselves, and this is why you see a lot of anti-union propaganda in the Christian camp. But as I mentioned before, I know personally what it’s like to have an employer try to take things away for the sake of its own greed, not to mention unnecessary confrontation. Did you read the article I linked to an earlier post? It refers to a solidly Christian way to deal with labor-management issues.



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted July 3, 2007 at 10:29 am


“in fact, God calls us to work for the rights of everybody. ”
Depends on the rights. The right not to have a job outsourced is not enumerated in the Bible, which brings us back where we started.
If a union drives a company out of business, has it done its job?



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted July 3, 2007 at 11:12 am


Depends on the rights. The right not to have a job outsourced is not enumerated in the Bible, which brings us back where we started.
If you’re doing it purely to make more profit, which indeed is most of the time, that’s, at best, dubious. Because not only are you depriving someone here of a livelihood, but in many cases the people over there are being exploited — and that’s doubly wrong. Besides, if you put everyone else here out of work, who will your customers be? (This is why our economic system today is based more on speculation.)
If a union drives a company out of business, has it done its job?
See that article I linked to another post of mine. With enough cooperation, unions don’t need to “drive a company out of business.” The reason you have unions in the first place is to curb abuses by management, and if you don’t think that still goes on … well, I can’t help you.



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted July 3, 2007 at 12:03 pm


“If you’re doing it purely to make more profit, which indeed is most of the time, that’s, at best, dubious. Because not only are you depriving someone here of a livelihood, but in many cases the people over there are being exploited ”
Outsourcing creates jobs, in general, precisely because they add to profits. Otherwise, we would simply be adding every outsourced job to the unemployment roles.
“With enough cooperation, unions don’t need to “drive a company out of business.” ”
With enough cooperation, unions aren’t necessary in the first place. Plenty of them do drive companies out of business.



report abuse
 

jurisnaturalist

posted July 3, 2007 at 2:33 pm


Rick,
What are the rights of everybody? I restrict the definition of rights to life liberty and property. I also believe in enforcement of contract.
If we allow rights to mean whatever we want it to mean, for example right to a living wage, right to a job, etc. then we dilute the importance and significance of the other rights.
Companies ought to work to make a profit while being held accountable not to violate the rights of others.
I agree that firms have gotten away with a lot of political manipulation. I think we are agreed on that aspect of the problem. My solution is the opposite of yours. You advocate extension of the franchise to everyone, so that everybody manipulates the law. I propose cutting off the franchise, eliminate all legal privileges for everyone. Preserve only the most essential protection of rights for all. This is the better way. There is nothing unbiblical about it.
What does seem extrabiblical is manipulation of the political mechanism as a means for achieving Christian social justice. No where does Christ advocate use of the state as a means for accomplishing His decrees.
So, I understand how being against may seem like support of big business, because big business is, in fact, too involved in writing the law. But understand that I oppose such activity just as strongly as I oppose special legal consideration for unions. I just don’t think that two wrongs can make a right. The political and economic consequences of the proposed changes in the law I delineated above are accurate, and primarily serve to postpone further any attempts to disenfranchise big business.
The most obvious way to deal with labor-management issues is to walk away.
Nathanael Snow



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted July 3, 2007 at 5:21 pm


Outsourcing creates jobs, in general, precisely because they add to profits. Otherwise, we would simply be adding every outsourced job to the unemployment rolls.
WHAT?!?
No, seriously, that’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. Oursourcing jobs only increases profit margins, which drive stock prices higher — which is why it’s done so frequently. A few moments ago I took a call from a woman who was complaining that she couldn’t understand call center workers who were in the Philippines! Think the company cares? Of course not, if it saves $$$.
What are the rights of everybody? I restrict the definition of rights to life, liberty and property.
The Bible does not. It seeks to make wrong into right.
Companies ought to work to make a profit while being held accountable not to violate the rights of others.
Why do you think labor unions exist? Without them there would be NO accountability, and that’s why corporate America wants them done away with.
What does seem extrabiblical is manipulation of the political mechanism as a means for achieving Christian social justice. Nowhere does Christ advocate use of the state as a means for accomplishing His decrees.
But Isaiah clearly does, right from the first chapter, and Christ does quote Isaiah frequently (even though it was geared toward Israel). And even if that weren’t the case, there is a strong sense of what is right and what is wrong.



report abuse
 

jurisnaturalist

posted July 3, 2007 at 6:58 pm


What does this word “profit” mean? When a firm produces a good that people want and can sell it for more than it costs to make it it earns a profit. So, should the firm relinquish all profits to the workers?
Who took the risk of forming the firm? Investors. They saved up their pennies and nickels enough to be able to build a factory and to buy the equipment necessary for production. What happens if nobody wants to buy the product of the firm? Who loses the most? The investor. How can we get people to invest in firms? Offer a reward.
There are two different kinds of rewards firms can offer to investors: dividends or interest. If an investor makes a loan to a firm he gets paid interest, usually a set amount monthly. If an investor buys stocks he purchases a share of the firm’s profits and is rewarded with dividends, after all loan payments have been made. If the firm fails, the loaner doesn’t get his money back. The loan defaults. The likelihood of default is worked into the interest rate. The stock owner on the other hand now has a nice piece of paper he can frame if he wants to, but it is not worth anything to him anymore. I have one of these in my office, a 100 share note to Santa Rita Mining Co purchased in 1907, now worth nothing, the only thing I inherited from my great-grandfather.
So, investors take on a risk, which we reward them for if their investment proves to be in something that people want. What would happen if all the profits went to the workers? Then there would be no investors.
But, doesn’t the labor of the worker determine the cost and thus the price of the product?
This is what economics thought for about 100 years, and the crucial point on which Marx was wrong. It’s called the “labor theory of value,” and it was displaced by marginalism.
Now we recognize that the price of something is determined by both costs – supply, and scarcity – demand. The price of labor is no exception. If others are willing to work for less, what right do incumbent workers have to prevent competition? Of course, the investors then are attracted to industries with high productivity per labor unit – those industries with higher capital usage.
And so the economy grows into more and more productive practices. We are all many times better off than our parents and grandparents, especially the poor.
What is missing is individual ownership of jobs. People want someone to “give” them a job, and wander around looking for work aimlessly until someone does just that. This same mentality prevents people from accepting immigrants because they fail to recognize how many of them are creating new jobs instead of taking them away from Americans.
We want someone else to manage the risk of developing capital and building facilities and investing in new industries. Because we loathe the idea that someone might be rewarded for such risk – taking which we are too chicken to assume ourselves, we do the reasonable thing – suggest that the state take on the risky behavior itself, and provide us with infinite security. And at what cost? Our liberty.
If management is abusive, walk. Start your own business and find out for yourself just how competitive it really is out there. Take the initiative and assume responsibility for yourself. Guard your liberty – it is what makes us human.
Nathanael Snow



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted July 3, 2007 at 7:40 pm


What does this word “profit” mean? When a firm produces a good that people want and can sell it for more than it costs to make it it earns a profit. So, should the firm relinquish all profits to the workers?
I’m not saying that. However, how much profit is enough? $1 million? $2 million? $3? And, more importantly, where does it go? Into people’s pockets or back into the business? My guess is that, at least on the largest scale, it’s the former.
What is missing is individual ownership of jobs. People want someone to “give” them a job, and wander around looking for work aimlessly until someone does just that. This same mentality prevents people from accepting immigrants because they fail to recognize how many of them are creating new jobs instead of taking them away from Americans.
The recent immigration bill failed precisely because they DON’T do that. Businesses more so today than before seek cheap labor they can exploit, and “undocumented workers” remain an easy target because if they speak up they can be deported — in my city we recently saw one of the communication firms get busted for using them. One Wal-Mart, not local, had some illegals cleaning at night and locked the doors so they couldn’t get out and were paying them $2 an hour.
If management is abusive, walk. Start your own business and find out for yourself just how competitive it really is out there. Take the initiative and assume responsibility for yourself. Guard your liberty – it is what makes us human.
Yeah, and the firm that you quit swallows you up and spits you out. I’m not kidding — that’s what began to happen in the 1980s with firms buying up each other. Besides, if everyone worked for himself, where would you find workers or customers? Really? Starting one’s own business is just not practical for everyone.



report abuse
 

jurisnaturalist

posted July 4, 2007 at 1:38 pm


What’s wrong with money in people’s pockets? The wealthy are the biggest donors to charity by far, and what money doesn’t go there has to be used for something, either for investing in new business or buying stuff. Stop looking at dollars and cents and look at production, quality of life. Everybody is better off when the most productive are allowed to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Notice I said most productive, not hardest working.
“The firm…spits you out.” So do it again. Are we supposed to expect to get comfortable? If everyone worked for themselves workers would be readily available all the time.
For example: If I own a factory to make widgets and contract out the position for widget turner to Joe, I will negotiate a contract with him for a certain number of widgets turned, to be paid based on completion of the job. Now Joe has every incentive to do the job quickly, efficiently, and well. He wants as much leisure time as possible, he wants lowest costs, and he wants a renewal of the contract. His wage is dependent upon his productivity. He owns his job. I don’t have to monitor him as closely as an employee, because there are a dozen other Joes who think they can do the job better than him. He has to stay at the top of his game or go out of business.
“Paying the $2 and hour.” Which the workers were willing to work for. Would you strip them of the ability to negotiate their own wage?
But you are right, immigrants who are willing to pay their own way ought to be granted a legal status, so that their employers aren’t forced to face the risk of their deportation. Everyone would be better off if the right to liberty, to work for one’s livelihood, were protected regardless of nationality. I personally am all for open immigration.
The swallowing you mentioned – vertical integration – has been common due to the lack of fragmentation at the lower level, and due to people’s risk aversion. They’d rather rent out a job: work for less but be assured a position, than have to compete against the other Joes. So the firm hires these people for less and saves money, but has to impose management to monitor productivity, which costs money. Usually from the firm side it is a wash. But from the worker side, they are a renter, not an owner, and they now have to deal with a suspicious management with adverse incentives instead of a straight client within a contract.
If workers want more liberty they will have to assume more responsibility by paying for their own benefits and pensions, by working their hardest at all times as though they were earning all the profits themselves, etc. By behaving as though they did own their jobs. But they cannot have it both ways. You either rent your job or you own it.
Nathanael Snow



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted July 4, 2007 at 2:23 pm


What’s wrong with money in people’s pockets? The wealthy are the biggest donors to charity by far, and what money doesn’t go there has to be used for something, either for investing in new business or buying stuff. Stop looking at dollars and cents and look at production, quality of life. Everybody is better off when the most productive are allowed to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Notice I said most productive, not hardest working.
That’s the very mentality that is causing our economic problems today. If you haven’t noticed, worker production is actually up, yet their wages have fallen behind inflation and some people have to work longer and harder just to keep up. On top of that, most of that extra profit goes to bonuses to top management or lobbying groups to keep the gravy train running legally — in some cases, to break unions. Please don’t even tell me it’s being reinvested, because in America that isn’t done today.
Now Joe has every incentive to do the job quickly, efficiently and well. He wants as much leisure time as possible, he wants lowest costs, and he wants a renewal of the contract. His wage is dependent upon his productivity. He owns his job.
The real business world has never, ever operated like that. For openers, Joe would be more likely to get/keep that job because he knows someone inside the company; it often has little to do with production. This is especially true once you get into management, where promotions are given not necessarily on achievement but on whether you personally curry favor with the “big boys.”
The swallowing you mentioned — vertical integration — has been common due to the lack of fragmentation at the lower level, and due to people’s risk aversion.
Outright false, and let me give you an example of what I’m talking about.
Some years ago, I covered an ongoing story about a fight between an activist group representing people who live in several suburban towns and a township trying to get a Wal-Mart. Now, these little towns had business districts that were thriving, but since they knew that Wal-Mart would undersell them and put them out of business they fought them tooth-and-nail; whenever the activist group belched I wrote about it. Not only would they not be able to compete economically, but the store would have been in such a bad spot traffic would have been a nightmare, plus there were concerns about sewage and runoff from heavy rain. Where’s most of that money going? It’s not staying in those communities; it goes mostly to Arkansas, and why would top execs care about that little area of the country? (Last fall, the hillside crumbled onto the adjoining highway, stopping the project dead in its tracks.)
If workers want more liberty they will have to assume more responsibility by paying for their own benefits and pensions, by working their hardest at all times as though they were earning all the profits themselves etc. By behaving as though they did own their jobs.
That’s exactly what steelworkers did at the beginning of that industry, and guess where it got them? First-class economic exploitation — the bosses made most of the money and had all the power. I’ve read several history books about how they were treated on the job. Also, I ask again: Did you ever read that story I linked to my previous post? Bottom line, the Golden Rule still applies.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting God's Politics. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!  

posted 11:14:07am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Why I Work for Immigration Reform (by Patty Kupfer)
When I tell people that I work on immigration reform, they usually laugh or say, "way to pick an easy topic." Everyday it feels like there is more fear, more hate. Raids are picking up in Nevada, California, and New York. A number of senators who supported comprehensive reform only a few months ago

posted 12:30:52pm Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »

Audio: Jim Wallis on "Value Voters" on The Tavis Smiley Show
Last week Jim was on The Tavis Smiley Show and talked about how the changing political landscape will affect the upcoming '08 election. Jim and Ken Blackwell, former Ohio secretary of state, debated and discussed both the impact of "value voters" on the election and what those values entail. + Down

posted 10:11:56am Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »

Verse of the Day: 'peace to the far and the near'
I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will lead them and repay them with comfort, creating for their mourners the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace, to the far and the near, says the Lord; and I will heal them. But the wicked are like the tossing sea that cannot keep still; its waters toss u

posted 9:35:01am Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »

Daily News Digest (by Duane Shank)
the latest news on Mideast, Iran, Romney-Religious right, Blog action day, Turkey, SCHIP, Iran, Aids-Africa, India, Budget, Brownback-slavery apology, Canada, and selected op-eds. Sign up to receive our daily news summary via e-mail » Blog action day. Thousands of bloggers unite in blitz of green

posted 9:31:25am Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.