Thursday, October 16, 2008

"Undermining Democratic Principles"

USA Today on the card check legislation that will breeze through Congress and end up on a President Obama's desk:

When citizens go to the polls on Nov. 4, they will be free to vote their conscience — regardless of pressure from relatives, friends or co-workers — after having had a chance to weigh the alternatives. Campaigns and secret ballots are sacrosanct elements of American democracy.

So it's surprising and disturbing that organized labor wants to do away with both these elements when workers decide whether to form a union...

Labor has seen its role decline since the 1950s, when about a third of all private sector employees belonged to unions, compared with about 7.5% today. So it's understandably eager to find ways to expand membership, particularly at a time when workers are feeling economically vulnerable. But undermining democratic principles is not the answer. (emphasis mine--Darren)

This is what you're voting for when you vote for President Obama and a Democrat-led Congress.

Even Democrat stalwart George McGovern is opposed to card check legislation. Anyone who claims to support un-American values should be opposed.


mazenko said...

I agree with you and McGovern on this one, though I would assert that the right of the people to collective bargaining has been under assault for as long as there has been labor. While some (even much) union management has grown too big for its britches, there is little doubt that unions are still necessary and relevant. Sadly, I wish there were a better way.

Darren said...

*I* think our government leans too far *towards* unions; remember, I'm compelled, against my will, to financially support a union, and employers are compelled to allow unions, and employers are forbidden to try to prevent unions. Still, to think that anything besides a secret ballot is acceptable is just darned un-American in my book.

Ellen K said...

Union numbers have plummeted due to the way they have collectively bargained American factories overseas. No factories, no workers. No workers, no union dues. So all you have to do is follow the money. Unions, even in their cash strapped status, have pledged millions of their workers dues without ever asking the rank and file members of their intentions. All I have to do is look and laugh at whatever tripe the NEA is serving up and it's clear that unions do not speak for most workers. This will create untenable conditions for workers who hold out-perhaps those who can't afford new taxes along with what is effectively a free will donation to the DNC.

allen (in Michigan) said...

There's no distinct right to collective bargaining and a pretty good case can be made for unions being monopolies. But for legislation exempting them, prosecutable as such.

Fortunately the market does work, at least ultimately, and the unions have brought about their own demise.

When there wasn't much of a import car industry the UAW and the American car companies had a cozy relationship with union wage demands going ever upward matched by car prices. And what did our little monopolists do when those Japanese car companies brought an end to the good times? Ran to the government.

Fortunately there were still plenty of people who remembered how the United Steel Workers were willing to trash the country's economy to gain a bit of protection so the UAW didn't get anywhere near the sweet deal they were hoping for. Unfortunately, there are still quite a few people who think that work better suited to the four-legged ought to be compensated as if it required skill and judgment.

mazenko said...

Ouch, Allen.

That's some pretty harsh criticism for working people in this country - "better suited to the four-legged"?

Ultimately, union management nationwide had made some bad decisions, but no more so than management in general, especially in terms of the automotive industry.

It has always seemed to me that unions have never formed where/when they weren't needed, though I concur they have often gone beyond their "need." That is one of the reasons I don't belong to a union, though I am a public school teacher. I'm not a fan of the NEA president making $400,000/yr.

At the same time, I don't deny the benefits unions have provided in America. I'm a big fan of the 8-hour workday, 40-hour workweek, workplace safety, restrictions on child labor, etc. I don't deny that the unions have done as much to create the middle class and improve this country's standard of living as anything else has.

It seems we need to avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater and
acknowledge the benefits organized labor has provided, at that same time criticizing areas where it's gone too far.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Your point about the historic aspects of unions is valid. It is telling however, that you choose to not belong to a union for the same reason I criticize the NEA. I am compelled to join the NEA and I have to live with the fact that the union is not just an arm of the Dems it is a socialist organization. Unions have now gone too far and become nothing more than political groups. Spend my money on getting my benefits improved and stay away from the leftist agenda. Good post and I agree with a lot of it.

Darren said...

Law and Order Teacher:

You *might* be required to financially support the NEA, but you are *not* required to be a member--and if you're not a member you'd be an agency fee payer, like I am, eligible for a rebate each year of the money they spend on non-chargeable items not related to representation (e.g., politics). Email me for details.

I'm expecting a $300-$400 check from NEA/CTA within the next two weeks.

allen (in Michigan) said...

> That's some pretty harsh criticism for working people in this country - "better suited to the four-legged"?

Possibly but the description's accurate. I know having put in my stint on the assembly line as did many a Detroit-bred lad. So I've earned the privilege of being unimpressed with the nobility, or value, of assembly line work. I cashed my paycheck but I sure didn't earn it by doing what I did for ten hours a day.

> Ultimately, union management nationwide had made some bad decisions, but no more so than management in general, especially in terms of the automotive industry.

No, union management made excellent decisions within the scope of the structure and dynamics of the union movement. At one point unionized labor represented more then a third of all working people in the U.S. If that's not success I'd be interested to know what you'd consider success.

For union leadership success is encompassed in one word: more.

You can take all the social consciousness rhetoric and considerations of product quality and public responsibility, roll them up and insert them in the orifice of your choice for all they *really* mean in the vast bulk of union settings. What the membership wants to know is if their kid is going to community college or state U. or Harvard.

Membership wants to know if co-pays are going to stay at $2 per prescription. Membership wants to know that retirement benefits are juicier then they were in the previous contract. Membership wants to know that however much they bitch about their jobs they'll have them next year and the union leadership that delivers on those demands stays in power.

> I don't deny that the unions have done as much to create the middle class and improve this country's standard of living as anything else has.

Snort! Yeah, let's ask the folks at Caterpiller about how the unions are responsible for their being in the middle class. Then there's the Detroit newspaper strike. How about the American coal industry? The American steel industry? The American ship-building industry?

Unions have no interest in promoting productivity and, in fact, are generally and overtly, opposed to productivity increases since productivity increases inevitably result in lower labor requirements. If it were up to unions we'd still be heating with coal and that coal would be dug out of the ground using picks and shovels. But it's productivity increases that drop the prices of products and that productivity, not the unions, is what's responsible for the middle class all the union, and leftist, rhetoric not withstanding.