Thursday, January 15, 2009

Robber Barons terrified unions will make a comeback.

That's the only explanation for this completely ridiculous hyperbole in an article in this past Tuesday's Daily Grind, where this statement by Isaac MacMillon appears:

[Here's what might happen to you if unions are strengthened and bills passed making it easier to form unions]...You sit at your workbench or desk, a union goon walks up, hands you a card that says “I want a union” and tells you to sign it, or else. He then looms over you (very likely cracking his knuckles or fondling his sap) while you long for the bygone days of the secret ballot. And, iof you take too long in assigning your John Hancock, he may even make you an offer you can’t refuse, as in “Your brains or your signature are going to be on that card.”

Right, you're going to have a gun held to your head right there in front of God and everybody. It's hard to believe in this day and age that this type of scaremongering could even be published, much less believed by anyone.

The article goes on to castigate that evil New York Times for daring to suggest that maybe the workers in factories deserve more than 1/6000th of what the CEO is making.

...“The measure is vital legislation and should not be postponed. Even modest increases in the share of the unionized labor force push wages upward, because nonunion workplaces must keep up with unionized ones that collectively bargain for increases. By giving employees a bigger say in compensation issues, unions also help to establish corporate norms, the absence of which has contributed to unjustifiable disparities between executive pay and rank-and-file pay.”

Perish the thought! What makes those peons think they deserve to be paid living wages! Those uppity serfs should be grateful they even have a job!

And, of course, what they consider to be the "whammy," of arguments, they deride the United Auto Workers and blame them for the demise of the auto industry, when in real life, LACK OF NATIONALIZED HEALTH CARE killed the auto industry, and a lot of other industries. That's right, the Big 3's major economic burden is the billions of dollars of insurance costs they incur for current workers and legacy (retirement, injured, etc.) workers. If those costs were taken off their books right this minute, they would be "saved" without a single dime of taxpayer money - presuming they get a clue and build cars people can actually afford to own and drive (but that's a whole separate issue).

Living wages are not an economic luxury - living wages were the hallmark of the heyday of US economic hegemony in the world (along with protection of vital industries, let's not forget). This country was BUILT on living wages and protectionism - it was only in the last three decades that the Robber Barons decided to ditch their implied social contract with American society and let greed rule the day. The result is what you see before you now - unions had NOTHING to do with it. How could they have, when, as the article points out:

...The Bureau of Labor Statistics stated in 2007 that union membership had dropped approximately 40 percent in the past 23 years—12.1 percent of workers were unionized, compared to 20.1 percent in 1983, when the BLS first began tracking union membership.

So how, exactly, could the unions have made any significant contribution to this country's economic woes when only 12.1% of workers are in unions (and most of those are SERVICE INDUSTRY unions, class, NOT manufacturing unions)? Somebody explain that to me, please. It seems to me that it's far more likely that if union membership had remained steady or risen, workers would have been protected from the last 30 years of wage stagnation and the inability to afford cars and homes that inevitably followed. Nor would the unions have allowed jobs to be shipped overseas to places where the Robber Barons could exploit with impunity. In fact, I'm very much in favor of having the unions travel around the world and explain our wage and labour laws to workers there so they can demand to be treated with respect instead of like defacto slaves, and receive just and fair compensation for their labour.

That's what the Robber Barons fear - workers banding together to demand their rights, to demand reasonable hours, vacations, minimum age requirements, shabbats and holidays, and living wages. What the Robber Barons WANT is the status quo - declining union membership and freedom to move their factories to places where they can ignore the moral and ethical environmental, safety, wage and labour laws that we as a first world nation insist upon for ourselves, and to pay workers 1/60,000th of what they're raking in every year.

It's shameful, and it should not be tolerated. Exploiting people is wrong. It's just plain wrong and only unions will stop it - because governments are owned and operated by the same Robber Barons doing the exploiting.

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