Dueling Twins

Unions

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The 'Dueling Twins'

Syzygy, inexorable, pancreatic, phantasmagoria --- anyone who can use those four words in one sentence will never have to do manual labor.

W.P. Kinsella

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Point:

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Celebrating Unions on Labor Day

James Hall, From the Left

As we celebrate Labor Day, the traditional end of the summer, we acknowledge the important role that labor unions have played in this country. The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 regularized the conduct of near total war that occurred previously between organized labor and American corporations. Along the way labor unions raised the standard of living for every American worker, member or not, and created benefits, pensions, health and safety standards that protect all workers today whether they be union or nonunion.

At the turn of the Twentieth Century child labor was the norm in American society. Many Americans lived in 'company towns' where the company owned all and dictated the price of food, clothing, and shelter. Workers continually found themselves in debt to the company store. There was no overtime pay, little healthcare, and no benefits. The life of the average worker was nasty, brutish, and short--50 years being considered a long life. No retirement and no pensions, either--the American worker labored until he died. Health and safety laws were nonexistent: each fire or accident at a mill, factory, or mine typically left scores of dead workers and destitute families. Those disabled by their work depended on someone's charity to survive or quietly died.

The American labor union movement put an end to these conditions. Unions organized to stop child labor and end the company towns. They fought for a succession of pay raises that brought most union jobs out of lower and into the middle class, complete with individual home ownership, savings for college, and benefits like medical care, disability insurance, and retirement pensions. They introduced the American Dream to successive generations of American workers who might otherwise have been attracted to the Communist Manifesto, had they remained as poor and underrepresented as their Russian and Chinese peers.

In the 1950s, American labor unions represented 35% of all workers. But the unions' influence went much farther than that. They pushed for state and federal laws to protect all workers, union and nonunion, established the 40-hour workweek as the norm with paid overtime afterwards. Competition from the unionized sector of the economy forced nonunion companies and industries to offer similar benefits.

Today the unions and union-sponsored laws continue to protect workers from predatory corporations whose attitudes are little changed from a century ago. Those who work for companies and corporations large and small soon realize that the company has less regard for them than does a farmer for his mule. The mule, at least, is property, and worth something if sold. "Good business," which these days means maximizing profits for top management and the stockholders, operates by getting as much work out of each worker for as little money as possible, and then disposing of "labor costs" (read 'human worker' here) as quickly as possible. Corporations care not a whit for the people they employ, the community they employ them in, or the nation in which they are employed. Profit is their first and only priority and their only loyalty.

Labor unions, on the other hand, draw strength from their members, their community, and their nation. It's no mistake that while corporations are increasingly multinational, labor unions remain organized along national lines. While corporations will leave a town, state, or even the country at the drop of a hat, unions fight to retain America's manufacturing base in America.

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935 made it easier for the American worker to organize, increasing union members from 4 million to 11 million in five years. But after World War II, conservative Republicans pushed through the Taft-Hartley Act, which made the NLRA more of a confrontational process. Today Americans workers who try to organize their workplaces are subject to harrassments both legal and illegal. Union membership has fallen off to 16%, with thousands of manufacturing jobs going overseas or south to Mexico where unions are weak or nonexistent.

In 1994, the Dunlop Commission on the Future of Labor Management Relations surveyed American workers and found that a third of them would immediately join a union without any organization effort if offered the chance to do so without reprisal. This mirrors the growth of unions in public and private sectors where unions are allowed to organize without opposition from management. Repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act would allow more workers to join and form unions and lower the confrontational climate that exists between management and labor.

Why support unions? Union members typically earn 32% more than workers in unrepresented businesses. That figure is even higher for women (39%) and minorities (45%-54%) who are frequently stuck in low-paying or minimum wage jobs. In job training and apprenticeship programs, unions are second only to the military in efforts taken for job training and career development. Unions and union members support their local communities and their economies.

On this Labor Day we ought to be grateful for the things that unions have brought us--retirement pensions, health insurance, health and safety rules, and an end to child labor--and support the right of workers to join a union without fear of being fired or being forced to attend compulsory antiunion meetings. The right to join a union ought to be part of our freedom of association guaranteed by the US Constitution. Unions are and remain indispensable institutions that offer workers a chance to resist corporate abuse and give them a chance to play a role in the national life.

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Rebuttal:

By parroting every corporate argument against unions, including the phrase "right to work" coined by a corporate PR firm in Dallas, Texas, Sartre clearly shows that he's the dupe of the multinationals. Wake up conservatives, the international corporations aren't your friends or ideological companions! Union members are your friends, your relatives, your fellow citizens who love this country much better than any corporate CEO with overseas accounts and properties. No union grants any individual his natural dignity--but it does give him the opportunity to express that dignity it in the workplace without fear of unjust punishment.

Imagine the outrage we would all feel if our employer dictated to us the organizations that we could or could not join--"yes" to Shriners, "no" to Masons; "yes" to Handgun Control; "no" to the NRA; "yes" to the local Baptist church, "no" to the Presbyterians. We would find this situation intolerable, a violation of our freedom to associate with others that's guaranteed by our Constitution.

Yet this is precisely the situation that workers in antiunion workplaces find themselves. They are forced to attend antiunion meetings, watch antiunion videos, and are threatened with the loss of their jobs if they exercise their right to join a union--or even express an opinion on the subject. Under the Taft-Hartley Act, corporations are permitted to wage campaigns against unions so long as they are carried on with "no threat of reprisal or promise of benefit." The reality is that this law is ignored by most corporations and the National Labor Relations Board, which administers it, moves slowly and ponderously to enforce it.

Abandoning Taft-Hartley, and returning America to the original National Labor Relations Act of 1935 would go a long way to restoring the American worker's freedom to associate and make it possible to collectively bargain once again without the need for the warfare that currently exists between workers trying to organize a union and their employers working hard to prevent it. In the perfect world that Sartre and fellow apologists describe (a mythic world that has never existed and likely will never exist), collective bargaining might not be necessary. But in the world inhabited by corporations and venal bosses, collective action by union members is essential.

James Hall, From the Left

Counterpoint:

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Union Economics 101

The comrade of confusion aspires to become the commissar of compulsion. How pleasant it must be to reside in a world of allusions where a job is beheld as a right and labor is viewed as the noblest contribution. Where is it written that man is entitled to be guaranteed a livelihood? Oh, for those who's loyalty is to the 'International', they will shout that this is progress. How shallow is their understanding of the nature of business!

Being a fervent foe of the Corporate model does not mean that I support union idiocy and their devotion to thuggery. Quite the contrary, only sound business principles will solve the false dichotomy that the simpleton puts forth as an inevitable conflict between management and labor. Corporate syndicates and Union régimes are two sides of the same coin. They have more in common with organized crime, than genuine commerce.

As with most discussions about topics of diversion, the elite's benefit from the creation of ongoing conflict, so that the central issues will continue to be ignored. The character of business is simple; but is not taught, nor is it understood by the public. Commerce is based upon decisions to buy or sell. Each person has choices to enter or retire from this arena. If you claim that this province is inherently unequal, you would be correct. But your feeble attempts to level the playing field by establishing artificial schemes to the costs of business transactions only goes to line the pockets of those sympathizers of the triumvirate. The Government/Corporate/Union alliance is a sinister nisus to control all aspects of commerce.

Business requires capital. The hired help only has their labor to offer. Business needs creative design and organization. Employees are employees because they are content to draw a pay check. Business is about taking risks. Union members fear self-reliant competition. Businesses are built and grow because of the dynamic vision of their leadership. Teamsters call independent operators scabs and resort to muscle to defend their turf. And Business needs enlightened and dedicated workers who are partners in the enterprise, committed to produce wealth through that glorious reward that comes from PROFIT.

The heart of establishing a viable business model is to infuse labor with the tools to become a critical part of the venture. That means sharing in both the benefits and the risk of the market conditions. Unions seek to extort exorbitant demands from the customers of their employer, while they think they are making the boss pay up. In every case when the labor costs rises above those of the low cost producer, their competitive position in the marketplace declines.

The end result of Union excess when FAIR Trade is absent, is the bankruptcy of the company or its exodus off shore. Every trade treaty works to eliminate living wage jobs. Union advocates fail to understand that their ranks bear the brunt of these employment departures because they refuse to break with the unholy alliance of the corrupt Trinity. Their fear of 'right to work' laws only advances the demise of domestic industry. The solution to achieve and maintain meaningful employment opportunities is to resolve these trade imbalances. But union oppressors have sold out their manufacturing members for the fertile fields of multiplying government lackeys, like the NEA.

Card carrying coalition members need to wake up and learn the rules of business. ESOP ownership of companies is a realistic alternative to Corporate betrayal. But Unions are not interested in establishing independent business partners among their members. The 'union steward' is an enforcer of the Union power base, while the hired man trades one master for another. The day of Hoffa is long past. Thank goodness for the independent trucker . . .

If the laborer wants to improve his condition, he should start with improving himself. Employers reward initiative because it is so rare. Advancement within a company still has a correlation with the performance that one contributes. Unions seek minimum effort and resent anyone who desires to rise above the pack. Organized Labor knows only the threat of strike, as a method of blackmail. If they are so down trodden, QUIT !!!

Terminating substandard employees is unpleasant but is often necessary. Finding and attracting superior personnel is the highest priority for a company. The future of a firm is based upon the talent that it can develop. Seldom has gifted staff been found from the dialectic deficient of Union membership. The mentality that is pervasive from this group, always cries 'you owe me' . . . What I own you is the TRUTH, but I'll throw in a mirror for you to see the illiberal reflection of yourself.

Prosperity improves the conditions for the populace. Profitable commerce creates prosperity. The three legged union of a planned economy is the enemy of the worker, the businessman and the Nation. The Corporate/State/Union bloc does not create prosperity. It steals from the producers and compensates the minion. Its only product is conformity to rigid dominance over the economic life of a country. Monopolies are not limited to an industry. Unions seek to engulf labor into the shackles of an agent that speaks for them. The voice that is heard is one that will keep the chains of drudgery as their prize. If you aspire to be hired help, you will be granted your wish. But if you hunger for the dignity of a Freeman, you will strive to improve your lot. A Union cannot and will not bestow the dignity of self worth. Their false promise of security is a canard for the comrades of confusion, and are administered by the commissariat of compulsion.

James Hall aka SARTRE

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Final Word:

Since we both labored in the same Florida 'right to work' state, it is appropriate to inform that you flunked the interview. Your rational is poison. To say I'm a dupe is to admit that you are my enemy. I'm was the job creator and the builder of a better operation that put the hurt on the Corporations. But you see me and people like me as targets to unionize. Over forty new high paying jobs were grown from original staff size, customers were presented with cheaper prices and a greater product mix and service was offered to smaller operations that were ignored by the Corporations. All this was possible by greater productivity, superior salesmanship and incentive remuneration.

Your Teamsters brothers were the competition and they got their clock cleaned where it counts; 'on the street'. The reason was simple, they conducted their affairs with arrogance and lethargy. Their methods of business caused the ultimate bankruptcy of their union operations. Compare the record of independent entrepreneurial business with your efforts at the real "mythic world" of Disney lala land and defend your employers exorbitant pricing? Could your Union scale emolument have anything to do with pricing out the average American family from fantasy land?

The Corporate ethos is perilous. It seeks to destroy real competition that comes from independent business. Unions desire to obliterate small business and force them into the same unholy alliance that the corporate goons have struck with union stooges. Your own preposterous whining reveals the asinine demands of your cherished collective bargaining. You won't be content until your kind drive out all business employment and substitute it with government dependency under the dominion of Union dictates for employment.

'Right to Work' means telling Union yes-man where to go. When was the last time your breed created new jobs for the grunts that you swindle, to fund union stewards intimidation? But we should not forget that your compassion is for the worker, as he stands in line to collect unemployment benefits from YOUR government . . .

Your scam is a bad joke, and people that adopt your propaganda are the real dupes for slugs like you. Yes you are right on one point. I'm one of the bosses and earned being one because of what was created. But your actions warrant the venal label for the dependency you place upon the rank and file, on a deceitful and defective system, that only destroys jobs and advancement. Then again, why should I conclude that you could understand this message? For you are one of the 'hired help' that could never make it on your own.

James Hall - 'The Right'

American Unionism and U.S. Immigration Policy by Vernon M. Briggs, Jr.


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I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.
John D. Rockefeller

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