Topic of the Day

At the suggestion of one of our readers, we’re going to try something new today. I’m going to post a topic, and you’re free to discuss away!

So today’s topic, in honor of Labor Day is organized labor: good or bad, and why?


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2 thoughts on “Topic of the Day

  1. Organized labor has provided many improvements in the work place environment that many of us take for granted. Forty hour work weeks, eight hour days, overtime pay, any variety of benefits, etc. But I don’t think that current US labor unions have kept pace with the economic changes of the 21st century. We continue to read about the continuation of historic confrontation between labor and management in negotiations. In many cases giving up jobs in favor of maintaining limited jobs at current wage/benefit/productivity levels instead of protecting the real overall common good. Labor hasn’t foreseen the changes in the world market place. It continues to allow movement of jobs from one region of the US to another at great economic and social cost to our nation instead of working to strengthen our overall global position. Some things have got to change.

    Yesterday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reprinted an article from the Wall Street Journal entitled “Unions Can Be a Good Thing…or Not”. I’ll post a link to the article and some selected passages as a separate item a bit later today.

  2. Historically – good. Today? Mixed, with as much negative impact as positive. In well-run companies, organized labor only gets in the way. Poorly-run companies on the other hand, are a different story.

    Also, power corrupts & it seems all too common for union management to be corrupted by their power. They’ll push for not what’s best for the company, or even what’s best for the union employees, but what’s best for them.

    To call out a few unions in particular…professional sports unions in general are pretty bad. But in particular, the NFL union’s treatment of retired players – turning it’s back to guys who literally gave their bodies to the game and made it possible for today’s stars (and 4th string safeties) to make millions and be set for life – is nothing short of shameful. And also emblematic of an underlying issue: as Gene Upshaw said, “The bottom line is I don’t work for them.” While he was a bit of an extreme example (I’d hope most union heads don’t threaten to “break the neck” of a former member like he did) it shows a fundamental problem. The best interests of the union, and by extension, it’s members can be in direct opposition to the best interests of the company. Adding a 100 jobs should be a good thing. But those new employees, they might have new ideas & who knows if they’ll vote for the current management. And they could reduce overtime for current members.

    Same thing with cutting employees. The union heads & unions themselves routinely vote for eliminating employees over collectively taking a very small pay cut. This is one of the real ironies of unions and the “brotherhood” mentality. I’ve never met a non-union employee who hasn’t said they’d do whatever they can to save jobs – individuals offer & accept pay freezes or even small cuts all the time. Unions routinely vote for firing their “brothers” rather than sacrificing anything for themselves. Cut positions if you have to, but we want our viagra back.

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