Labor

Union Sundown[*]

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Via the pro-labor union [*] site EmployerReport.com comes the slow-moving news that the heirs to the Wobblies continue to go wobbly in the workplace: Union membership drops to record low!…(7.4% private sector, 12% overall).

More on this from the NY Times:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Thursday that union membership fell by 326,000 in 2006, to 15.4 million workers, bringing the percentage of employees in unions to 12 percent, down from 12.5 percent in 2005. Those figures are down from 20 percent in 1983 and from 35 percent in the 1950s.

Work force experts said the decline in union membership was caused by large-scale layoffs and buyouts in the auto industry and other manufacturing industries, together with the labor movement's difficulties in organizing nonunion workers fast enough to offset those losses.

More here.

From AP via MSNBC, comes this tidbit: "The union membership rate for government workers, 36.2 percent, was substantially higher than for private industry workers, 7.4 percent."

Back in 2000, Reason Contributing Editor Mike McMenamin wrote an obit for unions:

Organized labor was a one-century phenomenon. Look it up…Today union leaders, politicians, and employers conspire to take from their members, constituents, and employees hundreds of millions of dollars every year, in violation of the First Amendment. What was once a proud mass movement that improved and dignified the lives of its members in vital segments of the manufacturing-based economy is now no more than a special-interest adjunct to a political party, humored and tolerated less for the voting bloc it no longer commands than for the soft money it can deliver. Organized labor in the private sector no longer serves the interests of its members. It has failed to adapt to the new information economy, as it successfully adapted to industrialization in the early 20th century. It is dying before our eyes.

McMenamin trains most of his withering gaze on the Service Employees Industrial Union. Check out his whole case here.

More recently (last year), Tim Cavanaugh–what is it with all these Sons of Hibernia anyway? did their great-grandfathers get kicked out of the Molly Maguires or something? are they self-hating secret Pinkertons?–talked with union leaders about their ambivalence and generally confused position on boosting immigration. That must-read is here.

[*] Mandatory headline allusion explanation for non-Dylan fans: On Infidels, his early '80s musical triumph that managed to simultaneously alienate and engage the few fans not turned off by his late '70s triumph Slow Train Coming, the Maestro penned an inscrutable tale of laissez-faire capitalism and big labor titled "Union Sundown." Just how inscrutable? Somewhere in this driving tune whose lyrics rail against bigness in both business and labor, Dylan prophesies:

They used to grow food in Kansas
Now they want to grow it on the moon and eat it raw.
I can see the day coming when even your home garden
Is gonna be against the law.

More, oh god so much more, right here.

[*] Correction: The founder of EmployerReport.com writes to say, "You may wish to know (or you may not) that EmployerReport.com was started to combat labor unions' propaganda… and, specifically, to combat the Employee Free Choice Act." Apologies for the mischaracterization.

NEXT: "Viewers were dumped back into the pedestrian world of Doctor Who as though the bizarre buttocks-swatting incident had never happened."

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  1. I don’t know who these “workforce experts” are, but they’re going to look like idiots once the the Democrats pass the card-check law and rates start going back up.

  2. You could be a unionized employee of an American auto firm or you could be one of those poor slobs who works for a company like Toyota. Er, yay unions?

  3. I know a guy who works at Honda (non-union), who will say unequivocally that it is the best job he ever had (he’s 60 and has worked at factories and auto plants all his life).

    I’ve got another friend who workED at GM until he got laid off last year. He used to joke about how little he had to do at work and the “union attitude.”

    Now that were not sending small children in to oil up the gears on 12 hour shifts, I think unions have outlasted their usefulness. They are the 8-Tracks of the working world.

  4. Rumor has it that Dylan will be one of the headliners at Bonnaroo this year (along with the Police!)

  5. Todd,

    Exactly. For a clear graphical representation, go to Yahoo Finance and to a five year graph of performance for Toyota or Honda, then compare your favorite unionized shop. This is what unions can do for you!

  6. When this topic comes up, I always wish there was more discussion about the insufficient incentives for public administrators to efficiently manage union demands. Being accountable to voters rather than being driven by a profit motive creates an environment that puts significant power over the public purse in the hands of public sector unions.

    Private sector unions are a great counterweight to large corporate structures. I don’t view public sector unions anywhere near as favorably.

  7. I don’t know who these “workforce experts” are, but they’re going to look like idiots once the the Democrats pass the card-check law and rates start going back up.

    Card-check laws simply remove one step to certifying unions by eliminating the voting process. (Aren’t Democrats in favor of voting?) Making it easier to unionize won’t change the fact that union businesses are failing right and left.

    BTW, I heard all the same “da govment’s gonna git all our union jobs back” rhetoric when I lived by the steel mills in Pennsylvania. In the 1970s.

  8. Being accountable to voters rather than being driven by a profit motive creates an environment that puts significant power over the public purse in the hands of public sector unions.

    Yeah, no kidding. Every time another one of these public-sector unions stages an ugly fight over their oh-so-horrible working conditions (“We want 12 unexplained absences per year, not 10!”) you know the rest of us are going to be digging deeper into our pockets soon. During the recent transit strike in New York, I was so hoping for every single one of those ingrates to get the pink slip. Alas, it didn’t happen.

  9. Yes, it’s amazing that Toyota and Honda don’t have to deal with labor unions at all. Someone should go inform the Confederation of Japan Automobile Workers’ Unions that it doesn’t exist.

  10. What’s a card-check law?

  11. I don’t know who these “workforce experts” are, but they’re going to look like idiots once the the Democrats pass the card-check law and rates start going back up.

    Get ready for veto # 2.

  12. Larry A,

    Card-check is a voting process.

    Each person get a card, like a ballot. They either vote yes (sign the care) or vote no (decline).

  13. Two points. First as long as employees are subject to dismissal on a whim or other unfair disciplinary measures, not to mention good old fashioned favoritism, there will always be a need for unions. They have also proven more effective than the marketplace for giving workers a share of productivity gains. Second, crap car designs are approved by nonunion managers. BMW, Porsche, and the Japanese makers in their home country are doing just fine with unionized workforces.

  14. Rhwuyn,

    Under current law, when a majority of people in a workplace sign union cards expressing their desire to form a union, the organizers must then hold an election with several weeks of lead-time. For some reason, 57 people in a 75 person group saying in writing that they want to form a union is not considered sufficient evidence that a majority of the workers want to form a union.

    Of course, they must then notify the employer of the upcoming vote. If the employer is a piece of crap like Wal Mart, they spend these weeks firing the union organizers (over job performance issues, of course) and “educating” their employers (with the help of anti-union “consultants”) about how evil unions are, and otherwise using their muscle.

    Under a card check law, once a majority of employees sign union cards, the local gains legal status as a bargaining unit, without having to hold a second voting process.

  15. “BMW, Porsche, and the Japanese makers in their home country are doing just fine with unionized workforces.”

    “Someone should go inform the Confederation of Japan Automobile Workers’ Unions that it doesn’t exist.”

    It’s worth noting here that the costs of pensions and health care in those countries are covered by the government – as the American automakers have been advocating for for years.

  16. For some reason, 57 people in a 75 person group saying in writing that they want to form a union is not considered sufficient evidence that a majority of the workers want to form a union.

    Oh well. At least under current law the other 18 get a little extra time to find a better job.

  17. Under a card check law, once a majority of employees sign union cards, the local gains legal status as a bargaining unit, without having to hold a second voting process.

    If in a union shop 51% sign cards that they don’t want a union, does it go away?

    I didn’t think so.

    Fair is fair.

  18. “Under current law, when a majority of people in a workplace sign union cards expressing their desire to form a union, the organizers must then hold an election with several weeks of lead-time. For some reason, 57 people in a 75 person group saying in writing that they want to form a union is not considered sufficient evidence that a majority of the workers want to form a union.”

    Maybe it has something to do with not wanting to enable union goons to intimidate people into voting for a union by having an annonymous vote as part of the process.

  19. “BMW, Porsche, and the Japanese makers in their home country are doing just fine with unionized workforces.”

    “Someone should go inform the Confederation of Japan Automobile Workers’ Unions that it doesn’t exist.”

    Just another example of American Exceptionalism. Our unionized autoworkers are exceptionally shiftless and lazy. They get even less done in 40 hours than those French pukes don’t get done in 35 hours.

  20. You know its funny when a company is small and starting out, risking everything, taking on all of the debt. Working un-godly ours, being alienated from their families and such, with no certainty of success the unions are not present. However, when a company starts to turn a profit they show up to stick a hand out. Of course this is done in the name of “fairness”. Because providing a job at the market value just isn’t “fair”. And since the unions forced these poor workers to take these crappy jobs, the unions should also take on the responsibility of cleaning up their mess and provide a “fair” wage.

    When I see a union actually create something in society one day like, I don’t know?a JOB, I might actually think they are necessary for something.

  21. 1) The vast majority of production for the Japanese firms is done union-free in the states and elswhere.

    2) Japanese unions are nothing, repeat, NOTHING like US counterparts. A major Nissan strike in the early ’80s convinced everyone that US style labor unions were toxic. It is an article of faith with the major firms that dealing with the UAW will destroy your profitability, and history bears that out.

    3) The Japanese pension system is public – private like ours, except the public portion is getting crushed under demographic weight much faster than ours is.

  22. ” First as long as employees are subject to dismissal on a whim or other unfair disciplinary measures, not to mention good old fashioned favoritism, there will always be a need for unions.”

    Doesn’t make senses for government work. It’s notoriously hard to get fired, favoritism occurs primarily between union contacts, and working conditions are notably much cushier than the private sector.

    Full disclosure – I work in government.

  23. Larry A asks:

    “If in a union shop 51% sign cards that they don’t want a union, does it go away?”

    Yes. If a majority of employees vote to decertify, the union ceases to have legal status as the collective bargaining unit representing that workplace.

    And this happens as soon as a majority vote to leave the union.

  24. “It is an article of faith with the major firms that dealing with the UAW will destroy your profitability,” yes, faith

    “…and history bears that out.”

    The unionization of auto workers began in the 1920s, and the Big Three remained immensely profitable for the next six decades with a heavily-unionized workforce.

    Isn’t it amazing how the corrosive effects of unionization only started to be feld when competitors with superior products (also manufactured by union labor) began to compete with them on a large scale?

  25. joe,

    What’s wrong with an anonymous vote? Maybe it should have to happen quicker, to prevent the shenanigans you talk about, but if you’ve got a secret ballot, neither side can fuck around with it. Right? Secret ballots are good enough for every other kind of election.

    Or, here’s another solution: keep the secret ballot, but only require, say 40% of the workforce to sign the petition in order to force an election.

  26. joe,

    And I can’t help but correct you. The relevant comparison is UAW vs. Toyota plants IN AMERICA, which are non-union. The non-union plants make better cars, and still provide excellent wages and working conditions.

  27. wait a sec, there joe! You mean. There was competition and market forces and shit. (And upwards sloping demand curves, natch). And Detroit just got beat? 🙂

    When the product has been so lousy that consumers wish to spend their dollars elsewhere, it’s probably hard to tease out what portion of damage is caused by unions, crappy leadership with no vision nor balls to deal with the competition, government subsidies/protectionism, and the desire to have a decently-functioning stick shift!

    (but I drive a German car… ja ja. ach… Austrian)

    p.s., same lurker – that seems to be the same point joe was making – that other companies have superior products

  28. And of course it is worth pointing out that ALL the federal labor laws are a violation of freedom of contract and that the federal government never did in fact, have any legitimate Constitutional authority to enact any of them in the first place as it is not pursuant to any ennumerated power delegated to the federal government in the text of the Constition as is required by the 10th Amendment.

  29. Repeated lurker,

    In principle, there is nothing wrong with secret ballots. In practice, the phenomenon I described is very common. There is a highly profitable union-busting “consultant” industry that specializes in identifying and targetting “agitators,” and the people who own the workplace and sign the paychecks, obviously, have an enormous amount of power to carry out retribution.

    Also, while your observation is true now, Honda and Toyota were making serious inroads into the American market by the early 80s, with cars built by union labor in Japan AND with the extra cost of shipping.

  30. What we know about unions:

    They shut down ports because they fear bar code technology.

    They suicidally negotiate to minimize productivity in the face of technological and foreign labor competition.

    They fail utterly to recognize that a lifetime claim on corporate assets is a fool’s bet compared to an individually owned, portable benefit.

    American unions have made every idiotic decision ‘for the worker’ that they possibly could, and their only claim to fame is their amazing ability to convince management that destroying their ability to compete is in everyone’s interest.

  31. Union membership drops to record low!…(7.4% private sector, 12% overall).

    No wonder the economy has been so healthy in recent years.

    For some reason, 57 people in a 75 person group saying in writing that they want to form a union is not considered sufficient evidence that a majority of the workers want to form a union.

    joe shows a touching naivete about union election practices, including packing the workforce with ringers, threats, lies, etc.

  32. “Now that were not sending small children in to oil up the gears on 12 hour shifts, I think unions have outlasted their usefulness. They are the 8-Tracks of the working world.”

    and now that police forces are more professionalized, knock-and-announce is no longer needed.

    and no, i’m not saying that 8 year olds would be going back into the labor force w/o unions. however, i think the reasoning is parallel.

    i also don’t think that pointing to companies that are successful w/o unionization is an argument for why unionization is harmful to a company. unionization is more akin to a symptom of a crappy work environment rather than a cause. if a company is successful w/o unionization, it is because they provide a condition which makes unionization less likely to occur. and everybody wins. perhaps unionization rates are going down because more companies realize that providing better conditions (like toyota seems to do) makes better sense. people don’t just unionize for the hell of it.

    “including packing the workforce with ringers, threats, lies, etc.”

    that is a ridiculously broad brush.

    and now that i’ve commented, this thread will be buried as everyone has likely moved on elsewhere.

  33. What is a successful company that is unionized on the American model these days? I mean one that can actually beat competition.

  34. including packing the workforce with ringers, threats, lies, etc.”

    that is a ridiculously broad brush.

    No broader than joe’s. And I have personally been involved in about a dozen unionization campaigns, every single one of which involved ringers, lies, and threats. By the union.

    The scariest thing was that, in the minds of the organizers, any dirty trick was 100%justified, in their minds, by the “greater good” they were pursuing.

  35. What is a successful company that is unionized on the American model these days? I mean one that can actually beat competition.

    Cingular, Kaiser Permanente, and Harley Davidson are a few companies that have good relationships with their unions and still manage to do well. Here’s some more.

  36. RC Dean,

    “No broader than joe’s.”

    oh, then i guess it makes complete sense.

    look, i’m not saying that those things don’t occur. but you can’t seriously tell me that they don’t occur on all sides. i have a feeling that there’s a guy who worked with the organizers who’s posting on a message board the exact same observations you’ve made, but about the company.

  37. JasonL,

    Maybe “we” should learn a little more about unions than what “we” read about them from media sources funded by people devoted to their destruction, hmm?

    For example, someone with a modicum of historical knowledge would know that the period of American history with the highest level of unionization was also the period we rose to economic dominance in the world.

    Or that the 30-odd year period of wage stagnation we’re currently going through coinciced precisely with the decline of union membership.

  38. “joe shows a touching naivete about union election practices”

    So, RC, which union have you ever belonged to? Which unionized workplace have you ever worked in?

    Hello? Anyone home? Helllooooooo?

    (Go ahead, ask me. Then we can see who’s talking out his ass about a subject he doesn’t know anything about.)

  39. joe:

    We used to belong to a union. We saw a UFCW strike from the ground up. We saw how idiotic and short sighted the union claims were. We read all sorts of things – real newspapers and textbooks from public schools, even.

    We also note that when there was no other way of doing things than to pay too much for an inferior product, the US auto market did just fine. The very minute competition seeped in, the decline began.

  40. “And I have personally been involved in about a dozen unionization campaigns…”

    Zing. Gotcha, RC.

    The only peole who have “been involved in about a dozen unionization campaigns” are union organizers, or those who fight professisonally against unions.

    We know you’re not the former, Mr. Dean. So, are you a professional anti-union consultant, with all that implies about your credibility and objectivity about the issue? Or are you just lying?

  41. …or, option three, are you a businessowner whose workers consistently decide that they need to organize their workplaces?

  42. ‘”that is a ridiculously broad brush.”

    No broader than joe’s.’

    Let’s go to the tape:

    joe: “If the employer is a piece of crap like Wal Mart…”

    RC Dean: “…union election practices, including packing the workforce with ringers, threats, lies, etc.”

  43. Jason Ligon,

    I’m not going to defend every action by every union in every time and place. They’re institutions consisting of fallable humans, and sometimes they screw up. They also tend to be most active when those fallable humans find themselves in extremely stressful, threatening situations. But thos observations are quite a bit different from your broad-brush denuciation of unions per se.

    downstater,

    “i have a feeling that there’s a guy who worked with the organizers who’s posting on a message board the exact same observations you’ve made, but about the company.” Keep in mind, every workplace has a company, but only a specific subset of workplaces engage in unionizing. The company I’m now working for doesn’t have a union; but then, our boss compenstates us decenently and doesn’t treat us like crap.

    Unions become active/employees reach out to unions when the circumstances of their employment motivate them to do so.

  44. Ah, so that’s what the card-check law is about. That’s taking place right now here in Washington. According to the Professional Staff Association at the UW:

    “A coalition of labor organizations (American Federation of Teachers, Public School Employees, Service Employees International Union, Washington Education Association, Washington Federation of State Employees and Washington Public Employees Association) is working to pass an amendment to Chapter 41.80 RCW; that is, enabling legislation that would include the exempt staff at higher education institutions in the State of Washington. This includes approximately 10,000 employees, including the more than 6,000 UW professional staff members.”

    also

    “So how would unionization proceed following passage of enabling legislation?
    The employees must then complete the work of organizing. In order to unionize, 30% of the total group must sign cards to authorize an election. The decision to unionize must pass by majority vote (that is, 50% plus 1 vote), which is consistent with current PERC practices for all other unions in the state. This result must be certified by PERC. The employer is then required to recognize this union as the “exclusive bargaining agent.”

    That’s 30% to force a vote on unionization, not the ‘majority’ that joe says. Basically a way for a minority of constituents– less than a third– to get the ball rolling on this.

    Oh, and I’ve been a member of SEIU. In my opinion they aren’t worth the powder to blow them to hell. They take the vast majority of the union dues and send them back east to contribute to trendy political causes that have little or nothing to do with your own job situation and which you may not agree with. If your own group wants something like a cost of living wage increase they just exhort the faithful to take time off from work (using your own vacation time) to march on Olympia and protest. They supply a guy with a bullhorn.

    Been there, done that. Excuse me while I throw up.

  45. Hey, remember the Ford thread?

    ‘”Mulally also confirmed that Ford is considering giving performance bonuses to its top executives at the same time it is incurring massive losses, closing plants and cutting jobs.

    “More of the compensation of senior leadership is tied to their performance,” he said. “This team has made great progress. You have to keep the talented people you really need.”‘

    Damn those unions, and the unjustified payroll costs they impose!

  46. “Unions become active/employees reach out to unions when the circumstances of their employment motivate them to do so.”

    i agree. see my original post @ 2:09.

    which is why i wonder why the default is to bitch and moan about unions when there are examples of companies operating swimmingly without significant motivation for unionization of employees.

    if you don’t want your shop to unionize, then provide a workplace where there’s no need to do so.

    disclosure:
    my father was an officer in his local for some time when he was working. he alternately enjoyed and loathed the experience. i grew up alternately appreciating and loathing the union. most of the time the issues were about what flavor of sheet cake to get for bob for his retirement. seriously bland stuff. the hollywood image of a bunch of goons roughing up some poor scab just looking to work and negotiating no-show jobs with the mob is a complete farce.

  47. If only the people on the assembly lines were as talented as the brilliant ubermen in the corner office – you know, the ones they really need.

  48. “the brilliant ubermen in the corner office ”

    Welll, someone has to draft the memo specifying the cover sheet for the TPS reports, ya dig?

  49. I once worked in a unionized manufacturing company where the boss, a real free-enterprizer, didn’t mind the union at all.
    His reasoning was that, with negotiated wage rates for all, 40% of the workers made less than they should, 30% made more, and the rest were about right. The 60% always outvoted the 40% when it came time to settle on a new contract. Best of all, he only had to negotiate once for all of them instead of 175 times when each worker’s annual review would have come up. Cost to him: slipping the local’s boss four five-day tickets to Disneyworld every three years.

  50. Joe, can I have my brain back now?

  51. Note: I do not have any problem at all with the right to organize, or with the concept of unions in the abstract. I, like most libertarians, disagree with interpretation of “fair labor” practices that require you to deal with a union. If the union can opt out, the employer should be able to opt out.

    You’d be hard pressed to find a group more short sighted than the US union movement over the past 30 years, though. They have a lot to answer for. The longshoremen cost the US literally tens of billions when they shut down west coast shipping. Why? Frickin’ bar codes. They wanted their union guy counting boxes and shuffling paper so they cost the economy 20 billion. May they all rot.

    I also have some good stories about the UAW and the Teamsters while my father worked at Anaconda Aluminum and International Harvester (esp the latter) in the 70s and early 80s. You would not believe what went on. Heavies, death threats, broken windows, slashed tires, fires set, safety equipment disabled – and for crap like not taking breaks or going around the traditions of seniority.

  52. To creech’s point, I now work closely with benefit plans. Union plans, in general, blow. Because everything is a hostile negotiation, nobody gives them anything – even if it is cost free in an absolute sense, because the next round of negotiations will be tooth pulling again.

  53. CEOs have done great without unions. So have the heirs to the Du Pont fortune. Who needs unions?

  54. Joe,

    This card-check thing is awful. It will lead to undue pressure to people to vote a particular way…people following workers home, etc.

    It’ll never become law, though.

  55. “They wanted their union guy counting boxes and shuffling paper so they cost the economy 20 billion.”

    Maybe if you try hard enough, you can think of some other party whose unwillingness to budge had something to do with the shutdown. Or is management’s position unimpeachable by virtue of the fact that they’re management?

  56. Edward,

    What exactly do you mean by “without unions.” You speak as if they’ve gone away. They haven’t.

    Next time you complain about a company moving its jobs to another country, remember these things. You act as if you can just do anything to labor law without repercussion.

    Well, it’s a big reason why companies are looking for labor elsewhere. It’s been too damn tough and expensive to have it here.

  57. Clarification on my previous post re benefits:

    The feeling is that previous negotiations gave away the farm, so NEW benefit plans blow. The legacy plans are all based on lifetime payouts with insane actuarial assumptions.

  58. joe:

    We are talking about implementing bar code warehousing. It was the height of 1979 technology. No, it is squarely on the union for:

    a) making an absurd demand. You couldn’t roll out the buggy whip salesman and make that point any better
    b) using their legally priviliged status to shut down the whole economy for two or three weeks

    I don’t care who you are. You can ask for whatever stupid thing you want, but when you tell me that I can’t ignore you and hire someone else, we have a problem. This is what unions do in the US – hurt objective progress. If management wants it, it must be bad.

  59. Jason,

    I don’t know what was discussed in those negotiations, and neither do you. What accommodations was the union willing to make? What did they want from the management in return?

    You have no effing idea – you just repeat the framing of the dispute in the management’s terms, and lo and behold, discover that they look more reasonable.

    Big deal.

  60. Reasonable people can work out their differences.

    Looking at situations in which the two parties did not come to an agreement and deciding that, in all cases, Party B should not have the authority to decline the deal is not “objective” anything. It is an ideological statement about who should have power over whom.

  61. Joe,

    I can’t believe you’ve begged for anecdotal evidence that unions suck (So, RC, which union have you ever belonged to? Which unionized workplace have you ever worked in?

    Hello? Anyone home? Helllooooooo?

    (Go ahead, ask me. Then we can see who’s talking out his ass about a subject he doesn’t know anything about.))

    I worked for many summers as union construction worker on huge public works projects (yes, thorugh management neopotism). I’d heard the stories about union workers before I started but they didn’t prepare me for what I experienced: the most shiftless, lazy, self-entitled, economically ignorant, drug-addled, thieving, life-wasting collection of men and one skanky woman ever assembled and laughably labeled a workforce. If I had a nickel for every time one of them told me not to work so hard then I wouldn’t have had to work at all. With one exception in a hundred, the primary motivation was to do as little as possible and take a really long time to do it.

    Oddly, they had what I’ve since come to know as higher than average skill and knowledge of their crafts.

  62. “I’m not going to defend every action by every union in every time and place. They’re institutions consisting of fallable humans, and sometimes they screw up.”-joe

    Threats, violence, and vandalism are not instances of “screw ups”, they are deliberate pre-meditated wrongs. Not all unions engage in such tactics, fine. However, you favoring a change in the law that will make such tactics more effective and attractive to those unions that are disposed towards using them. Such a rule change undermines an honest decision by the workers to unionize, it is pro-union but anti-worker.

  63. Don’t think that union troublemaking is something new. In 1944, unionized tire workers refused to give up their six-hour work day and give in to management’s request they work 8 hours. I only know because I am old enough to barely remember when Akron was the “Rubber Capitol of the World”, but between hostile takeovers and unions Akron barely has a presence in that market now.

  64. Jeff S,

    You misunderstant. There are union horror stories all over the place. I just smelled a rat in RC’s story.

    MJ,

    Those actions aren’t “screw ups” when practiced by management, either. Nor is on the job harrassment or firing people for organizing. You are opposing a law which would make workers less likely to have to endure those things.

    jf,

    You might want to ask John Edwards how well the non-union South has been able to retain its manufacturing jobs.

  65. If by unions, you mean workers organizing for self-help, whether against the vagaries of life (eg, insurance) or against bad bosses, then by all means let’s bring them on. Too bad our history has simply vacillated between government support for management (injunctions, bans on secondary boycotts, etc) to government support for unions (compulsory unionization, closed shop, etc.), so that there wasn’t much of a chance to experiment with genuine neutrality, thus we can’t actually say a libertarian policy would never work because most of the supposed examples are actually of pro-management activism by government.

    I will say that both my grandfater and myself were in the American Auto Workers, though neither of us worked in an auto plant. He was in the miners’ union, and I joined the Writers’ Union, but each of these turned out to be under the AUW. I’m sure Joe could come up with a perfectly rational explanation for why this was all management’s fault.

  66. Card law vs. secret ballot, union shops vs. non-union shops, efficiency vs. inefficiency, blah blah blah.

    How about I don’t want the government to loan it’s guns to 50.0001% of my co-workers to use force to make me an my employer obey their rules and ideas about what our employemnt agreement should be. Or is that to much individual choice?
    -K

  67. Implementing bar codes…

    I don’t know what was discussed in those negotiations, and neither do you.

    Hmm… maybe, a bunch of people were going to be reassigned or lose their job. Oh the horror!

    Just a hunch.

  68. Dead thread, but still.

    I know what the longshoremen’s published list of grievances were. If they didn’t want to make themselves out to be childish cavemen, perhaps they should have picked more reasonable demands to go to the press with.

    By the way, I want to know what the view on the ground from the union perspective might be that would have made that thing reasonable.

  69. Scott

    I meant that CEOs and those who have inherited fortunes don’t belong to unions and have done quite well anyway. I recognize that unions still exist. My point is that if the powerful and wealthy don’t need them, why should the weak and nonwealthy? My advice to those who think they need unions is threefold: 1) Be powerful and wealthy; 2) Be fortunate and wealthy; 3) Be quiet.

  70. Oh, one more piece of advice: Be smart. Studies have shown that smart people have more of everything.

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