Economics

Obama and Big Labor: Look for the Union Label

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In case you're wondering about President Obama's relationship—and political debt—to Big Labor, take a long, disturbing read through Sean Higgins' recent article in Investor's Business Daily. Snippets:

The debt-ridden state [California] had sought to trim $74 million from its budget by reducing its contribution to home health workers' pay from $12.10 an hour to $10.10.

The Obama administration subsequently told them in an April 15 conference call that if the wages were cut it could endanger $6.8 billion in federal stimulus funds.

Also on the call were the Service Employees International Union's associate general counsel and two California union officials, one a lobbyist.

The SEIU had lobbied the administration to step in. Many of the workers are SEIU members….

The administration has also acted to change policy in various ways that benefit unions. Among the first bills that Obama signed into law was the labor-backed Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which eliminates deadlines for workers to sue employers for wage discrimination.

He also backed legislation sought by the Teamsters that scrapped a program that would have let Mexican truckers operate in the U.S. The action so angered Mexico that it imposed retaliatory tariffs on $2.4 billion worth of industrial and agricultural U.S. goods.

The administration has rolled back transparency rules that require unions to more extensively report their finances, executive compensation and potential conflicts of interest every year. The Labor Department said "it would not be a good use of resources" to require this.

The Obama administration's first proposed budget calls for cutting the budget of the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards, which investigates unions on behalf of workers, to $41 million, down from $45 million last year….

The administration has gone to bat for labor in other ways. When it announced Chrysler's bankruptcy, it did so only after guaranteeing the pension plan for members of the United Auto Workers.

It also worked out a deal that would give the UAW's pension fund a 55% stake in Chrysler in exchange for $10.6 billion in obligations to the fund.

While it remains to be seen if that deal will stand up in court, it was far better than the 30 cents on the dollar that Chrysler offered senior bondholders for their $6.9 billion in obligations. When several creditors rejected the deal, Obama scorned them as "speculators."

Read the full article here.

I remain convinced that union power will continue to diminish for the simple reason that the sort of work that unions have traditionally represented is going the way of, well, auto-assembly jobs. For unions, the action is in the public sector, especially health care and education. But even there, both taxpayers and workers themselves are getting fed up with rigid work rules and pay that is ultimately pegged to your least-productive co-worker. Which isn't to say that new rules rigged in favor of labor can't cause problems in the short- or even mid- run.

Another reason why unions are doomed? Because of ads like this one, which I think would make Joe Hill hisself bust a picket line:

Bonus link: Bob Dylan's great, if virtually completely incoherent (and I don't mean that as a criticism), early 1980s' tune "Union Sundown," which suggests the going global rate for labor is "30 cents a day" and includes this fantastic verse:

The unions are big business, friend,
And they're goin' out like a dinosaur.
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

It's 5.26 minutes of wonder, joy, and a great pronunciation of Malay-z-ee-a.

NEXT: Defenders of Democracy Fail, Yet Again, to Convince the Polity

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  1. “Among the first bills that Obama signed into law was the labor-backed Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which eliminates deadlines for workers to sue employers for wage discrimination.”

    This measure is a “pro-union” bill only in the sense that some women are union members. In fact, it probably applies to men who are victims of wage discrimination too, so it’s “pro-union” in the sense that in broadening the rules allowing any man or woman to bring discrimination suits against employees some of those men and women might be in a union. Jesus.

    We’re always told here on H&R that unions are always just out for themselves and never work for things that would benefit non-union workers. Bullshit says this post. But those of us with independent thought already should have known that.

  2. “I remain convinced that union power will continue to diminish”

    Well, of course. Unions flourish when governments act to protect their organizing.

    Libertarians say the government forces them on people, which is interesting since the average union worker has higher wages and benefits than the average non-union worker. So according to libertarians unions will decline because the average worker doesn’t like higher wages and benefits. See how crazy this reasoning is?

    However, if you realize that employers are in a vastly stronger bargaining position than employes then it’s easy to understand why unions, absent government protections, decline. But realizing that would put a big kink into the libertarian line.

  3. Protect their organizing by not allowing elections?

    If its in the employees’ favor, they can join unions, but they should be able to quit when they don’t like it anymore, just like any other trade association.

    I will admit that the autoworkers certainly have nice pay and benefits. Too bad there’s no auto industry any more.

  4. So according to libertarians unions will decline because the average worker doesn’t like higher wages and benefits.

    The average worker is watching GM and Chrysler collapse because of the union-government entente, and he wants no part of it. At least I hope not.

  5. “Employers”, as the name implies, only exist to provide jobs for people (regardless of their productivity). That is their sole function and reason for existence.

    Capitalists owe me a living!

  6. MNG, unions are not inherently bad — everyone has the right to free assembly, but they become bad when they petition the government and receive (as political favors) benefits from ALL taxpayers that non-union workers don’t get.

    I put half the blame on them and the other half on the stupid companies that agreed to the collective bargaining, BUT when those companies fail, so too should the union that is operating with those failed companies.

  7. “they become bad when they petition the government and receive (as political favors) benefits from ALL taxpayers that non-union workers don’t get.”

    I actually likely agree with you there, but of course every interest group (corporations, professional associations, etc) does this. Of course I imagine you are against those doing that as well, so we probably agree there.

    “BUT when those companies fail, so too should the union that is operating with those failed companies.”

    I agree here too. I think those coporations should keep their promises to the workers that the workers gave consideration for, but other than that I agree.

    “Protect their organizing by not allowing elections?”

    Union representation elections are not much like political elections. If political elections were like union representation elections the Democrats could require you to attend pro-Democrat rallies every day until the night before the election, could ban other parties from coming to talk to you about their side, and threaten to take your job away if you vote for anyone other than them. So, yes, changing that does make union representation decisions actually more likely to represent the actual will of the workers.

  8. “”Employers”, as the name implies, only exist to provide jobs for people (regardless of their productivity). That is their sole function and reason for existence.”

    No P, that’s not our point. It’s that “employers” tend to have gobs more resources (capital) than employees and so the playing field is not level when they bargain to reach a “voluntary” mutually beneficial contract.

  9. Well, of course. Unions flourish when governments act to protect their organizing business model.

    FTFY

  10. Libertarians say the government forces them on people, which is interesting since the average union worker has higher wages and benefits than the average non-union worker. So according to libertarians unions will decline because the average worker doesn’t like higher wages and benefits. See how crazy this reasoning is?

    I guess people are crazy, then, since union membership has been in a steady decline as a percentage of the workforce for nearly two generations.

    However, if you realize that employers are in a vastly stronger bargaining position than employes then it’s easy to understand why unions, absent government protections, decline.

    Except, of course, that unions have enjoyed government protection throughout the period of their decline. The laws on union organizing haven’t, as far as I know, changed in favor of employers. Most people credit the decline not to nefarious employer influence on government, but to structural changes in the workplace.

    The problem here may be definitional, MNG. It sounds like you are defining an adequate level of government support for unions as one that allows them to hold or grow their membership.

  11. Obama is pro-labor. We knew that before he won his first primary. He will attempt to use the government to advance the causes of labor. We knew that too. What concerns me the most is that “labor” is against world trade. The Mexican truck driver prohibition isw, I’m afraid a harbinger of things to come. Tariffs and retaliation from our trading partners are a real danger given Obama’s lovefest with trade unions who are notorious boosters of restricting market access.

  12. The government is propping up inefficient, failed companies, with taxpayers’ money. This sort of “investment” would ordinarily be contingent on wringing the inefficiencies out of the business operation, in order to be able to provide a desirable and affordable product to consumers, and to produce the product at a cost which is less than the selling price.

    However, political lobbying on the part of unions prevents economically rational decisions from being made. The government is actively blocking plans to import cars from foreign operations where they can be produced more efficiently, in order to “save” jobs.

    Fuck the unions.

  13. What is the name of the law which prevents a union from buying up the stock of a company and running it as an employee-owned entity?

  14. “I guess people are crazy, then”

    Either they are crazy (the conclusion suggested if libertarian ideas about employee-employer bargaining are accepted) or they are scared to join unions (the conclusion suggested by my line of thought). That was my point.

    “Except, of course, that unions have enjoyed government protection throughout the period of their decline. The laws on union organizing haven’t, as far as I know, changed in favor of employers.”

    Actually the do change depending on the composition of the NLRB and the courts. But they don’t have to change: conditions for management can change and they can not keep up and you can get a greater advantage for management relative to labor.

  15. …the playing field is not level when they bargain to reach a “voluntary” mutually beneficial contract.

    …nor should it be level. The greater risk is taken by the employer spending their capital, managing for profit, and pleasing customers than by a potential or existing employee who has only himself, a more fluid actor, to worry about. An employee on his own can leave the company or move for advancement within. The company has much more to deal with when making any decision that affects potentially thousands of employees and millions of customers.

  16. “However, political lobbying on the part of unions prevents economically rational decisions from being made.”

    Yeah P Brooks, it was those unions representing the AIG employees that got them propped up.

  17. Libertarians say the government forces them on people, which is interesting since the average union worker has higher wages and benefits than the average non-union worker. So according to libertarians unions will decline because the average worker doesn’t like higher wages and benefits.

    Unions encourage companies to use higher skilled/higher paid workers at the expense of more unskilled workers. Good for workers with higher skills, older workers with seniority, or people who already have jobs. Bad for people with less skills and education, younger workers, workers with less seniority, or people without a job.

    Unions are inevitably strongest among highly educated and skilled professionals, like in lawyers’ and doctors’ professional societies, or pilots’ unions. those who cannot be easily replaced. Yes, MNG, I consider the ABA and AMA as pernicious unions as wel.

    Strengthening unions, on balance, hurts those at the bottom of the scale and helps a certain segment of the upper middle class.

    What is the name of the law which prevents a union from buying up the stock of a company and running it as an employee-owned entity?

    Nothing does this, of course. Quite a few companies have been run such. Of course, it still ends up fracturing into haves and have-nots even among the union members.

  18. “The greater risk is taken by the employer spending their capital”

    The laborer who cannot find work starves, so they have a pretty big risk involved…

    Usually the employer just has one less mansion if they fail.

  19. “Libertarians say the government forces them on people, which is interesting since the average union worker has higher wages and benefits than the average non-union worker. So according to libertarians unions will decline because the average worker doesn’t like higher wages and benefits. See how crazy this reasoning is?”

    You’re ignoring how a union achieves higher wages. It does this by restricting the easy entry and exit of workers into the firm, the infamous “closed shop”. This essentially creates a cartel of laborers for which there are restriction on joining, giving them monopolistic power in joining their workforce. This reduces the total amount of labor put in by the firm and reduces the amount of employment there.

    So no, unions don’t really help “regular workers” since they don’t allow for people who would like to join the workforce but can’t.

  20. So yes the employer usually has more capital at stake, but that’s largely because they had much more capital to begin with. The widow’s penny is worth more to her than the wealthy man’s 100 bill is to him.

  21. Except, of course, that unions have enjoyed government protection throughout the period of their decline.

    Like everything else, if unions had to compete with other unions in the workplace they would probably be stronger. I certainly wouldn’t be so against unions if my entire experience with them wasn’t trying to work around restrictive, inefficient rules.

    My guess is that the laws against union competition are a secret plot by capitalists to kill the unions.

  22. “Either they are crazy (the conclusion suggested if libertarian ideas about employee-employer bargaining are accepted) or they are scared to join unions (the conclusion suggested by my line of thought). That was my point.”

    Or they just don’t see a lot of value in the union. My first job was bagging groceries at the local supermarket. I earned minimum wage, and out of this the union took $.25 cents an hour. So post-union wages I was earning below minimum wage. Exactly what value did the union provide me?

    If I had been given the choice I clearly would have opted out, but it was a union shop and I had no choice but to pay the dues.

    As I have gone forward in my professional career, I have just seen no need to join a union. I would a thousand times rather work for a profitable growing entity, where there exists opportunities for me to share in the success of the business, rather than trying to extract benefits from a shrinking pie at a closed union shop.

  23. MikeM
    If you live in city X and firm A offers you a job at 50,000 a year but in the same city union employees get 60,000 for the same work from a collective bargaining agreement with firm B that in itself gives you leverage to ask for more (and prods the company to offer you more in the first place). Just having unions around helps out other workers in that way.

  24. I don’t think anyone should be scared to join a union nor should they be scared not to. Employers have been known to harrass or fire people and unions have been known to harrass or harm people. Neither should be tolerated for a simple act of assembly or avoidance of such assembly. I think a problem lies in the fact that the NLRB can determine whether or not a company must bargain with a union, which the company may not want, so they resort to such unacceptable tactics, but unions feel compelled to get people to join in any manner they can to force the company to comply with the NLRB requirement. Both sides are influenced by the government agency to the detriment of the individual worker who wishes to remain independent. As usual, the government caused the problem to a certain degree.

  25. The widow’s penny is worth more to her than the wealthy man’s 100 bill is to him.

    Very nice, Mister Dickens. Maybe you could write a book. You could call it Hard Times.

  26. lc
    I’m a professional as well, and not in a union. People like us, our skills help guarantee we are treated and compensated well. But were to lack those employers would not give us these things out of the pure goodness of their heart. We could compel them to give us more of those things if we banded together, for obvious reasons (employers need 100 workers more than they need any 1 who threatens to strike, walk out, quite, etc). Of course, if we wanted even more goodies than we currently get them logic would suggest we could more easily get them were we to band together, i.e., unionize…

  27. “Like everything else, if unions had to compete with other unions in the workplace they would probably be stronger.”

    Unions don’t compete with other unions for labor representation? Dude, many big labor cases have been one union suing another for unfair practices.

  28. “Very nice, Mister Dickens. Maybe you could write a book.”

    Hey Captian Literature, that’s from the Bible, Mark 12:42-44.

  29. “You can’t treat the working man this way! One of these days we’ll form a union, and get the fair and equitable treatment we deserve! Then we’ll go too far, and become corrupt and shiftless, and the Japanese will eat us alive!”

  30. “MikeM
    If you live in city X and firm A offers you a job at 50,000 a year but in the same city union employees get 60,000 for the same work from a collective bargaining agreement with firm B that in itself gives you leverage to ask for more (and prods the company to offer you more in the first place). Just having unions around helps out other workers in that way.”

    Incorrect, in this case you would have to accept 50,000 a year because you would have less opportunity to join firm A and receive 60,000 a year. If the firms were competing for some kind of specialized worker that requires licensing, it’s likely that both firms would unionize in much the same way that there are pilot, lawyer, doctor, and plumbers unions. If the workers are less skilled, than firm B would have an edge on firm A and drive it out of business.

    Unions are most successful in public sector and specialized skills. There are some exceptions, but those industries seem to be losing their profitability (auto).

  31. The laborer who cannot find work starves, so they have a pretty big risk involved…

    Usually the employer just has one less mansion if they fail.

    He starves if there is no union? Really? If there is NO job anywhere for this person he must be a candidate for charity. Hopefully that charity would not just feed and shelter him, but teach him a marketable skill as well.

    The actuality is that if there was no union, the company is still going to need employees, but they can be paid a market value for their service. In fact, the company may be more profitable and able to grow so as to hire even more workers and if there is a shortage of available help, the existing staff will probably get salary increases and other benefits to make sure they don’t leave the company.

    Why does the employer owe the worker more than his market value in pay and benefits? A glut of able workers lowers wages, MNG, not necessarily the employers greed.

  32. “restrictive, inefficient rules”

    These rules are like what any strong bargaining entity asks for when they contract. I mean, when I interviewed with my employer he offered me a salary and a certain amount of paid vacation/leave and I negotiated with him to get a higher one and more paid vacation/leave. Now, it was “inefficient” for me to push for that because the company would be more productive if it paid me less for the same work and had me not take that time off with pay, but it also would have been more “efficient” for me to agree to work for bread and water and to live at the firm…Unions have rules about, say, how many pipes they can be required to carry or how many people are needed to lift something, etc.. These are things they bargained for and got. It’s only “inefficient” if our measure has to be “how possibly productive could this enterprise be?” This is the problem with measuring these kinds of things from the viewpoint of abstract “efficiency.”

  33. “I’m a professional as well, and not in a union. People like us, our skills help guarantee we are treated and compensated well. But were to lack those employers would not give us these things out of the pure goodness of their heart. We could compel them to give us more of those things if we banded together, for obvious reasons (employers need 100 workers more than they need any 1 who threatens to strike, walk out, quite, etc). Of course, if we wanted even more goodies than we currently get them logic would suggest we could more easily get them were we to band together, i.e., unionize…”

    I am not sure about that. There are lots of blue collar workers with very valuable skills that employers would never think about annoying. Try finding a skilled journeyman lineman to build high-voltage electrical transmission lines.

    I think that it is tremendously insulting to blue-collar workers to claim that their skills are completely fungible and employers could replace them at will, and that white collar skills are so much more irreplacable. I in fact, believe the opposite. A lot of white-collar professionals I know seem to be primarily good at writing emails, whereas skilled blue-collar workers can actually do things.

    Low-skill high wage blue collar workers from previously protected industries are definitely at risk, but I would definitely not put all blue-collar workers in the same category.

  34. “Then we’ll go too far, and become corrupt and shiftless”

    Oh, I don’t defend corrupt and shiftless unions. In our society unions would be fools not to realize that they goose that lays they eggs they need should not be killed or harmed for some dumbass short term benefit to the unions, because then there are no more eggs. I’m not defending stupid unions anymore than I bet you’d defend stupid entrepeneurs or corporations…

    “Unions are most successful in public sector and specialized skills.”

    Where people are less scared of their employees, yes. As I said, the more equal the bargaining power of the worker, the more likely they are to entertain the idea of a union if offered.

    As to our argument over how unions give their members better average pay/benefits, I would say that empirical studies have demonstrated the effect of unions simple existence on the pay/benefits of non-union workers. It’s common sense really, but if you need to see the studies a good place to start is the work of Harvard Economist Richard Freeman (a good start is What Unions Do?).

  35. “He starves if there is no union?”

    No Nick, sorry if I was unclear. I mean that if an employer loses out on a venture then they usually have plenty of capital to make it, but a worker without a job will starve. So a job is usually more important to a worker than a venture is to an employer.

    “Why does the employer owe the worker more than his market value in pay and benefits?” We don’t want to beg the question. Lots of things set the “market value;” one of those things is the bargaining power of both parties interested in buying/selling the thing, and I’m saying unions help one side of that equation bargain better, thereby setting the very market value of their product (labor) which you want to use to deny their use of it (unions) to shape it (their MV)

  36. In our society unions would be fools not to realize that they goose that lays they eggs they need should not be killed or harmed for some dumbass short term benefit to the unions, because then there are no more eggs.

    So, I think MNG and I agree that the UAW is run by fools.

  37. lc
    I’m not sure how you got that out of my post. Of course more skilled workers, whether blue or white collar, have greater bargaining power relative to less skilled workers, whether blue or white collar. My point was that while the skilled worker can compel better treatment without a union than the less skilled worker, and thus may think unions offer little, all of the above would increase their bargaining power through unionization, but that the latter, less powerful folks, being more scared of losing their jobs from management opposition to unionization, are less likely to push for it (hence the decline there).

  38. Either they are crazy (the conclusion suggested if libertarian ideas about employee-employer bargaining are accepted) or they are scared to join unions

    Why would they be scared to join unions? Is there some history that the unions charge more than they deliver? Could it be that working in an antagonistic environment isn’t pleasing? If the employers are making actual threats other than cutting jobs, isn’t that grounds for lawsuits?

    People are scared to join unions because the union is now a worse master than the employer.

  39. RC
    I agree absolutely. The only bigger fools I can think of recently than the UAW management are the Big Three management. And worse: the UAW workers I support have in a large way only themselves to blame since the UAW is at least in theory a democracy…

  40. “Could it be that working in an antagonistic environment isn’t pleasing?”

    Oh c’mon, labor-management antagonism pre-dates unions, and certainly exists in non-union segments.

    “If the employers are making actual threats other than cutting jobs”

    Threatening to cut jobs, wages, benefits, etc., are exactly what people have unions to fight. You see, to most people job security, higher wages and better benefits are very important to them. Of course if unions are not related to these then they are as useless as tits on a boar…

  41. This video is like a collective stutter (apologies to real stutterers out there). Think of Foghorn Leghorn in slow motion: “I, I, I, I, I s-s-s-s-say sup-sup-sup-support the, the, the, the em-em-em-em-ploy-ploy-ee fr-fr-fr-free ch-ch-ch-choice a-a-a-act.” I know that’s not on the topic of discussion, but having actors repeat each other over and over again to say something simple is kind of creepy.

  42. I’m a professional as well, and not in a union. People like us, our skills help guarantee we are treated and compensated well.”

    I derived my argument from the above statement. The implication being that those with skills are professional, and thus white-collar. If I misunderstood you I apologize.

    However, I still think the point is a bit off.

    Unions do not permanently protect jobs. If there is a change in administration, or public policy low-quality workers will again find themselves in a poor position. One should certainly not assume a certain policy regime indefinitely.

    Only skills protect jobs.

    If you are an employee that produces more marginal value than your cost, you will in the end find a job. This might take a while, given the current cyclical state of the economy, but is the only thing that provides job protection in the long-term. Not political patronage.

  43. “Except, of course, that unions have enjoyed government protection throughout the period of their decline.

    Indeed so.

    In fact a system of anything other than pure freedom of contract (a right that has been infringed for employers) counts as government protection. Employers should be just as free to refuse to negotiate with labor unions and to hire replacement workers any time they see fit as employees are to attempt to form a union.

    And of course there is all the other protectionist legislation such as import quotas and tarrifs that favor unions and their employers at the expense of the consuming public whose choices are arfiticially restricted.

  44. “The laborer who cannot find work starves, so they have a pretty big risk involved…”

    Total Bullshit. Only an idiot can’t find free food in America. My 5-mile bus ride home from work goes by three different churches and organizations that advertise free meals and groceries. There are also food shelves and food stamps. Again, only an idiot can’t find free food in America.

  45. “The widow’s penny is worth more to her than the wealthy man’s 100 bill is to him.”

    The richest group of people in America are widows.

  46. Hampton
    All that free food out there, I guess you don’t give a shit if you lose your job or keep it? Oh you do? Well, if you think on why you get my point.

    I was making a more abstract point about the importance of the job to the worker than the venture to the employer. But if it makes your cunty self feel better I can restate it like this: “the laborer who cannot find work must go on the dole or starve, so they have a pretty big risk involved.” See, my point isn’t lessened much, now is it? Which kinda demonstrates that you didn’t get it.

  47. If political elections were like union representation elections the Democrats could require you to attend pro-Democrat rallies every day until the night before the election

    True, and this is a bad thing. I would support changing the NLRA to prevent this.

    could ban other parties from coming to talk to you about their side

    They can only ban union reps from talking to you at the job site. This is akin to the banning electioneering at a poll site, which is actually the law in most states so I don’t see how it’s so bad.

    and threaten to take your job away if you vote for anyone other than them.

    This would be an egregious violation of the existing NLRA and would result in sanctions against the employer. True, the Labor Board is scattershot in its enforcement, but it makes more sense to clean up the existing system rather than doing away with the secret ballot.

  48. “In fact a system of anything other than pure freedom of contract (a right that has been infringed for employers) counts as government protection.”

    Of course the NLRA simply requires employers to sit down and negotiate in good faith with recognized unions. They can say no to whatever. So I’m not sure how much that contract freedom has been restricted.

    But of course we have all kinds of restrictions on “freedom to contract” even in Libertopia. Kids and insane people have protections. Why is that? Because we know that while they may say the magic words “I agree” their agreement is in some sense not voluntary. Other protections are based on the same idea, but they use economic need rather than immaturity or instability of mind as the reason why true voluntariness is not present. But it’s the same principle.

    But that’s all pretty nuanced for someone like The Gilbert Martin, Man of Black and White Views (c).

    “In fact a system of anything other than pure freedom of contract (a right that has been infringed for employers) counts as government protection.”

    BTW Gilbert, how can you physically prove this ;)?

  49. Oh c’mon, labor-management antagonism pre-dates unions, and certainly exists in non-union segments.

    Oh, c’mon, we’re talking about TODAY not 100 years ago.

  50. Thrice Sayer
    I agree some of what I’m worried about is already against the law, and I agree that enforcement is scattershot (and ineffective), that’s partly my concern.

    I think if the employer can mandate employees have to go to anti-union rallies then the union should be allowed access to the employees on the site where the election is to be held (though not on election day, that would be analgous to the electioneering bans you speak of).

    I’m not opposed to just reforming the current system as an alternative to card check, so I’m not sure we have much to argue about.

  51. “Oh c’mon, labor-management antagonism pre-dates unions, and certainly exists in non-union segments.

    Oh, c’mon, we’re talking about TODAY not 100 years ago.”

    Maybe that’s right finger (though I’ve seen plenty labor-management anatagonism in my 40 years all in non-union settings), but I also want to make sure we are not moving BACK towards that 100 years ago.

  52. Speaking of laborer protection, I’m going to have see my International Brotherhood of Liberal Bloggers rep because I’ve been at this debate too long without a break. WTF is Tony? Tony it’s time for your freaking shift! I’m going on strike, at least as long as it takes to eat lunch. Enjoyed the debate dudes, later

  53. I’m always confused when I see libertarians somehow exempt unions from the free market system. I fail to understand how corporate interest groups are a necessary evil of a capitalist undertaking, but unions are spiteful parasites that must be excised from the same.

    To those who have pointed out that unions sometimes enjoy favored protections, your point is conceded and these are undesirable. That said, you have to take this to its logical extreme – either unions should be free to form and defend their own interests without burden (just like a corporation, ideally), or both they and their corporate counterparts should be regulated to some extent. But you can’t have your cake and eat it too, which is the classic libertarian point of view.

  54. “Of course the NLRA simply requires employers to sit down and negotiate in good faith with recognized unions. They can say no to whatever. So I’m not sure how much that contract freedom has been restricted.”

    Bullshit.

    Freedom of contract includes a right to refuse to negotiate at all. It also includes a right to hire replacement workers or shut the plant down and move it overseas with no government interference whatsoever. All these freedom of contract rights are interfered with by the government.

    “BTW Gilbert, how can you physically prove this ;)?”

    I just did.

    Whenever I say it, that makes it so.

  55. “I can see the day coming when even your home garden
    Is gonna be against the law.”

    I wonder if he is talking about how Monsanto is using their connections to send SWAT teams out arresting guys trying to clean seeds for farmers?

    In the UK buying too many seeds gets you in trouble witht he law now.

  56. “But if it makes your cunty self feel better I can restate it like this”

    Christ what a classist asshole.

    I’m outta here.

    BTW, the poor are infinately better off than the rich because unlike the poor, the rich can’t delude themselves with the comfort that all their troubles would simply disappear if only they had more money.

  57. “the laborer who cannot find work must go on the dole or starve, so they have a pretty big risk involved.”

    I’d rather starve for a week than lose $35,000,000.00 in a bad investment.

    — no url today in order to protect the working man. 😉

  58. I’m not opposed to just reforming the current system as an alternative to card check, so I’m not sure we have much to argue about.

    My point is, tightening up enforcement of the existing NLRA (including violations by those on the union side) and writing some sort of equal time provision into the law produces far less in the way of negative side-effects, compared to getting rid of secret ballots. If you don’t have a problem with the minor reforms I’m speaking of, how can you possibly support getting rid of the secret ballot?

  59. “I think if the employer can mandate employees have to go to anti-union rallies then the union should be allowed access to the employees on the site where the election is to be held (though not on election day, that would be analgous to the electioneering bans you speak of).”

    If this is during paid work hours, the employee has no real gripe. If this is UNPAID then I agree.

  60. “That said, you have to take this to its logical extreme – either unions should be free to form and defend their own interests without burden (just like a corporation, ideally), or both they and their corporate counterparts should be regulated to some extent. But you can’t have your cake and eat it too, which is the classic libertarian point of view.

    I heartily agree with this. However, this also means that

    – I am not obligated to join a union if I take a particular job (no closed union shops).

    – The employer is free to fire every striking union member if they go on strike.

    – If I think a particular union is doing a poor job negotiating with my employer, I am free to start up a competing union (with minimal interference) within the same company

  61. Obama is a slave to Big Labor. He was bought and paid for.

  62. But you can’t have your cake and eat it too, which is the classic libertarian point of view.

    I eat your cake. I eat it up!

  63. Look for me in 3.5 years when Huckabee is the next POTUS.

  64. MNG, do you support this?

    The administration has rolled back transparency rules that require unions to more extensively report their finances, executive compensation and potential conflicts of interest every year. The Labor Department said “it would not be a good use of resources” to require this.

    The Obama administration’s first proposed budget calls for cutting the budget of the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, which investigates unions on behalf of workers, to $41 million, down from $45 million last year….

  65. “I’m always confused when I see libertarians somehow exempt unions from the free market system. I fail to understand how corporate interest groups are a necessary evil of a capitalist undertaking, but unions are spiteful parasites that must be excised from the same.”

    I don’t think you grasp libertarian. Corporate interest groups in the mold of rent seeking corporations are considered as evil or more than private unions who collectively bargain with their employers. Yes, Lockheed Martin, AIG, BofA and others big ag business are all considered evil by libertarians.

    The problem is that modern unions require heavy state intervention to insure that they can conduct the activities lc mentioned a few posts up from mine. The result is forced coercion by the state into joining a corrupt and inefficient cartel.

  66. The fact is that while average hourly wages may be higher for union workers many factors conspire to make it so in reality they have few advantages over union workers.

    In the building trades for example high skilled workers cand and do demand wages higher than their union counterparts while lesser skilled workers often gain by getting to work more hours. And not having to pay dues and checkoffs (voluntary..yeah..right) can mean extra money in the pocket.

    For the mosty part the old line unions today are part of the fund raising machinery of the Democratic party and nothing more.

    And anyone who denies the existence of intimidation by unions (slashed tires and other vandalism as well as threats of violence to persons) during labor disputes just hasn’t been around unions, except maybe the pussy public service unions who don’t have to “negotiate” anyway since their “management” are captive political hacks who will simply roll over to thier demands to begin with.


  67. Usually the employer just has one less mansion if they fail.

    Bullshit, and you know it. Most employers are small business owners.

  68. The widow’s penny is worth more to her than the wealthy man’s 100 bill is to him.

    Also bullshit. The penny still only buys a penny’s worth of stuff.

    At most, with dimishing returns, the 10000:1 ratio is reduced to 8000:1 or something.

    So the $100 bill is still worth a hell of a lot more.

  69. Hey Captian Literature, that’s from the Bible, Mark 12:42-44.

    Nope, her gift was greater, not that it was worth more.


  70. So a job is usually more important to a worker than a venture is to an employer.

    Also, also Bullshit. ***MOST*** employers put everything (or more) that they own into a business…at least at startup. When (most do) it fails, just like the employee, they have to find another way to buy food, and usually with extra debt piled on top.


  71. Of course the NLRA simply requires employers to sit down and negotiate in good faith with recognized unions. They can say no to whatever. So I’m not sure how much that contract freedom has been restricted.

    Negotiating in bad faith is a fundamental right. No seriously, I mean it.

  72. That said, you have to take this to its logical extreme – either unions should be free to form and defend their own interests without burden (just like a corporation, ideally), or both they and their corporate counterparts should be regulated to some extent. But you can’t have your cake and eat it too, which is the classic libertarian point of view.

    I dont think anyone is arguing anything different. As long as I, as an employer, have the right to fire anyone for any reason (or none) whatsoever and have no “good faith” obligations, I have no problem with unions.

  73. Interestingly, it seems that most libertarians are more likely to support the MLBPA vs other unions, while for the “common working man”, the opposite is true.

    Not sure why the stereotypical blue collar guy supports the billionaires over the millionaires.

    I understand the libertarian position, the MLBPA tends to push towards a more free labor market, while the owners have had a tendency to treat players as chattel.

  74. it seems that most libertarians are more likely to support the MLBPA vs other unions, while for the “common working man”, the opposite is true.

    I dunno. The MLBPA is only making sure they get a chunk of the taxpayer pie. The more they extract, the more likely ownership goes begging at the public trough again. GM et al gave the UAW what they demanded, then GM extorted money from state governments with the threat of job loss. The UAW and the MLBPA know this going into it.

    I don’t know what libertarians as a whole think, nor do I know what the common working man thinks. All I know is codependency is dysfunctional, harmful, and unsustainable.

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