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No One Who Works Indoors Needs a Union

Happy Labo(u)r Day from the Great White North — where our unions are just as powerful, corrupt, and counterproductive as yours, America!

by
Kathy Shaidle

Bio

September 1, 2013 - 11:00 pm

Canada-Labor-Day-Printable-Flag-Wallpaper

Yep, we “celebrate” Labo(u)r Day up here in Canada, too.

Like most Americans, we don’t spend much time that day musing about the Haymarket Riot or dialectical materialism.

Instead, drinking beer and sleeping in top most “to do” lists.

Organized labor can still get out the crowds when it feels so inclined:

Verizon wants to break into the Canadian market, and a few thousand Big Labor types marched up Yonge Street last week to complain.

Meanwhile, the other two-thirds of the nation’s workforce either don’t care about this issue or welcome the competition.

(Canadians are notoriously cheap: We love complaining about our high cellphone charges even though they’re actually lower than U.S. rates.)

Anyway, Brian Lilley is among those asking whether labor unions are (mostly) obsolete, especially since union leaders seem far more focused on influencing party politics and public policy than they are on, say, workplace safety.

Like most “progressive” outfits who long ago achieved their original goals, labor unions are palpably desperate to remain relevant.

Lilley hails from my steel-mill hometown, so he’s been around union folks all his life.

Today, he says:

…unions aren’t for the workers anymore, they’re for the union bosses.

My father worked his whole life in a union and retired a proud union man.

The outfit he belonged to has faced some tough questions lately over outrageous salaries for the top executives, cushy jobs for family members and precious little for the membership. In fact, it sounds to me like they’ve become the people they were fighting against.

Is there a “conservative” or libertarian argument for organized labor unions?

Make your case in the comments — that is, if you actually feel like doing some work today.


(KATHY SHAIDLE is a blogging pioneer who runs FiveFeetOfFury, now in its 14th year. She's been called "one of the great virtuoso polemicists of our time," by MARK STEYN. Her NEW book is Confessions of A Failed Slut (Thought Catalog, 2014).

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
What's obsolete is lefty idiots like you. I'm sure you're in some useless mouth job or maybe even a union job protected by a government sanctioned monopoly. Maybe you're even being paid to be a lefty shill.

Having dealt with them most of my adult life, I don't really have trouble with unions qua unions. I have a LOT of trouble with unions as socialist workers' parties led by open communists buying governments and looting the taxpayers. See, e.g., California, Detroit, and a growing host of cities, counties, and states. See, also, the fact that there is no true private sector unionization. Private sector unions really only exist in the "Third Sector" of business that lives off government funding, requires extensive and controversial permitting, or which is heavily regulated.

Unions didn't make the US middle class; the War Labor Board did and the fact that the US had an industrial monopoly for nearly thirty years after WWII preserved the middle class the War built. Unions got behind and stayed behind FDR and the Democrats and like lefties always do, rode the thing right into the ground. They've had a bit of a revival of their power with public sector unionization but unless they and their "made man" Comrade Obama succeed in stealling all future elections the backlash will be just as strong maybe even stronger than it was in 1948.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've had the opportunity to look at unionization from both sides and from a position high enough to see most of the landscape. I worked union in Pipeline Era Alaska and came to work for a union both as an officer and steward and as paid staff. The oil price crash and the resultant bad economy combined with a divorce drove me into the arms of State government in '87 as a technocrat representing the State in dealing with its unionized employees. Alaska's employees became unionized by law in '72 and the first contracts came into effect in '74, which also is the year that construction began on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and one of the biggest booms in modern history kicked off. Alaska's labor policy had been ask them what they want. With the price of North Slope crude tumbling from over $30/bbl. in the early '80s to less than $10/bbl. in the late '80s we had to figure some things out, and we did. We had an almost two decade war with our unions under both Democrat and Republican governors. Until recent events in WI and MI, we were the only unionized state that actually and consistently had an adversarial relationship with its unionized employees. So, I know something about unions.

The fundamental problem with unionized workforces is not their right to bargain collectively over wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment (those are the words from most bargaining laws defining the duty to bargain). It is not the union qua union that makes private companies uncompetitive and makes governments corrupt and inefficient. It is the union as de facto political party, a party with the power to compell contributions in half the states, that destroys competitiveness and corrupts governments. Even the New Dealers who wrote the National Labor Relations Act saw the potential for problems with the political power inherent in an organized workforce and they prohibited unions from making political contributions from dues. Of course, the unions all formed what we now call PACS to make legal contributions and skirted and often broke the law to engage in politics with dues money. Once they kept the fig leaf of member education with dues money but in the last couple of decades, well, since the Clinton Administration, they haven't even bothered with the fig leaf.

Union excesses, abuses, illegal strikes, general bad behavior, and open communism led to an almost immediate post-war backlash in the form of the 1948 Taft-Hartley Amendments to the Act, which was re-named the Labor-Management Relations Act. The Landrum-Griffen amendments in the mid-50s were an attempt to further rein in abuses and corruption. The provisions of the law restricting union abuses and corruption are not enforced at all in Democrat administrations and hardly enforced in Republican federal administrations . Fundamentally, Republicans don't know how to run governments so they applique on a few high-level appointees and leave the rest of the workforce in the hands of Democrats. The USDOL, the NLRB, and the FMCS are AFL-CIO chattel and it doesn't much matter which party controls the Congress and White House.

About half the states countenance public employee bargaining as a creature of state and local laws, most of which are roughly based on the federal law. Few if any states have even the ineffective regulation of unions that the federal government has. Most public employee unions aren't unions at all as that term would have meaning under the federal law, but rather are state-chartered non-profit corporations subject only to the meager regulation of other non-profits. If you give a public employee union both full bargaining rights and full political rights, which most have, they almost immediately become a socialist workers party with the right to compel contributions and almost as quickly they own the government their members work for. The only exception is where there is some other powerful force competing for poltical power. I assure you, the one party not at the bargaining table is the ordinary citizen. My state runs on oil and the Oil Bidness don't like taxes, so they keep an eye on what State government does. When I was head of LR I often felt like I had Saul Alinsky on one side of me and the Governor General of the British East India Company on the other.

Actually enforcing the law would clean up most of the worst problems in the private sector. Even though it's a lot like slamming the door on people coming along behind me because I've made a good living off public employee bargaining, I would outlaw public sector bargaining altogether and I would go back to the orginal intent of limitations on public employee political activity. For my part, the only political right or right to political speech a public employee should have is the right to cast an individual ballot.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (17)
All Comments   (17)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
Is there a libertarian case for labor unions. Obviously there is on the simple basis of freedom of association. Of course, that argument fails to extend, rather obviously, to the initiation of force, fraud or coercion, by either the union, the employer, or both, towards the other. The union is free to strike if they so choose, and the employer is free to hire replacements at a rate that the latter will choose to perform the contracted work for the employer. It all seems rather self-evident to me.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬~ஜ۩۞۩ஜ~▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­▬

my friend's aunt makes $74 hourly on the laptop. She has been laid off for seven months but last month her pay check was $19184 just working on the laptop for a few hours. you can try this out

http://www.Rush60.com

▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬~ஜ۩۞۩ஜ~▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­▬
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
At a local level, if you have one employer with a virtual monopoly on a certain job sector, it could make a certain amount of sense for skilled workers to form their own monopoly to counterbalance the employer.

There's nothing inherently evil about a monopoly at either end; the only issue is what methods are used to sustain it. The problem is that it requires the rule of law to keep people from resorting to coercive tactics, and these days a lot of the police are unionized.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
I"m so sick of union crap that I actively avoid them. A union label is a stain on the brand. If I have an alternative, including made in china crap, I'll take it over union-stained, any day.
I will never buy a union made car. My last car was made in Kentucky, by non-UAW people.
If McDonalds unionizes, I'll never step in the door again.

Why? Obozo-care, SEIU, NEA, the bankruptcy of my home of Detroit, the GM bankruptcy, TARP, the stimulus programs (which have been little more than thinly veiled payoffs to political contributors).

That includes most of the crap from Hollywood, too.

Union = NO SALE. Enjoy!
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
You're obviously not from the PDRO-you left out far too many examples.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
People's Democratic Republic of Obama-tards?
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, unions are obsolete. Employers are so enlightened, altruistic, and generally just a bunch of nice guys these days. I mean, a strong middle class is so over rated.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
What's obsolete is lefty idiots like you. I'm sure you're in some useless mouth job or maybe even a union job protected by a government sanctioned monopoly. Maybe you're even being paid to be a lefty shill.

Having dealt with them most of my adult life, I don't really have trouble with unions qua unions. I have a LOT of trouble with unions as socialist workers' parties led by open communists buying governments and looting the taxpayers. See, e.g., California, Detroit, and a growing host of cities, counties, and states. See, also, the fact that there is no true private sector unionization. Private sector unions really only exist in the "Third Sector" of business that lives off government funding, requires extensive and controversial permitting, or which is heavily regulated.

Unions didn't make the US middle class; the War Labor Board did and the fact that the US had an industrial monopoly for nearly thirty years after WWII preserved the middle class the War built. Unions got behind and stayed behind FDR and the Democrats and like lefties always do, rode the thing right into the ground. They've had a bit of a revival of their power with public sector unionization but unless they and their "made man" Comrade Obama succeed in stealling all future elections the backlash will be just as strong maybe even stronger than it was in 1948.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've had the opportunity to look at unionization from both sides and from a position high enough to see most of the landscape. I worked union in Pipeline Era Alaska and came to work for a union both as an officer and steward and as paid staff. The oil price crash and the resultant bad economy combined with a divorce drove me into the arms of State government in '87 as a technocrat representing the State in dealing with its unionized employees. Alaska's employees became unionized by law in '72 and the first contracts came into effect in '74, which also is the year that construction began on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and one of the biggest booms in modern history kicked off. Alaska's labor policy had been ask them what they want. With the price of North Slope crude tumbling from over $30/bbl. in the early '80s to less than $10/bbl. in the late '80s we had to figure some things out, and we did. We had an almost two decade war with our unions under both Democrat and Republican governors. Until recent events in WI and MI, we were the only unionized state that actually and consistently had an adversarial relationship with its unionized employees. So, I know something about unions.

The fundamental problem with unionized workforces is not their right to bargain collectively over wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment (those are the words from most bargaining laws defining the duty to bargain). It is not the union qua union that makes private companies uncompetitive and makes governments corrupt and inefficient. It is the union as de facto political party, a party with the power to compell contributions in half the states, that destroys competitiveness and corrupts governments. Even the New Dealers who wrote the National Labor Relations Act saw the potential for problems with the political power inherent in an organized workforce and they prohibited unions from making political contributions from dues. Of course, the unions all formed what we now call PACS to make legal contributions and skirted and often broke the law to engage in politics with dues money. Once they kept the fig leaf of member education with dues money but in the last couple of decades, well, since the Clinton Administration, they haven't even bothered with the fig leaf.

Union excesses, abuses, illegal strikes, general bad behavior, and open communism led to an almost immediate post-war backlash in the form of the 1948 Taft-Hartley Amendments to the Act, which was re-named the Labor-Management Relations Act. The Landrum-Griffen amendments in the mid-50s were an attempt to further rein in abuses and corruption. The provisions of the law restricting union abuses and corruption are not enforced at all in Democrat administrations and hardly enforced in Republican federal administrations . Fundamentally, Republicans don't know how to run governments so they applique on a few high-level appointees and leave the rest of the workforce in the hands of Democrats. The USDOL, the NLRB, and the FMCS are AFL-CIO chattel and it doesn't much matter which party controls the Congress and White House.

About half the states countenance public employee bargaining as a creature of state and local laws, most of which are roughly based on the federal law. Few if any states have even the ineffective regulation of unions that the federal government has. Most public employee unions aren't unions at all as that term would have meaning under the federal law, but rather are state-chartered non-profit corporations subject only to the meager regulation of other non-profits. If you give a public employee union both full bargaining rights and full political rights, which most have, they almost immediately become a socialist workers party with the right to compel contributions and almost as quickly they own the government their members work for. The only exception is where there is some other powerful force competing for poltical power. I assure you, the one party not at the bargaining table is the ordinary citizen. My state runs on oil and the Oil Bidness don't like taxes, so they keep an eye on what State government does. When I was head of LR I often felt like I had Saul Alinsky on one side of me and the Governor General of the British East India Company on the other.

Actually enforcing the law would clean up most of the worst problems in the private sector. Even though it's a lot like slamming the door on people coming along behind me because I've made a good living off public employee bargaining, I would outlaw public sector bargaining altogether and I would go back to the orginal intent of limitations on public employee political activity. For my part, the only political right or right to political speech a public employee should have is the right to cast an individual ballot.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
@mzk - I don't know Israeli law, but under US law, the exemption from the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act is purely the work of MicroSoft and its lobbying power in the Clinton Administration. In 1986 in a very graphic example of how bad cases make bad law, the USSC handed down Garcia v. San Antonio which made public employers subject to the 1938 New Deal legislation designed to end some of the worst abuses in the US labor market, the Fair Labor Standards Act. To borrow from Kathy's line, in 1938 not many workers worked "inside" in the sense of office work and most of them worked in management or government. Both management and government were pretty much exempt from the law.

Garcia caused dramatic changes in public workforces both in union and non-union states. There was considerable pushback from non-union states and not particularly agressive action by the USDOL to enforce the newly re-interpreted FLSA under GHWB. Some amendments to the FLSA were made by the Congress either in late GHWB or early WJC. Some a Enter Bill Clinton with Gerald McEntee of AFSCME joined to his hip and the opportunity to have the USDOL write all new FLSA regulations and enforce the law agressively. Enter also the plaintiffs' bar and the unions who saw a gold mine. USDOL went after tech companies very agressively. In one notable case the 9th Circuit referred to MicroSoft employees as "MicroSerfs." The whole thing created a monster by drastically politicizing the heretofore somulent tech sector. Somewhere between all the anti-trust suits and all the other stuff going on with MS in those days, they managed to get either an administrative or professional OT exemption for most programming employees so long as the salary test is met.

From my perspective as a public sector manager, the whole thing was just a shakedown by Democrats and unions. Untold billions of dollars changed hands through back wages claims for unpaid overtime usually going back three years. Since most public employees other than some trades and crafts and law enforcement employees were either OT exempt or their eligibility for OT was based on their salary range, public employers did not keep the kind of time and attendance records necessary for paying hourly employees under the FLSA. The employees' naked assertions that they had worked the hours created the rebuttable presumption that they had worked and the employer had no means to rebut. My small and not particularly union friendly, though unionized, government paid out tens of milions of dollars in settlements and consent decrees in the '90s. Easily two-thirds of the claims were fraudulent, but we had no real means to rebut them and since we had a Democrat governor for most of the '90s weren't willing to make it too hard on the unions and the plaintiffs' attornies.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Instead, drinking beer and sleeping in top most “to do” lists."

You forgot the grilling. At least in America, it's a grilling-with-the-neighbors kind of day. Well, maybe you live in a city apartment and can't grill ... sympathies, then.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
In a better world, unions would simply be a cooperative way for employees to negotiate with employers. They would be an explicit business. They would provide a service (labor for employers, and negotiating leverage for the employees) for a price (better salaries/safety measures from employers and union dues from employees).

If we want more equitable unions without robber baron union bosses, then we should be moving toward a more free labor market. If unions needed to compete with non-unionized labor (and other unions/employee representatives) then they would need to drop all that fat they give the bosses.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
BTW, it's nice to know that with Labor day being more or less the de facto American New Year, that the US also follows the Jewish Calendar.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
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