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Tilting at Windmills

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September 25, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

UNIONBUSTING CONFIDENTIAL....Art Levine dons a false moustache and crashes the gates at a seminar designed to teach managers how to keep unions at bay. Sample advice:

What if we simply wanted to fire union organizers? That was possible to do, said Stief, as long as you were careful to do so for other reasons. "Union sympathizers aren't entitled to any more protection than other workers," he explained. But the firing could not be linked to their union activity.

What if we felt like saying a lot of anti-union stuff to our workers? Lotito introduced a segment called "You Can Say It." Could we tell our workers, for instance, that a union had held strike at a nearby facility only to find that all the strikers had been replaced — and that the same could happen to the employees here? Sure, said Lotito. "It's lawful." He added, "What happens if this statement is a lie? They didn't have another strike, there were no replacements? It's still lawful: The labor board doesn't really care if people are lying."

The rest of the story is here.

Kevin Drum 2:01 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (75)

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Comments

For Republicans, "work" is a four-letter derogatory!

Posted by: Dan on September 25, 2007 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

False moustache? I doubt it - everybody knows that facial hair is a give-away for having socialist tendencies...

Posted by: Cheney's Third Nipple on September 25, 2007 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

I'll save Al/egbert, et al. the effort...

Only workers in Communist countries like Poland need unions. But now there aren't any more Communist countries, except North Korea and Cuba, where there aren't any workers because there's no work.

(China, however, is communist and doesn't need unions, but that's a special case.)
Ronald Reagan proved all of this.
Should save a few minutes. Posted by: Davis X. Machina on September 25, 2007 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Those of us who drive non-union Toyotas and Hondas rather than union-made Fords or GMs would be hypocritical if we claimed to support unions. Businesses with international competition cannot afford to be unionized.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 25, 2007 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Just a reminder that union antagonism at the NLRB has continued through GOP and Democratic administrations alike from Reagan on. Sure, Bush II has been the worst, but Clinton as well as the Gipper and Bush I also have shares of blame.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on September 25, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you Davis X. Machina for the effort; however I can only give you a "B". You get an "A" for content, but only a "C" for presentation as you weren't nearly smarmy enough. Very good try and keep up the effort, perhaps we'll be able to do without trolls (real or facsimile) entirely soon.

Posted by: Doug on September 25, 2007 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

I assume we'll see a story about an infiltration of union leadership meetings where we can find out about political deals, tactics against scabs, and laundering cash before pumping it into Democratic coffers.

Posted by: harry on September 25, 2007 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Those of us who drive non-union Toyotas and Hondas rather than union-made Fords or GMs would be hypocritical if we claimed to support unions. Businesses with international competition cannot afford to be unionized.
Posted by: ex-liberal on September 25, 2007 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

But what about my non-union (hecho en Mexico) VW Jetta, diesel, that I fill exclusively with Biodiesel?

If GM or Ford produced an efficient diesel car that could run unmodified on renewable biodiesel - I would buy that.

Wages of workers are important, but not as important as having a planet that can sustain human life.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on September 25, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Another thread, another bad-faith post by "ex-liberal."

Posted by: Gregory on September 25, 2007 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory, I realize you and a few others would be a lot more comfortable with a forum where nobody disagreed with you, but what the heck is "bad faith" in a post?

Posted by: harry on September 25, 2007 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Unions benefit not only the workers at unionized workplaces but also workers at other non-union workplaces where management has made the enlightened decision to fight unions by treating the workers well enough that the won't feel the need to unionize.

This has worked for Honda, Toyota, and the old IBM, among others.

I read that Toyota no longer fears the UAW and will be offering new hires substantially lower wages at some plants.

Posted by: snoey on September 25, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

I realize you and a few others would be a lot more comfortable with a forum where nobody disagreed with you

...and right on cue comes harry, equating out-of-hand dismissal of Republican bullshit with the dreaded "echo chamber." Actually, harry, I'm entirely comfortable with the fact that you, "ex-liberal", and the rest of you dead-ender Bush Cultists keep proving there's no honest way to defend the modern Republican Party, even if your hackneyed bullshit is tiresome.

Posted by: Gregory on September 25, 2007 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Back in the day Gov. Bill Clinton used to go on economic development trips to Chicago and the greater rust bowl frequently -- one of his big selling points, in addition to letting food processors dump chicken guts in the river - was that he had a special division of state troopers that would deal with any pesky labor organizers that came to town. If that attitude was good enough for Bill and Hill, why shouldn't American employers try to stay in business by opposing the parasite union bureaucracy. Leave the dinosaurs in the tar pits, there are different ways to accomplish what unions used to do in this country.

Posted by: minion on September 25, 2007 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter minion: Look! The Clenis!

There you have it, folks -- a dishonest conservatvie trifecta.

Posted by: Gregory on September 25, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

"...and right on cue comes harry, equating out-of-hand dismissal of Republican bullshit with the dreaded "echo chamber." Actually, harry, I'm entirely comfortable with the fact that you, "ex-liberal", and the rest of you dead-ender Bush Cultists keep proving there's no honest way to defend the modern Republican Party, even if your hackneyed bullshit is tiresome."

Actually Gregory I would also like to know what was wrong with ex-liberal's post. Although we may not agree with it, I'm not sure what about it was bad faith, intellectually dishonest, etc. ex-lib seems to be the type of conservative we should most engage in debates. he believes in his side, is willing to engage with real arguments, and debates constructively rather than insults or use intellectually dishonest innuendo.

Posted by: An Anonymous American Patriot on September 25, 2007 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

Leave the dinosaurs in the tar pits, there are different ways to accomplish what unions used to do in this country.
Such as?


Posted by: Bill Arnold on September 25, 2007 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

Businesses with international competition cannot afford to be unionized.
Posted by: ex-liberal on September 25, 2007 at 2:45 PM
----------------------------------------------

That must explain the failure of companies like Toyota and Honda (unionized in Japan) and also-rans like BMW and VW (unionized in Germany).

Presumably the widespread unionization in both countries explains the horror of their large trade surpluses, while we in the United "Right to Work" States enjoy an enormous trade deficit!

Posted by: alex on September 25, 2007 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Between the disenfranchisement of the middle-class and the looming threat of Global warming, America, as is, is pretty much screwed. Until we claim our birthright of a government by the people, both of those 2 trends are pretty much unstoppable. If we really wanna do something bright, to set the stage for the next generation, we should ban any and all corporations, or any for-profit organization at all, from making contributions to politicians. Then put a cap on what any individual can contribute, and you begin to even the playing field. There are only so many ultra rich, and they should have no more of a say then anyone else. If each can only contribute $1000, well then.
With the influence of ultra rich diminished, the forces that bog down effective environmental legislation would be neutered. Same for those lobbyists that peddle influence to favor big corporations. Anyway, just my two cents.

I'm sure this has been thought up and discussed before, but it seems pretty bright to me. I could use some criticism to poke holes in it. It's the only way little ideas grow up into a big cause.

Posted by: Aaron on September 25, 2007 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

Those of us who drive non-union Toyotas and Hondas rather than union-made Fords or GMs would be hypocritical if we claimed to support unions.

GM makes cars in Mexico and Canada. Did you check the label on your car to make sure it wasn't built in a foreign country by non-union labor before you bought it?

We bought a Toyota Corolla, built in California. We were more comfortable having our money go to a foreign company that uses US workers than an American company that builds overseas (even if the "sea" is the Rio Grande).

Posted by: Mnemosyne on September 25, 2007 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

Actually Gregory I would also like to know what was wrong with ex-liberal's post. Although we may not agree with it, I'm not sure what about it was bad faith, intellectually dishonest, etc.

GM and Ford build (some of their) cars in Mexico using non-union labor. That would be the "bad faith" and "intellectually dishonest" parts, if you're not sure.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on September 25, 2007 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

I've read that China's constitution requires that each and EVERY company have a worker's union.

How can they afford that in a world of open trade?

Unions call for more than high wages. They also demand safe working conditions, retirement plans, insurance and vacation time.

Do Repubs argue that the only way to compete is to accept no pay, unsafe work conditions, no retirement, no insurance and no vacations?

Maybe we should "help" Bush & Cheney to compete by offering them no pay, no retirement, no insurance and no jobs. Yea, that's the ticket!

Posted by: MarkH on September 25, 2007 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

This is a complicated subject but it is nice to see at least some call for respectful discussion. Unions did a lot of good things for employees and for our country, and it is true that some non-union employees benefit from the prior achievments of unionized employees. However, it also is true that unions have done some very bad things and, generally speaking, in today's economy unions are seldom needed or a positive force for employees.

By the way, the two snippets quoted by Kevin reflect accurate statements of the law. What the author did not include (and what Kevin almost certainly does not know) is that law firms advise employers never to lie to employees in union organizing campaigns, unions often lie during campaigns, and law firms continuously advise employers that action cannot be taken against employees for pro-union activity.

What is noteworthy is that the guy who attended the seminar does not claim that anyone at the seminar even suggested that employers should violate the law.

Posted by: brian on September 25, 2007 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK

Odd, Dems seem very, very eager to support one of the best forms of union-busting around. Can anyone name the elephant? Would anyone who wishes to remain credible try to claim one of the major reasons there's an elephant here is to avoid unions?

On a more modest scale (at least numerically), some may recall this video from a few months ago. I don't think it was featured here for some reason:

youtube.com/watch?v=TCbFEgFajGU

[Note: WM edits and deletes comments without notice, and this comment will likely be edited or deleted as have many previous comments.]

Posted by: The annoying LonewackoDotCom on September 25, 2007 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

Leave the dinosaurs in the tar pits, there are different ways to accomplish what unions used to do in this country.
Such as?

Ideas about effective management techniques have improved greatly since the 1930's. I live a few counties away from BMW's US facility, and no one would consider their team concept amenable to the old Wagner Act job classification bureaucracy. GM tried the same thing with Saturn, but entrenched interests killed that quickly when it showed promise. Let me turn your question around: what function that unions performed in the golden days do you think are essential now? I'm confident I could point to some better social institution available today that could do the job better, i.e., personal lawyers, OSHA, headhunters and contract negotiators, etc.

Posted by: minion on September 25, 2007 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

contract negotiators

How wonderful that large multinational corporations and individual, middle-class workers both have access to contract negotiators!

If only there were some way for employees to use their leverage collective bargaining power in contract negotiations....

Posted by: Tyro on September 25, 2007 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

I've worked for quite a few companies and have always been payed and treated fairly. Ive been a member of one union and really can't see where I've benefited from it. Just my experience.

It will be interesting to see how the strike against GM turns out. This could well be the beginning of the end for the UAW. Right now the strike is working to GM's benefit. And in the long run it would be best for the company to move production to Mexico. The UAW could be cutting it's own throat.

Posted by: TruthPolitik on September 25, 2007 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

Lonewacko,

Thanks for the link to that video. I followed the link to the website mentioned there. I'm in the IT business, and it's good, (though distressing), to learn about the union-like activism that threatens my industry as well.

I'll be sure to recommend Jackson Lewis whenever this subject comes up on any of the forums I frequent, just in case. Thanks for the heads-up.

TruthPolitik, I hope to god you're right. The very air I breath would seem fresher if there was no more UAW.

Posted by: Kyle Bennett on September 26, 2007 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

"Thanks for the link to that video. I followed the link to the website mentioned there. I'm in the IT business, and it's good, (though distressing), to learn about the union-like activism that threatens my industry as well."

Threatens, yeah right. Would someone please threaten me with better benefits and wages ? I promise I won't fight back.

What's going on here ? Do we have a whole thread hijacked by the trolls again ?

Posted by: OhNoNotAgain on September 26, 2007 at 7:20 AM | PERMALINK

Not a troll, just somebody letting the majority of workers out there, who see through the sham of union parasites, that there's others out there that will stand with them against the more vocal and violent minority. Maybe a few of them will be just a little less reluctant to reject, or even fight against, the unions in their industry.

Posted by: Kyle Bennett on September 26, 2007 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

How is a person who puts in honest labor for a company parasitic?

Posted by: Aaron G. Stock on September 26, 2007 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

I guess a better question is, what is parasitic about collective bargaining by a group of people who put in honest labor for a company?

Posted by: Aaron G. Stock on September 26, 2007 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

It strikes me that the "more vocal and violent minority" Kyle is referring to is the group of executives stealing from the pension fund and cutting the health care.

Posted by: Tyro on September 26, 2007 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Unions are just the free market at work. Groups of people banding together to ensure a better deal in their comercial activities. Why is this any less acceptable than when a company does it?

Posted by: royalblue_tom on September 26, 2007 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

royalblue_tom,
What happens when a company dies from not enough income to survive?

Compare that to what happens to a human being.

Posted by: Aaron G. Stock on September 26, 2007 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

Aaron,

"How is a person who puts in honest labor for a company parasitic?"

He's not. And he's the one most hurt by unions. It's the ones who want more than they're worth that the unions benefit... though the most benefit goes to the union bosses, most of whom have never put in an honest day's work for anyone.

royalblue,

"Unions are just the free market at work."

Are you really that naive? Or just dishonest? It might be so if the unions didn't invoke legal force or even outright violence when their "negotiations" fail to give them what they demand. It's not collective bargaining, it's coercive bargaining.

Posted by: Kyle Bennett on September 26, 2007 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

Well! I learned something today! It was the union organizers calling in the Pinkerton's at Matewan! Thank you for clearing that up for me! My education is now complete!

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 26, 2007 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Kyle,

What about my second question? And is the fact that people can corrupt the labor side of the business equation reason enough to abandon the entire union concept?

Posted by: Aaron G. Stock on September 26, 2007 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Aaron, when a company does not make enough income to survive, it folds. But the employees are forced to find other jobs. When a person does not make enough income to survive, they die. Period.

Of course, companies go bankrupt every day, due to market forces. And their workers lose their jobs. Why would this be a reason not to allow market forces to play out? The employees took that risk when they formed the union, and the owners took that risk when they formed the company.

Posted by: royalblue_tom on September 26, 2007 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Kyle,

"It's the ones who want more than they're worth...."

Ah. Do you believe that this "worth" as a worker is an objective value, beyond the reach of human influence? We may have reached a sticking point if we disagree as to who or what determines absolutely this "worth."

Posted by: Aaron G. Stock on September 26, 2007 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

Kyle, you can't be that naive either. You're making out that the unions are the only abusive actor in the sorry farce that is labor relations today. The employers are just as abusing, due to the combative nature of the me-first culture. But that should mean that both sides get to play nasty on a level playing field.

Your anecdotal evidence can be amply matched with abuse employer tactics (just google).

Posted by: royalblue_tom on September 26, 2007 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl,

Whoever called em, they didn't call enough of 'em.

The history of that is a perfect example of the willingness of unions to use any level of violence - even including murder and armed insurrection - to take by force what is not rightfully theirs.

Posted by: Kyle Bennett on September 26, 2007 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

royalblue_tom,

My apologies for not reading your earlier post properly!

Posted by: Aaron G. Stock on September 26, 2007 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

Whoever called em, they didn't call enough of 'em.

Ah. I love how all the libertarian goons in IT reveal themselves to be harboring a bunch of violent fantasies. What you're really against is that the Pinkerton goons weren't violent enough towards strikers? cripes.

Posted by: Tyro on September 26, 2007 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Aaron,

"is the fact that people can corrupt the labor side of the business equation reason enough to abandon the entire union concept?"

No, the fact that force is incompatible with free markets is enough to abandon the union concept - as we know it today.

If people want to cooperate with each other to better negotiate, that's fine, as long as there's someone willing to negotiate with them. If not, too bad. Leave the law and the violence out of it.

The problem is that unions today are inseparable from the laws that enable them. They've got to go, and then maybe from a clean slate they can start over as civilized organizations.

"Do you believe that this "worth" as a worker is an objective value"

No, his worth (economically speaking - his worth as a person is irrelevant in this context) is what he can get in exchange for his labor on a free market. If the employer would rather not have him work there than pay him what he is demanding, then he has no right to that job at the pay he is demanding. His worth *to that employer* is less than what he wants.

royalblue,

"You're making out that the unions are the only abusive actor"

No, I'm making out that unions are *an* abusive actor, and that their abusive practices are sanctioned by government. Yes, theft and violence by employers does happen, and when it's not self-defense (which most of the more "notorious" cases were), it should be put down hard as well.

But firing someone, or not hiring them in the first place, or hiring someone else instead for less money, is not force. Neither is refusing to negotiate. And, on the other side, neither is refusing to work, or peaceful picketing.

But smashing machinery, blocking access, occupying work floors, threatening scabs, etc., those are all coercive and the people who do those things should be locked up. That goes for legally mandated "good faith" negotiating, legal prevention of firing organizers (or anyone else), legally barring the hiring of replacement workers, etc., etc., etc.

Posted by: Kyle Bennett on September 26, 2007 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Tyro,

You're projecting, it's nearly always the union side that initiates the violence, that has the fantasies about taking the means of production by force.

The strikers in West Virgina, were a violent mob of murderers. Violence is the only proper response. It's not a fantasy, it's a fact of reality.

Posted by: Kyle Bennett on September 26, 2007 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Kyle,

I can accept that the unions use "legal force", but so do the companies (voluminously so). And both sides are government sanctioned within the law. But you can't possibly be suggesting that the government sanctions outright violence. That is pure bombast, and you know it. People performing the violent and criminal actions you have mentioned (such as smashing machinery) have been (and should be) arrested for doing so. Restraining orders have been raised. By that token, Enron, and all the other corporate swindles, show that companies are similarly abusive of the law - they've engaged in fraud and even theft.

Both sides invariably try and bend the rules in place. Some people (on both sides) break the rules without direction from their parent organisation. For example, it is illegal to fire someone for organising a union - but companies still do, and get caught. It is illegal to commit criminal damage.

This is still not a reason to rule against unions any more than it is to rule against companies.

Posted by: royalblue_tom on September 26, 2007 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

"But you can't possibly be suggesting that the government sanctions outright violence. That is pure bombast, and you know it."

No, it isn't explicitly sanctioned. However, history is full of examples where government looked the other way at overt union violence. And what the law does explicitly - even proudly - sanction, while not violent, is still an introduction of force into where it doesn't belong.

I'm speaking of things like picket lines that block access to workplaces, the law against firing organizers, and legally preventing companies from firing strikers and hiring replacements. These are not overtly violent, but they are a violation of the rights of the company in the name of a false claim of rights by the workers - and ultimately, all laws are enforced by the threat of violence.

Yes, there are Enrons in the world, and they were rightly prosecuted. But while those are generally exceptions to the way most companies operate, unions rely entirely on their legal protections to be what they are. Unions primary modus operandi is violence, whether overt or couched in supposedly legitimate legal threats.

Show me an example of companies "voluminously" using legal means for what you think is coercion, and in most cases, it'll be a legal protection of actual rights. Show me an example of a legal right the unions have, and it will almost always be an example of the law giving workers something they have no right to, at the expense of someone else's rights.

Posted by: Kyle Bennett on September 26, 2007 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Kyle,

Read what you're posting. Companies using the law is "legal protection of actual rights" where as the workers rights (as enshrined in law) is "something they have no right to"?

There are many laws that have been passed specifically to benefit companies - start with the DMCA and extensions to copyright durection. You might want to read up on Barratry to see companies relying entirely on their legal protections. Companies are a legal entity, as much as unions. Both rely on their legal protections to be what they are. This is a country of laws.

The law recognises that when a company fires union organisers, they are unfairly prejudicing the comercial activity of the workers in a way unacceptable to the regulated employment market this country supports. You can't have it both ways.

Picket lines that block workplace entry are illegal, and have been broken by the police. And the laws have been overlooked in both directions, not just in the unions favor. You're back in bombast territory again.

Posted by: royalblue_tom on September 26, 2007 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

royalblue,

Yes, the DMCA is an abomination. They also don't apply to this context (though I'm sure if some companies could figure out a way to use the DMCA against the unions, they would).

"You can't have it both ways."

I'm not. Rights precede the law, and most of the laws that unions rely on don't protect pre-existing rights, they create new, false rights while taking away the rights of others. Those laws are immoral. As in:

"The law recognises that when a company fires union organisers, they are unfairly prejudicing the comercial activity of the workers in a way unacceptable to the regulated employment market this country supports."

The law doesn't recognize that, it created it out of whole cloth. It's a meaningless statement used to justify an unjustifiable law.

A company has a right to hire (on mutual agreement), not hire, or fire anyone they want to for any reason. Period. Just as a worker has a right to work for (on mutual agreement), not work for, or stop working for anyone he wants to, for any reason. If the law fails to recognize that, it is the law that is wrong, not the rights that come prior to law.

No one has any rights collectively that they don't have individually. Corporations are also given rights that don't exist for individuals, and they shouldn't have them. But there are none that I know of that apply to labor issues. There, all the bad law is on the side of the union.

"Picket lines that block workplace entry are illegal, and have been broken by the police."

But they are not universally broken by police - in fact, I'm sure it's quite rare. They tend to step in when there's the threat of open violence erupting. So long as the only result is the company getting screwed out of being able to operate with replacement workers while the strikers are on the picket, or the "scabs" feeling threatened and intimidated, they don't care so much.

Posted by: Kyle Bennett on September 26, 2007 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

So, it's OK to break an unjustifiable law, Kyle. But not when it's justified. Good luck to you.

Posted by: Aaron G. Stock on September 26, 2007 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

You would think that looting the pension funds of the employees that their union had negotiated would be seen as "initiation of force" by libertarian IT doofuses, but apparently not. The labor movement to organize against bad working conditions in WV mines has been recast as a murderous mob and the Pinkerton thugs sent in to kill them are lamented for "not finishing the job."

Posted by: Tyro on September 26, 2007 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

This is still not a reason to rule against unions any more than it is to rule against companies.

Did Ayn Rand write a book about heroic, superhuman union bosses? No, she did not. The captains of industry are the ubermensch. They are justified in using any means necessary to crack down on the untermensch when they get uppity, don't ya know.

No one has any rights collectively that they don't have individually.

People do have leverage collectively that they do not have individually. Allowing workers to use collective leverage in the same way that any large commercial organization can use its collective leverage just leveling the playing field.

Posted by: Tyro on September 26, 2007 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

"A company has a right to [...] fire anyone they want to for any reason."

That's just not true, and it doesn't supercede the law. There are no inherent company rights - they are governed by laws. Here's an example - try firing someone for ethnic or gender reasons. So the company doesn't have that "right", it's law that determines what it can do.

You say a company has the "right" to hire and fire. That is boloney. This is a comercial transaction, not a matter of the corporation having "rights" at all. The employee and the company have entered into a contract, and the terms of the contract apply. There are laws that govern contracts, and specific laws for specific types of contracts. People have "rights" as per the constitution. Companies don't have rights, they are legal entities that work within the framework of laws, and form contracts between parties to do so.

Like all contracts, the deal must be fair to both sides, and the government regulates to ensure this. This is why you hear phrases like "in good faith" - because all contracts are supposed to be conducted that way. And so there are certain things a contract cannot enforce relating to an individual's rights (we own your first born as a slave). And since there is a lot of history of abuse on both sides, a set of specific labor laws have grown up to ensure employment contracts are agreed to the satisfaction of both parties.

Posted by: royalblue_tom on September 26, 2007 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Aaron,

It is, but in any case it's not what I said or implied. I said that it's not OK to *have* unjustifiable laws.

Tyro,

Looting the pensions is an initiation of force, and I've never said I supported it. It is - in most cases - a coerced contract, but the proper redress would be to petition the courts to overturn it in whole or in part on that basis and return the money to it's rightful owners. Of course, the more honorable thing would be to never agree to the contract in the first place, and accept the consequences, since these days you can't count on courts to protect rightful property.

If they did agree to the contract voluntarily, then it is the property of the workers, and looting it - even through the courts - is an outright crime.

And yes, the movement to organize *by force* against bad working conditions in WV was criminal, and the Pinkertons failed in their attempt to do the right thing.

Posted by: Kyle Bennett on September 26, 2007 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

tom,

"Like all contracts, the deal must be fair to both sides, and the government regulates to ensure this. "

No, like all contracts, the deal must be *agreed to* by both sides.

But you don't want to talk about rights, you want to talk about what the law *can* do, not what it *should* do. What the unions' "leverage" can extort out of companies with the complicity of the government.

You keep claiming abuse on "both sides" (how generous), yet you still have failed to cite any examples of actual abuse from the company side as it pertains to labor issues. I'm sure if you dig deep enough, you'll be able to find some, but the difference is that while *some* companies are guilty of these abuses, *all* unions are. It is the essence of what they do.

Posted by: Kyle Bennett on September 26, 2007 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

I am a devout atheist, but I am petitioning every diety in the pantheon that I never meet, in the flesh, anyone who thinks that the Pinkerton's "didn't go far enough."

Proof positive, I guess, that if there was ever a case for banning books in high-school libraries, it would be Atlas Shrugged.

Now if you will excuse me, I am off to run errands - I will be taking public transit, whose drivers are union, and going to the grocery and drug stores that have unions to protect their members, and to Costco - that isn't union but told the shareholders a little over a year ago to sell their stock if they didn't like the living wages paid to employees.

Later on...

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 26, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl,

I'm not surprised that you favor banning books. Interesting that that one book is influential enough that even you think you recognize the principles in it just from this conversation.

Enjoy your ride on transportation subsidized by others' taxes and groceries that are overpriced due to both those same taxes and the union bosses' exploitation of both the workers and the company.

I'll read more about the Pinkertons' history (though I believe it was actually Baldwin-Felts in West Virginia in the 20's, not Pinkerton.) I'm sure I'll find some abuses in that history - few from those times are fully innocent - but my impression overall is that they did a fine job. I suspect I'll find that history both informative and inspiring.

I'm a "devout" atheist as well, so I don't give your prayers much chance. Chances are you already have met such people - or at least those who would agree if they were aware of the issue at all - but the subject just hasn't come up.

Posted by: Kyle Bennett on September 26, 2007 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Reading comprehension much?

I said if there was ever a case for banning books, NOT that I was in favor of banning them.

That book does seem to cement for life ones status as a disaffected loser.

And I will enjoy myself. As I do every day. I live comfortably, retired after 20, thanks to my union, and young enough to enjoy it!

Toodles!

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 26, 2007 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Merely agreeing to a contract, does not a contract make, Kyle. Google estoppel and consideration. Unreasonable efforts to circumvent common law invalidates signed contracts too.

If you want to know what the law *should* do, it should allow each party to persue the best comercial deal for that party, and regulate any dispute. So both employers and empolyees are concerned parties here, and the law should reflect that.

It has been recognised that employees should be allowed to form a group to bargain for their services. And having agreed that point, the laws have been hashed out to regulate that.

You can't prove that all unions are abusive any more than I can prove that all companies that deal with unions are as abusive. You keep using sweeping generalisations to tar one side only though (how generous of you!). You're back in bombast territory.

Goggle gives numerous examples of abuse if you really want me to cite examples. Start with WalMart alone (since they are the nation's biggest private employer). There are reports, that it has disciplined union supporters for policy violations that it has let slide for union opponents, and that it has illegally fired workers for their union activity (note that I haven't provided any fewer links to examples than you have).

Posted by: royalblue_tom on September 26, 2007 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Kyle, you wrote: "It is, but in any case it's not what I said or implied. I said that it's not OK to *have* unjustifiable laws."

I'm sure. And I am sincere in wishing good luck to you should you ever decide to leave your theoretical plane, follow through, and break such laws you deem unjustifiable. Good luck in finding a country to live where its adjudicating bodies are going to agree with your interpretation of which laws are unjustifiable. I'm not saying don't do it, I'm saying good luck.

Posted by: Aaron G. Stock on September 26, 2007 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, I almost forgot...I am really one to stick in your craw...The union to which I belonged for 22 years was for Federal employees. Makes me doubly parasitic in your libertarian eyes I'm sure. Hope it makes you crazy (crazier? is that possible?) all day!

Now, I'm really and truly out the door this time...The Metro waits for no woman.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 26, 2007 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

tom,

"It has been recognised that employees should be allowed to form a group to bargain for their services. "

And I recognize that right as well. What nobody has a right to is to *force* anyone to associate with or negotiate with that group. That's the basis for my assertion that *all* unions are guilty. They *all* rely on at least that one legal outrage.

I'm not looking for documentation on the things you call abuses, just what kinds of things you think are abuses. Wal-Mart's main sin is their repeated use of eminent domain, but that has nothing to do with labor relations. The things you accuse them of are rightfully theirs to do, and I applaud them for it. I root for their success in busting every union that attacks them and their workers.

Blue Girl,

"I live comfortably, retired after 20, thanks to my union, and young enough to enjoy it!"

Well, you either earned it, in which case it's not thanks to your union but to your own ability and character, or it truly was thanks to your union, in which case it is defacto evidence of your lack of ability and character.

And yes, the fact that it was a federal job does imply the latter - there's simply nothing the federal government does - outside of the military - where ability and character are of any value. But don't worry, it won't make me crazy all day - I'm well accustomed to the existence of parasites. After all, I only have to live with not having some of the money I earned, and the occasional hassle, you have to live with yourself.

Posted by: Kyle Bennett on September 26, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

And yes, the fact that it was a federal job does imply the latter - there's simply nothing the federal government does - outside of the military - where ability and character are of any value. But don't worry, it won't make me crazy all day - I'm well accustomed to the existence of parasites. After all, I only have to live with not having some of the money I earned, and the occasional hassle, you have to live with yourself.

I'd try to join in this argument, but there's really no point, and I caution everyone else that they can save themselves some aggravation if they try to remember that as well. To put it charitably, then you obviously approach the world with a viewpoint far different from the views of everyone else here (except for Al, egbert, etc.), relying on premises about how the world works and how we got where we are that are so different from those held by the rest of us that we might as well be from different planets. There's really no point. To put it uncharitably, if you aren't just trolling for the fun of it, then you're an amoral asshole, not to mention a moron completely ignorant of the history of, well, this country, just for starters.

Posted by: Cyrus on September 26, 2007 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Kyle, Here is part of your thinking, if I understand it:

A worker is not a parasite, two workers engaging in collective bargaining is OK, yet a union is inherently parasitic.

If I'm right, how do you get to that conclusion? Parasitic how? What do you mean by parasitic?

I'm curious to know how, in your ideal world, a worker will ever be able to collectively bargain, assuming that a company, in your ideal world, may not be forced to negotiate with anyone choosing to collectively bargain.

How can a worker ever make sure that a company won't join other companies in collectively determining this person's economic worth? A company may refuse to hire (or negotiate, or continue to hire) collective bargainers, but can a person refuse to work for one of a group of companies that refuses to hire collective bargainers? For how long? If you're going to be an individual who refuses, you'll need to be an individual all the way. If you're going to be part of a collective, you'll need to accept that you'll be refused.

What right do any of us have to expect a higher standard of living than anyone else?

Ability, character, and proof of hard work aren't enough in these instances.

Information and transportation have their costs, too, and I hope you can figure out how ignoring their costs exposes the flaws in your arguments.

Posted by: Aaron G. Stock on September 26, 2007 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Unless they're in the Court of Kyle Bennett, companies don't have rights that a government doesn't give it. That's why there's a charter. I am further guessing said company is not allowed to hire workers in a country in which it is not chartered/expressly allowed to do so.

Why should this be otherwise? Seriously, why?

Posted by: Aaron G. Stock on September 26, 2007 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

/

Posted by: Kyle Bennett on September 26, 2007 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Kyle: I really really really want to be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.

Posted by: Doug H. on September 26, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

there's simply nothing the federal government does where ability and character are of any value.

Federal scientists have won nobel prizes. How many of your coworkers have?

As Cyrus said, your premises from which you start are so different and your knowledge of what actually goes on in the world is so limited that you might as well be from another planet.

Posted by: Tyro on September 26, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Kyle wrote, in response to me:
"I'm curious to know how, in your ideal world, a worker will ever be able to collectively bargain, assuming that a company, in your ideal world, may not be forced to negotiate with anyone choosing to collectively bargain."

Maybe they won't. What's the problem with that?

Then they would de facto not be allowed. And that you're OK with that invalidates your assertion that you believe that workers should be allowed to collectively bargain. Boom.

And again, Kyle writes:

Like, maybe the one that all honest men in history have tried, which is to provide something of value when you want something of value in return. Radical, idea, I know, but hell, why not give it a shot some day.

Also, what a radical idea that somehow a person who provides something of value should have a say in how much it is valued. Somehow, to you, that is dishonest, that is a failure to take responsibility? What world do you live in where you believe that every person but a company must start at ground zero when it comes to that determination? Why is that right and not some other method?

Your refusal to be specific about what is parasitic about nonviolent collective bargaining is telling.

A company ceases to operate, and its people are able to live on, possibly to create another company. A person dies, but can't live on to inhabit another body, do you agree (unless you are an atheist who believes in reincarnation)? Does that give you any inkling at all about where my priorities are?

Posted by: Aaron G. Stock on September 26, 2007 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

[Sorry for the extra post, and not that anyone can't figure this out, but just to clarify:
Kyle was the one who wrote, "Maybe they won't. What's the problem with that?" I meant to italicize that as well.]

Posted by: Aaron G. Stock on September 26, 2007 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

/

Posted by: Kyle Bennett on September 26, 2007 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Kyle, taking your premise that all unions are guilty, since all employers that have dealings with unions pre-emptively interfere with the workers joining or forming one, that is my assertion that the employers are equally guilty.

From your view, there would never be any unions, because all corporations would sack anyone that joined one, and the union would collapse because none of it's members would have employement. And historically, that's what happened. But that is cartel behaviour, or what is called rigging the market. It was recognised as such, and laws were introduced (hey, the people can play the cartel game too) to level the playing field and prevent this single-sided by-fiat tactic.

So while you say you recognise the workers right to form such a body, in practice you give the corporations every means to prevent it ever happening. So admit it. And give up trying to tar *all* unions as abusive, while seeing snow white on the company side. I'm not buying it.

Posted by: royalblue_tom on September 26, 2007 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

/


Posted by: Kyle Bennett on September 26, 2007 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

Kyle Bennett wrote:

You're a liar.

Maybe I am, but what's that got to do what what I wrote above? Prove it.

Posted by: Aaron G. Stock on September 26, 2007 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

After reading Mr. Bennett's contributions I simply have to conclude that he has absolutely no grounding in either US or economic history. The workers forced the company owners to hire hire Pinkerton et al because of the violence of the workers? The companies' violence against the workers isn't mentioned. Things like starvation wages (prevents the workers from getting ideas - such as living wages?). Company police in a company town (prevent those bad ideas from circulating). Eight year olds being forced into mines to pay off debts run up by sick (or deceased) parents. Try reading something other than hagiographic biographies of those industrial "Titans".
Modern unionism in the US was a direct result of companies attempts to reduce the workforce to the status of serfs - permanently tied to their jobs by a combination of low wages and high prices (set by the company for housing and food).
Mr. Bennett has obviously never read the reported words of Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, Harry Bennet, Henry Frick, Elbert Gary and others on their "God-given rights" to treat "their" workers as they saw fit.
Mr. Bennett should consider the following: beginning in 1935 the United States began an economic growth that continued until the late 1970's and vastly expanded the (economic) middle class. Durng that same period union membership grew to around 40% of the working population.
Since the late late 1970's, that middle class has declined as a percentage of the population - and the decrease wasn't because the upper class got bigger. And amazingly enough, also since the l970's the number of union members, as a percentage of the working population, has been cut in half. I sincerely doubt the correllation is sheer happenstance.
Simply put: modern companies are designed to make money. They are amoral and the only thing that counts is the bottom line.
I hope Mr. Bennett keeps a shoebox handy for the day his services are no longer required.

Posted by: Doug on September 26, 2007 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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