UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

March 18, 2009

THE COST OF DISSIN' LABOR UNIONS

Tim Rutten, LA Times - When the auto companies went to the Bush administration asking for help, the first conditions imposed on them were executive pay cuts and renegotiation of their union contracts to bring down labor costs. The United Auto Workers went along because it wanted to save the firms and the jobs of the workers they employ.

What we're essentially being asked to believe is that employment contracts involving hardworking men and women on Detroit's assembly lines are somehow less legally binding -- less "sacred" in the current rhetorical argot -- than those protecting a bunch of cowboy securities traders living in Connecticut. When Larry Summers, Obama's chief economic advisor, piously tells us that the administration's hands are tied because we all must abide "by the rule of law," perhaps it's time to ask: What rule and for whom?

For years, the smart guys on Wall Street have convinced a growing number of Americans that organized labor is an impediment to economic progress, an unacceptable "cost" in a globalized system of production, a quaint social fossil from the era of mills and smokestacks. If there's a lesson to be gleaned from the current crisis, however, it's that when the chips are down, organized labor is a far more responsible social actor than the snatch-and-run characters who fancy themselves financiers.

The implications of this are wider than most of us imagine, and they deserve to be considered. Today, slightly less than 8% of all American workers belong to a union. Half a century ago, when more than one in three American workers were unionized, the middle class was growing -- not simply because organized labor won better wages and benefits for its members but because the presence of a vigorous labor movement pulled everybody else's compensation up as well.

As union membership dropped, middle-class incomes -- and average families' share of the nation's wealth -- stagnated and then fell. Families compensated for their reduced opportunity at first by sending both parents into the workplace, then by working more hours and, more recently, by simply going deeper and deeper into debt. At the same time, the incomes and share of the national wealth held by people like the AIG securities traders grew exponentially.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Justice said...

The State built on injustice cannot stand. (from the Romans)

"The purpose of government is justice." - James Madison

ONLY WORK produces wealth. A dollar bill cannot even fix you a cup of tea - only humans can, only humans produce and provide workproducts; goods and services. And all the works mankind has ever performed upon the earth were performed from work done by Mother Nature for everyone in equal shares. And only demand creates jobs...not rich people.

Maximum individual sacrifice of time and energies to working is limited, therefore the pool of wealth is finite. This means when one person is allowed to take from the pool of wealth more than he or she sacrificed to put in, then others are forced to take less than they put into the pool.

No one is working a billion, a million, or even a hundred times harder than the average person can work longterm...it is physically impossible.

And yet pay ranges in this world - for roughly the same sacrifice - from a million times the average down to one-thousandth the average!

Can you say LEGAL THEFT? Can you say every theft comes with an angry person attached? Can you say theft of earnings is great injury and injury is retaliated? Can you say legal theft causes completely unnecesaary violence, ever-escalating? Can you say overpay has nowhere to come from but from underpay?

Repeat after me: We now have no choice but to murder the very bad and very stupid idea to continue an economics of everyone going for all they can get from the pool of wealth and the devil take the hindmost...and replace it with the rational, sane, justice idea to have fairpay.

Because for as long as you allow wealthpower giants to form - the devil takes everybody.

Wake up, World of Humans! Discard your love to have other-earned wealth, or perish from the results of continuing overpayoverpowerunderpayunderpower.

March 20, 2009 3:13 PM  

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