The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, February 28, 2011

The only reason to Union-bust is if CEOs are innately more moral and honest than common workers. Why the heck would I believe that?


Perry The Cynic said...

"The only reason to have a union is if union bosses are innately more moral and honest than middle managers. Why the heck would I believe that?"

Does this make any sense to you? Why not? Seriously.

Not only are you applying a higher bar ("innately more moral") on one party over the other; you're applying a measure (morality and honesty) that does not seem, to me, apposite to the matter at hand. Unions and governments are creatures of power, and while they love to wrap themselves in the mantle of morality, contests between them are not arbitrated based on whose leaders are more honest or more moral. So what, exactly, is your point? Seriously, I don't get it.

-- perry

Anonymous said...

No, there's another reason. Our state governments are going broke, and people who pay taxes to support those state governments can't afford an infinite loop that works like this:

1. People get public-sector jobs paid for by state taxes.

2. They join a union automatically and their dues are deducted from their paychecks automatically.

3. The union leaders promise to provide votes and campaign contributions to politicians who offer their workers pension and health-care benefits significantly larger than what the economy of the private-sector in that state can actually afford to be taxed to support.

4. Since the bills for these benefits are years in the future, while the benefits themselves happen right away, politicians have a strong incentive to give the unions the benefits and let the taxpayers see the bill 10 years later.

5. Rinse and repeat, until California / Illinois / Wisconsin / etc. goes flat broke.

Note that the "union-busting" policy of not supporting public-sector unions was one that FDR agreed with, for pretty much this reason. Unionization of public employees only became lawful for Federal employees with JFK and only became lawful for California employees with Jerry Brown. We are now experiencing the results.

It's not a question of morality, but of basic incentives. A CEO who gives away the store to the union loses his shirt and his company; a politician who bankrupts California to support union demands wins re-elections. The incentives are completely different and, unsurprisingly, so are the results.

The situation in California's gotten bad enough that even the typically left-leaning L.A. Times can't quite ignore it any more. It's not going away without a serious increase of economic productivity, fiscal austerity or both. And just complaining about "morality" won't help.

--Erich Schwarz

Anonymous said...

"The only reason to Union-bust is if CEO's are innately more moral and honest than common workers."

Like companies, unions are composed of workers, but headed by a tiny clique ostensibly empowered to serve the interests of the collective. Also like companies and all other human associations, the members composing this clique firstly serve themselves. With rare honorable exceptions, the corporate or union head's primary focus is their own aggrandizement or enrichment; workers whit large benefit to the degree that the interests of head and body coincide, or if the worker's struggle is a useful "vehicle" for the clique's purposes. Further, unions and other collectives obey Pournelle's Iron Law, i.e. the "charter" of the collective is secondary to its perpetuation and aggrandizement.

Given the realities of union function, and the frequent penetration of unions by organized crime and other sordid opportunists, it's far from inconceivable that a CEO could be more virtuous than a union head, to that busting truly awful unions might benefit workers.

Ethiopian Infidel