Skip to comments.Weakening labor unions: It's a very big deal
Posted on 10/07/2006 9:13:02 PM PDT by SmithL
If you think there is no real difference between Republicans and Democrats, reflect on something that just happened in Washington.
No, not the scandal involving dirty e-mails sent to teenage pages by former GOP congressman Mark Foley of Florida. Reprehensible behavior is an equal-opportunity assault on society, involving both Democrats and Republicans.
One of the many alphabet-soup agencies we tend to ignore - although they have tremendous impact on everyday life - has ruled that potentially millions of workers may no longer join labor unions.
If you dislike, disdain or even hate unions, as many Americans do, that may seem like no big deal. But it is a very, very big deal. In the long term, it will wreak far more change on this nation than Foley's lewdness will.
The National Labor Relations Board is now dominated by people President Bush put on it. And he put them there because big business wanted changes in the way labor unions are regulated. Even though labor's power is vastly diminished, business sees itself in an ongoing war with unions.
John Sweeney, the weak head of the AFL-CIO who has been powerless to keep the union movement united, was smart enough to see what business was planning in demanding changes from the White House on the labor-relations board. He warned of impending doom, organized demonstrations and tried to forestall the emasculation of the board. While President Bill Clinton was in office, he was successful. That was then; this is now.
The newly reconstituted NLRB has ruled 3-to-2 that nurses who supervise other nurses in the loosest meaning of the term, such as planning which nurse covers which shift, may not be union members, even though they can't fire, hire or decide salaries. By extension, teachers who tell teacher's aides what to do now would seem to be exempt. Retail clerks with minimal authority over others likewise may not be able to join unions.
By the new ruling, a worker who oversees a co-worker and can be held accountable if that employee fails to do a task properly is not eligible for union membership. The supervisory worker may not get any management perks but is no longer eligible for union wages, benefits, firing protection, etc.
Some stereotypes are real. Traditionally, Republicans generally favor business as the engine that drives the economy. Traditionally, Democrats generally favor workers.
It is no coincidence that, under GOP rule - Republicans control all branches of government, including the executive and legislative branches and the Supreme Court - wages have gone stagnant, jobs are going overseas, traditional pensions are nearly gone, employer-paid health insurance is disappearing, the minimum wage is not a living wage and workers have fewer options in disputes with management.
Ideally, of course, management and workers should realize they need each other and should cooperate to work for the good of the team on the theory that a rising tide raises all boats. Ideally, of course, Palestinians and Israelis should realize they could live together in peace and growing prosperity.
Unions have a lot to answer for in this country, including corruption, intransigent rules that have stymied flexibility and innovation, politicization and other wrongs too numerous to list. But, as union membership has declined, the gap between rich and poor has widened. The middle-class standard of living will decline. In more and more cases, business has usurped too much power at the expense of workers.
In an effort to help U.S. businesses compete, the Bush administration provided tax breaks the country could not afford, borrowing $1.5 trillion in five years from foreign investors, even though our businesses are trying to compete against them. Personally and collectively, we are in debt up to our ears.
It would be nonsense to argue that Democratic administrations were always smart about handling the inevitable tension between management and workers or that Republican administrations were invariably inept. But this Bush administration is transparently hostile to workers even as its mistakes have been costly to business trying to compete in the long term. And business will not be better off with a cowed, unmotivated work force.
Congress is supposed to have oversight over and responsibility for alphabet-soup agencies, such as the NLRB. But this Congress has badly shirked its duty. Republicans who chair every committee have been otherwise engaged. Democrats who could have pushed harder for oversight have been otherwise engaged.
Saddest of all, a majority of Americans eligible to vote this November, with all of the House and one-third of the Senate at stake, will not bother to go to the polls.
Hate to hear that...NOT.
In a world where the lowest-paid supermarket workers earn a living (albeit modest) wage, the need for union membership is near nil.
I guess the current economic boom is a figment of my imagination
traditional pensions are nearly gone
Nobody's stopping workers from investing in 401(k)s and IRAs. The sooner Social Security and other funds paid for by taxpayers are gone, the better.
employer-paid health insurance is disappearing
Companies aren't supposed to be providing health insurance anyway.
the minimum wage is not a living wage
You damn skippy it ain't!
and workers have fewer options in disputes with management.
More good news.
Actually that doesn't really make me sad at all.....because those who don't vote are usually the LEAST informed....IMHO.
ping for later
Right, except to have freedom to choose whether to belong to a union. If they don't want to join, have thugs make them join. Ann probably also thinks that all the workers of Cuba love Fidel. The Israelites who waxed nostalgic for the fleshpots of Egypt were Democrats.
Ms. McFeatters is simply lamenting the fact that her beloved unions won't be contributing as much to Dem coffers. Her concern for voter-turnout is a ruse . . . she wouldn't give a whit if the $ was still flowing in.
This agency of government ought to be abolished, I'd think. Workers should be able to join unions if they please and employers should feel free to fire them if they do, as they should. Currently they cannot fire them, at least openly. I'll be happy to see the parasitic unions go:
there was never a need for it.
Oh, cry me a river.
Unions have served their purpose in the past, but I don't think we're in danger of reverting to 19th century working conditions if the Unions disappear. Far from protecting the average worker, the unions have become nothing more than a legal wing of organized crime. My brother, a union electrician, tells me the horror stories from the union hall, where the well-connected cronies of the bosses are taken good care of while the average working stiff gets the crumbs. The cost of doing business in the city is almost double that of the sunurbs, mostly due to the unions (and the Lib/Dem fetish for taxing and regulating everything).
I don't begrudge a guild of professionals trying to get what they can for thier work, but the current setup is just a disgrace.
If the workforce is cowed and unmotivated I think the author should look at the union activities rather than those of the Bush administration. Any any worker who cannot compete in this economy doesn't deserve a job.
The economy is strong, unemployment is low, and unions are losing membership... sounds like Bush is doing something right.
The pubbies control the SCOTUS? Really? When did that happen?
Yikes....I just re-read it.....she's a sympathizer!
Our Little Miss Writer above should hardly be surprised to see the GOP treat unions as their enemy, as the AFL-CIO alone has donated over $900 Million more to Democrats than to the GOP over the past decade.
She also lies about "stagnant" salaries (they are increasing even faster than inflation) and omits our booming economy, booming stock market, and full national employment (unemployment down to just 4.6%).
Over the long term, she can't win with lies and omissions, either. Her factual arguments must stand on their own or else she will lose regardless.
It is not only "big business," whoever that is, that wanted a major change in the membership and the culture of the NLRB. Even ordinary citizens, such as I, tired of the NLRB behaving as a shill for the capos of Big Labor.
No institution in recent decades has been more contemptuous or destructive of the civil rights of American workers than labor unions, and the NLRB has been a passive observer, if not an active supporter of these decades of trashing workers' rights. Even the Reagan administration failed to take corrective action, vis-a-vis the NLRB.
Unions have served their purpose in the past, but I don't think we're in danger of reverting to 19th century working conditions if the Unions disappear.
Except that in the past they did a good job of keeping illegals off work sites. With the demise of the unions in construction trades in many parts of the country well....
the unions have out lived their usefulness. The last market strike on the west coast, the workers lost big time. The unions are trying to gather immigrant help to boost membership.
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