Management, workers and unions

Reuters reported that President Obama weighed in at a private meeting he knew would leak saying, everyone was in favor of the UAW representing Volkswagen except for local politicians who “are more concerned about German shareholders than American workers.” It is shame that our president exhibits this attitude and that ignorance.

VW is based in Germany, but Americans can and do own shares. President Obama's xenophobic response was probably more calculated than ignorant. But his attitude betrays a deeper prejudice, and the belief that unions must be bad for companies, else why would a unionization be costly to them?

Some union leaders and evidently our president think that labor and management are endless enemies fighting over a fixed pie. This is the old fashioned idea from the dawn of industrialization, when we had the stereotypical rich guy who looked like that character from Monopoly. Unions were a necessary evil back then and they produced some useful results.

Unions were needed because labor was largely undifferentiated in most industrial settings. Management would boast that they hired workers' hands and not their brains. They would say things like "you are not paid to think." They were just supposed to do repetitive tasks. Experts figured out ways to get workers to do more but nobody wanted to pay more. Of course, this was never universal, but it was common and it provoked unions.

Things began to change as industrial processes started to become more sophisticated and machines replace more and more menial tasks. Workers no longer had to behave like machines as machines started to do more and more machine work. A machine might replace dozens of manual laborers. At first, some workers and their unions opposed these things as "job killers." They were job killers, but they were also poverty killers. The only real way for lots of people to become rich is through productivity. At first productivity could be imposed on unskilled workers by the addition of physical capital. But as the physical capital became more and more sophisticated, human capital began to be equally or more important.

What protects a worker today is his human capital, not his union. VW workers make a good wage and have good benefits. It is a little lower than UAW workers earn in Michigan, but cost of living is lower where they live. And the VW workers have what lots of workers in Michigan don't have - jobs and better prospects of keeping them.

This brings me to the radical idea that workers and management are probably better off working together. Their interests are not identical, but they are aligned. Establishing a union is like a hiring a lawyer to help with your marriage problems. In some cases, it is appropriate, but mostly when you plan a breakup. And if you were not headed for a breakup before, the middleman will make sure that tension rise. That is, after all, how he justifies being there in the first place.

So if you look at it in reality, it is not the workers and the unions against management. It is more management and labor working together with unions potentially maintaining or maybe even creating a rift between them.

Posted by Christine & John at February 20, 2014 8:19 PM
Comment #376634

Those with a HS diploma, after accounting for inflation, makes 10% less than they did 40 years ago.

Globalisation and Corpocracy have worked to devalue work in their ongoing effort to level the world’s playing field as it relates to worker wages.

IMO, workers should be considered valued employees in the corporate structure. As it is, mgmt will carry and build the upper echelon while continually trying to hire ever cheaper labor with less benies and so on - - -

Unions would not be necessary if corpocracy took the right approach to labor and work.

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: roy ellis at February 20, 2014 9:25 PM
Comment #376635

Here it is: Corpocracy wants an emp who will get a couple of doctorate degrees, be an expert in technical development and operations management and work for peanuts, buy his own O’care etc - - -

Posted by: roy ellis at February 20, 2014 9:28 PM
Comment #376637

Interesting how you found a way to devalue the SC worker over the Ohio/Michigan worker, C&J. Cheaper labor is cheaper labor.

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: roy ellis at February 20, 2014 9:44 PM
Comment #376641


“Those with a HS diploma, after accounting for inflation, makes 10% less than they did 40 years ago.”

We have upgraded our workforce. That is what I was trying to explain. Unskilled labor has little human capital. We have fewer places for that.

The median income has risen, accounting for inflation. And the poor have access to more and better quality goods than ever before.

RE workers in the South - it depends on where you live and what you want. Veteran UAW auto workers indeed make more. New hires make about the same as the workers in the South. In the long run, the prosperity of the workers depends on the prosperity of the company.

Posted by: CJ at February 20, 2014 10:21 PM
Comment #376643

“In the long run, the prosperity of the workers depends on the prosperity of the company.”

Well, C&J, not entirely. Both are linked by the nature of our consumer economy. It is the lesson of Henry Ford.

Posted by: Rich at February 20, 2014 10:59 PM
Comment #376646

People around the world were buying cars in a consumer economy before Henry Ford revolutionized the industry, but at an exorbitant price. His assembly line enabled the workers to purchase the automobile at an affordable price. The worker’s ability to purchase an automobile made one at a time was non-existant before the Ford Motor Company made it possible. Henry Ford’s assembly line allowed the worker to prosper in an already existing consumer economy.

Posted by: Weary Willie at February 21, 2014 10:40 AM
Comment #376655

Xenophobic response?

The folks at Volkswagen WANT unionization. Word from that company is that they’d vastly prefer to have workers be part of the board at those factories, something that doesn’t happen here in this country unless the workers are unionized.

Because of this, the labor representatives, who actually have pull in Germany, are saying they might put a hold on plans to expand further in the South.

Obama’s response was hardly xenophobic, it was in fact in line with what the people at the company wanted. It’s Republicans who forced their ideology on everybody else.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 21, 2014 4:22 PM
Comment #376657

This could present a problem

Posted by: Speak4all at February 21, 2014 4:31 PM
Comment #376660

” It’s Republicans who forced their ideology on everybody else.”

Yes, Stephen, the scary evil Republicans put a gun to the heads of the employees, marched them to the ‘voting’ booth, and forced them to vote against unionizing.

Funny to see you guys supporting the corporation over the employees, lol. Just goes to show the lefts real interest is with the union, not the rights of the employees.

To top it all off, you guys are now threatening the withholding of jobs, while also claiming Republicans threatened to withhold tax incentives.

Posted by: kctim at February 21, 2014 5:06 PM
Comment #376662

Daugherty wrote; “Word from that company is that they’d vastly prefer to have workers be part of the board at those factories, something that doesn’t happen here in this country unless the workers are unionized.”

I can not put my finger on any law, state or federal, that prevents corporations from having workers on the BOD’s if they wish.

I believe SD is “pro-choice” on abortion. Is he “pro-choice” regarding the right to work?

Posted by: Royal Flush at February 21, 2014 5:15 PM
Comment #376663

(Hmmm) Making the workers the management therewithin is grandstandingly corrupting of the overall governing and product quality order and system so I agree with C&J there near entirely. Life is always shinola rolls ultimately downhill and that’s just the nature of the animal itself—that being work. But so too the workers have to get a fair wage, of in which they might be getting, even by such beleagered overseas standards.

The focus is thus; pay your workers well and you’ll always have a interested and involved work group et force. ‘Don’t pay them and you will have clockwatchers amuck and thus so that can prove itself a stalemete in product quality.

Ain’t a damn thing free here in this world and that’s just the bottom line.

Posted by: simpleheaded at February 21, 2014 5:17 PM
Comment #376664

To the doubters that believe there was no threatening by Republicans please refer to the following link of the UAW appeal, it’s in there.


Posted by: Speak4all at February 21, 2014 5:18 PM
Comment #376665

Ooops typo: “stalemate”

Posted by: simpleheaded at February 21, 2014 5:19 PM
Comment #376673


You really cannot use as evidence a complaint by the UAW. It is like citing a Tea Party publication as proof of Obama’s wickedness.

Posted by: CJ at February 21, 2014 7:05 PM
Comment #376674

C/J…thanks for the laugh.

Posted by: Royal Flush at February 21, 2014 7:15 PM
Comment #376678

“Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely”

What union employee has any rights or control over union management? NONE…

Democrat politicians do what is best for the themselves, union leaders do what is best for themselves, and WB liberals do what is best for liberalism.

Senator Manchin, Dem of WV stated, “I would vote to repeal Obamacare” while speaking in Beckley, WV; but today he walked it back. Was he trying to gain the support of those who hate Obamacare…or was he trying to protect himself from the Obama machine?

SD is full of cha-cha; if the workers had wanted a union, they would have voted for one.

The problem with liberals on WB is they cannot compute that employees would like working for a company, and would not want the interference of unions.

My question is…I know some of the libs on WB must have a real job, and I doubt many of them are union, unless they work for the State or Feds…do they hate their jobs? Do they feel cheated by their bosses…or are they closet liberals, who say nothing at work, but love to spout off under an alias from a computer. My guess is they are cowards, most liberals are…

Posted by: DSP2195 at February 21, 2014 8:37 PM
Post a comment