I received a letter from a union representative that complained last year about a company that was cutting pay to bring it more in line with the local prevailing wage. While it may be reprehensible in some odd way to lower pay for people, the fact is, the corporation was well within their rights to do such a thing in times of profit as well as hard times.
The following is my response to some of the most emotionally ill conceived logic I have ever encountered indicative of the entitlement mindset that is destroying our country and modern civilization. And no. That’s not too harsh.
UNION REPRESENTATIVE: 19.50 is not outrageous money. Hard work should have value, and when a company is profitable pay should not have to be cut. People plan their lives based on a pay they think have negotiated. By the way Unions negotiate a contract, not s…teal it, and outsoucing happened because CEOs had to cut costs so they could justify making more millions if dollars that they are not worth. And if the CEOs can negotiate their contracts, then what is wrong with others in the company also getting what they are worth.? Why shouldn’t a person be able to make a decent living if he works hard? Why should only those with degrees be able to make enough to buy a house or pay to send their children to college if that’s what they want. Without the Union Dad would have made a fraction of what he did at Ford.
Unions are still important. Left to their own devices management will not usually do the right thing. When they do,(Like in case of Costco), the employees don’t organize.
I have organized several different professions, including nurses, teachers, janitors, and newspaper reporters. They all deserve to be able to sit down with management and negotiate for wages and working conditions they are worth. They …deserve to have a break, and to not have workloads that are unhealthy for them or (in case of nurses) for patients.
We all deserve to be treated with respect, and it is disrespectful to ask an employee of a company who us making money hand over fist that the employees need to make less, because they are a commodity. If that is case those sane employees should be able to go to CEO and upper management and say cutting your pay by a million or so dollars. There’s out of work CEOs and managers that would take less to do those jobs, I am sure.
MY RESPONSE: no disagreement on negotiating for what you can get. But that works both ways. Your questions show a dangerous lack of logic that is symptomatic of the downfall of our economic system over the longhaul. Let’s answer them one by one:
“And if the CEOs can negotiate their contracts, then what is wrong with others in the company also getting what they are worth.?” You are worth what you can get. If the prevailing wage in an area is less than what you are making then by definition you are overpaid for that area and job. Just because you want and depend on $19.50 does not mean you are worth that. Poor premise, illogical conclusion.
Why shouldn’t a person be able to make a decent living if he works hard? Because life isn’t fair and no one has even a right to a ‘decent living’. Most of the world works hard but lives in abject poverty. That’s the norm. You have no ‘right’ to a decent living. Hard work does not equal a decent living. There are those who hardly work at all (union auto workers in jobs banks) and make above average livings. So, do you believe that dishwashers in the local Mexican restaurant ‘deserve’ a decent living because they work hard? Doesn’t work that way. I’ve worked hard all of my life and have little to show for it. But I’m not running crying about it. Life is not fair. Get used to it.
Why should only those with degrees be able to make enough to buy a house or pay to send their children to college if that’s what they want. Well, because they don’t have a RIGHT to that. If they made poor decisions and decided to work at a non-skilled or low skilled job they probably won’t be able to afford those things. The lack of logic in that question is disturbing. No one is owed a living wage. That’s a myth created by people that think there is some kind of cosmic job karma. We don’t always get what we want, but what we work for. Didn’t have enough foresight to get a degree? Too damn bad. Not my fault and not your employer’s fault. Good for my uncle for belonging to a union and being able to make more money. But honestly, auto workers have been ‘overpaid’ for years. To say that an auto worker turning a few nuts and putting a water pump on is worth their over inflated pay and benefits and worth more than many of the engineers designing the complex machinery and automobiles they are making is sheer lunacy and that is why the American auto industry is on the ropes compared to the foreign auto plants that have located here. Maybe they were ‘worth’ it in the past, but not now in this world. Many people are disgusted when they look at the pay and benefits that accrue to these guys especially the job banks pay where they get 90% of their salary for a couple years while not working. I spent a good part of my early career replacing many of them with robots that paid for themselves in a matter of months. Lower salaries in other industries make it difficult to justify replacing someone with automation. But autoworkers practically have huge targets painted on them saying “automate my job away” because with three shifts at auto plants you can justify spending $200k for a robot very quickly.
So, “what we want” is the criteria for how we should be paid, not market value? Come on. Why even bother going to college then. Those with college degrees made the hard decisions and sacrifice to make themselves marketable and mobile within the job market so they can send their kids to college etc. Those who don’t make good decisions end up reaping the results of their decisions. Total Fail. You actually just questioned why anyone should improve their education or skills to get ahead. The new criteria is ‘what people want’. Hell no.
Something (including labor) is worth only what people are willing to pay for it, not what we think or believe it is worth or even if we think we need a certain standard of living. Hard work does have a value and that value is based on what the market will bear. The union has the right to negotiate and the company has the right to do so also. Mott/Snapple is not immoral for trying to reduce costs by bringing labor prices within market conditions. Are you saying they should only do this when they are in trouble? That they can’t do this even when making a profit? What is an unacceptable level of profit for you? What imaginary line do they cross when it becomes unacceptable? I know: You’ll know it when you see it right? Do they have their first legal and moral obligation to the stockholders or to the employees? Are employees stockholders, family, or just labor contractors that get paid money in exchange for their time? You see, when you answer these questions honestly it becomes evident that an entitlement, looting mindset is pervasive in our culture. While I have no love for the plethora of looting, incompetent corporate CEOs, the primary motivation for outsourcing is that labor costs are radically different in other places than the US and companies started sending labor overseas to be competitive, partially to cut costs
“outsourcing happened because CEOs had to cut costs so they could justify making more millions of dollars that they are not worth”
If that isn’t envy then I don’t know what it is. Who are YOU to say CEOs are paid too much? You just told me that somebody pushing a button and watching a machine, that could probably be replaced by a computer and a video camera should be paid $19.50 but then you turn around and say that someone that produces millions of dollars in profit for their stockholders are not worth their pay. Cuts both ways. Are you really saying that if they could cut costs by outsourcing they should not have done it? Why? Out of obligation to the employees or stockholders? Which group do they have a greater legal obligation to, the stockholders or the employees? The answer is self evident, but I’ll bet you give me the wrong answer on that. You see, when you start asking questions like this it becomes evident that the plunderers are not the CEOs but the people putting forth insane ‘nice’ solutions instead of the logical, stark, truthful ones, no matter how ‘fair’ things seem be. Keep in mind that the word ‘fair’ in our society has become simply another term to be used to steal from someone who has more than you do.
Let’s look at a little history on how unions helped the textile workers in the south. In the south, many textile mills were family owned operations. Pay was minimal but people were paid what they were ‘worth’ based on what the consumer could pay. When the unions came to each little mill, the workers organized, hammered through often unworkable pay structures and the mill owners were forced either overseas or out of business because the local workers failed to recognize the textile market was international and they were competing with a Haitian or Mexican making a fraction of what they were. Rather than demand a ‘reasonable’ wage based on their true worth in an international market, a higher wage was won. Yippee! I see shuttered textile factories throughout the south. Unions ruined the textile industry in the US. If UNITE showed up on your doorstep, within 5 years you were out of a job.
To answer your questions: Why can’t they get what they are worth? Read the article. They are overpaid compared to surrounding laborers. By definition, they are paid more than they are worth locally. CEOs produce dividends and earnings for their stockholders. They get paid a salary based on that.
With the laws in place today, unions are close to being superfluous. Most companies in this country are non-union so your logic on companies not doing the right thing if left to their own devices just isn’t borne out in actual practice. Unions have a bad rep because of their many abuses. SEIU (the union you worked for) is known far and wide for its thuggish practices. Links to organized crime abound. My dad often experienced intimidation from ‘enforcers’. Locally we have a national carpenters union that has banners at many area businesses and even churches , personally attacking people running those places. Their crime? They hired a contractor without checking that the contractor used union labor. Turns out that the employees at the contractor voted not to have the union because they gained nothing. Like a spurned girlfriend the union has been picketing these places for years. People here hate them, including the workers that voted against the union. These idiots put signs up that say “Shame on xxxx” . It’s the only thing they can legally say since they have no real gripe. They push their luck when they post things on the signs that say ‘labor dispute’ when there never was a labor dispute. The people picketing don’t even know what they are picketing for. They are just employees of the union that were sent there from outside the state without a dog in that fight. Is that the kind of behavior you condone? If you do, then you have fallen far, far from knowing what morality is. I honestly believe that a Christian union organizer is an oxymoron.
The day you become a business owner with 5 or more employees you treat well and a union shows up to organize them despite the best intentions of yourself is the day you will change your opinion on this. If my bike biz ever gets to that point I will pay my employees a fair wage for their labor. But the first time they try to organize, I will put my fixtures in a shipping container and move the whole operation to South America or somewhere else.
“it is disrespectful to ask an employee of a company who us making money hand over fist that the employees need to make less, because they are a commodity”. You admitted it! Their labor IS a commodity. The very fact that they are a commodity makes their market value go down. Why is it disrespectful? This is business. We are dealing with money here. So who made you the profit police? Once again, what magic margin does a company have to make before it goes from being respectful to disrespectful when they ask employees to cut their pay to regional levels? Haven’t got an answer for that do ya?
. If that is case those sane employees should be able to go to CEO and upper management and say cutting your pay by a million or so dollars. There’s out of work CEOs and managers that would take less to do those jobs, I am sure. Not a shard of logic in that paragraph. Employees have no right to ask the manager of a company to cut their pay. Your premise and then concluding statement are fallacy. IF workers’ labor is a commodity, THEN they should be able to go the CEO and upper management to have them cut their pay. What cosmic rule is invoked that makes this true? CEOs and upper management typically are given stock ownership in the company so they are owners. Employees typically are not. So, you are saying that if you owned a company that your employees have some magic right to ask you to lower your pay? And where did you get this quaint notion? Not in MY company. That’s MY company. If you don’t like what I am paying I will find someone down the street who will work for it, especially in this economy.