• Mikie
    Teamsters, led by the excellent Sean O’Brien, are about to strike. This will be a big deal in the news shortly, if a contract isn’t reached with UPS.

  • Mikie
    Railworkers, UPS workers, actors/writers, and now autoworkers.

    An interesting and pertinent question raised by NY times columnist Peter Coy:

    In a contract negotiation such as this involving powerful parties that need each other, there is no one clearly correct outcome. Both labor and management gain immensely from their partnership. The fight is over how to divide the value that they jointly create. It would seem unfair for either the companies or the workers to extract 100 percent of it. But what’s the right split? Is it 50-50? And how would you measure such a split, anyway?

    This strikes me as getting at something really important (pun intended there).

    It’s not about making everything equal. It’s about the “reasonable split.” 90+% of profits go to shareholders. The CEO to median worker ratio has skyrocketed, but I usually take this to be a stand-in for shareholders, since CEOs are usually compensated through stocks and so are major shareholders themselves (this incentivizing robbing more from labor).

    90% to shareholders is not a reasonable split. 350-to-1 isn’t a reasonable split.

    There’s been times in this country where things were much more egalitarian. We don’t even have to compare ourselves to other countries. We can go back to that. It was healthier for companies, as well as workers and society writ large.
  • Mikie
    Another excellent article by McAlevey:

    A new Gallup poll shows overwhelming support for workers who are challenging the unfettered power and greed of the corporate elite. Film and television writers demanding justice from the Hollywood and Silicon Valley billionaires, now heading into a fourth month of their strike, enjoy 72 percent support from everyday people (versus only 19 percent supporting the employers). For the autoworkers fighting to reclaim fair compensation for all their members—not to mention reining in the out-of-control work regimes imposed by the Big Three auto CEOs and fighting to wrest back the right to a life outside of work—an eye-popping three in four Americans stand with the workers. Most Americans—77 percent—now believe unions are good for their members (up 11 percent since 2009), with 61 percent saying unions are good for the economy and 57 percent saying unions are helpful to the companies for whom they work. That’s the general public—not Democrats, not union members.


    Setting aside the byzantine technicalities of why the NLRB did away with Joy Silk in 1969, it’s widely understood that its abandonment was one of several major factors thwarting workers from winning unionization over the past 50-plus years. Other key factors, of course, included the explosion of professional union-busting firms; a bipartisan effort to strategically offshore the most heavily unionized sectors of the US workforce in the 1970s and ’80s under the guise of “trade liberalization,” making plant closures seem more common than new union local certifications; and finally, and most importantly, many union leaders’ simply giving up the hard work of building supermajority worker support to unionize and act collectively.
  • Mikie
    But the work of building workers’ organization and power stays the same. By now, we should all have learned that a toothless “order to bargain” with no penalties results in no union contract unless and until the workers create a crisis for their employer. Expecting lawyers, rules, legal decisions, or another thumbs-up from the legal system will undo grotesque inequality by restoring high unionization rates and then family-supporting wages under union contracts is like hoping that a congressional inquiry—or a prosecutor—will stop Trump and the movement he’s created. One thing and one thing only has the ability to force employers to share their wealth, and that is when workers have built the power to be able to create a crisis so great that an employer cannot continue what they’re doing, and have no choice but to surrender power and money.
  • ssu
    Let's put aside for a moment the whining that government and corporations are against trade unions (which in the US they are) and look at more fundamental problems that trade unions have:

    1) Entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. The people who are basically both an employer and the employee. (Here I mean the real self-employed persons and not Uber drivers, who in my view are "entrepreneurs" just for the company to avoid taxes.) The United States has the highest percentage of entrepreneurs, those that are self employed, and can be considered the most entrepreneurial country in the World. Over every tenth in the American workforce is an entrepreneur. Then there are the companies which are run by a family: again here the relation that the "employer" and the "employee" have is far more than just a work related matter. Small family enterprises don't fit the typical view of the greedy employer who steels from the employee.

    2) Trade unions have been bureaucratic and slow to spread when totally new industries appear. The reason is quite logical: a new industry is created by inventors and entrepreneurs in garages or similar tiny enterprises. Extremely seldom can huge corporations invent something totally new and thus create totally new fields of industry or service. At start there usually are no huge corporations... it only through time comes to that through competition. And the fact is that trade unions are concentrated in sectors where there are large companies or a single entity like the government. Again for this there is a rational reason: in a company of less than ten people, it's far more easier for the individual worker to approach the "employer" than in a corporation of 20 000 or more. For a trade union to bargain few with big companies is easier than to approach thousands of smaller companies.
  • Mikie
    a new industry is created by inventors and entrepreneurs in garagesssu

    Do people still believe this nonsense? Good god.
  • ssu
    Do people still believe this nonsense?Mikie
    Do people still read economic history? Nonsense!!!

    How about the...

    a) Aviation industry?

    b) The automobile industry?

    c) The computer industry?
  • Mikie

    Notice you had to go back 100+ years ago.
  • ssu
    And when have you had totally new industries? They are quite rare.

    For example, what's the origin of the internet? A common Transfer Control Protocol/Internetwork Protocol (TCP/IP) for different computers. With the personal computer it's even more obvious: a computer just made for consumers. A totally new field truly starts with innovations and innovators and no prior market.

    And it isn't that already existing huge corporations really can imagine totally new industries. The whole large structure of a large company makes it difficult. And if a company has been "visionary", it's really rare they also dominate the field later. Best example is Xerox with it's research center in Palo Alto: it was an outside guy called Steve Jobs that went with the graphical interface and wysiwyg text editors that the Xerox research team had made and even that guy didn't notice the aspect of how the computers in Palo Alto formed a net (ethernet). And Xerox? The company didn't see any potential for commercial sales. When there doesn't (yet) exist a market, it's only visionaries who see a possible market.

    But back to the subject: trade unions can use their power more easily if the industry has few large corporations. With a sector that isn't dominated by large companies you find less unions. The service sector has a lot of small businesses accomodation and food services (with about 8 million workers). The largest trade union is NEA and the most unionized sectors are education, steelworkers, public service workers and autoworkers. Sectors you don't see so much small companies and entrepreneurs.
  • Mikie
    For example, what's the origin of the internet?ssu

    Came out of defense department research. Government funded— As were most computer technologies. Which can then be said to be the product of “entrepreneurs” like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Complete mythology and hero worship.

    With a sector that isn't dominated by large companies you find less unions.ssu

    Less need for unions at a mom and pop store. But no one is talking about small businesses. They’re not the issue. Why you want to make them the issue is a mystery.
  • ssu
    Came out of defense department research. Government funded— As were most computer technologies.Mikie
    But military doesn't make it a product for the civilian market. And this is crucial: as I stated, Xerox research center made basically all the real leaps in computer tech... and Xerox isn't dominating the market. This is even more clear when you have military sponsored investment. The classic obstacle is that the technology is simply declared secret. Well, not much will come out of that!

    The only example of the Soviet Union where the army made something that was later extremely useful was for the Air Defence of Moscow Stalin started to build ring-roads around the capital. As then Moscow grow, there were these ring roads around it already making it later easy for the city to grow. But otherwise, how much for example technology done to make the ballistic missiles and the Soviet Space program gave to the Soviet ordinary citizen? Not much.

    Less need for unions at a mom and pop store. But no one is talking about small businesses. They’re not the issue.Mikie
    They actually are one important factor when you consider why unions are so rare in the US. Not everything is about politics.

    In the overall picture of the economy small businesses have a large role to play. Small businesses (those smaller than 500 people in the US) account for the majority of new job creation (62,5%) in the US since 1995. Small businesses employ 45% of the private sector workforce, businesses with less that 20 employees employ 16% of the workforce, hence basically every sixth US worker is employed in a company with less than 20 people. If (and when) you have a lot of entrepreneurship, these people won't be for trade unions.
  • Mikie
    Anne Case and Angus Deaton, the Princeton University economists who pioneered the study of deaths of despair, tell me that one factor in the rise of such deaths has been the decline of unions and the related loss of good working-class jobs.

    Like many educated professionals, I used to regard labor unions warily. They insisted on rigid work rules, impeded technological modernization, suffered corruption scandals (which have dogged the U.A.W.) and sometimes engaged in racial and gender discrimination. They periodically manipulated overtime hours and leveraged the threat of disruption to rake in staggering sums.

    In 2019 two Oakland, Calif., police officers “earned” more than $600,000 in pay and benefits, through absurd amounts of overtime; meanwhile, full-time dockworkers on the West Coast reportedly earn more, on average, than many lawyers or dentists in America, and dock foremen average more pay than physicians.

    Yet executive pay seems even more scandalous, and I shed my disdain for unions as I reported on the crisis in America’s working class over the past 15 years. Having lost too many working-class friends to substance use and related pathologies and having witnessed the consequent crumbling of families and communities, I’ve come to believe that unions are good not only for individual workers but also for America itself.

  • Mikie
    But military doesn't make it a product for the civilian market.ssu

    Packaging research and innovation that is publicly funded into a pretty package for consumers isn’t that valuable in my view. The claim was that innovation comes from entrepreneurs. That’s not the case with the internet.

    If (and when) you have a lot of entrepreneurship, these people won't be for trade unions.ssu

    Who cares? Unions don’t exist for owners’ interests.

    Small businesses aren’t the problem. Most don’t need unions because they get along fine. Everyone knows each other.
  • ssu
    Packaging research and innovation that is publicly funded into a pretty package for consumers isn’t that valuable in my view. The claim was that innovation comes from entrepreneurs. That’s not the case with the internet.Mikie
    There's the technological innovation and then there's the innovation to use the technology in various ways.

    If the net would be a) just a military application, none of us would use it and if b) it would be just by universities and public organizations, the vast majority would not use it. Not at our spare time, likely. You see, without the entrepreneurs these technologies would be just like computers were in the 1970's and 1960's: used by companies and organizations by specific "computing"-branches, which dealt with using computers.
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