(Editor’s note: One of our conservative readers (God bless ‘em, we have a few) challenged my statement a few days back saying Gov. Walker had taken away collective bargaining rights, noting while they can’t bargain on anything else, workers can still bargain on wages (up to but not over inflation – he didn’t mention that):
“You have some untruths in your last blog. Walker did not take away the collective bargaining rights of state workers!!! He just limited it to bargaining for wages as it should be!! They can still bargain. One untruth pretty much takes away from the believability of the rest of it.”
In a second note the reader explained his position further: “…wage is all that they should be entitled to bargain for. They don’t run the place – they just work there.”
Given this in one of the corporate anti-recall talking points we are hearing out there from the GOP goombahs I thought I’d share my response. – Mark L. Taylor 11/23/11)
Sorry, I don’t own a micro laser to split hairs that fine.
Wages are not just the only thing labor has the right to bargain for. If they didn’t – if all they had to bargain on was wages – we’d be back to kids working in mines and workers losing limbs. That may be your idea of heaven, but it ain’t mine. That may be your concept of a profitable economy and brilliant way to run a company but facts argue otherwise.
Owners may have the capital, but they don’t make products, labor does. Without labor that money can’t really do much. Labor needs capital to have a place to work. It is – should be – a partnership. That’s how it works best.
For example, the German economy is doing very well and most experts agree they do so well because German federal law mandates that voting union members be on the board of directors.
The results have been improved efficiency through targeted savings that come from the shop floor, greater buy-in from workers knowing they had a say in things, improved communication between boardroom and loading dock, smarter product design and more efficient production, a willingness to make shared sacrifice (both labor and owner) when times are tough and an overall esprit de corps hard to find in the American workplace because they are aware that through their shared efforts all are in the same boat.
Ironically, with strong unions there is LESS of an “us versus them” dynamic going on there than here.
They also have far less disparity in income between entry level worker and top executive. I think it is around 100% as opposed to in the US where it has bloated out to about 450%. (Sorry, we have to cut your benefits, you know how it goes, tough times, blah, blah, blah…)
Here in the US the 1-percenters have this control thing going on and, boy, ain’t it working great? It’s done wonders for the US economy. Fact is, our economy was strongest in the mid 50′s to mid 60′s when we had top tax rates of 90%, strong unions and the pay differential between top execs and entry level workers ran about 50%. A strong, growing and hopeful middle class meant more wealth for everyone.
Here’s a quote that sums up the situation on this labor/owner thing.
Now, warning, it is from a radical labor organizer from years ago. But nonetheless, he really puts the whole relationship in proper perspective:
“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”
- Abraham Lincoln
Damn rabble rouser. I’m glad you brought this topic up. I used this quote in the earliest days of the DC and it is time to use it again.
What’s great about this time is that all these old constructs are in the process of falling apart. All the joints are rotten and rusty from greed and arrogance and short-sightedness and Libertarian theology over thought. That’s why the cops have been dispatched to break heads. Those in control are getting that people no longer buy their lie so they are trying to beat people back into line.
The greed has – as Marx actually predicted – swallowed itself and we’ve passed a tipping point.
(Note a few minor changes were made from the original to correct spelling, clarity and provide for the reader’s privacy. – MLT)
November 23, 2011