Saturday, March 1, 2014

Do We Need More Unions?

Many years ago, one of the outcomes of business owner greed was the formation of unions.  These organizations protected workers from inadequate wages as well as hazardous working conditions.  If management didn't behave well, the workers were called out on strike.  Negotiations ensued and deals were struck -- often favoring the workers.  The company had to comply or risk losing the business. 

While taking the Circle Island Tour on Oahu -- during the early seventies -- we were introduced to the ill effects unions had induced there.  Per our guide, the unions had priced the pineapple business right off the island.

At home on the Mainland, the graft in some of the union organizations was calling their value into question.  Some really strong unions still remain, but there is movement afoot to get their influence reduced or neutralized where possible.

Certainly it gives one pause to wonder why a factory worker has the potential to earn almost twice as much as the average teacher.  How can we pay more for factory line work than we pay for the education of our precious children?  Well, we can do it because they have a stronger and more effective union.  The good of the unions versus the bad is brought to mind.

According to Rana Foroohar (Time Magazine, March 3, 2014), Republican legislators, the Koch brothers and Grover Norquist have been fighting the formation of a Union for the VW plant in Tennessee.  Their efforts were productive, as the vote went against the union.  Some of the workers said they voted against the union because they were being paid $15 per hour -- the amount minimum wage would be if it had increased at the same rate as inflation.  What would they begin receiving if they had voted for the Union?

So, is that a good thing?  It seems unrealistic to create unions for every kind of worker, but American businessmen and Republican conservatives continue to reign unchecked.  We wouldn't be having the current minimum wage debate if there were unions for all levels of workers.  Scary thought, isn't it?  But it's even more scary to think of all the children in America who grow up in poverty because the Koch brothers and their ilk think it is okay for the business owners to exploit their workers.

So, do we need more unions?  Need?  Well, probably.  Why?  Because the greedy will not consent to paying their help a living wage without a struggle equivalent to a war of the classes.  But, there may be an alternative.

Why don't our businessmen just do the right thing and quit exploiting everybody else?  After all, you can't take your money to heaven, but if you should somehow luck into getting there, you will need the good will of the Almighty.

Of course, businessmen (and their friends in congress) don't want unions or any more regulations that constrict the rights of  the affluent.  But why do they continue to behave in such a disgraceful manner?

Sharing the wealth with those who earn your wealth is a really good thing.  It offers the workers the opportunity to participate in purchasing food, clothing, shelter and a few luxuries.  To let them participate, will bring this country back to its former position as the financial leader in the world economy.  It will also go a long way toward showing us as a moral leader to the world.

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