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Union Thuggery with the Force of Government

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Let’s take a refreshing moment to admit the truth. President Obama and his administration are 100% owned by the criminal bosses of the labor unions. When they say jump, he says how high and his minions in the executive branch jump with him.

When Governor Scott Walker decided to take a stand against ongoing union extortion and exploitation of their members in Wisconsin, it was inevitable that the unions would strike back, and they have now opened a new front in their war against free labor. And not surprisingly, they are using the government to do their dirty work for them. They paid for this administration and they’re getting their money’s worth.

Over 100 years ago Samuel Gompers realized that the way for unions to succeed was to imitate the tactics of the worst parts of our corporate culture. In his day that meant extortion and intimidation and monopolizing labor like a resource. In recent years, as corporations have found government to be the easy road to market monopolization the labor unions have followed along right behind them, using the power of government to protect their interests, expand their control and shield them from accountability for their actions.

The result is that today we see our economy and our free market corrupted by monopolistic corporations and monopolistic unions, both empowered and protected by their relationship with government, a relationship which pervades and corrupts our entire political system. Capitalism in its natural form is a laudable basis for an economy. Unions are by nature a legitimate expression of the rights of workers. But combine either of them with a government willing to grant them special powers and protections and they easily become exploitative and destructive of liberty.

We see a classic example of this today as unions assert their power through government in the National Labor Relations Board’s attack on Boeing. The NLRB has declared that Boeing is acting with an “unlawful motive” in deciding to open a new production facility in South Carolina and that it cannot open that factory because opening a factory in a non-union state is a violation of the National Labor Relations Act.

Boeing’s motivation for moving part of their operation to South Carolina isn’t in dispute. They want to get out from under the thumb of unions which enjoy strong government protections in Washington state. As one Boeing executive said, “We cannot afford to have a work stoppage, you know, every three years.”

Boeing is a unique kind of manufacturer because their products are hugely expensive and produced on a tight schedule to meet advance sales. Any kind of slowdown in production is devastating to the company which often has its very existence at risk on the production of the next line of new airplanes. If they can’t keep delivering planes on schedule they face penalties and debt defaults which could destroy the company.

The nature of their business makes Boeing particularly vulnerable to unions and it’s not surprising that they want to move their vital 787 plant, which is the future of the company, to a state like South Carolina where skilled workers are plentiful and unions do not enjoy special protections from government.

It is not unreasonable for a company to look for more workers at a market price who want to work on the company’s terms. It’s responsible management. It is, however, totally unreasonable for unions to use the force of government through the NRLB to try to coerce that company into not moving to a right to work state and try to force them to remain in a higher priced labor market.

They’re lucky that Boeing only wanted to move to a right to work state, because they could very well have moved their plant out of the country for even lower wages and to escape union bullying as so many other companies have done. Boeing is at a disadvantage because their heavy industry is hard to relocate and they need technical skills which aren’t widely available. This makes them more vulnerable, and government should be protecting them, not saddling them with more costs and more hassles.

Government should not be acting as an agent for the unions in harassing them. They ought to be looking for ways to protect their rights instead, and one of those rights which should be enjoyed by a big corporation as much as a small one or an individual, is to go where you want to go and hire who you want to hire to do your work, not be forced to make those decisions under threat from the state.

Workers should be able to choose where they work and companies should be able to choose who they hire and where they do their work. That’s a free market, but the unions don’t want labor to be free they want to control it and through it control the businesses which need that labor, and their tool for this power grab is now the government.

The problem here is not the idea of unionized labor, but the corrupt reality and the hold it has on our government, especially with the current administration. They don’t need to send in thugs and saboteurs as they did in an earlier era when they have the NLRB to do their dirty work for them.

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About Dave Nalle

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dave –

    But combine either of them with a government willing to grant them special powers and protections and they easily become exploitative and destructive of liberty.

    And the same thing can be said of corporations.

    Dave, how strong was our manufacturing sector when Reagan took office? We were the strongest in the world. Now – after thirty-plus years of Reaganomics, and after the percentage of American workers in private-sector unions has fallen by two-thirds – how’s our manufacturing sector?

    And if unions are so incredibly bad, Dave, then why is it that ALL first-world democracies (except for America, now) have strong union memberships that are every bit as powerful in their government as you claim America’s are?

    Think about it, Dave – America’s middle class was STRONGEST when we had a strong union membership nationwide…but our middle class has declined since the advent of Reaganomics…and you know it. After decades of decent wage growth among the middle class while unions were strong, American wages have been largely STAGNANT since Reaganomics took hold and unions were deemed the cause of all our economic woes.

    Of course, in the thirty years while our public unions were being decimated and our middle- and lower-class wages remained stagnant, the wealthy saw their income increase by FOUR HUNDRED PERCENT!!!!!

    So where’s the trickle-down benefit, Dave?

    Where’s the boom to America’s business sector when unions went away, Dave?

    Why did our unemployment rate not fall even though union membership plummeted?

    Why did thousands of American factories move overseas – and are CONTINUING to move overseas – even though our private-sector unions are FAR weaker than at any time since the Great Depression?

    And WHY is Boeing STILL the biggest and best airline manufacturer in the world despite the fact that Boeing has been almost completely unionized since the 1950’s?

    It’s all because you and every other conservative have it backwards, Dave. Without unions, businesses keep wages and benefits to a minimum. Peoples’ living standards do not improve, they have less opportunity for higher education, they have less opportunity to save and buy houses and start businesses of their own. What you don’t get is that trickle-UP DOES work. If the workers are paid more, their living standards improve, they get more education, they buy houses and start businesses of their own.

    If this were not the case, then the FAR more heavily-unionized European first-world democracies would not have standards of living higher than our own.

    With trickle-UP, Dave, everybody wins. NO, I’m not saying unlimited wages are the key! But keeping wages at a minimum is DESTRUCTIVE to society, and is thus equally destructive to the companies trying to make money therein.

  • http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/author/danmiller/ Dan(Miller)

    Here’s an article from that far right rag the New York Times, noting some pertinent concerns.

    Boeing criticized the timing of the N.L.R.B.’s complaint, saying it came when construction of the factory in North Charleston, S.C., was nearly complete and after 1,000 employees had already been hired there.

    Boeing said on Wednesday that none of the production jobs in South Carolina had come at the expense of jobs in Washington. It noted that its unionized employment in the Puget Sound area had increased by 2,000 since it announced its decision to expand in South Carolina.

    The company also said it had decided to expand in South Carolina in part to protect business continuity and to reduce the damage to its finances and reputation from future work stoppages.

    Bad, bad Boeing.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Both Dave and Dan conveniently ignore the stated reason for the NLRB action: that Boeing is acting in retaliation for past strikes. This may or may not be an accurate claim, but even to acknowledge it and debate it doesn’t fit into Dave’s [as always outrageously and shamelessly one-sided] storytelling.

    The first two paragraphs of this article are blatantly fictional, and would be funny if they weren’t also so hatefully, recklessly destructive. You should be ashamed of writing, and Blogcritics should be ashamed of publishing, such rank nonsense.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dan –

    Of course you probably don’t know about when Boeing moved their headquarters to Chicago, or how they outsourced manufacturing of many of the parts for the new 787 Dreamliner to about 10 different countries.

    Good, good Boeing….

  • http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/author/danmiller/ Dan(Miller)

    Glen,

    Boeing and other manufacturing companies in the U.S. have just been given a great reason, excuse or whatever you wish to call it, for further outsourcing. That will, of course, create or save lots of jobs, but not in the U.S.

    Dan(Miller)

  • zingzing

    dave: “Let’s take a refreshing moment to admit the truth. President Obama and his administration are 100% owned by the criminal bosses of the labor unions.”

    jesus christ, dave, get a grip. how much spin can you take before you puke?

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Handy, a business has a right to react to being bullied by unions. They have a right not to be pushed around and have their business harmed. The government and the unions do not have the right to force them to sit still and be abused.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    a business has a right

    warning will robinson…

    (shouldn’t only people should have rights?)

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    yeah, shouldn’t only people should?

    sheeze…

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    I hope every company in the US outsources every single job. I can’t wait to see what all the patriots will do then.

  • Cannonshop

    The funny part of this, is up until the last strike, Boeing pretty much relied on labor problems to fix delivery schedule issues with a clause in the purchase contracts that allowed them to ‘slip’ delivery dates due to labor issues (i.e. strikes), while maintaining their receiving offices (Teamsters instead of IAM, and Boeing’s Teamsters generally DON’T go on strike when contract time comes…)

    The other funny bit, is that Washington State taxes Boeing on inventory (one of the main pushes for the “Moving Line” idea-those taxes are high enough to hurt…)
    While Carolina…doesn’t.

    Over the last decade-and-a-half, the Management team at Boeing has changed considerably-things that weren’t issues on the production floor because they were handled in-house, have turned into major problems (see the slipping on certificatoin and delivery of 787’s-they tossed the entire battery of knowledge gained in over seventy years of aircrafting and let the marketing and MBA people design a system that is disfunctional to an extraordinary degree, including outsourcing to major competitors such as EADS…idiots. You don’t give your major competitor a back-door into your engineering and supply chain!)

    We’re coming up on elections inside the IAM, and the union’s brass need to show that they’re “Doing Something”-the Vought De-Certification vote a couple years ago still gets talked about on the floor, therefore, an NLRB suit is not unlikely, if only to show that the current leadership is up to the job…

    as for it being “Retaliation”?

    Boeing has sites in several right-to-work states big enough to run the 787 program out of BESIDES North Carolina, and still relies on the former Boeing Wichita to provide body-structures for the 737 and 737 Next Generation craft, along with the P-8. North Carolina offered them a good bargain, with low cost of living, cheap land, deals on state taxes, and less hassle than Washington State gives the company, a move with a new programme is cheaper than trying to transfer existing programmes (particularly the 747,767/tanker,737 and 777), but not because of labor issues-it’s because the tooling and infra for those programmes are already deeply established here. 787, on the other hand, is a ‘pop together’ plane built out of outsourced body-sections (that, presumably, will someday work together the way they were supposed to from the start-eventually. Now that Boeing has control over the engineering of the sections…at last…maybe), this requires less skill. The plastic plane also requires less skill, because instead of having to yard out a misdrilled section or damaged area, they can bring in three guys, some inflatables, and a glue-gun to fix it. This is something you can’t do with a metal airframe.

    Given that in the first year of the programme, they ran through 900 new-hires who couldn’t be arsed to show up for work on a regular basis (that means they hired ‘em, and had to fire ‘em)…

    Well, there aren’t too many IAM members in the other programmes feeling all that threatened by the Carolina site-it hasn’t even started assembling the airframes there yet, and there’s no telling what the quality differences or manpower issues are going to look like once it actually gets rolling…

    IF it actually gets rolling, IF the 787 can pass FAA airframe type certification, and IF the pre-orders don’t evaporate when Airbus debuts their new composite plane.

    Lots of ‘if’ involved, for an act of spite as the NLRB alleges, that’s a hell of a lot of risk to take with the shareholders’ money. Retaliation is generally something you do “Cheaper”, at least, if you want to stay in business and keep making money.

    Unfortunately, like I said, there’s been a lot of change in upper management since they moved the office to Chicago-including the integration of the upper management team that drove McDonnell Douglas into the ground, so there’s no telling if the case can really be dismissed…

  • Nailman

    …including the integration of the upper management team that drove McDonnell Douglas into the ground,…

    Brilliant.

    Absolutely brilliant.

  • Boeke

    Our industrial system is pathetically archaic. Inability to solve labor problems is just one of the problems that are baked into a primitive system designed mostly to facilitate exploitation of successful companies rather than building and maintaining successful companies.

    We have to radically overhaul and modernize our corporate charter system.

    It’s absurd that we are still fighting union vs. management wars the same way we were 100 years ago, especially since both have the high stakes of today. For one thing, the Board Of Directors (which has degenerated into the plaything of top management, who exploit it for short term bonus yield) should be 50% elected by employees, as in Germany.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dan –

    Boeing and other manufacturing companies in the U.S. have just been given a great reason, excuse or whatever you wish to call it, for further outsourcing. That will, of course, create or save lots of jobs, but not in the U.S.

    Actually, Dan, the real reason they outsourced parts of the 787 manufacture overseas was to encourage those other nations to buy the 787 when it came out…and their strategy is working. That’s the same reason why Toyota built plants here in America…and the Camry is now the most American-built car made in America.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    C-shop –

    So…are you a member of the IAM?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    For at least 30 years, Democratic and Republican presidents have done a push-and-pull on labor regulations, just as they have on environmental policy and abortion policy. Each new administration undoes the actions of the previous one.

    To present the current Boeing case as some sort of unique, historic example of corruption is…here it comes….just propaganda.

    Republicans defend the ‘rights’ of big companies and Dems defend workers, often unionized workers. Corporate money goes largely to Republicans and union money goes largely to Dems. Is this corruption, or just the way democracy works [see Supreme Court, Citizens Union]?

  • Clytemnestra

    It seems like the Boeing case is just an example or a symptom of a badly broken system of regulation which has bees corrupted by special interests.

  • Clavos

    We have to radically overhaul and modernize our corporate charter system.

    Agree — but without the government participating. It should be left up to management, the unions, and capital (stockholders); the government’s only participation should be to demand that it be done.

    If the government participates at a substantive level, the end result will be a clusterf–k.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    And when management and labor profoundly disagree, and one asks the government for relief…? That’s more or less what is happening here.

  • Clavos

    When that happens, handy, those groups need to find ways to re-establish the dialog and get on with their business. But they need to do that themselves; involving the government will only worsen the problem, not improve it.

  • Clavos

    In fact, the current Boeing flap is an excellent case in point demonstrating how much the government’s participation effs the situation up. If the NLRB had just stayed out of the fray, it’s likely tempers would not have flared to the degree they have and the problem mightr even have been resolved by now.

    I say that from experience: for years, i was a management negotiator for an airline whose employees were represented by the IAM. I participated in dozens of negotiations, ranging from one individual’s grievance to periodic renegotiation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and everything in between. We (company and union) often started negotiating poles apart, but in all those years never failed to reach an agreement. And we did so with only occasional (and very minimal low level) participation by government in the form of arbitration from the NLRB.

  • Boeke

    Clavos’ negotiation experience is out of date. As union influence has diminished management attitudes have hardened and become more relentless.

  • Clavos

    Clavos’ negotiation experience is out of date. As union influence has diminished management attitudes have hardened and become more relentless.

    Once again, you spout unsupported nonsense from a position of ignorance.

    In the case of Boeing and its Carolina plant, the union has the NLRB and the Community Organizer on its side; “management attitudes” aren’t going to prevail in this one, no matter how righteous their position.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos #21 – that’s very interesting. That’s one of the things I enjoy about this site – you never know the level of experience of the people you interact with.

  • S.T..M

    The union movement is a great thing. It’s part of the reason – a big part – why we have decent wages, a good standard of living, workplace safety, etc etc.

    Those employed by others need a voice. They only get that voice collectively. Collective bargaining is what brought most of the things I’ve listed above.

    It’s only when unions believe they control the agenda that problems arise. They don’t work if they see themselves as being at war with employers, in a constant battle for the rights of workers, rather than in partnership.

    Unfortunately, many employers left to their own devices prefer to think of profits over the people who are actually making their profits. That isn’t partnership either.

    Which is why the only way this can work is through legislation that nails down wages and workers’ rights, and why governments can help in this process by allowing courts and tribunals to rule indepedently on collective bargaining agreements.

    Doing away with collective bargaining and the nailing down of certain rights and conditions in the workplace – including those for unfair dismissal – is a step towards anarchy.

    It does no one any favours.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    STM –

    Well said, and sure to get you branded a socialist.

  • Cannonshop

    #15 Yes, Glenn…didn’t I say before I’m basically pro-Union in the private sector?

    There are more Conservatives/soft Libertarians in the IAM at Boeing, than there are (percentage wise) in management-upper management tends to vote and donate Democrat and toward Liberal orthodoxy in general to a much higher degree than the people on the line (or, as in the last strike, on the Picket Line).

    Fun history for you: typical strike votes run about 60/40, the last strike, with major problems on the 787 line, the fastener shortage caused by a single-source supplier getting mucked up (titanium screws, if you can believe it), and tooling issues, saw an 87% vote to go on strike, with one rejection of a second offer during the 58 days. The IAM is about 30% (in our area) self-identified Republican, and about 48% self-identified Liberal/Democrat, and unlike locals in some other states, we have contested elections for the offices at the Local and Lodge level.

    The last strike was, as much as anything, about dissatisfaction with how management was fucking up on the 787 programme, and the loss of the 767 tanker in 2004 due to management level screwing up.

    We bought them TIME to fix some of the shortages, problems, and issues that were slowing production,and tried to send an informal message to stop screwing around and get things back in order.

    ’cause, see, most of us who’ve been here more than a couple years own stock, and have vested interest in seeing the company sell…and DELIVER aircraft. There are a lot more dimensions to a typical contract year than just pay and benefits packages.

    In 2002, we gave up some benefits and took a hit on pay to keep the company in business-look it up.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    C-shop –

    As you pointed out, your union’s done much to help the company in the face of management stupidity. I remember well the screw-up by the female Air Force officer that led to the 767 tanker fleet bid fiasco and marveling just how utterly idiotic her actions were – she HAD to have known better!

    So that begs the question – why, then, would anyone who believes that unions (even if only private unions) are good and often necessary then vote for the party that wants to weaken and, if possible, completely do away with unions? Yes, I do realize that unions are not perfect, that they often overstep their bounds…but you apparently realize their benefit and their necessity, but you’re normally supporting the conservatives, most of whom would like nothing more than to get rid of unions altogether?

    Why do you support such politicians?

  • Boeke

    Unions are human social organisations and subject to error. The trick is to have corrective forces within and without. Elimination is not the solution to corruption.

    Hell, we humans can’t even make a church that goes any time without stealing from it’s members and diddling it’s children.

    Eternal vigilance is required.

  • Cannonshop

    #28 It’s a matter of balancing priorities across a broader scale than just party lines, Glenn. The strongest time in the American Labor movement (in terms of both percentage of the labor force organized, and in terms of family-supporting wages within the economy OF those times) was a period when the labor movement was strongly anticommunist. It’s well and good that a democrat like Patty Murray likes unions, but it doesn’t do a damn bit of good when the same politician that likes unions, also panders to people who want to put the industries that provide the union jobs out of business, or favours trade pacts that encourage the offshoring of jobs (GATT 1, GATT 2, NAFTA) while at the same time raising the cost of doing business (or building things) here at home.

    Being out of a job, but encouraged to organize, is still being out of a job.

    As a party, the Democrats are distinctly anti-industry, even the pro-business ones-with the opposition, there is at least the CHANCE that concessions can be gained through activity-there is no chance that the concessions will mean anything if the jobs go away entirely, whether because they left the country, or the businesses providing those jobs are no longer there.

    Higher wages don’t mean squat if the money isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on, either, and tighter regulations that don’t do what they purport to do (Cap and Trade being a prime example),but DO raise the cost of doing business, don’t help union workers-they hurt them, by encouraging employers to leave, or shut down, or ‘make do’ by not hiring new people to replace people retiring, or by cutting into customer base, which causes layoffs.

    Philosophically, Government should be Neutral-that is, neither favouring business, nor unions, but instead favouring whatever mixture is most likely to result in a stable, positive economic condition for the nation as a whole. Generally, I believe that a working labor movement, and a vigorous and competitive business environment, are necessary for economic health, and that Unions can and do play a small role in that-when they are not excessively influential, and when they are not de-facto fundraising and enforcement arms for one or more competing factions in government.

    When one side can count on you regardless of what they do, you lose your power to influence them, regardless of whether or not they are in power at the state or federal level. The damage cuts more than one way, as well-because if you’re being taken for granted by a political party, their opposite numbers will take it for granted that you will never support them regardless of their individual policies, so you lose the ability to influence THEM as well.

    it’s lose-lose, a proposition that is applicable in many different areas of modern politics, including gun-rights, abortion, civil liberties, even national security. To have influence over the political process, you must be able to say, “Listen to me, or the other guy will get in-I’ll make damn sure of it…”

    And you have to be able to make them BELIEVE you.

    The NRA manages to be relevant on Capitol Hill precisely because they are willing to cross party lines and support Democrats-this gives them power and influence, because their support is not a “lock” for Republican candidates.

    Labor SHOULD be the same way-but it is assumed by Republicans to be an ‘autovote’ for Democrats, and assumed by Dems to be an autovote, therefore, only platitudes are mouthed, while bargaining power and economic strength are compromised, and (as you no doubt have seen in Wisconsin), the result is that organized labor is weakened as a force for good. (it doesn’t help that the purple-shirt SEIU guys are such utter political-douchebags. people are not lured into supporting brownshirt tactics-at least, outside of places like Chicago and Detroit…)

    FAct is, Glenn, that for Unions to survive, at least, the kind of Unions that are good for the economy and the nation, they’ve got to stop being an autovote for anybody running hard-left on the political scale, Leftists are putting us out of work with externalities while punishing employers who hire us. Not a good mix.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/realist Realist

    EARTH TO DAVE! FIRE YOUR RETROS! YOU’RE ESCAPING THE SOLAR SYSTEM!

    My dear editor. You really should have been a local official like I have. It would shock you to know how little power unions have. My employer laughs at us when we attempt to exercise our legal rights during negotiations, telling us that we need to shut up and sit down lest they take something away from us.

    But I’m sure you mean the bigger unions like the UAW. How many thousands of those members lost all of their income, how many saw their wages cut in half, how many retirees lost all of their health care coverage DUE TO OBAMA, the functioning CEO of GM for much of the past two years? Why do I suspect you don’t have a clue?

    Listen, boss. I don’t want to see you embarrass yourself like this. I know the wildfires in Texas are making y’all nervous as a sheep near a cowboy, but I happen to know that you have ice water for blood. Show us that Stetson atop that chrome dome of yours isn’t just a pose. Wake up and smell the meadow muffin before you roll into it in your sleep.

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