Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Young People Don't Need Unions If They Want To Succeed In Work & Life

Recently, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a joint Letter to the Editor from two union leaders who repeatedly touched on socialist items under the guise of the American work force. The letter was entitled, “Young People Need Unions. They've Not Been Told What Collective Action Can Accomplish.”

The piece, compiled by Michael Fedor and Jennifer Jannon, touted on shockingly anti-American principles. Let's get started with the diagnosis:

“Young workers are among those hardest hit by the economic recession and the group least likely to have health insurance. We are shockingly likely to be living with our parents because we can't afford to pay rent -- let alone a mortgage. A recent study done by the AFL-CIO and Working America found 34 percent of workers under the age of 35 still living with parents, a number that jumped to 52 percent for those making less than $30,000 per year.”

First off, how is this different than just about any other generation? Nearly 20 years ago, when I was starting out after graduating college, I lived with my fiance. We had a plan to live together, pooled our money together, and survive day-by-day. We rented a small apartment. Then a larger one. Then an even larger one. Then half a house. Then we worked enough to buy a house. I was 30 when we closed the deal. From what I understand, that was my parents' plan slightly more than 20 years before that. And so on.
Secondly, if a young worker makes $30,000 a year, count yourself lucky. As someone in your early 20's, college graduate or not, you most likely don't have the work resume to make that kind of scratch. The same was correct 20 years ago. In fact, my goal was to make more money every year. Through hard work, that basically happened. To toss a blind “$30,000” at someone in their late teens or early 20's is fiscal bankruptcy. Who pays these wild prices? The consumer. Any consumer.

Back to the manic assertions of Fedor and Jannon: “Young workers know that the answers to their struggles won't necessarily come from employers. Just 41 percent said they strongly trusted their employer to treat them fairly. Young adults, in other words, need the benefits of union membership more than anyone.
That's why, as young adults in the labor movement, we were pleased by the focus on young workers at the recent AFL-CIO convention in Pittsburgh.”

They say that “just 41 percent...” I wonder if my grandfather, working in coal mines 60 years ago, had a higher “satisfaction” rate for his managers. Yes, he was a proud member of the United Mine Workers Association back in the day. Did “Pap” have top-of-the-line accommodations all the while working in an industry that defined the need for early unions? Seeing that the biggest thing he did in my lifetime was add a second trailer onto the decades-old one I remember from my earliest days. Family, not contractors, built the wonderful hallway between the two residences.
It's clear that Fedor and Jannon are aiming for the lowest-common-denominator: soft-mushy-minds of the disenfranchised who aren't ambitious, hard-working, principled employees. Instead, they are cobbling archaic ideals into empty ideas that—as a vantage point—somehow got the least-qualified Presidential candidate in the history of the union the top spot in the land.

More from Fedor and Jannon: “The need to involve younger workers wasn't just given lip service. This convention saw the election of the first woman and the youngest AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer ever, Liz Shuler, 39. A powerful new voice in the labor movement, she told the convention, 'It's not that today's young people don't like unions; it's just that they really don't know about us.'
How true. In school, most of us weren't taught that America's working people, united in unions, fought to win weekends off, the 40-hour work week, the minimum wage and safe workplaces. Nor were we taught that union members now earn 30 percent more and are 52 percent more likely to have employer-provided health insurance than nonunion workers. Or that for women and people of color, the best guarantee of equal pay for equal work is a union contract.”

Only a moron wouldn't use a relatively-minor office to showcase a a “young” leader. That being said, Shuler, 39, isn't young enough to be touted as youthful. Richard Trumka, 60, the new union president, seemed like an old man 30 years ago when he was yielding a relatively-heavy thuggish persona in the coal mining industry. Add to that the fact that he was an attorney and his creepiness was off the charts.
And by the way, when Trumka was “standing up to management” in 1979 in Western Pennsylvania, the coal mining industry was crippled throughout the region as a result. Mines closed, jobs were lost. Families were ruined. Forever.

It's beyond easy to call rallies for unionization asinine. Here's perhaps the coup de' gras: “These omissions have done our generation a disservice by obscuring the power of collective action. Instead, we've been taught that progress comes from above and that our success should be measured by what we alone accomplish.”

Again: “that our success should be measured by what we alone accomplish.” Economies are created, lives are enriched by “what we alone accomplish.” There were reports that the lunatics at the AFL-CIO convention booed a picture of Ronald Reagan. Reagan, who as president, railed against large governments, all the while extolling the virtues of the individual. Unionizing, just to save the least-productive worker for the highest hourly-rate possible, is extreme madness and way-of-life destroying. We won't even talk about the freedoms of working without “union representation.” The next union member I meet who is proudly ambitious at work will be the first.

The twosome continue: “Even for those of our generation who want to join unions, it's difficult to do so. Decades of union-busting have left many too afraid to risk their jobs with an attempt to unionize; workers are fired in one-third of unionization attempts. Passage of real labor law reform would go a long way toward ensuring that all workers have the freedom to join a union.”

In many areas of labor, unionizing is simply unfeasible. Only a few years ago, I enjoyed a part-time job in which fellow workers were eager to hear from a union organizer. I attended the meetings and heard altruistic, but unreasonable pay demands from co-workers. Those discussions continued after my time there was over. Within the blink of an eye, many of those jobs were eliminated. Guess what? They were not necessary jobs and management reacted accordingly.

Let's conclude Fedor and Jannon's argument: “Beyond that, young workers face unique challenges. As employers hire more temporary, part-time and contract employees, we feel stuck -- and ever more isolated.
That's why the renewed commitment from the AFL-CIO to help younger workers find their voices is so exciting. Every day Working America, the community-organizing affiliate of the AFL-CIO, talks to people who don't have unions in their workplaces but want to be heard on issues like health care and job security. We know that the passion for change is out there, waiting to be tapped.
To do that, the AFL-CIO is joining partner unions and organizations to engage our generation, awaken the best in us and involve us in the movement that built this nation -- and that will rebuild it better than ever.”

Not once is an argument for success or excellence forwarded in this naive, insulated diatribe. Success and excellence can only be forged with the freedom, hard-work and determination that is gleefully placed on the back-burner of this argument.
Unionizing for the sake of unionizing destroys jobs. That much is fact. Simple economics proves that unions cannot operate fast-food restaurants. The average burger flipper or mop person is a kid just starting out, a part-timer looking for supplemental income or a retiree looking for something to do. The aggressive worker at the corner fast-food joint is in the management program. There isn't a custodian in America who should earn $25 an hour to push a broom, yet unions prod for that type of wage.
Entrepreneurship has and will always run this country. They are the risk takers who will employ workers at a fair market value.

Unions did at one time assure menial laborers weren't being killed on the job. Antique unions made sure workers got paid over time and had time off. Today, unions push for Sundays off, all the while members routinely stay away from the church services “unions” seemingly wanted to protect.
America was built on ingenuity and personal accomplishments. Not the selfishness of a few. There's a genuine reason why union membership is on the wane in big numbers. Collective action slows growth to an excessive crawl.


Mark Rauterkus said...

The Huddler said he read this anti-union stuff and then had to barf. I saw it on twitter.

Oh well. I hadn't even noticed the post until now.

Thomas Leturgey said...

Who is the Huddler? I should care, why? :-)