Commentary: Labor Day 2007 Thoughts

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Labor Day dates back to the 1880s and was originally founded as a means to give a day of rest to the working people. It was placed in early September as a means distance it on the calendar from the more radical celebrations on May 1. President Grover Cleveland feared that such a date in May could become a commemoration of the Haymarket Riots in Chicago in May of 1886.

In modern days, Labor Day is typically seen as the end of summer and a day of recognition for working people.

It is also a reminder to many the sacrifices and struggle for the rights of working people that have taken place over the last 120 plus years from the fight for 40 hour work week,to the fight for the livable wage and safe working conditions. Many forget now that strikes and protests were often met with violent resistance from the management in coordination from the law. A strike meant replacement workers, violent repression, and risk not only of wages but life and blacklisting.

It is within these contexts that we must recognize the true nature of the struggle for the rights of working people in this country. Our standard of living and middle class lifestyle that people in this country strive to achieve and some take for granted were forged on the blood, sweat and toil of early labor movements.

What I have found interesting and disturbing in my coverage of the Sodexho Worker’s struggle is the degree to which anti-unionism is prevalent even in supposedly liberal Davis. For many, there is a clear recognition that labor has played an immense role in the history of this country, however for some, their place is one of the past and not the present. For many the fight for living wages today is not paramount to the fight for safe working environments, the forty hour week, or good wages of the past. Many do not see the threat to turn back many of these protections as equivalent to that struggle. Many do not see that the fight for affordable health care for all, the fight to ensure that each person has access to that health care is not every bit as pertinent today as the struggles of the past were.

But finally and most importantly, I do not think enough people understand what organized labor provides the average worker today. I’ve lived in a union household all of my life. In recent years, I have seen how poorly many workers are treated by their supervisors even today. I have seen the quality of life struggles that have ensued even with the protections built in through the collective bargaining process, and it is clear to me that without the protection of labor unions, many workers and people would be living very difficult lives and be mistreated by their supervisors without recourse. It is clear to me that the struggle for the living wage and health care is alive and well even in 2007.

It was only last year that Davis City Councilmember Lamar Heystek introduced a living wage ordinance for large employers in the city of Davis only to be literally shouted down by his colleagues Don Saylor and Stephen Souza. These are two men who right now are attempting to vie for union support even as they opposed living wage in Davis and supported notorious anti-union big box company Target. Mr. Saylor has repeatedly attempted to get back into the good graces of labor with his support for various health care proposals. Mr. Souza has yet to issue a statement of support for the Sodexho workers, Mr. Saylor’s support was blatantly half-hearted at best.

However, Presidential Candidate John Edwards summed up the need for supporting labor with his Labor Day weekend statement:

“Labor has been the most important anti-poverty movement in American history and the best tool for strengthening our middle class and helping build One America… I am looking forward to spending the weekend visiting with workers and caucus goers to discuss my plans to build One America where working families have a chance to get ahead, guarantee quality, affordable health care to every American and end the war in Iraq.”

And so today, on Labor Day, we need to renew our commitment to pass universal health care so that all Americans have access to the greatest health care coverage in the world. We need to stand in continued to support for strong wages and good working conditions for all. But we need to act locally as well. Councilmember Heystek needs support in his continued fight for the living wage. The city of Davis needs to ensure good living wages for all of its employees, including those who have been outsourced. And we need to stand by in our commitment to the Sodexho Workers as they struggle to become university employees. This is not a novel issue, we are talking about the standard of living and health care for many people who live in our community. On this day, we need to stand with those people and tell those in the position of authority and power that when they impact the wages for one, they are hurting us all.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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60 thoughts on “Commentary: Labor Day 2007 Thoughts”

  1. Mike

    Its good to see that someone still thinks that unions have a role to play… I had long ago given up on unions as a marvelous marketing ploy by overseas manufacturers. Isn’t it funny how as unions reach the zenith of their demands in an industry (auto, steel, cement etc) the actual jobs go to other countries and the “victorious” unions only manage to keep the very well paid party leadership?

  2. Mike

    Its good to see that someone still thinks that unions have a role to play… I had long ago given up on unions as a marvelous marketing ploy by overseas manufacturers. Isn’t it funny how as unions reach the zenith of their demands in an industry (auto, steel, cement etc) the actual jobs go to other countries and the “victorious” unions only manage to keep the very well paid party leadership?

  3. Mike

    Its good to see that someone still thinks that unions have a role to play… I had long ago given up on unions as a marvelous marketing ploy by overseas manufacturers. Isn’t it funny how as unions reach the zenith of their demands in an industry (auto, steel, cement etc) the actual jobs go to other countries and the “victorious” unions only manage to keep the very well paid party leadership?

  4. Mike

    Its good to see that someone still thinks that unions have a role to play… I had long ago given up on unions as a marvelous marketing ploy by overseas manufacturers. Isn’t it funny how as unions reach the zenith of their demands in an industry (auto, steel, cement etc) the actual jobs go to other countries and the “victorious” unions only manage to keep the very well paid party leadership?

  5. davisite

    “…And so today, on Labor Day, we need to renew our commitment to pass universal health care so that all Americans have access to the greatest health care coverage in the world.”

    DPD: Your recent blog mention on this subject omitted SB840,State Senator Kuehl’s Universal Single-Payer Health Care bill. Her bill has the medical insurance industry special interests on the defensive and they have Perata, Nunez and Arnie working to politically defuse SB840 with some weak half-measures. Her bill got increased public exposure when Michael Moore, in declared support of SB840, chose Sacramento as the USA premier opening city for “SICKO” and spent the day at the Capital in public hearings.

  6. davisite

    “…And so today, on Labor Day, we need to renew our commitment to pass universal health care so that all Americans have access to the greatest health care coverage in the world.”

    DPD: Your recent blog mention on this subject omitted SB840,State Senator Kuehl’s Universal Single-Payer Health Care bill. Her bill has the medical insurance industry special interests on the defensive and they have Perata, Nunez and Arnie working to politically defuse SB840 with some weak half-measures. Her bill got increased public exposure when Michael Moore, in declared support of SB840, chose Sacramento as the USA premier opening city for “SICKO” and spent the day at the Capital in public hearings.

  7. davisite

    “…And so today, on Labor Day, we need to renew our commitment to pass universal health care so that all Americans have access to the greatest health care coverage in the world.”

    DPD: Your recent blog mention on this subject omitted SB840,State Senator Kuehl’s Universal Single-Payer Health Care bill. Her bill has the medical insurance industry special interests on the defensive and they have Perata, Nunez and Arnie working to politically defuse SB840 with some weak half-measures. Her bill got increased public exposure when Michael Moore, in declared support of SB840, chose Sacramento as the USA premier opening city for “SICKO” and spent the day at the Capital in public hearings.

  8. davisite

    “…And so today, on Labor Day, we need to renew our commitment to pass universal health care so that all Americans have access to the greatest health care coverage in the world.”

    DPD: Your recent blog mention on this subject omitted SB840,State Senator Kuehl’s Universal Single-Payer Health Care bill. Her bill has the medical insurance industry special interests on the defensive and they have Perata, Nunez and Arnie working to politically defuse SB840 with some weak half-measures. Her bill got increased public exposure when Michael Moore, in declared support of SB840, chose Sacramento as the USA premier opening city for “SICKO” and spent the day at the Capital in public hearings.

  9. Rich Rifkin

    “Our standard of living and middle class lifestyle that people in this country strive to achieve and some take for granted were forged on the blood, sweat and toil of early labor movements.”

    Never mind that this statement is entirely untrue and unsupportable by any historical analysis in the United States or in any other countries. Nonetheless, it is the myth upon which labor union advocates base their emotional arguments.

    In case anyone who reads this is open minded to the truth, the fact is that the (nearly continuous) rise in the standard of living in the U.S. (and in most other well off countries) is derivative of:

    1) the increased productivity of labor, which itself is due to:

    a) improved general education,
    b) improved technical education, and
    c) improved technology and machinery,

    2) better macroeconomic money management,

    3) the development and improvement of the national infrastructure (such as the highway system, airports, etc),

    4) freer international trade and competition,

    5) improved technologies in farming and resource extraction, and

    6) the general improvement in technological infrastructure, permitting more efficient management practices across industry

    There are many other smaller factors which have resulted in generalized improvements in our economy and hence standard of living, but those 6 are the main ones.

    While it is false to claim that organized labor ever had a generalized effect of improving the American standard of living, it is nonetheless true that labor syndicates (particularly in mining and in heavy industry) greatly improved the working conditions, wages and benefits of the average members of those industries. That represents a shift of economic gains from the owners and managers and investors in those industries to the workers. And subjectively, that can be seen as a good thing. However, in a few cases (in a few industries) the strength of the unions was self defeating, ultimately forcing industry to replace workers with labor saving technology or to shift production away from union strongholds. As such, in almost every competitive industry, there is very little bargaining power for unions, despite the good they can do for some of their workers.

    And it is for that reason that almost all of the growth in unions for the last 50 years has been in non-competitive sectors of our economy (such as government). Unions fully understand this, and that understanding causes them to do whatever they can (legislatively) to make sure that other industries are kept as non-competitive as possible. Thus, they fight against free trade (which means competition), they fight for monopolistic corporations (such as utilities), and they fight to restrain the growth of younger, hungrier companies in older industries, where new competition would threaten the existing order. In that sense, unions are the most conservative organizations in our economy: they love monopoly, big static corporations and no competition.

  10. Rich Rifkin

    “Our standard of living and middle class lifestyle that people in this country strive to achieve and some take for granted were forged on the blood, sweat and toil of early labor movements.”

    Never mind that this statement is entirely untrue and unsupportable by any historical analysis in the United States or in any other countries. Nonetheless, it is the myth upon which labor union advocates base their emotional arguments.

    In case anyone who reads this is open minded to the truth, the fact is that the (nearly continuous) rise in the standard of living in the U.S. (and in most other well off countries) is derivative of:

    1) the increased productivity of labor, which itself is due to:

    a) improved general education,
    b) improved technical education, and
    c) improved technology and machinery,

    2) better macroeconomic money management,

    3) the development and improvement of the national infrastructure (such as the highway system, airports, etc),

    4) freer international trade and competition,

    5) improved technologies in farming and resource extraction, and

    6) the general improvement in technological infrastructure, permitting more efficient management practices across industry

    There are many other smaller factors which have resulted in generalized improvements in our economy and hence standard of living, but those 6 are the main ones.

    While it is false to claim that organized labor ever had a generalized effect of improving the American standard of living, it is nonetheless true that labor syndicates (particularly in mining and in heavy industry) greatly improved the working conditions, wages and benefits of the average members of those industries. That represents a shift of economic gains from the owners and managers and investors in those industries to the workers. And subjectively, that can be seen as a good thing. However, in a few cases (in a few industries) the strength of the unions was self defeating, ultimately forcing industry to replace workers with labor saving technology or to shift production away from union strongholds. As such, in almost every competitive industry, there is very little bargaining power for unions, despite the good they can do for some of their workers.

    And it is for that reason that almost all of the growth in unions for the last 50 years has been in non-competitive sectors of our economy (such as government). Unions fully understand this, and that understanding causes them to do whatever they can (legislatively) to make sure that other industries are kept as non-competitive as possible. Thus, they fight against free trade (which means competition), they fight for monopolistic corporations (such as utilities), and they fight to restrain the growth of younger, hungrier companies in older industries, where new competition would threaten the existing order. In that sense, unions are the most conservative organizations in our economy: they love monopoly, big static corporations and no competition.

  11. Rich Rifkin

    “Our standard of living and middle class lifestyle that people in this country strive to achieve and some take for granted were forged on the blood, sweat and toil of early labor movements.”

    Never mind that this statement is entirely untrue and unsupportable by any historical analysis in the United States or in any other countries. Nonetheless, it is the myth upon which labor union advocates base their emotional arguments.

    In case anyone who reads this is open minded to the truth, the fact is that the (nearly continuous) rise in the standard of living in the U.S. (and in most other well off countries) is derivative of:

    1) the increased productivity of labor, which itself is due to:

    a) improved general education,
    b) improved technical education, and
    c) improved technology and machinery,

    2) better macroeconomic money management,

    3) the development and improvement of the national infrastructure (such as the highway system, airports, etc),

    4) freer international trade and competition,

    5) improved technologies in farming and resource extraction, and

    6) the general improvement in technological infrastructure, permitting more efficient management practices across industry

    There are many other smaller factors which have resulted in generalized improvements in our economy and hence standard of living, but those 6 are the main ones.

    While it is false to claim that organized labor ever had a generalized effect of improving the American standard of living, it is nonetheless true that labor syndicates (particularly in mining and in heavy industry) greatly improved the working conditions, wages and benefits of the average members of those industries. That represents a shift of economic gains from the owners and managers and investors in those industries to the workers. And subjectively, that can be seen as a good thing. However, in a few cases (in a few industries) the strength of the unions was self defeating, ultimately forcing industry to replace workers with labor saving technology or to shift production away from union strongholds. As such, in almost every competitive industry, there is very little bargaining power for unions, despite the good they can do for some of their workers.

    And it is for that reason that almost all of the growth in unions for the last 50 years has been in non-competitive sectors of our economy (such as government). Unions fully understand this, and that understanding causes them to do whatever they can (legislatively) to make sure that other industries are kept as non-competitive as possible. Thus, they fight against free trade (which means competition), they fight for monopolistic corporations (such as utilities), and they fight to restrain the growth of younger, hungrier companies in older industries, where new competition would threaten the existing order. In that sense, unions are the most conservative organizations in our economy: they love monopoly, big static corporations and no competition.

  12. Rich Rifkin

    “Our standard of living and middle class lifestyle that people in this country strive to achieve and some take for granted were forged on the blood, sweat and toil of early labor movements.”

    Never mind that this statement is entirely untrue and unsupportable by any historical analysis in the United States or in any other countries. Nonetheless, it is the myth upon which labor union advocates base their emotional arguments.

    In case anyone who reads this is open minded to the truth, the fact is that the (nearly continuous) rise in the standard of living in the U.S. (and in most other well off countries) is derivative of:

    1) the increased productivity of labor, which itself is due to:

    a) improved general education,
    b) improved technical education, and
    c) improved technology and machinery,

    2) better macroeconomic money management,

    3) the development and improvement of the national infrastructure (such as the highway system, airports, etc),

    4) freer international trade and competition,

    5) improved technologies in farming and resource extraction, and

    6) the general improvement in technological infrastructure, permitting more efficient management practices across industry

    There are many other smaller factors which have resulted in generalized improvements in our economy and hence standard of living, but those 6 are the main ones.

    While it is false to claim that organized labor ever had a generalized effect of improving the American standard of living, it is nonetheless true that labor syndicates (particularly in mining and in heavy industry) greatly improved the working conditions, wages and benefits of the average members of those industries. That represents a shift of economic gains from the owners and managers and investors in those industries to the workers. And subjectively, that can be seen as a good thing. However, in a few cases (in a few industries) the strength of the unions was self defeating, ultimately forcing industry to replace workers with labor saving technology or to shift production away from union strongholds. As such, in almost every competitive industry, there is very little bargaining power for unions, despite the good they can do for some of their workers.

    And it is for that reason that almost all of the growth in unions for the last 50 years has been in non-competitive sectors of our economy (such as government). Unions fully understand this, and that understanding causes them to do whatever they can (legislatively) to make sure that other industries are kept as non-competitive as possible. Thus, they fight against free trade (which means competition), they fight for monopolistic corporations (such as utilities), and they fight to restrain the growth of younger, hungrier companies in older industries, where new competition would threaten the existing order. In that sense, unions are the most conservative organizations in our economy: they love monopoly, big static corporations and no competition.

  13. Don Shor

    “…the degree to which anti-unionism is prevalent even in supposedly liberal Davis…”
    I doubt if most Davisites are anti-union. They probably just consider unions irrelevant.

    Today’s commentary is like a time warp. To describe the history of unions without any discussion of their history of racial discrimination, corruption, anti-environmental and anti-free trade positions ignores a significant part of union history.

    By the 1970’s unions were so corrupt and entrenched that liberals had all but given up on them as agents of social change. When Jimmy Carter ran, he was the first Democratic candidate who had ever succeeded without union support. Indeed, the AFL-CIO and other major unions worked with Hubert Humphrey and others in the party to try to block him, throwing their support to (of all people) Jerry Brown in the late primaries. The Teamsters endorsed Nixon and Reagan.

    As Rich points out, the only growth areas for unions now are government workers. The industries where they succeeded simply found cheaper labor elsewhere. It’s a very mixed legacy.

  14. Don Shor

    “…the degree to which anti-unionism is prevalent even in supposedly liberal Davis…”
    I doubt if most Davisites are anti-union. They probably just consider unions irrelevant.

    Today’s commentary is like a time warp. To describe the history of unions without any discussion of their history of racial discrimination, corruption, anti-environmental and anti-free trade positions ignores a significant part of union history.

    By the 1970’s unions were so corrupt and entrenched that liberals had all but given up on them as agents of social change. When Jimmy Carter ran, he was the first Democratic candidate who had ever succeeded without union support. Indeed, the AFL-CIO and other major unions worked with Hubert Humphrey and others in the party to try to block him, throwing their support to (of all people) Jerry Brown in the late primaries. The Teamsters endorsed Nixon and Reagan.

    As Rich points out, the only growth areas for unions now are government workers. The industries where they succeeded simply found cheaper labor elsewhere. It’s a very mixed legacy.

  15. Don Shor

    “…the degree to which anti-unionism is prevalent even in supposedly liberal Davis…”
    I doubt if most Davisites are anti-union. They probably just consider unions irrelevant.

    Today’s commentary is like a time warp. To describe the history of unions without any discussion of their history of racial discrimination, corruption, anti-environmental and anti-free trade positions ignores a significant part of union history.

    By the 1970’s unions were so corrupt and entrenched that liberals had all but given up on them as agents of social change. When Jimmy Carter ran, he was the first Democratic candidate who had ever succeeded without union support. Indeed, the AFL-CIO and other major unions worked with Hubert Humphrey and others in the party to try to block him, throwing their support to (of all people) Jerry Brown in the late primaries. The Teamsters endorsed Nixon and Reagan.

    As Rich points out, the only growth areas for unions now are government workers. The industries where they succeeded simply found cheaper labor elsewhere. It’s a very mixed legacy.

  16. Don Shor

    “…the degree to which anti-unionism is prevalent even in supposedly liberal Davis…”
    I doubt if most Davisites are anti-union. They probably just consider unions irrelevant.

    Today’s commentary is like a time warp. To describe the history of unions without any discussion of their history of racial discrimination, corruption, anti-environmental and anti-free trade positions ignores a significant part of union history.

    By the 1970’s unions were so corrupt and entrenched that liberals had all but given up on them as agents of social change. When Jimmy Carter ran, he was the first Democratic candidate who had ever succeeded without union support. Indeed, the AFL-CIO and other major unions worked with Hubert Humphrey and others in the party to try to block him, throwing their support to (of all people) Jerry Brown in the late primaries. The Teamsters endorsed Nixon and Reagan.

    As Rich points out, the only growth areas for unions now are government workers. The industries where they succeeded simply found cheaper labor elsewhere. It’s a very mixed legacy.

  17. Anonymous

    Thank you so much to Rich and Don for exposing the narrow perspective of the original post. It’s important to encourage debate about the status and evolution of unions, but to do so one must present multiple perspectives.

    I still believe strongly that the trade unions have an important role to play in ensuring that workers in the construction, mining, and other other trades are adequately compensated and protected from workplace risk. As a public employee (although admittedly an at will employee, not a union member), however, I am extremely disappointed in public employee unions.

    Since most public employees (outside of public safety) are not exposed to high levels of workplace risk, public employee unions work to increase the already generous retirement benefits of public employees and make it as difficult as possible to fire anyone for poor performance after the initial probationary period. Both the excessive retirement benefits and the unjustifiable job security result in perverse incentives for government workers who are not happy in – or not well-suited for – their jobs to stay. Managers also have limited ability to fire workers for not performing.

    The excessive retirement benefits also make it difficult for governments to pay competitive salaries that would attract young people with their recent training, new ideas, and energy. These young people are not necessarily attracted to the idea of a pension – rather than a 401(k)s of the private sector – because they may not stay in government for their whole career. Yet their new knowledge and insights – combined with the experience of older government workers – are essential to ensuring that government works more effectively and efficiently than it does today.

    I am one of the few well-educated young people that I know who has chosen to work in government as a career; I have given up a more lucrative career in the private sector as a result. I have one other friend (with a Harvard MBA and a liberal arts B.A.) who tried to work for the New York Board of Education, but left after only a year. She did not feel improvements to education were possible in part because of the influence of the teacher’s union. None of my other friends have ever worked in government and are instead working professionals in the private sector.

    I believe that the efforts of public employee unions to protect existing public employees, regardless of their merit, is at least partially responsible for the inability of government to remove workers who are not performing well and the difficulty of attracting new, well-trained people to government work. In the end, we all suffer because it is those workers that are managing the expenditures of our taxpayer dollars.

  18. Anonymous

    Thank you so much to Rich and Don for exposing the narrow perspective of the original post. It’s important to encourage debate about the status and evolution of unions, but to do so one must present multiple perspectives.

    I still believe strongly that the trade unions have an important role to play in ensuring that workers in the construction, mining, and other other trades are adequately compensated and protected from workplace risk. As a public employee (although admittedly an at will employee, not a union member), however, I am extremely disappointed in public employee unions.

    Since most public employees (outside of public safety) are not exposed to high levels of workplace risk, public employee unions work to increase the already generous retirement benefits of public employees and make it as difficult as possible to fire anyone for poor performance after the initial probationary period. Both the excessive retirement benefits and the unjustifiable job security result in perverse incentives for government workers who are not happy in – or not well-suited for – their jobs to stay. Managers also have limited ability to fire workers for not performing.

    The excessive retirement benefits also make it difficult for governments to pay competitive salaries that would attract young people with their recent training, new ideas, and energy. These young people are not necessarily attracted to the idea of a pension – rather than a 401(k)s of the private sector – because they may not stay in government for their whole career. Yet their new knowledge and insights – combined with the experience of older government workers – are essential to ensuring that government works more effectively and efficiently than it does today.

    I am one of the few well-educated young people that I know who has chosen to work in government as a career; I have given up a more lucrative career in the private sector as a result. I have one other friend (with a Harvard MBA and a liberal arts B.A.) who tried to work for the New York Board of Education, but left after only a year. She did not feel improvements to education were possible in part because of the influence of the teacher’s union. None of my other friends have ever worked in government and are instead working professionals in the private sector.

    I believe that the efforts of public employee unions to protect existing public employees, regardless of their merit, is at least partially responsible for the inability of government to remove workers who are not performing well and the difficulty of attracting new, well-trained people to government work. In the end, we all suffer because it is those workers that are managing the expenditures of our taxpayer dollars.

  19. Anonymous

    Thank you so much to Rich and Don for exposing the narrow perspective of the original post. It’s important to encourage debate about the status and evolution of unions, but to do so one must present multiple perspectives.

    I still believe strongly that the trade unions have an important role to play in ensuring that workers in the construction, mining, and other other trades are adequately compensated and protected from workplace risk. As a public employee (although admittedly an at will employee, not a union member), however, I am extremely disappointed in public employee unions.

    Since most public employees (outside of public safety) are not exposed to high levels of workplace risk, public employee unions work to increase the already generous retirement benefits of public employees and make it as difficult as possible to fire anyone for poor performance after the initial probationary period. Both the excessive retirement benefits and the unjustifiable job security result in perverse incentives for government workers who are not happy in – or not well-suited for – their jobs to stay. Managers also have limited ability to fire workers for not performing.

    The excessive retirement benefits also make it difficult for governments to pay competitive salaries that would attract young people with their recent training, new ideas, and energy. These young people are not necessarily attracted to the idea of a pension – rather than a 401(k)s of the private sector – because they may not stay in government for their whole career. Yet their new knowledge and insights – combined with the experience of older government workers – are essential to ensuring that government works more effectively and efficiently than it does today.

    I am one of the few well-educated young people that I know who has chosen to work in government as a career; I have given up a more lucrative career in the private sector as a result. I have one other friend (with a Harvard MBA and a liberal arts B.A.) who tried to work for the New York Board of Education, but left after only a year. She did not feel improvements to education were possible in part because of the influence of the teacher’s union. None of my other friends have ever worked in government and are instead working professionals in the private sector.

    I believe that the efforts of public employee unions to protect existing public employees, regardless of their merit, is at least partially responsible for the inability of government to remove workers who are not performing well and the difficulty of attracting new, well-trained people to government work. In the end, we all suffer because it is those workers that are managing the expenditures of our taxpayer dollars.

  20. Anonymous

    Thank you so much to Rich and Don for exposing the narrow perspective of the original post. It’s important to encourage debate about the status and evolution of unions, but to do so one must present multiple perspectives.

    I still believe strongly that the trade unions have an important role to play in ensuring that workers in the construction, mining, and other other trades are adequately compensated and protected from workplace risk. As a public employee (although admittedly an at will employee, not a union member), however, I am extremely disappointed in public employee unions.

    Since most public employees (outside of public safety) are not exposed to high levels of workplace risk, public employee unions work to increase the already generous retirement benefits of public employees and make it as difficult as possible to fire anyone for poor performance after the initial probationary period. Both the excessive retirement benefits and the unjustifiable job security result in perverse incentives for government workers who are not happy in – or not well-suited for – their jobs to stay. Managers also have limited ability to fire workers for not performing.

    The excessive retirement benefits also make it difficult for governments to pay competitive salaries that would attract young people with their recent training, new ideas, and energy. These young people are not necessarily attracted to the idea of a pension – rather than a 401(k)s of the private sector – because they may not stay in government for their whole career. Yet their new knowledge and insights – combined with the experience of older government workers – are essential to ensuring that government works more effectively and efficiently than it does today.

    I am one of the few well-educated young people that I know who has chosen to work in government as a career; I have given up a more lucrative career in the private sector as a result. I have one other friend (with a Harvard MBA and a liberal arts B.A.) who tried to work for the New York Board of Education, but left after only a year. She did not feel improvements to education were possible in part because of the influence of the teacher’s union. None of my other friends have ever worked in government and are instead working professionals in the private sector.

    I believe that the efforts of public employee unions to protect existing public employees, regardless of their merit, is at least partially responsible for the inability of government to remove workers who are not performing well and the difficulty of attracting new, well-trained people to government work. In the end, we all suffer because it is those workers that are managing the expenditures of our taxpayer dollars.

  21. Anonymous

    Today’s commentary is like a time warp.

    don, the gentleman who writes this blog is married to a union organizer, so it is understandable that he would regurgitate their dogma. Would you expect the archbishop’s boyfriend to criticize the Catholic Church?

  22. Anonymous

    Today’s commentary is like a time warp.

    don, the gentleman who writes this blog is married to a union organizer, so it is understandable that he would regurgitate their dogma. Would you expect the archbishop’s boyfriend to criticize the Catholic Church?

  23. Anonymous

    Today’s commentary is like a time warp.

    don, the gentleman who writes this blog is married to a union organizer, so it is understandable that he would regurgitate their dogma. Would you expect the archbishop’s boyfriend to criticize the Catholic Church?

  24. Anonymous

    Today’s commentary is like a time warp.

    don, the gentleman who writes this blog is married to a union organizer, so it is understandable that he would regurgitate their dogma. Would you expect the archbishop’s boyfriend to criticize the Catholic Church?

  25. Democrat

    I’m glad neither of you have ever taught or were responsible for teaching a labor history class. Boy, would it be so skewed ala “GW Bush style.”

    You say that government is where labor unions are now spending their energy. It’s true for some, but definitely not all.

    You obviously leave out nurses (private sector), trade unionists like IBEW members, CWA (communication workers of America), UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) which Council Member Heystek belonged to, and many other unions…etc.

    Like the Bush administration it appears that you like to twist the facts so you don’t have to deal with them and can then create your own reality.

  26. Democrat

    I’m glad neither of you have ever taught or were responsible for teaching a labor history class. Boy, would it be so skewed ala “GW Bush style.”

    You say that government is where labor unions are now spending their energy. It’s true for some, but definitely not all.

    You obviously leave out nurses (private sector), trade unionists like IBEW members, CWA (communication workers of America), UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) which Council Member Heystek belonged to, and many other unions…etc.

    Like the Bush administration it appears that you like to twist the facts so you don’t have to deal with them and can then create your own reality.

  27. Democrat

    I’m glad neither of you have ever taught or were responsible for teaching a labor history class. Boy, would it be so skewed ala “GW Bush style.”

    You say that government is where labor unions are now spending their energy. It’s true for some, but definitely not all.

    You obviously leave out nurses (private sector), trade unionists like IBEW members, CWA (communication workers of America), UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) which Council Member Heystek belonged to, and many other unions…etc.

    Like the Bush administration it appears that you like to twist the facts so you don’t have to deal with them and can then create your own reality.

  28. Democrat

    I’m glad neither of you have ever taught or were responsible for teaching a labor history class. Boy, would it be so skewed ala “GW Bush style.”

    You say that government is where labor unions are now spending their energy. It’s true for some, but definitely not all.

    You obviously leave out nurses (private sector), trade unionists like IBEW members, CWA (communication workers of America), UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) which Council Member Heystek belonged to, and many other unions…etc.

    Like the Bush administration it appears that you like to twist the facts so you don’t have to deal with them and can then create your own reality.

  29. independent voter

    You say that government is where labor unions are now spending their energy.

    No one said that, actually. One comment was that most of the growth in unions has been in the government.

    You obviously leave out nurses (private sector), trade unionists like IBEW members, CWA (communication workers of America), UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers).

    Many unionized nurses work for government owned or government funded hospitals. Those who don’t work for companies which are not price competitive.

    The IBEW pushes for laws which outlaw competition, so that non-union electricians cannot be hired for jobs. That is good for the union members but bad for everyone else.

    The UFCW is losing membership. In response, it is legislatively waging wars on companies which don’t recognize the unions. That is a form of trying to stifle all competition, which helps consumers, in order to enrich the union members and the bosses.

    CWA is also losing members. They have been in a downward spiral since the original break-up of AT&T. They fought long and hard to keep jobs (such as switchboard operators), long after technology made those positions unnecessary. None of the fatest growing communications technology companies have CWA members.

  30. independent voter

    You say that government is where labor unions are now spending their energy.

    No one said that, actually. One comment was that most of the growth in unions has been in the government.

    You obviously leave out nurses (private sector), trade unionists like IBEW members, CWA (communication workers of America), UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers).

    Many unionized nurses work for government owned or government funded hospitals. Those who don’t work for companies which are not price competitive.

    The IBEW pushes for laws which outlaw competition, so that non-union electricians cannot be hired for jobs. That is good for the union members but bad for everyone else.

    The UFCW is losing membership. In response, it is legislatively waging wars on companies which don’t recognize the unions. That is a form of trying to stifle all competition, which helps consumers, in order to enrich the union members and the bosses.

    CWA is also losing members. They have been in a downward spiral since the original break-up of AT&T. They fought long and hard to keep jobs (such as switchboard operators), long after technology made those positions unnecessary. None of the fatest growing communications technology companies have CWA members.

  31. independent voter

    You say that government is where labor unions are now spending their energy.

    No one said that, actually. One comment was that most of the growth in unions has been in the government.

    You obviously leave out nurses (private sector), trade unionists like IBEW members, CWA (communication workers of America), UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers).

    Many unionized nurses work for government owned or government funded hospitals. Those who don’t work for companies which are not price competitive.

    The IBEW pushes for laws which outlaw competition, so that non-union electricians cannot be hired for jobs. That is good for the union members but bad for everyone else.

    The UFCW is losing membership. In response, it is legislatively waging wars on companies which don’t recognize the unions. That is a form of trying to stifle all competition, which helps consumers, in order to enrich the union members and the bosses.

    CWA is also losing members. They have been in a downward spiral since the original break-up of AT&T. They fought long and hard to keep jobs (such as switchboard operators), long after technology made those positions unnecessary. None of the fatest growing communications technology companies have CWA members.

  32. independent voter

    You say that government is where labor unions are now spending their energy.

    No one said that, actually. One comment was that most of the growth in unions has been in the government.

    You obviously leave out nurses (private sector), trade unionists like IBEW members, CWA (communication workers of America), UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers).

    Many unionized nurses work for government owned or government funded hospitals. Those who don’t work for companies which are not price competitive.

    The IBEW pushes for laws which outlaw competition, so that non-union electricians cannot be hired for jobs. That is good for the union members but bad for everyone else.

    The UFCW is losing membership. In response, it is legislatively waging wars on companies which don’t recognize the unions. That is a form of trying to stifle all competition, which helps consumers, in order to enrich the union members and the bosses.

    CWA is also losing members. They have been in a downward spiral since the original break-up of AT&T. They fought long and hard to keep jobs (such as switchboard operators), long after technology made those positions unnecessary. None of the fatest growing communications technology companies have CWA members.

  33. Don Shor

    Public employees now account for 35% of union members (and that doesn’t include nurses). The NEA is the largest union by far at 2.7 million members, with nearly as many members as the next two combined (SEIU and UFCW). Tied for 4th (with the Teamsters) is the AFSCME. The AFT is 7th largest. The IBEW is 8th, and the CWA is 11th.

    What any of these statistics have to do with the Bush administration, I don’t know.

  34. Don Shor

    Public employees now account for 35% of union members (and that doesn’t include nurses). The NEA is the largest union by far at 2.7 million members, with nearly as many members as the next two combined (SEIU and UFCW). Tied for 4th (with the Teamsters) is the AFSCME. The AFT is 7th largest. The IBEW is 8th, and the CWA is 11th.

    What any of these statistics have to do with the Bush administration, I don’t know.

  35. Don Shor

    Public employees now account for 35% of union members (and that doesn’t include nurses). The NEA is the largest union by far at 2.7 million members, with nearly as many members as the next two combined (SEIU and UFCW). Tied for 4th (with the Teamsters) is the AFSCME. The AFT is 7th largest. The IBEW is 8th, and the CWA is 11th.

    What any of these statistics have to do with the Bush administration, I don’t know.

  36. Don Shor

    Public employees now account for 35% of union members (and that doesn’t include nurses). The NEA is the largest union by far at 2.7 million members, with nearly as many members as the next two combined (SEIU and UFCW). Tied for 4th (with the Teamsters) is the AFSCME. The AFT is 7th largest. The IBEW is 8th, and the CWA is 11th.

    What any of these statistics have to do with the Bush administration, I don’t know.

  37. Mike

    I think that the one thing all concerned could agree on is that unions are focusing on sectors where the work cannot go somewhere else. Garments, manufacturing, mining, shipping (remember when we used to have US flagged ships?) etc. all can move away from unions and have done so. The unions result in great wages and “victories” for the workers until they are all unemployed…

    Thanks to unions, the next step will be to outsource all government work next- social security being handled by polite people in India would not only be a major improvement, but a cost savings as well!

  38. Mike

    I think that the one thing all concerned could agree on is that unions are focusing on sectors where the work cannot go somewhere else. Garments, manufacturing, mining, shipping (remember when we used to have US flagged ships?) etc. all can move away from unions and have done so. The unions result in great wages and “victories” for the workers until they are all unemployed…

    Thanks to unions, the next step will be to outsource all government work next- social security being handled by polite people in India would not only be a major improvement, but a cost savings as well!

  39. Mike

    I think that the one thing all concerned could agree on is that unions are focusing on sectors where the work cannot go somewhere else. Garments, manufacturing, mining, shipping (remember when we used to have US flagged ships?) etc. all can move away from unions and have done so. The unions result in great wages and “victories” for the workers until they are all unemployed…

    Thanks to unions, the next step will be to outsource all government work next- social security being handled by polite people in India would not only be a major improvement, but a cost savings as well!

  40. Mike

    I think that the one thing all concerned could agree on is that unions are focusing on sectors where the work cannot go somewhere else. Garments, manufacturing, mining, shipping (remember when we used to have US flagged ships?) etc. all can move away from unions and have done so. The unions result in great wages and “victories” for the workers until they are all unemployed…

    Thanks to unions, the next step will be to outsource all government work next- social security being handled by polite people in India would not only be a major improvement, but a cost savings as well!

  41. Anonymous

    The argument that Mike and other put forward is seriously problematic. The argument is essentially that unions are the cause of these jobs moving out of the country. However, if you look at the variance in wages between the US and oversees, I think that is difficult to maintain unless you are arguing that the US should pay its workers what they pay oversees OR that if somehow the unions were “less successful” and only had half the wages the jobs would still be here. Manufacturing jobs at one point were the backbone of US productivity and US prosperity. With those gone, working class America has continue to slip.

  42. Anonymous

    The argument that Mike and other put forward is seriously problematic. The argument is essentially that unions are the cause of these jobs moving out of the country. However, if you look at the variance in wages between the US and oversees, I think that is difficult to maintain unless you are arguing that the US should pay its workers what they pay oversees OR that if somehow the unions were “less successful” and only had half the wages the jobs would still be here. Manufacturing jobs at one point were the backbone of US productivity and US prosperity. With those gone, working class America has continue to slip.

  43. Anonymous

    The argument that Mike and other put forward is seriously problematic. The argument is essentially that unions are the cause of these jobs moving out of the country. However, if you look at the variance in wages between the US and oversees, I think that is difficult to maintain unless you are arguing that the US should pay its workers what they pay oversees OR that if somehow the unions were “less successful” and only had half the wages the jobs would still be here. Manufacturing jobs at one point were the backbone of US productivity and US prosperity. With those gone, working class America has continue to slip.

  44. Anonymous

    The argument that Mike and other put forward is seriously problematic. The argument is essentially that unions are the cause of these jobs moving out of the country. However, if you look at the variance in wages between the US and oversees, I think that is difficult to maintain unless you are arguing that the US should pay its workers what they pay oversees OR that if somehow the unions were “less successful” and only had half the wages the jobs would still be here. Manufacturing jobs at one point were the backbone of US productivity and US prosperity. With those gone, working class America has continue to slip.

  45. davisite

    It appears that the Think-Tanks established and funded for the past 30 years by those who rail against the “FDR Dictatorship” with its establishment of Social Security and support of worker rights have won at least a handful of converts here in Davis. Their false revisionist narrative,looking longingly back to the socially predatory “Gilded Age”, leaves no opening for truthful discussion other than to proclaim…YOU’RE WRONG!!

  46. davisite

    It appears that the Think-Tanks established and funded for the past 30 years by those who rail against the “FDR Dictatorship” with its establishment of Social Security and support of worker rights have won at least a handful of converts here in Davis. Their false revisionist narrative,looking longingly back to the socially predatory “Gilded Age”, leaves no opening for truthful discussion other than to proclaim…YOU’RE WRONG!!

  47. davisite

    It appears that the Think-Tanks established and funded for the past 30 years by those who rail against the “FDR Dictatorship” with its establishment of Social Security and support of worker rights have won at least a handful of converts here in Davis. Their false revisionist narrative,looking longingly back to the socially predatory “Gilded Age”, leaves no opening for truthful discussion other than to proclaim…YOU’RE WRONG!!

  48. davisite

    It appears that the Think-Tanks established and funded for the past 30 years by those who rail against the “FDR Dictatorship” with its establishment of Social Security and support of worker rights have won at least a handful of converts here in Davis. Their false revisionist narrative,looking longingly back to the socially predatory “Gilded Age”, leaves no opening for truthful discussion other than to proclaim…YOU’RE WRONG!!

  49. Mike

    ahhh, good to see davisite showing the well known “open mind” the Davis “progressives”…

    Union workers are in a global competition, not just in absolute dollars for labor, but for efficiency. Dollars can be overcome, American workers (read non-union) tend to be far more productive, and the transportation costs can overcome a lot of wage disparity. The real problem comes from “featherbedding” work rules created by unions and insane job protection schemes which dilute that advantage.

    davisite and other supporters of labor machines can stamp their feet and have a primal scream if it makes them feel better, but the world is moving on to a better place without them.

  50. Mike

    ahhh, good to see davisite showing the well known “open mind” the Davis “progressives”…

    Union workers are in a global competition, not just in absolute dollars for labor, but for efficiency. Dollars can be overcome, American workers (read non-union) tend to be far more productive, and the transportation costs can overcome a lot of wage disparity. The real problem comes from “featherbedding” work rules created by unions and insane job protection schemes which dilute that advantage.

    davisite and other supporters of labor machines can stamp their feet and have a primal scream if it makes them feel better, but the world is moving on to a better place without them.

  51. Mike

    ahhh, good to see davisite showing the well known “open mind” the Davis “progressives”…

    Union workers are in a global competition, not just in absolute dollars for labor, but for efficiency. Dollars can be overcome, American workers (read non-union) tend to be far more productive, and the transportation costs can overcome a lot of wage disparity. The real problem comes from “featherbedding” work rules created by unions and insane job protection schemes which dilute that advantage.

    davisite and other supporters of labor machines can stamp their feet and have a primal scream if it makes them feel better, but the world is moving on to a better place without them.

  52. Mike

    ahhh, good to see davisite showing the well known “open mind” the Davis “progressives”…

    Union workers are in a global competition, not just in absolute dollars for labor, but for efficiency. Dollars can be overcome, American workers (read non-union) tend to be far more productive, and the transportation costs can overcome a lot of wage disparity. The real problem comes from “featherbedding” work rules created by unions and insane job protection schemes which dilute that advantage.

    davisite and other supporters of labor machines can stamp their feet and have a primal scream if it makes them feel better, but the world is moving on to a better place without them.

  53. davisite

    Mike said:
    “… but the world is moving on to a better place without them.”

    So,I am left to proclaim…YOU’RE WRONG!! Unambiguous statistics demonstrate that the income gap has been dramatically growing with increasing wealth being concentrated in the hands of the very wealthy as the US middle class standard of living has eroded.

  54. davisite

    Mike said:
    “… but the world is moving on to a better place without them.”

    So,I am left to proclaim…YOU’RE WRONG!! Unambiguous statistics demonstrate that the income gap has been dramatically growing with increasing wealth being concentrated in the hands of the very wealthy as the US middle class standard of living has eroded.

  55. davisite

    Mike said:
    “… but the world is moving on to a better place without them.”

    So,I am left to proclaim…YOU’RE WRONG!! Unambiguous statistics demonstrate that the income gap has been dramatically growing with increasing wealth being concentrated in the hands of the very wealthy as the US middle class standard of living has eroded.

  56. davisite

    Mike said:
    “… but the world is moving on to a better place without them.”

    So,I am left to proclaim…YOU’RE WRONG!! Unambiguous statistics demonstrate that the income gap has been dramatically growing with increasing wealth being concentrated in the hands of the very wealthy as the US middle class standard of living has eroded.

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