Let me start off by saying that I have never belonged to a labor
union; however, I have benefited from labor union activities.
For example, when the people in the shop got more vacation time or
better hospitalization benefits, the folks in the office (that
me), got those benefits.
There is no question that labor unions were allowed to get out of
control starting with big steel in the late '50's.
Frankly that was not labor's fault, but rests squarely in the board
rooms of the major corporations who were directly affected.
They made short term decisions that got labor back working but
in no way addressed the long term needs of the business such
as setting aside capital to modernize facilities and develop new
products to remain competitive.
By the '80's, things had gotten totally out of control. GM had
become an insurance company rather than an auto producer.
Their product line was a disaster.
Steel companies such as US and Bethlehem were gone.
Iacocca didn't have any more silver bullets, Chrysler and
their collection of smaller labels were down to their last gasp.
Reagan started his anti-union program which included
trickle down economics.
Low skill level jobs were moved off shore.
The middle class is quickly slipping into history.
Right to work states have expanded and really have become
what they are, right to work for less states.
FoMoCo would bet the farm, took out tremendous loans,
closed plants and looks like a hero these days.
Did labor play a part in this saga?
"Feather bedding" was rampant, work rules no longer allowed
management to effectively manage.
A personal example, my home built in 1963, was wired with
knob and tube wiring rather than Romex.
The only other option was conduit.
The union had gotten that concession for wiring residential
buildings under the guise of improved safety.
So should we break up the unions or allow them to die by
People who work in many areas of production need the
protection provided by a labor contract.
Work a shift in the coke plant of a steel mill.
Stand on the pouring platform of a steel mill while a 12" dia
stream of 2,800F molten metal flows into the ingot mold
below the ladle. You're standing less than 10 feet from that
stream of metal. BTDT.
One screw up and you are vapor.
Take a turn in the casting plant where 400+ engine blocks
per hour are cast.
You spend 40 minutes in the plant and 20 minutes outside
cooling off which is how they do it.
Take a turn in a stamping plant that knocks out 58 hoods/hr.
The noise levels are unbelievable.
Try an assembly line that has robots, but also needs some
I've been in everyone of the above described places,
I wouldn't want to work in any one of them but it's a job and
for what ever reason people do these jobs.
They need to know tat if something happens, their families
Moving forward, labor-management relations need to be
developed that are beneficial to all concerned.
Adversarial confrontation won't get the job done any more.
I'm reminded of Lincoln Electric and the book written by
James Lincoln, Incentative Management.
No unions at Lincoln, but how many companies pay out Christmas
bonuses that can often exceed your annual salary?
Lincoln stated that any cost saving be split 3 ways.
1/3 to the customer.
1/3 to the workers.
1/3 to the company.
Just another way of looking at things.
Off the stump