Greed and Organized Labor

02.25.11 | Bob Price | Comments[12]

“Greed is good” – Gordan Gekko’s famous line from the movie “Wall Street” rings true these days in Wisconsin. The state workers’ revolt has turned into what Chuck Colson calls a “mobacracy” and all because a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed eager new governor has the gall to go after a sacred cow in the labor movement called collective bargaining. It’s time these state workers understand something – collective bargaining is a priviledge, not a right. Could you imagine at the height of WWII, if our attitude mirrored that of those taking to the streets in the Badger State – we’d all be speaking German now and our capitol would be Munich.

I don’t feel sorry for organized labor. I have seen for myself the pension plans of these workers and maybe I’ve been in the not-for-profit industry too long, but it doesn’t look bad. Still, the mad mob in Madison marches on. Said one worker, “Now I know how they feel in Egypt” – really ?? What Governor Walker has proposed is not unreasonable. He wants state union workers to pay half the national average in retirement and health-care.

The irony in all this is that organized labor was formed to protect workers from corrupt bosses – now we need protection from corrupt labor unions. Greed is good – in organized labor.

Comments

Your Comments(please keep them on topic and polite)

on 03.05.11 Jamie T commented

Amen

on 03.06.11 Donald commented

I agree, but there needs to be a clear distinction between public and private unions. It's the public unions that are bankrupting our country - their pay and benefits packages are 3 times those of private unions. They are greedy.

on 03.06.11 Ronnie commented

I work for the public school system and if it weren't for the unions - I'd be unemployed. They protected me from a corrupt administration. There is too sides to this debate, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

on 03.07.11 davansta commented

the way is see it, there are two opposing entities at work here. one is liberal the other conservative. one is funded by wealthy businessmen, the other by union bosses. one tries to defund the other. one through taxes on the rich, the other by finding ways to reduce union size and thus cash flow. The proper thing is to either take the money from both or allow them to have unlimited funding and let the best win in the court of public opinion.

on 03.07.11 Jane commented

As a state worker and union member, I'm torn. I've seen the good and the bad of unions. But you have to remember there is good and bad in the private sector as well.......Wall Street ring a bell?
The Good:
Several workers protected from management gone rogue.
Nurses protected from mandated overtime...which diminishes the care to patients....I'm not a nurse
Dental and vision coverage

The Bad:
The union having it's annual convention in DC. DC? Come on! That's a bit much.

What really bothers me is how all state workers are villianized by their employer and the media. We have had, and still have state workers who are attacked, verbally and physically by the public while trying to do their jobs.

If you want to see where the greed is, look to the Authorities, (Thruway, Canal, MTA, etc.)look at management and look at SUNY admininstration.

Oh yeah, I pay taxes too.

on 04.11.11 poppy commented

Unions do protect the honest worker and unfornately the lazy ones too. My wife would not be employed w/o the union because of her bad back. She still works every day and the employer tries to get her to accept a non-union job. She knows that they want her out. Unions were great years ago, but now they are limited on their abilities except taking the cash weekly.

on 06.08.11 Jim McI commented

Your article is poorly written because it is not balanced.

Go with me next mission trip to Juarez, MX. Stand in the shadow of the gigantic Delphi or Cummins Engine plant there and then go visit the housed of the workers. Mere shacks made of cast off building materials. One family lived in an abandoned school bus. Another in a house made of pallets. They drink water out of barrels in the front yard; swimming with God knows what and filled by a dirty rattletrap water truck once or twice a week.

We Christians and you have it backwards. We the church should be fighting for the right of workers to better themselves which is exactly what we did following the civil war which led to the rise of the middle class.
Why is it wrong for a worker to have vacations, health care and a pension? Would it be better to live like those in Mexico? Would it make the majority more prosperous? Would it make the USA a better place to live? I say no…..

This issue is bigger than whether public unions should exist. It is really a fight for this fundamental question; does a person have the right to withhold his or her labor in an attempt to get better conditions for them and their families and if so can we do it collectively? If cannot do this then what separates us from being slaves?

The Christian church should be fighting for the rights of workers. We should be outraged that Wal-Mart Corp, one of the richest companies in the world, pays their workers so little that many qualify for public assistance. We should be upset the Senator Ryan wants to gut Medicare and SSI. We should be furious that our leaders want to cut the capital gains tax to zero, eliminate the estate tax, and taxes on money in the bank and then at the same time cut funding to programs for the poor. What is wrong with our morals? Where are the ethics that Jesus taught?

We should be upset that the richest Country in the history of the world does not ensure that new mothers can have paid time off. We are behind I think 178 other countries with regard to this. Even Kenya pays their new mothers. We should be upset that we are one of the few industrialized countries without mandatory vacations. We should cry out that our balance of work to life is skewed toward work.

So before you make blanket proclamations that organized labor is the downfall of society you should really investigate what the world and our United States would be like without the protections that collective bargaining ensures. For if Corporate America (and governments) were as benevolent as you would lead us to believe then I would have not have made four trips in six years to support the people of Juarez. If they had our collective bargaining ability they would be able to take care of themselves.

on 06.08.11 Jim McI commented

Your article is poorly written because it is not balanced.

Go with me next mission trip to Juarez, MX. Stand in the shadow of the gigantic Delphi or Cummins Engine plant there and then go visit the housed of the workers. Mere shacks made of cast off building materials. One family lived in an abandoned school bus. Another in a house made of pallets. They drink water out of barrels in the front yard; swimming with God knows what and filled by a dirty rattletrap water truck once or twice a week.

We Christians and you have it backwards. We the church should be fighting for the right of workers to better themselves which is exactly what we did following the civil war which led to the rise of the middle class.
Why is it wrong for a worker to have vacations, health care and a pension? Would it be better to live like those in Mexico? Would it make the majority more prosperous? Would it make the USA a better place to live? I say no…..

This issue is bigger than whether public unions should exist. It is really a fight for this fundamental question; does a person have the right to withhold his or her labor in an attempt to get better conditions for them and their families and if so can we do it collectively? If cannot do this then what separates us from being slaves?

The Christian church should be fighting for the rights of workers. We should be outraged that Wal-Mart Corp, one of the richest companies in the world, pays their workers so little that many qualify for public assistance. We should be upset the Senator Ryan wants to gut Medicare and SSI. We should be furious that our leaders want to cut the capital gains tax to zero, eliminate the estate tax, and taxes on money in the bank and then at the same time cut funding to programs for the poor. What is wrong with our morals? Where are the ethics that Jesus taught?

We should be upset that the richest Country in the history of the world does not ensure that new mothers can have paid time off. We are behind I think 178 other countries with regard to this. Even Kenya pays their new mothers. We should be upset that we are one of the few industrialized countries without mandatory vacations. We should cry out that our balance of work to life is skewed toward work.

So before you make blanket proclamations that organized labor is the downfall of society you should really investigate what the world and our United States would be like without the protections that collective bargaining ensures. For if Corporate America (and governments) were as benevolent as you would lead us to believe then I would have not have made four trips in six years to support the people of Juarez. If they had our collective bargaining ability they would be able to take care of themselves.

on 06.08.11 jjmciny commented

Your article is poorly written because it is not balanced.

Go with me next mission trip to Juarez, MX. Stand in the shadow of the gigantic Delphi or Cummins Engine plant there and then go visit the housed of the workers. Mere shacks made of cast off building materials. One family lived in an abandoned school bus. Another in a house made of pallets. They drink water out of barrels in the front yard; swimming with God knows what and filled by a dirty rattletrap water truck once or twice a week.

We Christians and you have it backwards. We the church should be fighting for the right of workers to better themselves which is exactly what we did following the civil war which led to the rise of the middle class.
Why is it wrong for a worker to have vacations, health care and a pension? Would it be better to live like those in Mexico? Would it make the majority more prosperous? Would it make the USA a better place to live? I say no…..

This issue is bigger than whether public unions should exist. It is really a fight for this fundamental question; does a person have the right to withhold his or her labor in an attempt to get better conditions for them and their families and if so can we do it collectively? If cannot do this then what separates us from being slaves?

The Christian church should be fighting for the rights of workers. We should be outraged that Wal-Mart Corp, one of the richest companies in the world, pays their workers so little that many qualify for public assistance. We should be upset the Senator Ryan wants to gut Medicare and SSI. We should be furious that our leaders want to cut the capital gains tax to zero, eliminate the estate tax, and taxes on money in the bank and then at the same time cut funding to programs for the poor. What is wrong with our morals? Where are the ethics that Jesus taught?

We should be upset that the richest Country in the history of the world does not ensure that new mothers can have paid time off. We are behind I think 178 other countries with regard to this. Even Kenya pays their new mothers. We should be upset that we are one of the few industrialized countries without mandatory vacations. We should cry out that our balance of work to life is skewed toward work.

So before you make blanket proclamations that organized labor is the downfall of society you should really investigate what the world and our United States would be like without the protections that collective bargaining ensures. For if Corporate America (and governments) were as benevolent as you would lead us to believe then I would have not have made four trips in six years to support the people of Juarez. If they had our collective bargaining ability they would be able to take care of themselves.

on 06.14.11 Mara commented

I am a new teacher, just out of school last spring. I grew up seeing teacher's unions harangued on the news - and when I know of one (not mine) that refused to give up elective plastic surgery to save 300 jobs, well... ok. But that's just one example. My union offered to give up our classroom budgets and buy supplies out of pocket as well as take a pay cut in order to keep teachers and programs from being cut. The administration refused to consider it. There are two sides to every story. And no one goes into teaching, or really any government job, for the money.

I love FLN; please remember that some of these people you villainize are good Christians just trying to go where the Lord leads.

on 07.04.11 Jim Peterson commented

If we all lived like Jesus teaches us to live, labor and management and everyone else, there would be no need for unions. Greed is not good - for anyone. Greed is good - for Satan.

on 10.06.11 Aaron commented

I think there are some serious logical issues with some of the responses to the article. Allow me to discuss Jim's comment since it was posted 3 times, and should cover many of the other issues as well.
First, the assertion that workers are better off here than they are in Juarez is due to labor unions is a far stretch. In my opinion, it is more due to our first principles and our willingness to submit to the rule of law.

Second, where in the Bible, exactly, does it say that we need to be fighting for the right of workers to "better themselves"? I believe that workers should be treated equitably and given a fair day's wages, but I understand the Bible to instruct us to give of ourselves (and focus more on others) not demand for ourselves (of course, I do not think that gives employers a right to abuse workers).

Third, who was saying it was wrong to have vacations, pensions or health insurance? The focus of the article Bob wrote was on whether they should be treated fairly; it was on the fact that the Wisconsin unions are being unreasonable.

Fourth, there was an implication that a lack of unions here in America would relegate us to a country of slaves. That's not going to happen. In fact, in my opinion, workers who are not forced into allowing one other person to negotiate their wages for a whole group are actually more free economically to negotiate their wages than are those invovled in unions. I think the people who get worried are the people who wouldn't be able to negotiate for themselves because of their poor performances.

This leads me to another question. Is it right for a government (which is supposed to protect the common good of--not provide for--its citizens) to allow its workers to unionize?

Why should elected officials be allowed to mandate that public servants band together against the very entity they are supposed to serve? It seems odd to me. Should elected officials be allowed to create an entity effectively opposed to the interests of its own citizens?

Fifth, I think that family breakdown is a larger poverty-creating issue than Wal-Mart's wages. Just out of curiosity, how much do you think a person working, for example, at a cash register at Wal-Mart should make? The economy would not function if all jobs paid enough for a single parent to raise a family on.

Sixth, why should we be outraged that many politicians (not just Sen. Ryan) want to reduce some of the entitlement programs? How do you propose we save our country from the brink of financial disaster? The fact of the matter is, we have plenty of people with entitlements who do not need them, and it just so happens that the largest voting block happens to have the most sacred entitlements (social security and Medicare). Does that mean we should not look at whether there is waste there or whether there could be reductions?

Seventh, why is it the country's duty to ensure that working mothers get paid when they are not at work? I love it when company's are willing to provide perks for employees on maternity leave, but I think there should also be some responsibility on the part of the individual to plan for loss of income if the individual is not going to be paid during that period. The alternative is to either to force employers to pay their employees for work the employee is not doing or else tax all workers in order to pay benefits to a select few (i.e., mothers on maternity leave).

Eigth, where, exactly did the original article say that organized labor was the downfall of society. It seems that some of the responders are resorting to beating a straw-man's non-existent argument in order to further their own points. The original post only says that organized labor is being unreasonable and reacting in an uncivilized manner.

As a final note, I know that this last point is a bit off-topic because it is not addressing the public unions, but it seems to me that there is a reason that the South is where all of the industry is going: most of those states are right-to-work states.

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