I’ve been a member of a few labor unions in my day, the first for two years during my first job as a stock clerk in a small supermarket chain, the second for 27 years when I taught English in a Long Island public school district.
I didn’t like either of them.
I can still remember trying to hide when the guy from the supermarket union came around every month or so to get me to sign something. I don’t recall what but I was probably hoping that if I didn’t sign they wouldn’t be able to subtract dues from my measly paycheck.
I also remember being happy about the raise the union said it got us, from $1.15 an hour to $1.25, unless that was a minimum wage hike.
Obviously, I go back a while.
Possibly because some teachers objected to being lumped in with mineworkers and teamsters, our local referred to itself with the more professional-sounding “association,” as does the umbrella teacher union, the National Education Association, the NEA. New York City’s United Federation of Teachers, the UFT, is less finicky concerning labor labels.
I didn’t intend to join my teacher local but was pressured into it by a building rep who repeatedly intruded on my classes to get me to sign up. In retrospect, it was a good move since I later learned that administrators regarded novice teachers as rebels if they didn’t join “the family,” alternatively called, “the team,” and those newbies’ contracts sometimes weren’t renewed.
That said by way of introduction, labor unions today suck.
Admittedly and initially, the creation of united workers’ organizations may have served a critical function during the era when industries repressively and unconscionably dictated piddling wages and atrocious working conditions. I would like to agree with claims that the union movement in the United States established the foundations for America’s vast middle class, the indomitable engine for our progress.
I would concur with all that providing major labor union leaders and workers, Big Labor, concede the worm has turned 180 degrees and that over the past 50 years they have developed into the oppressive, greedy equals of nineteenth century businessmen and banker ”robber barons,” and worse.
Union excesses today are legion–think Wisconsin last winter–and many public unions are leading the pack, demanding and getting pay raises far beyond the inflation rate while 26 million Americans are under-employed, foreclosures are skyrocketing, and poverty is spreading wildly.
Still, the United Auto Workers, UAW, at Ford Motor Corporation take the greed cake even if the bigwigs at FoMoCo provided the incentive.
In July, Ford–the only Big 3 automaker that had the integrity to reject the 2009 Obamian bailouts which GM and Chrysler gladly accepted and have yet to pay back in full–announced it was giving tens of millions in executive bonuses while advising workers they were lucky to have jobs. In retaliation, UAW Ford authorized a strike.
Perspective is desperately needed here.
As with most major industry executives, Ford’s President and CEO Alan Mulally is grossly over-compensated for his efforts; Mulally’s July stock bonus of $56.5 million only added to the grossness level.
However, at the risk of seeming an industry shill, Mulally runs a $165 billion business, his company employs 164,000 people worldwide, and Ford earned a taxable $6.6 billion profit on $128 billion total revenue for 2010.
On the other hand, the average Ford UAW worker with perhaps a high school education earns approximately $58. per hour, almost $2400. a week, $124,000. a year, just for showing up and maybe watching robots affix rear view mirrors to Fusions. Also, in January, Ford’s hourly employees were awarded $5,000. in profit-sharing, the highest payouts in 10 years, on top of extremely generous employee and layoff benefits.
In brief, Mulally and company are rapacious SOB’s but Joe Average Ford is doing pretty damned well for himself too, with nothing resembling the qualifications and responsibilities of executives.
In an article published on AmericanConservativeDaily.com, John W. Lillpop rightly denounces the Ford unionists’ greed but neglects to castigate the upper echelons for their equivalent piggishness especially during tough Obama times. Lillpop also correctly points out the skewed mainstream media “image of greed as a fat-cat, Republican parasite who thrives by not paying his or her fair share,” but that’s a whole other story.
Lollpop maintains that today’s ”greedy are dim-witted auto workers who earn six-figure incomes, vote straight Democrat, and are dumb enough to vote to strike when a bona fide economic depression is bearing down on America,” another whole other story which again exempts executive fat cats from castigation. (http://bit.ly/n6qNpC)
The United States is in a major mess and the causes are multitudinous. We can attack selfish auto industry CEOs and their private jets all we want but, like it or lump it, the bottom line is that they are the people who provide very lucrative jobs for UAW people. Execs number in the thousands, their employees number in the many hundreds of thousands.
Both groups owe their companies, and the nation, some degree of rationality and indebtedness although UAW employees owe much more. Without Ford and automaker leeches GM and Chrysler, they might be making minimum wage.