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Fri Jun 1, 2012, 07:00 PM

Jobs Trump Wages: Ironworkers Great Sellout

In an economy with high numbers of unemployed workers who require a year or more on average to find work, it is understandable that workers would fear for their jobs and a secure livelihood. However, for many industries, particularly manufacturing, the problem has been ongoing for the past forty years, as U.S. manufacturing has downsized or moved off shore. The problem has exacerbated the decline of unionism, particularly in the private sector, as union manufacturing jobs disappear and either never come back at all, or get replaced by lower waged, nonunion jobs.

New York’s unionized iron workers, fearing they will be squeezed out of jobs by cheaper nonunion workers, have voluntarily agreed to a 15% cut in compensation (roughly $14 per hour in wages and benefits), in hopes of undercutting their nonunion colleagues. According to the New York Daily News, 86% of union members approved the deal.

This brings up a couple of disturbing questions. What is the point of being in a union if it is not improving wages, benefits and working conditions? If union workers voluntarily reduce their pay to a level commensurate with nonunion workers and must continue to pay union dues, they are actually earning less than their nonunion colleagues. Such a strategy is not likely to preserve union jobs for long, as workers start to see fewer benefits to remaining in the union.

Then there is the question of why there are so many nonunion workers out there to undercut their pay and benefits. If the union was really doing its job, it would be aggressively organizing nonunion jobsites and creating an atmosphere in which it is more painful and expensive for employers not to hire union workers.

Modern School

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Reply Jobs Trump Wages: Ironworkers Great Sellout (Original post)
Modern School Jun 2012 OP
limpyhobbler Jun 2012 #1
Modern School Jun 2012 #4
jtuck004 Jun 2012 #2
Earth Bound Misfit Jun 2012 #3
Modern School Jun 2012 #5
jtuck004 Jun 2012 #6

Response to Modern School (Original post)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 12:49 AM

1. I like your blog Modern School.

It's got good articles and stuff.

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Response to Modern School (Original post)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 02:27 PM

2. What does the writer of the blog do except bloviate? That all sounds pretty self-righteous.

Every single line attacks the union, yet doesn't say shit about their enemies and their oppression, or how this might have been a tactical necessity in a larger strategy. All opinion, and not much of one.

Is this some grad student's art project or...? I see a bunch of links and good info, and an attempt to gain credibility by associating with some tradition, but there are enough people beating on unions as it is.

Working for the enemy...pass

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Response to jtuck004 (Reply #2)

Thu Jun 7, 2012, 07:44 PM

5. we all work for the enemy

If you don’t like my writing, don’t waste your time reading it and don’t insult me. If you want to make a critique, fine, but you’d best avoid words “bloviate,” which is not only insulting, but inaccurate, as it implies that my writing is pompous and devoid of meaning, neither of which are true.

Now to your points:
“Every single line attacks the union,”—This is a pretty big exaggeration. The first 2 paragraphs say nothing at all critical about unions, while the 3rd paragraph merely critiques a strategy that has indeed been failing for the past 20-30 years: concessions by unions have not slowed down the pace of union job loss. Only my last paragraph really criticizes unions by suggesting they aren’t aggressively organizing, which is true.

“Doesn't say shit about their enemies and their oppression.” On the contrary, I explain how downsizing and outsourcing have decimated union jobs and contributed to the decline of unionism. Also, you refer to my blog which, if you read it, is full of criticisms of the anti-union pundits and politicians and the “enemies” of unions. Furthermore, if you really read my blog or even my DU posts with any regularity, you’d know that I am a union organizer and very much a supporter of unionism in principle.

“Working for the enemy...pass.” We’re all working for the enemy (i.e., bosses, the ruling elite, the 1%). We have no choice but to work for this enemy in order to put food on our tables. Unfortunately, the mainstream unions don’t recognize the boss as the enemy. They see the boss as an ally precisely because he provides us with jobs, even if those jobs are getting worse and worse in terms of pay and working conditions.

Lastly, while it certainly is a tactical decision by unions to make concessions in exchange for fewer layoffs, it is not the only possible choice, nor the best one. When unions make concessions, they rarely win them back, leading to a downward spiral in pay and working conditions. Sometimes going on strike or taking other job actions, even at the risk of temporarily losing pay or getting fired, is necessary to maintain a job with dignity and that pays enough to keep one out of poverty. Organizing the unorganized workers is another alternative, and a much better one than giving concessions, as it increases the power of the workers and reduces the bosses’ ability to undercut wages.

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Response to Modern School (Reply #5)

Fri Jun 8, 2012, 12:12 AM

6. Don't want comments you don't like? Don't post it. Calling those hard working people sellouts

in the title while complaining about my use of the word bloviate...that's funny. As is an assumption that everyone is going to agree with you just because you wrote it.

As far as meaning, that is up to the reader.

The companies and governments have been on a sustained campaign to destroy unions for the past 40 years. They have nearly all the gold, and make nearly all the rules, and could borrow enough money to spirit the jobs away, making union strategies near worthless.

And, as in this case, people had lots of advice for the unions, but no vision, and no real money. Those were what they needed, not more all-knowing words from someone who knew better than they did what to do.

What it read like was telling a rape victim how they were complicit - not so much about the person committing the assault. It may well have sounded different to you - that would be expected.

I like the explanation a little better than what was written the first time.

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