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An America without unions...?

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by fella, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. fella

    fella

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    So, the general sentiment on GT seems extremely anti-union.

    I myself have worked one union job, and found the union-environment there revolting in many ways (though the pay was good).

    However, if America were to eliminate any artificial wage supports, I foresee the complete destruction of the constructive segment of America's economy.

    If the cost of labor were to become completely market-driven, American manufacturers would enevitably be forced to compete exclusively on price (effectively determined by the variable cost of labor). Our manufacturing sector would devolve into a system much (more) like that of China 15 years ago -- cheap junk produced by cheap, unskilled labor.

    The only other alternative I see is a further mechanization of manufacturing -- eliminating labor costs ie.jobs even further... The natural evolutions of capitalism and consumerism cannot support an economy prefaced on high-skill/high-wage labor and mass-production of quality, boutique goods -- The only situation which would provide market-support of high wages.

    Either way, the economic fortunes of most Americans suffer if wages are determined solely by the (generally) short-sighted American companies.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. canis latrans

    canis latrans

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    yes. you have no reasoning ability.
     

  3. ClydeG19

    ClydeG19

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    You don't think Americans will pay a premium for quality? There will always be a market for a well made/presented product, regardless of the sector.
     
  4. fella

    fella

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    Yes, however the luxury market is a VERY small fraction of GDP.
    My thoughts relate more to established patterns which manifest given certain economic conditions. Specifically, that only relatively small (economically insignificant) markets (which compete on quality -- at a higher price) can flourish when faced with low (labor) cost competition.

    For example, esteemed American companies such as Kershaw and spyderco, who formerly assembled all products in-house in the USA have shifted much of their production toward cheap Chinese mass-produced product lines.

    Why China? Few unions, extremely low wages...

    American, high-quality Spyderco=$80. Lower quality Chinese Spyderco=$25.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2012
  5. jakebrake

    jakebrake cracker

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    china has extremely loose labor laws. (i say that tongue in cheek). the problem, with a unionized america, is the unions will fight to keep an employee that is working under the influence of illegal substances (seen it), intentionally desytroying company property (seen it), stealing time (seen it) etc, etc,. and then demanding pay increases for less work.
    when said company finally can't compete and goes under, whose fault is it? the customer that got tired of buying the "union made" oft inferior product? the "evil greedy" corporation? or the "worker friendly" union?
     
  6. devildog2067

    devildog2067

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    I would, in general, disagree with that statement.

    The general sentiment on GT is anti-"what unions in this country have become." There's a difference. Unions haven't represented the best interests of the workers that make them up in a very, very long time, and it seems the workers are too stupid to see that truth.

    That idea is entirely without merit. It's quite stupid.

    What prevents us from being forced to compete on price now?

    (Hint: the answer is nothing)

    In order to succeed, a product must deliver value. That's not the same as price--it's a function of both price and quality. For some products, it's possible to command a premium price for a higher-quality item. For others, it is not.

    In addition, you ignore the fact that labor is not actually the main cost driver of many products.

    For t-shirt manufacture, it is (that's why t-shirt manufacture left the US ages ago, and in fact, it's leaving China now in search of even lower-cost locales). But for industrial heavy equipment manufacture, it's not. The cost of labor is a tiny fraction of the overall cost of the product, and therefore labor savings have a minimal impact. That's why we still make bulldozers here.
     
  7. devildog2067

    devildog2067

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    He's not talking about luxury goods.

    He's talking about the American (or European) made goods that American companies pay a premium to purchase daily--from industrial electric motors to pumps to compressors to heavy equipment to trucks to airplanes.

    That's a huge fraction of GDP. The American manufacturing sector is alive, well, and healthy.

    This, once again, is simply wrong. I've listed a number of examples above. Boeing is a $70 billion company, and they compete against lower-labor-cost competitors just fine.
     
  8. Kasinefect

    Kasinefect

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    In the 1920's, my grandfather met with other employees and organized a chapter of a union where they worked. At the time he told me, pay was 20 cents an hour, shifts were 12 hours long, you worked 6 and sometimes 7 days a week. If you had a problem with this, there was a crowd of men outside the gate just waiting for your job. Obviously times were hard. When the local was organized, things improved for the workers, pay and conditions got better, and he retired after putting in 48 years of service.

    Before he died in the mid 80's, he told me that he had seen things go too far and unions had changed the situation into one that many workers did not care about the quality of their work or e ven showing up. "Make 8 and hit the gate" was a saying I often heard.

    The truth is somewhere in the middle as I have seen abuses by both labor and management too numerous to count.
     
  9. LawScholar

    LawScholar

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    An America without unions would be every bit as bad, and probably worse, and the crappy union-bullied system we have now. As usual, the answer is somewhere in the middle. We need unions strong enough to challenge blatantly abusive employers (ala Upton Sinclair situations) but not so strong that they can become political and economic bullies.
     
  10. Riverkilt

    Riverkilt

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    Back in 1962 and 63 I worked in the mines as boy of 17 and 18. There was no OSHA then. Today one mine is closed as an environmental hazard. The other was a uranium mine and I receive treatment for the effects of working there. I was a member of the United Mine Workers and was damned glad for what little mine safety they insisted on from the owners. Back then the union was the only safety measure we had. I happily paid my union dues to be part of the union instead of just a boy working underground.

    There's much more to a good life than getting rich or helping someone else get rich with your own sweat and risking your life. The fat cat owners of the mines never visited, let alone go underground and see the conditions we worked in.

    Unions emerged because there was a need for them and they will continue to exist as long as there is a need for them. That need is usually generated by the greedy fat cat owners with no respect or empathy for the working folk who make them rich.

    Later I worked at a factory that the union (Garment workers) wanted bad. They held union election after union election but the union never won. Why? Because the owners paid the workers BETTER than the other union shops and treated the workers with dignity and respect. Today, most fat cat owners would never think of that simple solution to getting rid of unions.
     
  11. devildog2067

    devildog2067

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    The idea of "greedy fat cat owners" is just as stereotyped and just as stupid as the idea of "lazy union thugs."

    Both exist, neither is common. Most "owners" work far harder than the "working folk" and most of them aren't very "rich" either. The average small business owner is far less wealthy than the average neurosurgeon, for example.
     
  12. ClydeG19

    ClydeG19

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    Shhh, that wouldn't play into anyone's agenda. Perception is reality.
     
  13. Riverkilt

    Riverkilt

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    Granted, but I've known a bunch of them that do fit that stereotype....which is why I used it.

    And, I'm not talking "small business" I was talking mining companies...huge corporations
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2012
  14. PaulMason

    PaulMason

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    canis latrans is correct

    Research the following:
    Total % of the labor force unionized
    Subtract Government union %
    = very low percentage of the labor force is unionized
    Then subtract out % of service sector unionized
    = a small number for mfg?

    The issue with costs in China is not just labor costs - it is taxes of all kinds and less laws/regulations from reporting to environmental to hiring/firing.

    You need to do your research if you are going to discuss this.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2012
  15. pizza_pablo

    pizza_pablo USN Retired

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    Well put :thumbsup:
     
  16. devildog2067

    devildog2067

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    Huge corporations are very, very rarely "owned" by an individual. Most of them are publicly traded, or owned by a collection of private investors through a private equity or hedge fund.

    And the ones that ARE owned by an individual are typically ones that the individual built himself--generally, the opposite of a "fat cat" owner who got rich at the expense of others.
     
  17. countrygun

    countrygun

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    There is a connection, in your logic, that doesn't really exist.

    If a worker in China stand at an aseembly line and screws "bolt "A" onto "Nut"B" and an American worker does the same thing here in the States, what makes the Chinese worker "Unskilled" labor and the American worker "Skilled" labor? I detect a hint of ethnocentricism at work.

    I also note an historical oversight.

    Post WWII Things "Made in Japan" were indicitive of low quality mass produced goods, as the Japanes learned to adopt our manufacturing techniques and methods. I dare to say we don't look at it that way today. So it will be, eventually with China. Look at the inroads China is making in just the mid range cutlery market.

    I think a good deal of the future of our economic position will be effected by the improvements in other Countries, yes they will improve and not stay static, that is anothe flaw in your model. We have to decided if we think the American putting the nut on the bolt is going to by worth 10,20,30X the wage of someone doing it overseas.

    In case you havent noticed, not everyone can be a designer or engineer, and we seem to be paying a huge portion of our labor force, not to labor, but merely to collect entitlements.

    The cold fact is a Country that produces goods needs labor, if labor prices make the goods unprofitable they either don't get produced or get produced elsewhere.
     
  18. G-19

    G-19

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    I agree. If there were no unions, wages in this country would plummet. That is why anti-union types want to get rid of unions, then they can pay lower wages so the investors can make more. It is all about the perspective of the person involved. As a worker I could not care less about the investors profit, and as investors they could not care less about the workers. It is all about your point of view.

    I have even read posts here saying that a guaranteed minimum wage should be gotten rid of because it hurts the profit margin of companies. They claim that if minimum wage was gotten rid of then employers would hire more people. Which is total bull, they would just keep expecting people to do more for less.

    Now, I do think that sometimes the unions can be over demanding. Especially when shown the books and shown the money ain't there, example: Hostess. The unions also need to quit protecting deadbeat workers, if a person is not cutting it or is substandard they should be cut. If the union actually worked for the interest of all employees they could earn some credibility again. However, I also feel that when asked to take cuts it would go a long way if the owners / investors took the same cuts as asked of the worker. Why should the workers take less, but owners / investors get raises / more return?
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2012
  19. countrygun

    countrygun

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    Oh, of course, the reason Chinese goods, made under basically communism, are cheaper couldn't be that the Chinese workers are paid 1/10 or less what the American workers are paid, NOOOO it has to be that the evil corporate bigwigs are making a profit, despite having to pay their workers 10X what the Chinese workers get paid, and that everyone in this Country who pays taxes is supporting those who don't. No it is definately the fault of the corporate greedheads that are paying for all of it and trying to make a profit.
     
  20. G-19

    G-19

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    So you do get it. How many of those Chinese workers are forced to work for slave wages and in poor conditions by the communist government for the bribe money paid by the corporations. All in the name of profit. Is that what you want for Americans?
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2012