Tuesday, May 05, 2009

New York Times Forces Boston Globe Unions to Back Down – Unions No Longer Relevant - Opinion

Union Busting is not often a term applied to a liberal leaning organization, however, the New York Times, in a desperate attempt to save a few million bucks, has done just that. Three of the four unions at the Boston Globe, have agreed to concessions in benefits that amount to $20 million per year. Union Members at the parent company have agreed to take a 5% reduction in pay in order to save their jobs. essentially, when times get tough, companies cannot survive if a union is in place. The Times Company only needed to look to the U.S. Auto Industry to understand the crushing burden the Auto Workers Union placed on that industry – literally driving U.S. Auto Makers into the ground. What is interesting in this particular story is that both the Times and the Globe lean politically left; therefore, logic dictates that they would sooner support a union, no matter the result – however, economics trumps ideology.

There was a time, in history, when unions made sense; sweat shops, child labor, 14 hour workdays, dangerous working conditions were the norm. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911 drew attention to the need of an organization to protect those workers on the lower run of American Society. Safety regulations and decent working hours were demands that were made at the time. However, as time went on, Unions in general, lobbied harder for politicians than for their own members, and certain occupations, such as teachers, (which have two unions, the AFT and the ) most of whom have master degrees, and work in safe surroundings, should not be subject to union organization at all. Teachers, are basically forced to join one or both unions and dues collected are sent directly to politicians. For example, between 1990 and 2008, the NEA gave $29,624,876 to politicians, 93% of that went to one Party. Besides meager salaries (compared to others in competitive fields with degrees), and average benefits, teachers receive little in return, with the exception of job protection for inadequate performance. The upside of non-unionized teachers would be a rise in the quality of education, as jobs would be based on competence – salaries would increase and students would benefit.

Any occupation where a degree is required to perform ones job, or if there are no excessive hazards and or hardships placed upon employees (14 hour forced workdays for example), should be disbanded. This would increase competitiveness in the marketplace, lower prices on goods and services and raise salaries of those who excelled. Unfortunately, major political parties would suffer a downturn in income, however, that would be a small price to pay for increased productivity and competence.

Additionally, even with Unions in place, the influx of illegal immigrants (undocumented workers), into the economy allows pre-Triangle Shirtwaist Factory conditions to exist – as non-citizens they don’t have the same rights under the Constitution and Federal Regulations that are in place restricting companies from the practices that are anti-labor. This is cheap labor that is undermining the American workforce and the U.S. tax base.
Solution: Offer citizenship to those illegal immigrants who are holding down jobs in this country (any illegal immigrants with criminal records, would of course, be deported. Bring the costs of citizenship in line with say a drivers license (not the $10,000 for immigration attorney, $800 plus in fees now necessary to obtain citizenship), and add those workers legally to the roles. This would make them subject to all taxes paid by those working in the U.S. and additionally, would drive up wages, and promote competence in all facets of the workforce. In other words, level the playing field for all citizens to realize the American Dream. The net effect would be a more robust economy, with little to no union/government intervention required.

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