01 February 2009

President Gets Cozy With Union Thugs

The President gave a nod to Big Labor, which always tends to have Democrats in its pockets, by reversing some Bush-era rules for federal workplaces. What sweeping regulations did the "party of the working man" provide? AP has the details:

Labor, riding high after quick wins with President Barack Obama, faces the harsh reality that the Democratic-controlled Congress will not find it easy to push more fiercely contested legislation to improve the status of workers or the unions trying to organize them.

Obama on Friday issued executive orders that union officials say will undo Bush administration policies favoring employers. Among the orders, federal contractors would be required to offer jobs to current workers when contracts change, and they would be prevented from receiving reimbursement for expenses meant to influence worker decisions on joining unions or engaging in collective bargaining.
I don't really have anything against the concept of unions, lest we have some Upton Sinclair-like dystopia for American workers. But the unions became too powerful and too greedy following WWII. Notoriously slow to adapt to new technology in the manufacturing sector (e.g. the UAW was extremely hostile to automation in automotive assembly plants in the 70s), getting mixed up with organized crime (like when the Teamsters let the mob use its pension fund as a bank), and demanding such costly benefits that it caused the many once-great American industries to get eaten alive by foreign competition.

Today, labor might not be as powerful, but they certainly can wield some influence. Opposition to Free Trade with Colombia was under the guise of human rights abuses by Uribe's government (which has vastly improved since the 90s), but was really about protectionism. Boeing workers went on strike last year, costing the company billions. Unsurprisingly, Boeing will have to lay off thousands this year due to that loss of productivity. So color me unimpressed with Big Labor. But what's most troubling is that they are just another special interest group looking for federal laws to be manipulated to what's best for them instead of what's best for America. It's ripping our country apart.


subrookie said...

No surprise I live in liberal land Seattle. What I've never understood is when Democrats (which make up 60-70% of the Puget Sound region) start running for office they court the union vote.

Last year when the Boeing workers (International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers) went on strike they were completely hammered by the locals. The Seattle PI and Times soundoffs were full of talk about how they should be happy to have a job and get the fuck back to work.

So, it's ok to to give lip service to the unions if you're on the left looking to get in the White House or Olympia but not ok to support them when they go on strike?

Nixon said...

Maybe the politicians are more afraid of ending up being beaten with a baseball bat and buried out in the desert.