Sunday, February 8, 2009

Reich Doesn't Get It

Reich clearly misses the boat here.

Go back about 50 years, when America's middle class was expanding and the economy was soaring. Paychecks were big enough to allow us to buy all the goods and services we produced. It was a virtuous circle. Good pay meant more purchases, and more purchases meant more jobs.

What he fails to recognize is that 50 years ago, the US economy was all that remained in the still-smoldering ruins of WWII. Yes, it was nearly 15 years later, but the rest of the world was still struggling. There was little to no competition for US goods, so paying Union wages was no big deal. Nearly everything Americans needed was made in the US. Not so today. We purchase much from overseas manufacturers who make goods less expensively, in part at least because they pay lower wages.

The way to get the economy back on track is to boost the purchasing power of the middle class. One major way to do this is to expand the percentage of working Americans in unions.

This is patently and demonstrably untrue. Business in this country is stuggling mightily. US goods are non-competitive on the world market. The wage and tax structure in this country is out of step with most world markets, the EU being an exception. But the EU is also non-competitive.

In August, 65,000 Verizon workers, represented by the Communications Workers of America, won wage increases totaling nearly 11 percent and converted temporary jobs to full-time status. Not only did the settlement preserve fully paid healthcare premiums for all active and retired unionized employees, but Verizon agreed also to provide $2 million a year to fund a collaborative campaign with its unions to achieve meaningful national healthcare reform.

Verizon layed off 2700 at the end of Q3/2008 and is planning more. You tell me.

The Hart poll I cited tells us that 57 million workers would want to be in a union if they could have one.

While only anecdotal evidence, I can tell you that many of the Unionized workers at my employer would rather not have a Union. The onerous work rules are part of it, the dues, another. Some blame the Union for layoffs.

We tried to penalize employers that broke the law, but the fines are minuscule.

Then raise the fines. Hell, ya do it for everything else. OSHA, EPA, why not Labor?

Employee Free Choice Act - Here is the crux of the matter. This act removes the secret ballot. It's not about free choice, it's about allowing Unions to strong-arm people into joining.

Unions are not inherently bad. Unfortunately, in a global market, they render business non-competitive. A better alternative is to ride out these bad times and allow global wages to rise, making US goods a better value overseas. It happened in the past, it will happen now. We have the most motivated, most talented and best trained work-force in the world. Overseas manufacturers are coming here as their goods become less-competitive when made overseas. It will continue and we can see better days ahead. Reich's plan will only prolong the agony.

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