But I do agree the UAW has destroyed the auto industry. In all the discussions when the auto industry is struggling the UAW does not want to give at all. It appears that they would rather take the industry down than give up anything they have. And most unions do protect the lazy I’m here for the paycheck worker. Unions are a thing of the past but I don’t see them going away there is too much money at stake.
"We might look to Japan where companies attempt to give workers a sense of familial attachment to the company. Perhaps it was a lesson learned from the history of union activity, or perhaps it was also due in part to their culture."
I agree with this and the rest of your comment. I think we used to be that way, when you had a sense of being a "company man". Like my father who worked for US Steel. Unfortunately, our family culture has had too many "Dads" like papa Madoff, Ken Lay, Frank Lorenzo....
Take a good situation and kill it with greed. And I realize both unions and mgt are guilty at that.
I think the crux of the problem is that we in America are trying to compete our labor force with those of countries that pay in rice-balls, NO benefits, NO safety concerns, Etc..... You can't compete with that, and maintain ANY sort of standard of living. You see how those workers in far away places live, unless we are willing to do the same, our labor costs will surpass them by orders of magnitude......unions or not. Someone mentioned having to pay a 15/hr worker 30/hr. In rural China, they work for 2/day. (or some low number, I pulled that number out as an example)
As for evolving, we got that covered in a different thread! ;-)
Recent scandals of Chinese goods lack of quality in everything from Chinese-made toys to dog food components, has raised our consciousness about what this out-sourcing is costing us over the long haul.
It also makes sense to me that if U.S. corporations' costs are increased with taxes, they will seek ways to contain what costs they can control. Home-based corporations also face any number of restrictions, from environmental concerns to OSHA, that are not factors for the Chinese producers. There is no question that there is a great need for common sense in regulation without stifling productivity.
Cap and Trade is an obvious piece of regulation that lacks common sense.
Right now China is making a big push to use alternative energy sources like solar and wind. They have already max'ed out their water power! Their most important industrial fuel remains coal. Unlike the U.S., however, their estimated coal reserves are quite limited based on their present industrial growth rate.
They MUST find alternative fuels, and that is their motivation for going to wind and solar on large scale. But this change will be raising their production costs, too. These new fuels are considerably more costly than the coal that is their most prevalent fuel now. As such countries become more heavily industrialized, they begin to face the same issues that other developed countries face!
A few months ago I mentioned meeting a young Chinese immigrant, a computer wizard, who remarked that the Chinese government fears that its populatioin is becoming too devoted to capitalism.
Having been in unions for 30 yrs there are certainly arguments for both sides. Started working in tunnels @ 18yrs old. You work thru lunch and you have no breaks. You usually have time to eat on the fly. The shift boss never had to run a guy off that wasn't working out, the hands would do that and the union wouldn't say a thing because they knew the guy wasn't worth a crap. The work ethic in that field was unbelievable. All the crews were trying to get more footage than the other crews. To an extent that is still the case but, The work ethic of the people coming into the business for the last 10yrs. or so is one of entitlement. It all boils down to work ethic. Doesn't matter if your union or not. If your not worth a damn, you aren't worth a damn! I keep in mind that not only do I represent my union but first and foremost I represent the work ethic that has been instilled in me by my father. Other than union ironworkers who take serious pride in their work and are humped up, I can't defend other unions.
St. Louis is a big union town prolly in the top 5 as far as strength and pay scale. I do believe that it has kept wage rates high artificially or not. We build signs wholesale for other sign companies. The argument that higher wages equals non competitive is only partially right. We have state of the art equipment, and skilled workers and build high quality sign. We also compete against folks that have the same equipment and skills and the kill our price.
I think that we should be more concerned about buying American made goods even if it cost more and bring companies and jobs back to the US. If goods are brought in to the US the should have a Tariff equal to the labor rate that we are competing against.
NPR actually did a special on the rubber room almost two years ago. Most of the teachers there have never had charges filed against them or been provided with any form of disciplinary review at all.
Long. long ago, I was the Director of Budget and Management for NYC's Health and Hospitals Corporation (then running 18 hospitals with 42,000 staff). I received very similar complaints from hospital executive directors who were complaining about a joint labor management executive review board (ERB) empowered to review appeals of disciplinary actions. They wanted the Board eliminated because it made it impossible to fire incompetent staff. When i looked into it I found that only a small number of caseswere ever appealed. I asked each of the directors to forward me examples of cases that had been reviewed in a manner that was inappropriate. I received half a dozen examples. I summarized the two "worst" below:
1. Medicaid Case Manager: One of this person's responsibilities was to provide subway tokens to Medicaid recipients to cover their transportation costs to the clinic. The person normally responsible for this function was out to lunch and this individual was filling in. A valid Medicaid recipient came to obtain a token following a psychiatric visit. The clerk verified eligibility and was handing the token to the patient when the psychiatrist came out of his office and yelled across the room that she should not give the patient a token because he was a fraud. He yelled that the patient had told him during his session that he drove a cab at night and did not report his income to Medicaid. Based on that the doctor did not want him to receive the token (then valued at $0.75). The doctor was a contractor employed by a medical affiliate and not an employee of the hospital. The clerk looked to her supervisor for guidance but her supervisor said nothing. The clerk handed the token to the patient. She was fired the following day for insubordination. In her disciplinary conference in the hospital, it was pointed out that legally the physician had violated state law by disclosing a patient confidence in a public area, that the physician was not the clerk's supervisor, and that denying the token would have contradicted written hospital and Medicaid policy. Despite that and despite several years of satisfactory service, the clerk was summarily dismissed. The ERB on appeal overturned the termination and instead imposed a 30 day suspension without pay.
2. Loading Dock Laborer: After 12 years of employment with good to outstanding reviews, this individual was terminated for theft. The man has been assigned to dispose of a number of items piled on the loading dock into the garbage dumpster. Included among the many items in a large pile was a crate of 48 eggs, some of which were broken. The man threw everything away but kept the eggs and took them home. A supervisor observed this and reported him for theft. While management agreed that the eggs had been disposed of by the hospital and would not have been reused under any circumstances, the termination was upheld by the Executive Director on review. In this case the ERB converted the penalty to a three month suspension without pay.
All the cases were similar. I met with the Executive Directors and told them that the ERB would remain in place until they developed their own procedures for preventing such stupid penalties from being imposed since in my opinion even the penalties imposed by the ERB had been too harsh.
In that same time frame I had a secretary who had been absent an average of one day/week in the six months she worked in my office. She had worked for the Corporation for five years with repeated promotions. As I investigated, it became clear that this pattern had been on-going. At no time had any supervisor ever questioned her behavior. Instead, she would be promoted and transferred.
We had a "progressive disciplinary procedure" that required that an employee first be informed of the specific problem in writing with a statement of what change was needed to avoid further discipline. I did this. She asked me if she could transfer and I said no. The second step was a conference involving the union shop steward. I forwarded the information to the shop steward and scheduled the conference. At the conference, the shop steward tore a new opening in the secretary's rear end. When the secretary said she wanted a transfer, the shop steward pointed out that her behavior made everyone's job harder and that she had better change immediately or lose her job. The following week she was absent again without excuse and I fired her. The whole process took four weeks from my first discussion with her until she was terminated. The sad part is that she had been trained to be a bad employee by bad managers. I would have preferred to fire each of them instead.
I will admit that in that period I blamed public sector and civil service rules for this situation. However, I had a friend who was the human resources director at Conde Nast. She said that they did not permit managers to terminate administrative employees because of their finding that almost every termination was the product of bad management more than bad employees. When a manager went through too many staff, they simply stopped sending replacements.