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Labor union perspective

By Thomas E. Brewton
web posted April 14, 2008

As the proposed trade agreement with Colombia reveals, labor unions are organizations of self-centered greed, which disingenuously cloak themselves with pretense of God, country, and mom's apple pie.

President Bush, by calling for Congressional approval of the trade agreement with Colombia, is compelling liberal-progressives to choose between the high-flown, one-world internationalism to which they give lip service and kow-towing to organized labor. 

Columnist Robert D. Novak described it this way in his April 4th article:

President Bush will send Congress a trade agreement next week forcing Democrats to make an unpleasant choice. Will they do the bidding of organized labor and reject a pact negotiated more than a year and a half ago with the country's strongest ally and best customer in South America?

...But to forget about a vote this year, as Pelosi wants, ...would humiliate Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, a free-trader and a bulwark against the spreading influence in Latin America of Venezuela's leftist strongman, President Hugo Chávez.

Our liberal-progressive school system instructs callow youth that labor unions are agents of good and right.  The facts are quite different.

The president of the United Auto Workers union has implicitly acknowledged the stark truth: industrial unions are killing American manufacturing jobs.  Unions' salvation, he says, must come from ukases promulgated by the commissars of a new socialistic, Democratic administration.

In a June 13, 2006, article by Jefrey McCracken, the Wall Street Journal reported:

United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger, acknowledging that his union confronts the toughest challenges in its 71-year history, told delegates to the UAW's leadership convention that solutions to problems such as rising health-care costs or the rash of auto suppliers filing bankruptcy-law protection must come largely through the political process.

Union leaders expect a Democrat-socialist to win the presidency, and they expect a payoff via protectionist legislation that will reduce business profits, throwing non-union workers out of jobs and augmenting inflation, to the cost of the vast majority of citizens who are non-union members of the labor force.

This, they hope, will  take them back to their origin as favored children of the socialistic New Deal.  But fast forward to the reality of the present day, and we can see the inevitable result of militant, socialistic industrial unions.

With union labor costs about double those of non-union Japanese and other foreign auto manufacturing plants in the United States, Big Three American automakers are financially bleeding to death. 

In addition to higher wages and benefits, industrial unions impose work rules that reduce worker productivity and add directly to the labor costs of production.  These costs are added to the prices of manufactured products and ultimately are paid for by the non-union members of society.  When an industry like autos is hit with import competition of equal quality, at lower prices, it must cut its profits and ultimately lay off workers.

There is therefore a one-to-one relationship between industrial union militancy and destruction of American manufacturing jobs.

Industrial unions are unlike crafts unions, which descended from medieval crafts guilds whose members had skilled trades that were acquired through long apprenticeships.  Members of mass industrial unions such as the United Auto Workers are mostly unskilled workers from all kinds of jobs within an entire industry, the proletariat of Marxian ideology. 

Industrial unions' origins have in nearly all cases involved violent property destruction and deaths as they strove to supplant capitalism and place business management in the hands of the workers.  Today they look to the Democrat-socialist party to do the dirty work for them.

An early example was the 1869 Knights of Labor, organized shortly after the Civil War, when railroads and other large, interstate business corporations came into being.  Its membership dwindled after its identification with the 1886 Chicago Haymarket Square riot between police and unionists that resulted in several deaths when bombs were thrown into the crowd.  A similar history of violence and murder surrounds the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), which was formed in 1905.

The Marxist theoretician of industrial unionism in the United States in the 1890s was American Socialist Party leader Daniel De Leon, who, in common with European syndicalists, advocated destruction of the capitalist system and seizure of private industry by industrial unions.

Before the 1933 advent of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, industrial unions were not as large or influential in the labor movement as the older crafts unions.  Roosevelt came to the presidency from the governorship of New York.  Socialist labor's great champion in the New Deal was New York Senator Robert F. Wagner, who was born in Germany, the home of Europe's most powerful socialist party, and immigrated to New York City, the epicenter of American socialism.

In Senator Wagner's case, one has the sense that he was a genuinely worshipful adherent of the religion of socialism.  In President Roosevelt's case, it seems more likely that he simply made the shrewd calculation that industrial unions could provide lots of votes, if the Democrats enabled membership growth. 

President Roosevelt's  calculus is what motivates Democratic-socialist party leaders today.

The result was the 1935 Wagner Labor Relations Act, which gave industrial unions a monopolistic position protected by the Federal government.  Only the unions are exempted from the anti-trust regulations.  Only the unions can legally collude to fix prices.

Before the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, industrial unions were allowed to get away with almost any sort of violent action against employers, but the latter were legally restrained from almost  any opposition to union action.

In the bleak depths of the 1930s Depression, with the support of the New Deal's Labor Relations Board, industrial unions were able to force large manufacturers to raise their wages.  With businesses depressed by the New Deal's extremely high taxes, businesses had to eke out an existence by firing non-union workers or by reducing the wages of the vast majority of citizens, who were non-union workers. 

Adding insult to injury, unions' government-imposed higher wages were an inflationary force that raised the living costs of all those non-union workers.

In short, industrial unions are free-loaders who had the backing of Feds armed with legal black-jacks to extort unearned privileges at public expense.  Now that economic reality has at last overtaken them, unions can only run back to mommy crying for more special treatment.  ESR

Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets. His weblog is The View From 1776. Email comments to viewfrom1776@thomasbrewton.com.





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