Unlike many in the manufacturing world we aren’t vehemently anti-union. Yes unions often do create roadblocks to lean manufacturing with contracts that limit flexibility and agility. Yes their negotiated labor rates are often way above market value. And yes those direct and indirect costs can lead to competitive burdens that actually create the environment where they will lose the jobs they’re fighting for.
At the same time much of this was in reaction to old-style command-and-control management that did not understand the value of people. Unfortunately some companies still subscribe to the "labor is just a set of hands" philosophy, therefore unions will continue to exist… as a result of management. And also at the same time there are many companies that have learned to work cooperatively with unions, implementing lean, and over time making the need for unions unnecessary.
But it is still rather amusing when an organization, or political persuasion, that is considered strongly pro-union… is impacted by the negative aspects of unions. This past week has seen the Yearly Kos love fest convention of left-wing bloggers. But they ran into a bit of a problem…
So I’ve done some crack reporting and figured out why it’s so damn hard to plug in a computer here at Yearly Kos. The problem is these nefarious unions. The McCormick Convention Center is, unsurprisingly, operated by a series of labor groups who, working hand in hand, rip apart the building and put it back together to fit the needs of whichever group happens to be renting space here. So for YearlyKos, the teamsters, and the plumbers, and the electricians all come in to haul partitions, and divert piping, and… lay wiring. One catch is, of course, that the more wiring you need, the more you have to pay. The other, less obvious catch, is that any wiring you try to do yourself–running extension chords and power strips across the room–might well violate your contract and cost you a big fine. So the result is a lot of dead laptop batteries. At a frickin’ blogger convention. The netroots may be big and powerful, but they’re not that big and powerful. So here’s my counterintuitive scoop for the day: unions are single-handedly destroying the communicative power of the very people who are here to help unions have a stronger voice in politics.
That last line is rather phenomenal from someone in this camp, so it bears repeating.
So here’s my counterintuitive scoop for the day: unions are single-handedly destroying the communicative power of the very people who are here to help unions have a stronger voice in politics.
The comments on that blog post are a great read, with the "netroots" trying to rationalize such a conundrum. Save jobs paying above the market but limit flexibility and efficiency? I can almost hear heads exploding.