For those unfamiliar with the gentleman's agreement governing the make-up of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) there are five members who do the voting and the party living in the White House puts three of its supporters in, while the other party gets to name two. They don't have to do it this way, but that has become the tradition. I suppose Obama is a traditional sort of guy so he followed the precedent. With three Obama people and two Republican types on this august body, let's see how they think …..
Electrolux announces that they are closing their Webster City, Iowa plant to consolidate work in Juarez Mexico, dumping some 800+ United Auto Workers members on the streets. The NLRB is silent.
Goodyear announces they are closing their Union City, Tennessee plant leaving close to 1,900 United Steelworkers members high and dry because they cannot compete with the wages Goodyear pays in China. The NLRB is silent.
Hamilton Sundstrand is laying off 200 dues paying members of the International Association of Machinists because machinists work cheaper in Poland and Singapore. The NLRB is silent.
Boeing builds a new plant in South Carolina employing better than 1,000 non-union workers and the NLRB announces that this is "inherently destructive of the rights guaranteed employees", and files a complaint in federal court to put a stop to Boeing's move.
So a manufacturer can lay off union members and move the work to China, Mexico, Poland or Singapore and be right up front about the motivation – to get cheaper labor than the union folks demand – and that is not "inherently destructive of the rights guaranteed employees". On the other hand, building a new plant and hiring Americans based on an assumption that its lower, non-union labor costs might be the motive is "inherently destructive of the rights guaranteed employees".
The philosophical pecking order within the Obama administration is becoming clear. At the top are the globalization wonks who still buy into the absurd theory of the post-industrial-world-is-flat-manufacturing-is-better-done-anywhere-but-here-service-economy. Then come the radical pro-union folks like the Manufacturing Czar and NLRB appointee, both of whom came from their jobs as labor union lawyers into top policy jobs. They are empowered to assault manufacturers to their heart's content so long as they don't upset the globalization apple cart.
In terms of how regular working folks stack up in the Obama administration, factory workers in third world countries get the top spot. Nothing is allowed to get between them and a paycheck. Next come American workers who pay dues to fuel the Obama political juggernaut. At the bottom of the list are the 87% of American manufacturing employees who do not belong to labor unions. They get to keep their jobs only after the low cost foreign workers and then the high cost union workers have skimmed off the ones they want.
Chasing cheap foreign labor is a fine thing in keeping with evolved economic thinking, but chasing cheaper American labor is an evil act to be punished. Sometimes Obama's message can be a bit fuzzy and hard to fully pin down. I'm glad we have been able to finally get that straight.
Mark Graban says
So much for Democrats protecting workers and preserving yet alone creating jobs. I wouldn’t blame Boeing for moving the company to Poland or China.
Dan Markovitz says
One word: AARRGGGHHH!
And so much for the ´lean peoples´’ mantra respect for the people/workers…
We repect them as long as they don´t make any trouble and start demanding things like oh well wages and safe work enviroment….
Wilie Carter says
It seems yours and Mark comments have a strong partisan tone. My question to you is, what did the last administration do to protect American workers or prevent manufacturing jobs from going overseas? Maybe it was the tax breaks for the rich that created more jobs.We did not see any evidence of that now did we?
Bill Waddell says
If you were a regular reader you would know that I was not too kind to the previous administration of this issue either. However, we now have this administration and the facts of their policies and actions toward American manufacturing are what they are.
This problem began long before Bush gave tax breaks to the rich. And Bushes foibles are no excuse for what Obama is doing now.
A bipolar view – that we must settle for either traditional Democratic thinking or traditional Republican thinking – will not solve the problem. Neither party has anything to be proud of. It has taken the collective leadership of both Bushes, Clinton and Obama to create the hollowing out of American manufacturing over the last 20+ years, and the control of both parties over Congress during that time.
The party is not nearly as important as getting someone in Washington who actually understands and cares. Both Obama and Bush have utterly failed to do so.
I´m sorry if my earlier comment was a bit sarcastic but as an European, were pretty much all manufacturing are done by union workers, I have trouble understanding the american hostility towards unions.
Maybe a difference in culture regarding both management and unions?
Bill Waddell says
American unions and those in Europe tend to be quite different. In the USA unions are independent organizations that workers can join or not, and there are quite a few laws governing what both unions and management can and must do.
Because each union is different they tend to run the gamut of reasonableness and effectiveness. The best are reasonable in working with management and in the promises they make to their members. The worst are extremely militant and there have been a number of cases of union corruption and association with organized crime.
Likewise, some management teams are reasonable in dealing with the unions representing their employees, and some approach union relations as an ongoing war.
For the most part, unions are a dying institution in the manufacturing sector of the USA. Only 12-13% of manufacturing workers are union members. The unions are only strong in the public sector, representing many teachers, policemen, firefighters and government administration people.
Craig Anderson says
In the United States it is the lethal combination of craven public sector unions and incompetent politicians that is bankrupting states and cities across the country.
Mark Welch says
A quote from Archbishop Fulton Sheen (1895-1979): “The true concept of freedom is ‘Freedom is the right to do whatever we ought,’ and ought implies goal, purpose, morality, and the law of God.”
Perhaps the outsourcers have a false sense of freedom.
The “tax cuts for the rich” is tired, worn out, and inaccurate. All tax payers received a tax cut. Forty seven percent of workers pay no income tax. You can’t cut taxes for people that don’t pay in the first place.
George–sure you can, it’s called the Earned Income Credit and often rebates taxes to people who never paid them in the first place. People receive returns in excess of the amount actually witheld.
You’re right; I’m aware if that credit. But their taxes weren’t actually cut. So I guess the people that continue to use the “tax cuts for the rich” line think we should tax the rich more so we can give more “rebates” to the poor. Kind of a government sanctioned Robin Hood program.