Union Men

The United Auto Workers is the labor union wing of the Democratic Party. The attempt to bail out the United Auto Worker via loans to Detroit automakers is an attempt to bail out an unprofitable wing of the Democratic Party at the expense of the American taxpayer

Of course this does not mean that the United Auto Workers and its allies agree completely with the broader liberal movement. Union men ten to be less educated than liberals as a whole, and its fair to say that comments like this (taken from a featured post at Daily Kos) are perhaps more typical of the UAW than Democrats or liberals as a whole:

All gone, our shared national automotive legacy and collective memories stretching back a century, and millions of jobs, all looted by ultra-conservatives eager to punish generations of American workers for the sin of not voting for the GOP in acceptable numbers. Gone forever. In their place will be rice burning Nissons and Toyotas, maybe the occasional German model. Models that legions of newly unemployed Americans, standing on the precipe of Bush’s Depression, will never be able to afford

Empowering the UAW empowers an uneducated, nativist, protectionist, and frankly violent strain in American politics that has no place in our society. Detroit is a union town, GM is a union company, with a union view of globalization

“It’s because of you little motherfuckers that we’re out of work,” witnesses later remembered Ebens yelling at Chin.

Chin struck Ebens, and an altercation ensued. Ebens’ stepson, Michael Nitz – who had been recently laid off from his job at an autoplant – jumped in. But it was soon broken up by a parking attendant. Chin and his friends left the bar and went their separate ways. Twenty minutes later, Ebens and Nitz caught up with Chin in front of a fast-food restaurant. Ebens grabbed a baseball bat and delivered a blow to Chin’s leg. Nitz held the wounded Chin, while Ebens struck his head with the bat, bashing his skull in.

Before he slipped into a coma, Chin murmured to a friend, “It’s not fair.” Four days later – and five days before his wedding – Chin died as a result of the injuries he sustained during the beating.

and union opinions of police protection and justice

Ronald Ebens was arrested and taken into custody at the scene of the murder by two off-duty police officers who had witnessed the beating.[5] Ebens and Nitz were convicted in a county court for manslaughter by Wayne County Circuit Judge Charles Kaufman, after a plea bargain brought the charges down from second-degree murder. They served no jail time, were given three years probation, fined $3,000 and ordered to pay $780 in court costs. In a response letter to protests from American Citizens for Justice, Kaufman said, “These weren’t the kind of men you send to jail… You don’t make the punishment fit the crime; you make the punishment fit the criminal.

There are people ready to make serious contributions to the American auto industry, if they are supported. From Silicon Valley startups to crowding-in spending, from a geogreen stimulus to a rebated gas tax, many auto-related causes deserve our support.

But not the union men.

14 thoughts on “Union Men”

  1. “Empowering the UAW empowers an uneducated, nativist, protectionist, and frankly violent strain in American politics that has no place in our society. Detroit is a union town, GM is a union company, with a union view of globalization”

    GM has a union view of globalization? Not just the UAW?

    Also, race to the bottom on a global scale is one thing, but it is sad when we are having as such between our very own “united” states.

    Not that I don’t believe in federalism on select issues, but racing to the bottom in your own country is, I believe, somewhat unhealth.

    Or maybe I am just bitter of the fact that advocates of so-called “right to work” contradict their own unfettered capitalist rhetoric since legislation against collective bargaining power serves the same purpose as corporate anti-trust legislation.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think unions should go unchecked, but the fact is that if one wishes to have legal assertion towards collective bargaining, than they can’t call them selves true lassiaz-faire capitalist, period, because to assert as such is hypocrisy.

  2. I cannot find the article off-hand, but John F. Kennedy made a similar argument in the Atlantic Monthly, I believe in 1960. At the time the movement of industry from the north to the south was just beginning – now it is in full swing [1]. Kennedy criticized the southern states for competing with northern ones for jobs.

    Of course, this sort of competition in rulesets is what our Constitution enables. We do not have a centralized system like Japan or France, where a national government makes all laws. We have a federal system that is open to experimentation.

    It turns out that paying people much more than the market price for their labor is a bad move.

    For generations, there has been a transfer of wealth from American workers to workers of the industrial midwest. This has been great for the workers in the Industrial Midwest. It has been bad for everybody else (cars cost more, are less reliable, and so on). Indeed, a fatal flaw of unionism is that it pits workers against each other.

    Widely shared social safety nets take more political effort to build, but are largely immune from these other-v.-them worker-v.-worker disputes.

    Re “Right to Work,” I have sympathy, but special federal protection for workers means that labor unions are not just another form of workforce providers. For instance, if a company is unhappy with the conduct of IBM, it can switch to another computer provider. If a company is unhappy with the conduct of the union, it can’t just dismiss the union.

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/12/08/the-decline-of-the-industrial-midwest.html

  3. The only reason that there is not a nationwide “Right to Work” law is because senators from right to work states have pledged for years that they would filibuster such a law. It is probably more than ten years ago when Texas closed down its offices in Europe that were trying to attract businesses from there to move production here. It turned out to be cheaper and easier to get plants from New York and other high tax – high regulation states to move here.

    Of course, in today’s environment you have to offer more than lower labor costs. Far lower wages are available in Mexico or China.

  4. “Kennedy criticized the southern states for competing with northern ones for jobs.”

    Wow, I continue to be amazed by your simplistic assertion of “competition”. While you are at it, why don’t you say that child labor laws and the 40-hour work week are for the sake of preventing competition, because the idea that someone supports this or that economic regulation on the bases of human well being is just unfathomable.

    “Of course, this sort of competition in rulesets is what our Constitution enables. We do not have a centralized system like Japan or France, where a national government makes all laws. We have a federal system that is open to experimentation.”

    You mean, like how we experimented with slavery and Jim Crow, and how is the federal gov’t intervening on select issues mean it is making “all” the laws? Federalism means that some laws are made by the central government and some are made at a local level. As to which laws are assigned to each jurisdiction is relative, and we obviously disagree as to were certain laws should be assigned. That doesn’t make me an anti-federalist.

    Also, I am not against right to work, all I am saying is that to intervene on contracts written up between labor unions and industry constitutes as economic regulation no matter how one tries to rationalize it.

    I think labor unions are just as capable of de facto monopolization as corporations are, and therefore should be prone to a variant of anti-trust legislation (which is essentially what right to work is), but what I am saying is that labor unions are an inevitable product in a true lasseiz-faire capitalist system, if one is ever to be achieved, and therefore it is hypocracy for advocates of that economic system to further advocate legislation regulating unions.

  5. Mark in Texas,

    The only reason that there is not a nationwide “Right to Work” law is because senators from right to work states have pledged for years that they would filibuster such a law.

    Interesting! Do you have a reference for this?

    Jeffrey,

    Wow, I continue to be amazed by your simplistic assertion of “competition”. While you are at it, why don’t you say that child labor laws and the 40-hour work week are for the sake of preventing competition, because the idea that someone supports this or that economic regulation on the bases of human well being is just unfathomable.

    Obviously, national laws aimed at ending child labor (such as the Fair Labor Standards Act) are designed to prevent competition between states in child labor.

    I don’t know what is ‘unfathonable’ about this. I cited President Kennedy for your benefit, as your position has serious support.

    You mean, like how we experimented with slavery and Jim Crow, and how is the federal gov’t intervening on select issues mean it is making “all” the laws?

    My reference to ‘all laws’ was to ‘centralized systems like Japan or France.’ Are you arguing that Japan and France actually have federal systems?

    Also, I am not against right to work, all I am saying is that to intervene on contracts written up between labor unions and industry constitutes as economic regulation no matter how one tries to rationalize it.

    Yes, obviously it is.

    It is an economic regulation in the response to another economic regulation (the special privileges of unions).

    This causes libertarians some angst, as they would like to do away with nearly all regulations. [1]

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/12/10/the-conservative-case-against-innovation.html

  6. “My reference to ‘all laws’ was to ‘centralized systems like Japan or France.’ Are you arguing that Japan and France actually have federal systems?”

    No

  7. “I don’t know what is ‘unfathonable’ about this. I cited President Kennedy for your benefit, as your position has serious support.”

    Sorry, I was being sarcastic and misinterpreted your connotation of competition.

  8. No I don’t have a cite. I first heard it in an economics class and then later heard it from some guy at a state political convention (maybe he had the same economics professor).

    So now that you mention it, I might just be repeating some urban legend.

  9. Just to clarify, Ronald Ebens was a plant superintendent. As such, he was part of management, NOT the union. In fact, the United Auto Workers planned to strike if Ebens remained employed with Chrysler.

  10. Jeffrey,

    No prob.

    I like your new blog [1,2], by the way.

    Mark in Texas,

    For all of Krugman calling Corker “the Senator from Nissan,” the Souther GOP’s push to de-unionize the industrial midwest would have the effect of making that declinign region more competitive [3] with the south.

    Matt,

    Excellent clarification, and an important one. Likewise, there is no evidence that this vandalism was by a Ford unionist [4].

    My point was that the UAW is part of a politically ugly nativist strain in American politics, not that it was engaged in organized violence, or tolerated such violence.

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/12/13/new-blog-mr-james-goes-to-blogington.html
    [2] http://jamesinblogington.blogspot.com/
    [3] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/12/08/the-decline-of-the-industrial-midwest.html
    [4] http://www.breitbart.tv/?p=241303

  11. You said…”My point was that the UAW is part of a politically ugly nativist strain in American politics”

    I totally agree with that sentiment. As a long-time Detroit-area resident, I can testify to the fact that both union and managment alike often deridingly stress the world “foreign” when referring to “foreign imports.”

    And I’ll add that “Keying” (the act of scratching someone’s car with a set of car keys) imports has been a traditional past time in saloon parking lots.

  12. Matt,

    Thanks for the comment!

    Never understand the stupidity of individuals.

    Two interesting stories: the success of GM everywhere but North America [1] (Over the past three years in China, I’ve been surprised how Shanghai GM [2] is successfully muscling out local competitors for marketshare) and the slippery definition of “American” cars [3]

    [1] http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/front/la-fi-gmworld7-2008dec07,0,5602941.story
    [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanghai_GM
    [3] http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/12/12/american.cars/

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