LC’s Commentary

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Collective bargaining at risk

There is a clamor from the Republican Party, Conservative Talk Radio (CTR) Fox News Network (FNN) and other opponents of organized Labor Unions to weaken and or destroy the collective bargaining apparatus in the United States. What is so alarming is the fact that many people who enjoy benefits gotten by organized labor are on the side of those trying to destroy labor unions. The only way to fully appreciate the positive impact organized labor has had on working conditions, is to roll back working conditions to where they were before unions came on the scene. Surely those who enjoy shorter workdays, a safer work environment, decent pay and other negotiated benefits in the work place can see the gains many American workers enjoy. Most people in all walks of life that oppose organized labor refuse to admit that they enjoy workplace benefits garnered by the sweat, blood and tears of union workers. Workdays were shorten by organized labor actions. The eight-hour workday is undeniably the results of organized labor. Safer workplaces are certainly attributable to union activities and demands. Livable wages in many occupations are the direct results of collective bargaining. It is easy for those opposed to labor unions to see them as nothing but a drain on big business and governments at all levels. If one takes the position that labor need business more than business needs labor, then it is easy to see why some want organized labor to got the way of horses and buggies. One must understand and appreciate the need for some kind of balance between workers and big business. Samuel Gopher (1850-1924) one of the founders of the American Federation of Labor (A. F. of L) spoke of the need for collective bargaining. Gopher put it this way: Collective bargaining means that the organized employees of a trade or industry, through representatives of their own choosing, shall deal with the employer or employers in the making of wage scales and working conditions. Collective bargaining is the only practical proposal for adjusting relations between management and the workers in a business way, assuring a fair deal on both sides. CTR and FNN talking heads constantly beat the drums to a tune called democracy, while advocating autocracy, especially in the workplace. Now, politicians of the Conservative persuasion feel comfortable singing the same tune. They want a work environment where management dictates every aspect of the workplace. CTR, FNN and those of the Conservative persuasion constantly paint a dismal picture of unionized workers. This constant drumbeat has attracted the attention of workers not represented by organized labor and created a certain amount of jealously and reluctant admiration for the wages and benefits negotiated by labor unions. All employees in any workplace want are decent wages, benefits and a safe work environment. Having been a union member for several years and a supervisor and manager of union members for several years, I will tell you there must be give and take on both sides. I was involved in negotiating labor agreements representing management and never felt management was forced into positions that were detrimental to the authority and ability of management to manage the workplace and contain labor costs. Union members are well aware that they are taxpayers; property owners and an integral part of the community in which they live and are not about to deliberately take a position detrimental to the well being of said community. Although, at times it appears organized labor positions are hard and fast, most are willing to sit down and negotiate decent and fair contracts that benefits labor and management. The current atmosphere and dire straits many communities, including states and local governments find themselves in, financially, lead some community leaders to assume the time is right to arbitrarily take back many things negotiated and agreed to in labor contracts. Actually there has never been a better time for both sides to sit down and negotiate a contract that benefits both parties. There needs to be a general agreement as to what the problems are and the best way to solve them in a manner both sides can agree to. Workers, in recent years, in several industries made huge concessions to management to help keep businesses afloat. The same thing should and can happen with teachers, firemen, policemen and other public employees. However, arbitrarily changing conditions of employment negotiated in good faith is not the best way to get sorely needed changes and concessions in labor contracts.

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February 23, 2011 - Posted by | Conservative Talk Radio, Glenn Beck, Hannity & Boortz, Limbaugh, Trickle up economics, wealth redistribution

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