Look For the Union Label

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By Bill Claiborne


Is it not lawful for an employer to do what he wishes with what is his own?

This question comes from a parable found in Matthew 20 concerning the Kingdom of God as Jesus compares it to a vineyard.  

The lesson involves a landowner who hires workers at different times during the day and winds up paying them all the same. Those who had worked longer complained, saying it wasn’t fair that they should be paid the same amount of someone who worked less.  Jesus explained that these workers had, after all, agreed to work for the price they were paid, and that it wasn’t any of their business what the landowner was doing with his money regarding the other workers.

Jesus used this example, underscoring the importance of property rights and individual sovereignty, to teach about God’s prerogative regarding the inclusion of the Gentiles in His plan for humanity.  Freedom to act relates directly to ownership.  Ultimately, to act freely is an inherent function of ownership.  They are two sides of the same coin and can’t be separated without devaluing the currency of both.

The United Auto Workers union, (UAW,) has failed to understand this principle, and as a result, the Big Three auto companies now stand on the precipice of bankruptcy.  A sacrifice of over three million jobs and $400 billion in annual output is at risk. Executives from Ford, Chrysler and GM are now lobbying Congress for a $50 billion bailout.  They may get it from the union-friendly Democrats who have long been deep in the pockets of the UAW.  The question to ask is:  Will it be worth it?

Unions are organized, ostensibly, to empower labor to make better agreements with management.  There was a time when the checks and balances of Big Labor were useful in helping to offset the corrupt, monopolistic practices of managers who regularly breached the terms and responsibilities of their agreements.  Today, however, we see the balance has shifted too far the other way.  A third party in this equation, the free consumer, is now exercising his power to nullify these outdated agreements by choosing to buy elsewhere.  Neither management nor labor wins when the produce spoils from consumer neglect.

Management, in a free, capitalist market, exists to satisfy customers.  In the car industry, the Big Three are failing to meet this standard because competitors are producing better products at cheaper prices.  Ford, Chrysler and GM must add $2,300 to the cost of each car just to pay for the Union concessions of health care, pensions and other benefits.  There is more expense for health care in each car than there is for steel.  When added together, the average wage for the Big Three assembly line worker is $73.21 per hour compared to just $44.20 per hour for Toyota, Honda and Nissan.  The Big Three are losing, on average, $1,000 per car sold, whereas Honda, Nissan and Toyota average a pre-tax profit of $1,300.  The bottom line difference is the UAW.  They have overstepped their bounds of ownership and have frustrated the right of management to operate freely and successfully in the competitive marketplace.

Perhaps the worst example of the abuses of the UAW is the jobs bank. This is a program where management is compelled to pay workers not to work.  As incredible as it sounds, this policy is meant to compensate those who have lost their jobs due to technological progress or plant restructuring.

In some cases, these non-workers enjoy gold-plated health plans with no deductibles.

The UAW doesn’t stop there.  They consistently lobby against Free Trade agreements that would open foreign markets to the cars, one would assume, they want to sell.  UAW President Ron Gettlefinger seems committed to this suicide by working to preserve the bloated benefits of nearly one million retired UAW workers.

The Democrats will likely find a way to bailout this mismanaged affair while excusing all of the abuses of labor.  They will reward this failure at taxpayer and consumer expense.  They will extend more favors to the unions with the Employee Free Choice Act, or the Card-check bill as it is known. This legislation will prohibit secret balloting for union initiatives, thus allowing voter intimidation to manipulate employees into supporting unions.

Going against the lawful dictates of free choice is never worth the final expense.  

No amount of bailout or government intervention can abolish the truth that spans human history.  Throwing good money after bad is never a wise choice, whether your business is a vineyard or a Volkswagen.  

Send comments to WFC83197@aol.com, or mail to POB 114, Jacksboro, TN  37757.