Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Union labeled

During my recent cross-country drive, I listened to as much local radio as I could. One of the shows I tuned into in the Midwest featured an auto industry discussion--and at the risk of oversimplifying things, I'll just say the topic was whether a union should be willing to take across-the-board pay cuts to keep a company solvent. Callers were equally heated on both sides...and at one point, the host said something to the effect that, "I don't know about you, but one of the reasons I go to work is to earn more money every year."

In light of the past few weeks' events, this comment has stuck in my craw. For 10 years as an independent businessperson, my income has ranged widely--up or down tens of thousands from one year to the next. I am subject to the whims of the market and economy as well as the work I put into my business. I'd like to think I'm going to make more this year, but there are no guarantees. I don't get a cost of living increase.

With that perspective, I am astonished at the reality-free zone in which some businesses appear to operate. You're losing money, and the union wants to be insulated entirely from that, to the extent that it could put you out of business? Upper management is often equally complicit, having shown no desire to inject reason into the process as they made promises that they had to have known would be unsustainable.

Epilogue: The radio discussion, as it happens, was about Ford--and several days after my trip, upper management ended up taking pay cuts while the unions made concessions on freezing wages and not taking bonuses. As it should be.

Meanwhile, witness the diametric opposite in the outrageous financial manipulations of GM, Chrysler and our federal government. They couldn't get me to buy their lousy products, so they're extracting the money from me via taxes. Nice business plan if you've got friends in the right place, I guess.

For the record, I am a longtime Ford customer, but that would end the day they take any bailout money.

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely, thoughtful post! So happy to have discovered your blog...

    I'm with you on the union thing. Up here in Canada-land, the news reports that the average auto worker makes about $86/hour, with all benefits calculated in.

    $86 an hour.

    For a job that requires no higher education.

    And comes with a pension plan. Who has a pension plan anymore?

    I thin unions are going to drive themselves extinct.