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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Work, work, work

The New York Times has taken note of the "gathering storm" over the coming right-to-work legislation in the General Assembly:

Right-to-work is also a potent political symbol that carries serious financial consequences for unions. Corporations view such laws as an important sign that a state has policies friendly to business. Labor leaders say that allowing workers to opt out of paying any money to the union that represents them weakens unions' finances, bargaining clout and political power.

Organized labor has vowed to fight the Indiana bill, which it says would turn the state into the “Mississippi of the Midwest.” If the legislation passes, Indiana would become the first state to have such a law within the traditional manufacturing belt, a union stronghold that stretches from the Midwest to New England. Right-to-work laws exist in 22 states, almost all in the South and West, with Oklahoma the most recent to pass one, in 2001.

Right-to-work supporters say they can win quick passage because Indiana's Republican governor, Mitch Daniels, backs the bill and Republicans have large majorities in the House and Senate.

The argument for right-to-work is that it attracts more businesses and thus more jobs to the state. The counter-argument is that wages and benefits tend to be lower in right-to-work states. If both arguments are true -- and I suspect they are -- that gives us a productive debate. Is it better to have more but lower paying jobs or fewe


Tue, 01/03/2012 - 11:35am

It's one of those balance things. Going hyperbolic to illustrate the point, lots of slave labor jobs would be as undesirable as a single gazillion dollar per year job.

William Larsen
Tue, 01/03/2012 - 12:59pm

The objective of a company is to produce a produce a product at the lowest possible price that meets costumer satisfaction. The objective of a worker is to obtain the highest compensation (wage, vacation, benefits, intangibles) that they can. The gap is negotiation.

In my opinion and I may be wrong; a union collectively negotiates on the part of a group on what they bring to the table; where as an individual negotiates for themselves based on what they bring to the table.

It appears to me that unions protect the least productive at times (seniority v output) and in so doing reduces the group to the lowest common denominator.

I believe it is up to the individual to decide if they wish to join a union. To keep an individual from working at a company simply because they do not support a union is wrong.

What I do know is that in non union shops, I see workers who are more able to perform a higher variety of jobs when asked. They switch function without a problem. I have found people who have been moved around different tasks to be more capable than those in union shops. One reason may be that they perform many more tasks (a new look at an old process) rather like using the spreading best practices in a new way.

It may also be that the highest paid jobs are in industries that needed bailed out due to unfunded pensions, products priced out of the reach of many consumers and not using best practices. Either give into the union and eventually go out of business due to less control over costs or go to a state with a right to work law.

Keep in mind if everyone made slave labor, then the prices of goods and services would all come down and jobs would return to the US. What is better; A job or no job?

Tue, 01/03/2012 - 1:17pm

No job if u can't live on it because govt will b subsidizing u regardless and we want people to b self sufficient

Tim Zank
Tue, 01/03/2012 - 3:08pm

Unions began (like all liberal fiasco's) with the best of intentions and they can honestly take credit for improving workers protections and wages up to the point where (like all liberal fiasco's) they over reached and the public reacted.

The working public has myriad protections in the workplace from county, city, state and federal agencies that regulate every single company in the country which makes the claim that unions "protect" workers rights absolutely laughable.

There are no valid reasons for unions to exist now except to hold companies up for ransom for wage increases and (again, like all liberal fiascos) they've over-reached and driven manufacturers out business or at least out of the country.

Claiming that unions "help" anybody (besides Democrat politicians) is preposterous.

Well to be fair, they ARE helping this union member out:


Harl Delos
Tue, 01/03/2012 - 4:54pm

Fifty years ago, Goodrich in Woodburn would only hire young men with football physiques to build tires, and within ten years, they'd mostly be gone because the job destroyed your health. It was physically demanding, you worked with nasty chemicals, and they put you on a swing shift so you could never be rested.

And although the new owners have a significantly better reputation, there are still many factories where workers sacrifice their health for the company. Farmers used to put their older, broken-down horses, pulling light carts instead of plowing fields. Isn't the seniority system a reasonable way of telling the boss, "OK, I'm willing to bust a gut for you, but if I do, I expect you to treat me well in the future instead of simply tossing me aside like a used Kleenex."

The difference between a slave and a wage-slave is that you have to provide food and shelter for a slave that is injured, ill, or old, but you can simply fire a wage-slave and walk away....

Tim Zank
Tue, 01/03/2012 - 5:44pm

Fifty years ago that was the only one applying for the job Harl. And no, most didn't leave after 10 years. I have a friend who started there right out of high school and certainly didn't have a "football" physique and he's in fine shape today still working there after 30 years.

You (and others) try like hell to paint this picture of evil bosses, manufacturers mistreating their employees, giving the impression the employee has no say so in volunteerimg to work hard for $60k to $75k a year.

This is 2012, nobody is a slave to anything, they've just been brainwashed by liberals to believe hard work is a bad thing, you are supposed to be paid extravagantly for playing cards or taking naps, and bosses are evil and to be chastised.

Christopher Swing
Tue, 01/03/2012 - 8:23pm

"You (and others) try like hell to paint this picture of evil bosses..."

Well, I'd say the people providing credible examples of bosses and companies behaving badly are doing a better job at convincing. More so than just repeating that "liberals are bad" and acting like just saying it over and over makes it true.

William Larsen
Wed, 01/04/2012 - 3:16am

Everyone is happy to walk with their feet. I have done this four times.

A few weeks ago a young lady protested the fees charged by a bank. This lady did not walk with her feet, but many people walked with their money to other finanical institutions. Some will say, but I have to eat! Yes you have to eat, but what happens when a bad company gets a bad reputation, it finds it hard to find labor. Magnavox decades ago got the reputation at Purdue that Mechanical Engineers could not expect a career there and they found it difficult to fill slots when they came to interview prospected graduates.

I guess I have been fortunate to have worked for seven companies, only one union shop and I have never had any problems with compensation when I hired in. When compensation became an issued I left and found a company who needed my skills and could compensate me for those skills.

In the non union shops I never saw a company get rid of worker who did not perform. Now many of you may have seen things I have not seen. I have heard things that happened 50 and 60 years ago, but I was not there. All I know is what I have experienced. When it comes to RIF I know the companies i worked for have identified workers based on performance and cross training. those who have the least amount of cross training and those with lower performance are the first to go. As an investor, I am looking at making money, preserving capital and I am not in the business of charity. My charity giving is separate from my investments and I choose as an individual where I give. The company has to stay in business for the good of the majority. If it were to keep only low performers and those with least amount of cross training, then costs go up and you have more potential to go out of business. When a business shuts down or moves to a lower cost of doing business, it affects a lot more people.

As for positions that require strength, I have very little strength in my right arm and little dexterity in my right hand. As a result I have had to be more creative on setting up processes (fixtures, space to work, tools, etc). If I can do it, then just about anybody can do it. I guess getting caught in an explosion taught be to work around obstacles and in so doing, make others tasks easier and safer.

Harl Delos
Wed, 01/04/2012 - 12:42pm

Tim, giving an example of someone who's worked there for 30 years as proof of how things were 50 years ago is specious. Things started to change in the 1970s with the passage of OSHA, and Goodrich exited the entire industry in the 1980s. In 1970, there more supervisory personnel than tire builders over the age of 30.

In the postwar era, jobs were hard to come by, and Bill Jackson, a returning vet, asked Al Walda, his cousin, for a job at the Fort Wayne foundry hr owned. Nope, Al said. The work is too hard for a white man, he said. Bill had a preschooler and a pregnant wife; he begged for a job. Nope, Al said. It would cause too much unrest if he were to hire a white laborer.

You're ignorant if you actually believe nobody over 25, nor anyone slight of build, filled out an application at Five Points in 1970. Unemployment was high back then, and a lot of guys were desperate for jobs; they couldn't even get hired at Robee's, much less a job with benefits. They were so frustrated that men in their 30s, 40s and older were trying to sell Holiday Magic door to door

The problem is that employers set up a tontine sort of a deal. If you stay with the job long enough, it will let you put your kids through college, but nobody survives that long. The smart ones quit. The rest spend their savings on medical bills or a funeral. Why do you think Medicare focused at seniors, rather than women and children? Many men were ordered to retire by their doctors in their 50s.

That's the reason women outlive men. In 1800, lifespan was about the same, but since then we've made childbirth safer, greatly extending womens' lives, but men are still dying early, mostly because of occupational injuries and diseases.

Harvester pulled a scam to avoid their obligations to Wisconsin Steel employees. Other companies move production elsewhere, not because wages are lower there, but because their workforce has aged and gotten unhealthy. Hiring a new workforce lets them welsh on their obligations. It's like Blue Cross/Blue Shield offering a new, better insurance plan to their healthy customers, and dramatically raising rates for the old plan with customers they no longer want.

Thu, 01/05/2012 - 7:44pm

I have worked for both union and non-union employers and have noticed a few eye-opening things:

1. Union jobs, particularly in this economy, strive to increase wages for their members, even though they know that the company they work for can't afford to pay it without letting go of some of the workers. The unions really don't care if the junior members have jobs, because the hierarchy of the locals have seniority and can avoid the layoffs.

2. Unions force a customer to pay more for services, or products, that a non-union company can do just as well.

3. There are laws that are in place that the unions used to fight for. With these laws in place, why is there any need for a union? Thanks to the unions, we have OSHA, EPA, Child work laws, etc. All a union does is look out for themselves; not the customers, or consumers, outside the union.

4. Though there are some places that could use a union (the unions of old, that is), non-union jobs still pay well enough that a person can make a good wage. If a union member looks at it, their dues rise along with their pay, which is nearly comparable to the non-union wages when you take away the monthly dues of the union members.

The right to work bill does not take away from unions, but allows a person to make a choice if they want to belong to a union or not. If I work someplace that has a union, but I don't want to belong to it, why do I HAVE to belong to it? I've been screwed by the union, twice, and I don't trust them. If a person wishes to not belong to one, and then gets the crappy jobs, then the union is guilty of doing what they claim non-union jobs do.

We don't need a right to work bill to force people to join unions.