Union Rhetoric

Both the Democratic and the Republican parties have historically been unkind to labor unions at various times. However, if we consider the relationship between labor unions and the cost of doing business in America, you may be forced to conclude that the survival of labor unions would have to err on the side of the Democratic Party. Unions probably don’t owe a great deal to either party and at various times have been thrown under the bus by both. Knowing the history and the pro-business stance of the Republican Party, it is more than reasonable to conclude that you can’t be both pro-business and pro-union.-they work contra to each other. There is no question that the Republican Party goes all out in support of legislation that addresses the goals and desires of big business. Republican ideology is couched in the “Wall Street mentality” and such mentality goes back to the early days of laissez faire-adopted to shape a hands-off policy where it related to business. The pro-business mentality and the relative thinking process in play when it comes to business in America is something we are unable to strip away from those nurturing this position. When thoughts and action begin to take sway to promote this mentality of hands-off it becomes another fight.

I was wrong

I once thought that unions alone were to blame for the high cost of doing business in America. The political rhetoric was quite convincing in its effort to make the nation feel that unions were stifling business’ profits and growth potential. Once I woke up to the true anti-union motivation behind the rhetoric, I came to realize that unions didn’t stifle the profit potential of business; they stifled the exorbitant wealth potential of business owners and operators. You see; there is a “greed factor” at play here when it comes to the battle of business vs. unions. I’m not sure I whole-heartedly agree that greed was behind the efforts of unions, but I am sure (based on much available evidence) that greed is driving business owners and operators. I’ve witnessed firsthand what unions do and how they operate. Some of the behavior patterns they operate by I oppose. By the same token, I have come to realize that businesses possess similar negative patterns of operation; such as excess spending, dishonesty in reporting, financial manipulation and supporting bad behavior. Union efforts are simply saying to business (on the one hand) “If you can do this for your people, we should be able to do that for our people”. On the other hand they’re saying, and rightfully so “If we help you earn the spoils, we should have the right to share them”. You see; business owners and operators want to take enough off the table for them and their families to live in grand style, while workers who helped to create what’s on the table struggle to make ends meet. There has to be something wrong with that picture. During the very early phases of exporting factories and jobs to offshore locations, businesses said they were making the move because they could no longer afford to meet the demands of union wages and benefits. Americans, in general, became somewhat sympathetic to the cry of business and believed (to some extent) that the demands by unions had gone out of control. How wrong America was. That idea of unions demanding more than businesses in America could afford was nothing more than “union rattling” and rhetoric. America bought into the union rhetoric; just as America bought into many other points of Republican rhetoric. The truth of the matter and the parallel being drawn here is the Republicans deal in double-talk and are only serious about pursuing their own pro-business agenda. The same applies to their rhetoric about unions. We must be mindful of their political spins. Every time union efforts and votes tip the balance in the Democrats’ favor, the Republicans go on a vindictive rampage. Let us not forget what Ronald Reagan did in the eighties. The Republicans are constantly blind-siding America with their rhetoric. The Democrats also spin rhetoric from time to time but the rhetoric of the modern-day Republicans is the most scathing and vicious that I have witnessed in years. Rhetorical union reduction runs parallel to rhetorical deficit reduction. The Republicans’ desire to bridle unions is conceived on a false premise; just as is the desire to reduce the budget deficit.

They weren’t truthful

Many of the businesses that took jobs and manufacturing offshore because they said they couldn’t meet union demands are experiencing record profits. One of the bailed-out investment firms recently laid-off over 100 workers and hired that number-plus in overseas offices-of course at less the rate. Offshore manufacturing and production use cheaper labor and return record profits. That’s the motive that drives business-selfish greed. Business responds to union demands like Congress responds to healthcare overhaul. When it comes to fair wages for unions, business can’t afford it but when it comes to multi-million dollar compensation packages for executives they come up with the money. America can’t afford a minimum healthcare program for all Americans but can afford the best healthcare coverage for those in Congress. Don’t the bill-payers deserve as much as those they’re paying the bills for? Why should you feather someone else’s nest while yours goes lacking? When unions wanted even fairer retirement benefits, business with the silent sanction of Congress said they wanted too much and suggested they were spinning a socialist agenda. There is no question about where particular Congressmen stand on the issue of unions. The Ronald Reagan Congress was big on efforts to break unions and this new House of 2010 has an anti-union agenda. It is partly because unions didn’t help them gain the White House in 2008 and partly because Republicans in general are pro-business. When you are pro-business you must be anti-union-never the twain shall meet. Business picks its Congress and its favorite pick is a Republican Congress. Isn’t it sad to think that in America today an elected official can be bought by big business? Big business puts up enough money to put the desired spins before the people and when it is done enough times the people begin to believe it. People vote for the elected officials but they vote on the basis of what they have been told. It’s like hiring a stock broker-you don’t do the research, you accept what you are told. It helps to subsidize their election.

The rhetoric of unions has always been nothing more than a smoke screen thrown up to blind-side the American people while businesses transferred operations offshore. By the time the smoke screen had cleared, major corporations were set up and operating in China, India, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Mexico, South and Central America and a host of other localities where labor cost were only a fraction of that paid for American labor. The logic to that would normally make sense except for the fact that it put a host of Americans out of work; caused untold suffering in many other countries where working conditions were burdensome; made a host of corporations more profitable; made a host of corporate executives filthy rich; made a host of ordinary citizens lose their homes and others sink below the poverty line. Many Americans suffered and many others are still suffering from the offshore factory and production moves, while the rich virtually wallow in money. The moves to offshore manufacturing and production served to bankrupt entire industries-all under the rhetoric that unions in America forced corporations to move offshore. That’s a lie from the pit of hell. Greed forced corporations to move offshore.

Step back in time

Let’s take a brief step back in time and look at some moves against two sectors of American workers during the Reagan administration. In 1986, by the time of the sixth year of Ronald Reagan’s Administration, a host of United States businesses had set up shop in South Africa. During the period between 1966 and 1986 investment in South Africa had tripled. This period of time saw income of South African whites double and the income of South African blacks decline. I guess you would raise the question “What has that to do with unions in America?” The relationship has to do with the skewed wage patterns that were evident in businesses that had relocated to South Africa. South Africa was sorely in need of a union. South Africa then, like China and other countries today created and insured cheap labor which became an incentive for foreign investors. The cheap labor cultivated by Apartheid in South Africa was causing unemployment in America. The same is true today as more and more companies go offshore and use the cheap offshore labor. Are not we now witnessing-first hand-the results of exporting factories and production to offshore points? During the period subsequent to 1976-the Bicentennial celebration-an unprecedented number of American steel producers shut down some steel operations in America and exported them to South Africa-all under the nose and nod of the Reagan Administration. Investment loans by American Banks and billions of dollars belonging to union pension funds were used to build the South African industries that were taking away American jobs. American pension funds were intended to help American workers but instead they competed with them. The ones who allowed the pension funds to be invested in South Africa probably felt they were getting or probably even got a bigger return on the investment. Was this a good enough reason to allow the pension funds of American workers to be used to compete against American workers? Closing and exporting these factories put a lot of Americans out of work. During the period between 1976 and 1986 American steel imports (brought in) increased by 5,000%. Republicans were in charge for six of these ten years. Ronald Reagan had an anti-union bias. He fired the air traffic controllers. It is mused and used as an excuse that he fired them because they were engaging in a “wildcat” or illegal strike-one not sanctioned by union headquarters. Could that be another excuse to break a union? We must be mindful of the possibility that union headquarters at the time could have been Reagan friends and supporters. Union heads were well compensated and wealth and Republican go hand in hand. If Reagan so loved and supported organized labor, why did he sit by and see steel exported to South Africa? The Republican Party has either a “no” or a fix-hardly ever a viable solution. They beat up the Democrats when the Democrats are in charge but offer nothing much more than rhetoric when they’re in charge. Always remember; pro-business means anti-labor-you can’t separate the two. There was a break in the period between 1992 and 2000 and a new Democratic Administration took charge. It was the Bill Clinton Administration. A remark made said, “Bill Clinton was the best Republican president the Democrats ever had.” Bill Clinton was quite instrumental in shaping NAFTA and NAFTA further accelerated the exodus of jobs and manufacturing from America. Maybe Bill Clinton naively thought the back and forth free trade generated by NAFTA would bring more jobs to America than those going away from America. Maybe Bill Clinton had another political or economic agenda. Bill Clinton was certainly smart enough and being so, he should have readily discerned that the discrepancy in the wage scale of other countries compared to America would automatically make the exports of other countries cheaper than our exports. On the other hand, maybe President Clinton had to offer a political trade off for a political favor he had received in the past. Maybe (just maybe) Bill Clinton meant well concerning unions but the opposing forces prevailed. Will we ever know for sure?


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