As I watch my labor union clients suffer because of the current economic downturn and “tax revolt,” I sometimes find myself at least a little sympathetic to the plight of employers who are losing money or hemorrhaging green and red ink in their budgets.
My advice is to accept that things are bad and make adjustments to future expectations. They do not like hearing that. It sounds like I am on the side of management. When those words are spoken, what I am trying to do is prepare the client for a reality not often seen in our lives. That reality is the employers may not be lying this time when they cry with the poor mouth. During the fat years when growth, budgets and profits were significant, we heard the pitiful cry of the under privileged employer, both public and private sector. In 34 years of union work, I have never heard an employer come to the bargaining table with a smile and an offer to share the wealth. Now when things really are rotten, we are suspicious. I wonder why?
What causes me the real pain is seeing the employers and media attack their employees because they are reluctant to finance the incompetent decisions of management by opening their wallets to bail out the bungling employers. Employers threaten layoffs; demand pay freezes, pay cuts and furlough days, reductions in healthcare benefits and pensions to make up for the shortfalls created by their lack of leadership and management skills.
Individually, not all management is at fault, but as a whole, it was not the workers of the world who directed business and government into this mess. It is the higher level managers who are still being paid unconscionable sums who f**ked up the economy.
Recently, I heard from an anti union conservative that the unionized workers in the auto industry were the cause of the debacle that has been working to culmination since the early 70’s. This person blames the unionized workers because the US automakers cannot design cars the American public wants to buy. Let’s blame the Japanese and the Germans for making better cars and the UAW for negotiating a living wage for their members. Makes sense to me. Some people blame rape victims for getting raped.
(I do not drive an American car today and have not since 1971 when I compared a Datsun 510 to a Pinto and a Vega. My choice was the 510 and it served me well. I currently own two old BMWs with 32 years use and over 300,000 miles between them. Yes, I contributed to the downfall of Detroit by refusing to settle for mediocrity. No union member was responsible for designing the Pinto or Vega. Or the other failures from the American auto industry, but I digress.)
The working middle class did not cause the Enron disaster and recent banking failures. No union member dreamed up home loan scams that have nearly destroyed our economy. We working class union members foolishly participated, however, in something only a con man could dream up. There is a sucker born every minute. It will be interesting to see what happens when the working class discovers how they have been scammed by the current cries for help from the same people who created the need for the help.
And oh yes, have a nice day.