It’s not the money

In the coffee shop a few days ago there were some guys from the private sector – an increasingly rare breed around here. We got to talking about unions. They didn’t mind paying the money for higher union wages, and they were okay with unions generally, which they all said were essential to restrain the excesses of corporations and abusive bosses. It was the work rules that were the killer. “You can’t get anything done; it’s paralyzing,” pretty much characterized their views. They’d rather pay more for a skilled worker who simply works, than for a cheaper guy who shows up with a rule book in his pocket and a chip on his shoulder.

It’s the constant pettifogging nonsense

My father, a big union man, thought much the same. He was always disgusted by guys who spent their shift looking for something to grieve about. The high point of their week, he said, was when the showers were cold and they could go out on a wildcat strike. He regarded the company with a mixture of contempt and… well, just unmixed contempt, really. But he said the company would stay as long as they made a profit. He thought eventually short-sighted folly (and government regulation) would make the place unprofitable and the company would shut it down: that the young guys in the union would kill the goose; and finally they did shut it down – with lots of help from government regulation, inept management, greedy salesmen, people who didn’t buy products union-made in America, and “blackleg Republicans,” in Dad’s view.

Of course it is the money

But it’s not the money the boss has to pay the worker; it’s the money the boss has to pay the government to let him pay the worker. If he loses money by hiring someone, he’s not going to hire someone. If it costs too much to run the business, he’ll stop running the business.

Most people aren’t dopes. If it’s hard and unrewarding to build a factory and hire workers, and it’s easier and more profitable to ask the government for a bail-out (or a hand-out), they’ll ask for the bail-out. You could almost say they have a fiduciary obligation to their shareholders to do so.


2 Replies to “It’s not the money”

  1. I don’t have a problem with union wages as such. If a group of employees want to get together to extort more money from their employer by threatening to ruin his business by quitting as a group, that’s their right. What annoys the heck out of me is people who act like the unions have the moral high ground when they are really just a special interest group that advocates for its members at the expense of everyone else, including the owners, the customers, and all the unemployed people who might get a job there if the owners could pay them less.

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