This has been the other pressing question on the Fourth Estate’s mind these days, i.e., what does all this turmoil at the AFL-CIO mean for manufacturers? Is it good? Is it bad? Is a revitalized labor movement a threat to business?
Well, we prayed on it and noodled on it and rolled it around among ourselves a bit and finally found the answer. We finally gleaned what it all means:
That’s right, absolutely nothing. A few points:
No democracy exists without a labor movement. Only communist countries have no labor movement. We welcome them and their existence. Many of our companies work very well with their unions. God bless ’em. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.
One reporter asked if unions weren’t inherently bad for management in that they ultimately cut profits. We had to remind them that there are any number of profitable companies that are unionized and there are plenty of companies paying union wages and benefits who are not unionized. It doesn’t cut into profits, actually, providing good wages and benefits – as most all manufacturers do, paying well above the national average — keeps your most valuable resource motivated, content and happy. Manufacturers know this inherently.
Andy Stern has had great success organizing over the past many years and it hasn’t had much of an impact on organized labor’s overall numbers. Their big growth area is the public sector, not one we really play in, and not a growth area by any other yardstick.
Some of our members who face union organizing will consent to it. Others will present their side of the story as allowed under the National Labor Relations Act and at the end of the day, there will be an election. Unions will win some, will lose some. So be it. That’s the system we have had for 5 or 6 decades, fine with us.
It will take a while for the dissidents to get their sea legs and get off and rolling, but we harbor no ill will toward them, welcome them to the fray, will work with them where we can (worked with the Teamsters on drilling in ANWR) and will disagree where we must.
…And that’s what it all means.