Recently in Labor Category

How is Democrats can claim to be the "friends of the working man" when legislation they pass make thousands of good paying jobs disappear? In this case the 16 Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate shot down a bill that would have brought over 3000 mining jobs to their state and given an economic boost to related businesses also located in their state.

How did these supposed "friends of the working man" justify killing this bill?

They did it at the behest of the public employee unions (SEIU, etc) because they wanted to make sure that Governor Scott Walker wouldn't get a 'win' that might make him even more popular with Wisconsin voters. So these corrupt public employee unions urged their bought-and-paid-for Senate puppets to sacrifice jobs their union brethren wanted and needed. The labor unions supported the bill, showing up to rally at the state house rotunda to plead their case. But their supposed public union allies shafted them all in order to 'get' Scott Walker.

With the failure of the bill, a new $1.5 billion (that's "billion" with a "b") iron ore mine operation disappeared as the owners of the company wishing to open the mine decided to take their money and their jobs and go someplace more inviting. Yet somehow the public employee unions see this as yet another win for their cause. These are the same folks whose bought-and-paid-for Democrats in the Wisconsin legislature have created an increasingly hostile business environment. Is it any wonder jobs have been leaving the state? You'd think these fools would learn the lessons of California, Illinois, and New Jersey and do everything they can to promote more business and jobs in their state.

If this isn't a good reason to bust the public employee unions then I don't know what is. This action shows the these unions are nothing more than corrupt influence peddling criminal organizations using taxpayer dollars to to bribe Democrats at all levels of government to ensure they maintain control of the public purse and their ever less sustainable benefits packages, and the taxpayers be damned. Perhaps a few RICO prosecutions might help break their hold on the legislature.
Is it possible Booing might get its way in regards to the NLRB action trying to block it from opening its new Dreamliner plant in South Carolina? If this AP report is accurate, the answer might be yes.

However, this 'win' for Boeing might be a Pyrrhic victory as it was contingent upon a new four year bargaining agreement with the Machinists union.

The National Labor Relations Board filed a lawsuit earlier this year alleging that Boeing violated labor laws by opening the South Carolina line. The agency claimed that Boeing was punishing Washington state workers for past strikes and said the company should return the work to Washington. Boeing has vigorously denied the charges, claiming it opened the South Carolina plant for valid economic reasons.

The agreement would call for the new 737 Max aircraft to be built at union facilities in Renton, Wash., said Tom Wroblewski, president of Machinists Union District 751.

Wroblewski said that if union members vote to approve the deal in the coming weeks, the union would inform the NLRB that it has no further grievances with Boeing.

The article goes on to say that since the union no longer has a grievance against Boeing, the NLRB would likely stop pursuing the case. (Even if it does, that doesn't mean the NLRB wouldn't pursue it some future time should the "need" arise...like another negotiation for a union contract.)

I have to ask whether the lawsuit filed on behalf of the union by the NLRB was nothing more than leverage for the union to get a better deal. After all, two of the three sitting members in the NLRB are staunch union supporters, with one of them a former administrator for the SEIU.

Something stinks about this whole thing, something legally actionable if it turns out the NLRB acted against Boeing at the behest of union leaders in order to gain an advantage at the bargaining table. Since we can't count on either the Department of Labor or the Justice Department to investigate this matter, maybe it's time for Congress to step in. It would have to be the House rather than the Senate as a majority of the Senate is beholden the the unions and would be unlikely to allow such an action to take place.

It is said the truly smart will learn from the harsh lessons of others' failures. I can say that one member of the WP clan is that smart, that being the youngest of the WP sisters. (As she says, she made her own mistakes while growing up that our parents never found out about.)


It would be great if the political class presently ruling the US was as smart as my youngest sister. Unfortunately they are not.


They see the economic meltdown occurring in the Euro-zone, yet refuse to learn the lessons countries like Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain are teaching us, the primary one being that eventually you will run out of other people's money to fund all the wonderful social programs that have been used to bribe the electorate.


Italy is the latest to teeter on the brink of insolvency, and should it go over the edge it is quite likely it will pull the rest of the Euro-zone with it. Greece's default damaged the European economy yet it has only a fraction of the GDP of Italy. Should Italy default Europe will take an additional $2 trillion hit it cannot afford. Is it any wonder Germany is considering abandoning the Euro and going back to the mark? Can anyone deny that this problem has been driving the British public to demand a referendum about whether or not to remain in the EU? At least those two countries see the problem and realize they'll have to bankrupt themselves in a doomed effort to prop up economic policies from Brussels.


But too many of our own politicians at the state and federal level, regardless of party, seem oblivious to the fact that unless we make some drastic changes in how our federal government taxes and spends we will be headed down the same path. Labor leaders ignore the fact that neither businesses or taxpayers are a bottomless source of funds, shortchanging their own members by making promises no one can keep.


Should the US fail to put its financial/economic house in order, and right quick, it will pull the world economy down with it into a depression unlike any we've seen before.



They Are Not The 99%

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By way of Instapundit comes this from Professor Jacobsen in response the rather vague Occupy Wall Street protests.

The silent majority.

The ones who pay the bills, and the taxes, and the tuitions, and the pensions, and the benefits, for the people who falsely claim to be the 99%.

The ones who did not graduate from the school of perpetual expectations and handouts.

The ones who falsely have been called terrorists and extremists and racists because they dared to object to trying the same socialist policies here that have failed everywhere they have been tried before.

The ones who showed up at the polls in 2010.

The ones who will show up at the polls in 2012:

#OccupyWhiteHouse2012

Looking at the photos of those protesting, I am struck by how many of them are obviously college age. If I had to guess, few if any of them have ever had to do a hard day's work in their lives. Yet somehow they feel qualified to judge those of us who've never had it easy, who work hard every day to make ends meet, and actually made it possible for them to be free from want.

While the media has been playing up the OccupyWallStreet protests across the nation, the video, pictures, and press releases have been showing that most of the folks joining the protests are absolutely clueless about what it is they're protesting for/against, or the irony of their protests.

Let's hope they never wise up.
Gee, this is a shocker.

FairPoint Communications is laying off 400 workers across its service areas, with 190 of them in New Hampshire. The company cites decreasing revenues and a decline in customers as its reason for the layoffs.

This is not a surprise to anyone paying even a little attention to the telecommunications industry.

FairPoint's purchase of Verizon's landline operations in northern New England was a disaster from the beginning. The number of landline customers had been declining for some time and Verizon saw an opportunity to divest itself of an operation in a declining market. FairPoint was stupid enough to buy it despite protests from many that it was paying too much for assets that would continue to decline in value. Once FairPoint took over operations from Verizon the problems multiplied, with a loss of 10% of its landline customers in less than 6 months. The continuing hemorrhage of customers and problems with its operations finally forced it into Chapter 11 bankruptcy and its delisting on the New York Stock Exchange.

Even after reorganization its customer base continued to decline as competitors like cable companies and cell providers undercut it in price and services. Ironically one of its biggest competitors is Verizon, whose wireless operations were winning over an increasing share of customers.

FairPont isn't the first company to see its landline operations become a money losing operation. And in yet another bit of irony, Verizon has seen its own landline services suffering, prompting it to demand concessions from its union employees. This led to a strike by both the CWA and IBEW against Verizon last month. The unions figured since Verizon was making billions in profits that they were somehow entitled to a share. But it was their wireless and business operations making the profits, neither of which are unionized. The landline operations were shrinking and losing money, and Verizon wasn't about to use profits from other operations to fund higher pay and benefits for their landline workers.

Is it any wonder FairPoint is shedding excess employees as its fortunes decline?
Way to go, Mister Hoffa! Let's see about bringing the unions back to their head-bashing, leg-breaking hey-days, shall we?

I guess he didn't get the memo about being more civil during political discourse. But then the unions are on the ropes and not finding much in the way of support from the public these days, so perhaps violent rhetoric is the only tool he and other union leaders have left.

It didn't help that Obama's Labor Day speechifying took place in that bastion of decades long Democrat machine politics and union hegemony, Detroit. As one wag put it, it appears Obama wants to do for the rest of the country what has been done for/to Detroit.

Thanks, but no thanks. I think we'll do much better without that kind of help.
While those of us outside Verizon's landline service area wouldn't notice that both the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) and CWA (Communications Workers of America) are on strike against the telecommunications behemoth, it appears those within its service area really haven't really noticed either.

I can honestly say I am not surprised. After all, the landline portion of Verizon's business operations has been shrinking for well over a decade, with FiOS (their Fiber To The Home service) being the only portion of their landline services having seen any growth at all in that time, and that growth has tapered off as Verizon has scaled back further deployment.

What makes this strike so under-the-radar is that the unions are fighting for higher pay and benefits in an operation that has been breaking even at best, and losing money in less-than-best cases. Is it any wonder Verizon has been shedding itself of its less profitable landline operations over the past few years? Why else would they have sold their more rural (and money losing) operations to HawaiiTel, FairPoint, and Frontier? (Both HawaiiTel and FairPoint went into Chapter 11 a couple of years after buying those assets. Frontier has already had to seriously scale back some of the services Verizon used to offer when they owned the assets Frontier bought. That ought to tell you something.)

Yes, Verizon has posted billions in profits. But those profits came from their wireless and business operations (which are not unionized). How is it the CWA and IBEW figure they're due a portion of those profits? They sure as heck didn't help to create them. They're working in a business that is shrinking, both in the number of customers and profit margin. Do they really think Verizon will knuckle under to the unions when they are becoming an ever shrinking portion of their workforce covering a 100+ year old technology that is quickly being supplanted by other more flexible and less costly technologies? Apparently so.

It will be interesting to see the outcome of this contest of wills.
As much as we'd like to hear that manufacturing jobs are returning to the US, the truth is that not as many of them will be created here as have been lost. It's not that there isn't the need for manufacturing jobs so much as it's businesses learning to do more with less, be it with more efficiency processes or more automation.

As Perry Sainati, founder and president of Belden International, explains how manufacturing has been transformed in the U.S.

U.S. manufacturing these days is in the midst of a remarkable three-year recovery because for three years running manufacturing has not been about job growth.

It's been about automation. It's been about process improvement. It's been about productivity. And it's been about quality.

In fact, it's been about reinventing the very process by which durable and disposable goods get manufactured.

What's more, it's been about streamlining our factories to the point that they're now among the most efficient in the world.

Worker productivity on the U.S. is the highest in the world. That means for every man-hour put in we get more products built. It's to the point now here we can even outproduce low-cost nations while doing it at a lower per unit cost. That means that even with cheaper labor, countries like China are finding themselves at an increasing cost disadvantage because American factories require a lot less labor to produce the same goods. It doesn't matter if workers in a low-cost country are paid an eighth that of American workers if a single American worker can make the same amount of product as ten workers in the low-cost country. The cost per unit is lower in the US than in the low-cost country.

At the moment this scenario isn't true across the board, but it's getting there. As labor costs rise overseas, and transportation costs do likewise, it becomes increasingly more economical to build products here.

However, as Sainati noted, pundits and politicians "say the word 'manufacturing' and they see in their minds' eyes things they used to see when they were kids." But those days are long gone, and with them the old manufacturing stereotypes. The days of huge factories employing thousands upon thousands of men and women have been replaced with modern factories using lean manufacturing with better design, processes, and automation. As such, returning a manufacturing operation to the U.S. may cost a thousand workers in a low-cost country their jobs, but it won't create a thousand new manufacturing jobs in the U.S. It might only create 80, or 100, or 120 jobs. It's not a 1:1 ratio because of the high productivity of American workers.

It's likely it's going to remain that way and we best get used to it.
On Wednesday an important vote takes place in the New Hampshire House, one that may well change the course the Granite State been following the previous 4 years.

Some time tomorrow the House is supposed to vote on overriding Governor John Lynch's veto of House Bill 474, the Right To Work bill. The bill originally passed in both the House and the Senate with overwhelming majorities, though the original House vote was just 14 votes shy of a veto-proof majority.

However, House Majority leader William O'Brien may delay Wednesday's vote long enough to lock in the last votes he'll need to override the veto.

HB 474 supporters say the state will see a burst of job growth if the bill becomes law, and point to other right-to-work states as proof. Critics say right-to-work brings lower-paying jobs with fewer benefits, and that it sticks the nose of government into contract talks between labor and management.

If HB 474 becomes law, New Hampshire would be the 23rd state, and the first in the Northeast, to adopt the principle.

A lot of pro-union folks point to the "lower-paying jobs with fewer benefits" canard as if that explains everything and no further discussion is required. However, most of the 22 Right To Work states have a lower cost of living, so unless that factor is taken into account, which union supporters choose to ignore, the comparison is meaningless. As I've mentioned before, a perfect example of this factor can be seen in the battle between the NLRB and the state of South Carolina and Boeing.

The unions in Washington State claim Boeing's new plant is denying the working men and women a living wage. While the pay for those employees in South Carolina is less than the pay of the union workers in Washington, the cost of living in South Carolina is also lower (as is the cost of doing business), which implies that taken as a whole, the workers in South Carolina are receiving comparable pay to those in Washington State.

And so it might be here in New Hampshire as well. If it helps lower the cost of doing business, then Right To Work will help lure more businesses from high cost states like Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, just to name a few. (It doesn't hurt that New Hampshire also has no sales or income tax.)

The days of forced financial support of unions by those not wishing to do so must come to an end. As the reasons for the existence of unions no longer exist, maybe it's time for them to fade away into history.
In a post by Matt Patterson, he tries to make the case for jobs that have been lost during this deep recession never returning. While it may be true that some types jobs may be gone forever, it is not inevitable that the total number of jobs will decline from here on out. Through the process of "creative destruction", one kind of job was replaced by a different one. But as Patterson writes, at least one economist thinks this pattern will no longer be true.

In his penetrating new book The Great Stagnation, economist Tyler Cowen warns that this may have been a temporary and anomalous phenomenon. Cowen calls the period from roughly the early 19th to the mid-20th centuries the era of "low hanging fruit." According to Cowen, technological advances in this period were relatively easy to produce and exploit, resulting in a staggering explosion of living standards.

But by around 1970, most of this low hanging fruit had been plucked and growth rates began to slow. Indeed, growth rates are "lower today than before 1973, no matter what exact numbers you settle on for the absolute living standard." Cowen sees this fact directly tied to the innovation plateau that was reached around the same time: "The United States produced more patents in 1966 (54,600) than in 1993 (53,200)," he notes. "Meaningful innovation has become harder, and so we must spend more money to accomplish real innovations, which means a lower and declining rate of return on technology."

--snip--

This digital depressant trickles all the way down to old fashioned companies. McDonald's recently announced it will do away with cashiers in many of its European restaurants, replacing them with touch-screen ordering systems. This innovation may (or may not) make ordering your Big Mac a faster experience, but it will definitely eliminate countless opportunities for young and low-skilled workers.

On his last point, couldn't it be the cost of labor in Europe is artificially high due to government mandates and labor laws that replacing expensive humans with less expensive technology makes economic sense? When government and labor laws make it more expensive to hire people for what would otherwise be minimum wage jobs, then how can it be a surprise to anyone that businesses like McDonald's won't hire them? (It's not all that different than what we see happening here every time the Leftists in Congress beholden to the labor unions raise the minimum wage. Each time that happens, joblessness among those seeking entry level jobs goes up because small businesses have a tougher time justifying the added expense, particularly during times of economic hardship.)

One commenter hit the nail on the head, detailing why Cowen's claim about the decline of the American economy is inevitable is absurd.

We are inventing more things, faster than ever before. The past innovations "destroyed jobs" -- and made society wealthier and created new jobs, different jobs, to replace those that had gone before. This is nothing but the song of the Luddites.

HOWEVER...

For that process of creative destruction to work, it is necessary to ALLOW the new jobs and new industries to be created. And THAT, not some illusory "low hanging fruit", is what has been changing over the last generation or two. The regulatory burden on new industries has climbed ever higher.

Right now, in laboratories around the U.S. people are working on fusion power, cheap space travel, synthetic fuel from algae, sensors for automated medical diagnosis, and so on, and on, and on.

And if we lived in a free country, sooner than you think, some of those would be part of our everyday lives. The decision to decline is a CHOICE -- not a fate.

Unfortunately our fate is in the hands of people within government who really don't like America all that much and are working as hard as they can to cripple its innovative and robust economy in an effort to make it more egalitarian (at least by their definition). Unfortunately we've seen the results of such socio-economic experiments before, and they've always turned out poorly for everyone involved...except the ruling class, of course. (And even then, some have seen their fiefdoms crumble away and leave them as destitute as the rest of their fellow countrymen.)

Unless we can break the government imposed malaise on our economy, we will indeed see those jobs lost over the past few years gone for good, with no new jobs to replace them, and we will indeed decline as a nation.

Ignorance By Choice

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One of the conclusions I must draw from observations made over a number of yeas is that far too many of the Left are ignorant. I'm not talking about the kind of ignorance that comes from not being exposed to ideas, facts, or events outside one's experience, but willful ignorance, ignorance by choice.

Reading the comments of pro-union readers of South Carolina governor Nikki Haley's opinion piece in the WSJ about the NLRB's suit against Boeing were telling, showing (to me) how much of their thinking was pure indoctrination, not backed by fact or evidence. Their hatred of businesses in general and Boeing in particular was out in the open. If such reactions revealed anything, it was their willful ignorance about how the economy operates, how businesses function, where money actually comes from, and how unions have changed and are not the organizations they once were.

Many of the positive views of the unions expressed by the pro-union commenters were right out of the 1930's. Far too many of them seem to think that if it weren't for the unions "protecting" the working man today we'd all be working for slave wages and child labor laws would be struck down and all our kids would be working in the textile mills again. They truly believe only a union can provide fair wages, benefits, and working conditions that otherwise would be unavailable to anyone. That may have been true back 100 years ago, but not today. With all of the labor and employment laws on the books (many brought about by the work of the unions decades ago), the need for unions for that kind of protection no longer exists. But to read what some of the pro-union have put forth, you'd think we were only a day or two away from going back to those bad old days.

And then there's this bit of willful ignorance in which far too many of them indulge: money, and where it actually comes from.

Do they truly believe the money is all just piled in bank vaults, "meant to be shared equally amongst Americans"? To listen to some of them, the answer is yes. But it overlooks one principle that so many of the rest of us recognize as being a fundamental truth: Money isn't owed to anyone, it is earned. And that money isn't just sitting in piles in bank vaults where it does no one, even the rich, any good. It has to be used, has to circulate to be of any good to anyone. Otherwise it's just piles of paper with pictures of dead presidents printed on them.

One of the other falsehoods that many of the Left believe at a gut level appears to be that wealth is a zero sum game, and that for someone to become wealthy someone else has to become poor. They either don't realize or care that the size of the proverbial "pie" they want to portion out to everyone is not static. It grows and shrinks with the economy. And of those who do understand the size of the pie changes, far too many of them believe only the wealthy benefit when the economy grows, and only the middle class and poor see their share of the pie shrink when the economy shrinks. The truth is everyone gains and everyone suffers as the pie grows and shrinks. Everyone.

But why confuse them with the facts? They aren't interested in any case.
A couple of weeks ago I linked to this WSJ opinion piece about the NLRB's suit to block Boeing from opening their new 787 Dreamliner plant, written by South Carolina governor Nikki Haley. I've read all 1081 comments made by the readers of that opinion piece since I posted about Governor Haley's righteous indignation.

Some praised Governor Haley calling out President Obama for remaining silent about the actions of one of his un-confirmed recess appointees. Others blasted Governor Haley for being anti-union/anti-working man/anti-Democrat and a pro-business Republican, accusing her of collusion with big bad Boeing. Most of the latter were vehemently pro-union and couldn't even think of not toeing the union line as they've been so indoctrinated into thinking today's unions are working to "better the working man and saving the middle class" when the facts show otherwise.

In all of the 1081 comments I never saw even one mention of two of the most salient facts that should have changed at least part of the discussion.

The first: Boeing came to South Carolina over two years ago. Over two years ago. Not yesterday. Not last month. Not last year. Construction on the plant started quite some time ago and is almost complete. Both the unions and the NLRB knew that. It wasn't like it was sprung on them at the last minute.

The second: How could Governor Haley have had anything to do with the Boeing/NLRB debacle? She's only been governor since January 12th. (She did serve in the South Carolina legislature for 6 years before running for governor.) Reading many of the pro-union comments, you'd think she singlehandedly induced Boeing to stiff the unions in Washington State, burdened her fellow South Carolinians with new barely-above-minimum-wage-with-no-benefits jobs, caused Boeing to only hire 2600 new employees in their Washington Dreamliner plant, and had Boeing build their new plant during the time she's been governor.

More than one pro-union commenter tried to compare apples to oranges in regards to wages, totally ignoring the differences in the cost of living between Washington and South Carolina. Washington State ranks 35th in cost of living versus 24th for South Carolina (lower numbers are better). The rankings are based on composite 2010 data. So lower wages in a lower cost-of-living state may actually mean workers there might have more disposable income than higher wage earners in high cost-of-living states.

OK, I've gotten a little off topic, but I was trying to make a point. All the pro-union commenters kept trying to play the same old union talking points that have been played since the 1930's, and no one was buying it. More than a few of the anti-union commenters were former union members and understood the downsides of unions and union membership and how they more often than not killed jobs and the businesses providing them and wanted nothing more to do with them. As a former union member myself, I have to agree with those now anti-union brethren.
I first made mention of the NLRB's action against Boeing this past Sunday. Here's a little bit more, along with some words from Governor Nikki Haley on the matter.

********************

If we need even more proof President Obama is assuring his union supporters receive payment for services rendered, then all we need to do is look how one of his recess appointees to the National Labor Relations Board, one Lafe Solomon by name, has decided to do things the Chicago Way.

Solomon, a former SEIU labor leader, has decided Boeing Aircraft Company has denied his union brethren the chance to extort more money from the company, filing a complaint stating Boeing 'retaliated' against the International Association Of Machinists and Aerospace Workers by building its second 787 Dreamliner plant in right-to-work state South Carolina. He wants Boeing to abandon it's billion dollar plant just outside Charleston and move the operation to Washington State.

But we must ask the question, does the federal government, and more specifically, an as-of-yet unconfirmed and wholly union-owned member of the NLRB have the right to tell a private company where it can site its factories and build its products? Apparently this union stooge seems to think so. Never mind that federal law nor the Constitution gives the NLRB the power to do so.

It might be a different story if Boeing had closed down the existing Dreamliner plant in Washington State and moved it lock, stock, and barrel to South Carolina. But that's not the case. Instead, since the existing plant did not have the capacity to meet the demand, Boeing decided to build a second plant. And because the aircraft manufacturer had problems with union strikes and work slowdowns in the past, they decided to build the new plant someplace where such shenanigans were not likely take place. Hence, their decision to build the plant in South Carolina.

Is it any wonder why Boeing made that move?

But that didn't sit well with Solomon, so he decided he'd put a stop to it. But not one worker in Washington State has lost a job due to the South Carolina plant. Not one. In fact Boeing has hired around 2000 more workers to help meet its delivery schedules. So how can the NLRB claim the company has retaliated against the union?

What's worse is that President Obama has decided to remain mum on the subject, giving tacit approval to Solomon's actions.

Writes South Carolina governor Nikki Haley:

While silence in this case can be assumed to mean consent, President Obama's silence is not acceptable--not to me, and certainly not to the millions of South Carolinians who are rightly aghast at the thought of the greatest economic development success our state has seen in decades being ripped away by federal bureaucrats who appear to be little more than union puppets.

This is not just a South Carolina issue, and President Obama owes the people of our country a response. If they get away with this government-dictated economic larceny, the unions won't stop in our state.

Reading some of the comments to Governor Haley's WSJ opinion piece made by pro-union readers makes me wonder if they really understand the law and the Constitution. Unfortunately the answer appears to be no.

One kept making references to international agreements and UN resolutions as justification for forcing Boeing to knuckle under to the unions. Never mind that those agreements and resolution have no power under the Constitution. Never mind that those same agreements and resolutions do not require anyone to join a labor union even if they don't want to do so. Nothing in those agreements or resolutions forbid right-to-work laws, though that hasn't stopped one commenter from implying that they do.

Read the whole thing, particularly the comments as that's where the meat of the subject can be found.
The battle between Wisconsin Republican lawmakers (including governor Scott Walker) and the public sector unions continue.

It seems the unions have decided to borrow a page or two out of old-time union playbook by sending letters to small businesses that, in effect, tell them "Support us and our cause...or else." Gee, it didn't take them long to resort to extortion to get their way, did it? While the unions could have claimed there was a misunderstanding, the union executive who sent the letters says he means what he wrote, so there's no possibility they can claim such a misunderstanding. The gist of the letter:

Dated March 28, 2011, the letter is addressed to "DEAR UNION GROVE AREA BUSINESS OWNER/MANAGER," in Racine County. And it begins with this warm greeting: "It is unfortunate that you have chosen 'not' to support public workers rights in Wisconsin. In recent past weeks you have been offered a sign(s) by a public employee(s) who works in one of the state facilities in the Union Grove area. These signs simply said 'This Business Supports Workers Rights,' a simple, subtle and we feel non-controversial statement given the facts at this time."

We doubt "subtle" is the word a business owner would use to describe this offer he is being told he can't refuse.

The missive concludes by noting that, "With that we'd ask that you reconsider taking a sign and stance to support public employees in this community. Failure to do so will leave us no choice but do [sic] a public boycott of your business. And sorry, neutral means 'no' to those who work for the largest employer in the area and are union members."

The threat is implicit: put a sign supporting us in your window or we'll make sure it will negatively affect your business.

How...how...mob like. Vito Corleone would be proud.

Are we sure we want people like this to be working for us? Better yet, do we want them to have this kind of power over us?

Since this 'incident' the union has been back-peddling, removing signs from the businesses that knuckled under to the union extortion. But that doesn't undo the fact that they threatened business owners into 'supporting' them, meaning they've lost any credibility or moral high ground. They proven themselves be nothing more than thugs.

It wouldn't surprise me to find they've opened themselves to prosecution under RICO statutes. But somehow I doubt the US Attorney General will direct federal prosecutors to investigate such matters, considering his track record when it comes to dealing with corruption and coercion.
There was a huge demonstration outside the New Hampshire State House yesterday. As the Republican majority House voted on two budget bills, one which does away with so-called "evergreen" clauses in public employee contracts, many of those same public employees were protesting against the move (and the budget), saying the budget cuts went too far and that their collective bargaining rights were being taken away.

The House passed a $10.2 billion biennial budget (New Hampshire state budgets run for two years), a decrease of $742 million from the present budget. This move was made to address an estimated $800 million shortfall within the present budget.

It was no surprise the Democrats in the legislature wanted to increase spending rather than cutting it, tried to revise the revenue estimates upwards to allow for more spending (something they did for the previous two budgets, which is how the state came to be $800 million in the hole to begin with), and raise taxes and fees again to pay for more spending (something they also did during the previous two budgets with the result of less revenue being collected than projected).

Some of the budget cuts will hit services hard, but many of those services were boosted beyond all reason during the previous 4 years. Some see these cuts as a return to more reasonable and sustainable levels until the economy recovers. During those 4 years the Democrat majority House and Senate increased state spending 30%, well above the rate of inflation or population growth over that time. The frugality usually seen in the State House was nowhere to be seen during those 4 years. Now it's time for the state to live within its means.

The public employees unions were not pleased with the move to strip evergreen clauses from contracts. Those clauses allow an expired union contract to remain in force until a new contract is agreed upon and ratified by the union members. With the removal of evergreen clauses public employees would become employees-at-will (like most of the rest of us) if the old contract expires before a new contract is ratified.

I have a question I must ask of those public employees protesting inside and outside the State House: How many of you took paid time off from work to be there?

While there were supporters of the bills also at the State House, they weren't nearly as numerous as those protesting against them. It wasn't that there weren't more supporters of the legislature's efforts. It's that most of us were at work, making the money taxed to pay the public employees salaries and benefits.

Talk about irony.
With Detroit being such a deep blue economic and political basket case, is it any wonder black families are leaving it and a number of other cities in blue states in droves in search of work and a better life?

Not to me.

Just like their white brethren before them, they realize they have everything to lose and nothing to gain by remaining in cities and states that are hostile to business, either from liberal Democrat policies or job-killing union demands. They know they've been sold a bill of goods and want nothing more to do with the glad-handing politicians and those supporting them, so they're voting with their feet.

More power to them.

Let's hope they've learned the most important lesson from this debacle: Government (and the unions) aren't the answer. They're the problem.

Who Killed Detroit?

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The question: Who killed Detroit?

The answer: Not necessarily who you think.

The Motor City once had over 1.8 million people living within its environs. Now the number making their homes in Detroit as a little over a third of that.

What happened to make large parts of Detroit look like a set from a movie about post-apocalyptic America? There are two groups with whom we must lay the blame for the city's misfortunes: the Democrat political machine and the UAW. There's plenty of blame to go around between these two groups.

The Democrats in power did everything they could to make it less attractive for businesses and residents to stay. The UAW did everything it could to make sure jobs with the Big Three automakers went away. Both groups succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, which is why Detroit is an ongoing economic disaster.

...a lot of the blame goes to a generation of bad management. But the main reason for Detroit's decline is the greed of the industry's main union, the UAW, which priced the Big Three out of the market.

As recently as 2008, GM, Ford and Chrysler paid their employees on average more than $73 an hour in total compensation. The 12 foreign transplants, operating in nonunion states mostly in the South and Midwest, averaged about $42 an hour.

Guess which manufacturers are healthiest and expanding their market today? In 2008, the Big Three still made 59% of all cars in the U.S. But, according to recent estimates, their market share is now 46% -- with foreign companies selling the bulk of all U.S. cars. So Detroit's loss has been the South's and Midwest's gain.

Reading the comments from the editorial linked above is telling as well, with more than a few giving prime examples of the differences between Detroit and some of the surrounding communities. The contrast is striking.

Business and neighborhoods are thriving in the outlying towns and cities, with foreign automakers locating technical centers in a number of them. At least they think there's a future near Detroit, even if they're avoiding Detroit itself.

The communities themselves also have the good fortune not to be under the sway of the destructive Democrat political machine that has so damaged Detroit. As one commenter writes:

Come to Metro-Detroit and see the suburbs with Republicans in charge such as Novi - then see the suburbs with leftists in charge - such as Pontiac. You can literally tell the basket cases from the still-vibrant burbs by their leadership.

Of course I have no doubt the Democrats have plans for the still-prosperous communities, making sure they are brought into the leftist fold and turned into dying towns, all in the name of some pie-in-the-sky leftist utopia that will never come to be. They'll play the envy card and the greed card and the racial card in an attempt to bleed those communities dry as well.

Let us hope for the communities sake that they fail.

(H/T Instapundit)
After passage of an amendment to a pending budget bill that strips public sector unions in New Hampshire of so-called "evergreen" rights, meaning state and local municipal workers would become employees-at-will should their labor contracts expire without renewal. This means they could be fired or have their pay or benefits reduced should their labor contracts expire before new contracts are ratified.

I first heard of this move when I received a phone call last night just past 7PM - a robo-call from the SEA (State Employees Association), the state worker's union. (My wife works for the state and is, therefore, a union member.)

If I recall the monologue correctly, the voice on the other end (I believe it was the union president) stated the legislature had "pulled a Wisconsin", referring to Wisconsin's removal of collective bargaining rights for pensions and benefits from most of the state and local workers unions. The caller went on to exhort the SEA members to protest the move, something perfectly within their rights to do.

On the other hand, I have the right to not give them any more of my hard earned dollars than I absolutely have to, particularly if those dollars are funding both benefits and pension packages that are far above my own. I haven't received the kind of pay raises or increase in benefits the state workers have, nor do I expect to. I am and have been an employee-at-will for a long time and frankly I prefer it over the 20 soul-deadening years I spent in a union shop.

Welcome to the real world.
For those of us who have been paying attention the past decade or so, none of this comes as a surprise to us: Factories are having trouble finding skilled workers to fill open positions.

Some of this can probably be blamed on the higher education bubble, where for years kids were told the only way to get ahead was to get a college degree. Some can be attributed to us Baby Boomers making our kids lives far too easy and making them think that actually working for a living doing manual labor (even highly specialized and lucrative manual labor) is something other people do. And some blame can be laid upon laid off workers, looking to get training or work in areas other than the ones from which they were laid off.

You might think that it would be easier for manufacturers to find new employees. After all, the number of workers employed in factories is still more than 2 million lower than pre-recession levels due to layoffs or plant closings.

"The perception out there is that we're losing manufacturing jobs to China and India. So if they've already been displaced and they're going to go back to school, they're going for something not manufacturing-related," said Rob Clark, vice president of operations at Clark Metal Products, a company outside of Pittsburgh started by his grandfather and now run by his uncle.

The trades are also suffering, as evidenced in the first comment made to this post at Lucianne about the subject:

I know the guy in charge of the local VoTech school here. He says they are probably gonna close the Heating/AC class because nobody is interested in becoming a heating/ac technician, even though he says local companies have standing offers to hire graduates direct from school for $18-20 an hour.

To many young adults think life is an episode of MTV Cribs, where money just falls outta the sky for them...

That kind of money is darned good for starting right out of school with no experience. And of those who go to college, far too many are coming out with degrees with little practical application in the real world. (I don't know of too many companies looking for people with BA degrees in Native American Transgender Studies. And those with Philosophy degrees are purely out of luck because the big Philosophy companies just aren't hiring these days.)

Is it any wonder more companies have to move operations overseas? If they can't find employees here, they have to look elsewhere in order to stay in business.

(H/T Maggie's Farm)
I've been having a rather lively discussion with one of my regular readers/commenters about the ongoing battle in Wisconsin between the governor, GOP legislators, a majority of voters, and the public sector unions. She seems to think it's just fine for the taxpayers to fund an unsustainable entitlement (she really likes the great pensions the state and local union employees will be collecting), while ignoring the facts of what she's supporting and what it really costs.

Robert Costrell gives us a breakdown of just one part of the public sector compensation in Wisconsin: teachers. (UPDATE: Link HTML was incorrect so it didn't display. Fixed now.)

The average Milwaukee public-school teacher salary is $56,500, but with benefits the total package is $100,005, according to the manager of financial planning for Milwaukee public schools. When I showed these figures to a friend, she asked me a simple question: "How can fringe benefits be nearly as much as salary?" The answers can be found by unpacking the numbers in the district's budget for this fiscal year.

You never see that in the private sector. Why? Because businesses couldn't afford it and it would make them uncompetitive both in the domestic and world market, assuming they would even survive.

As I mentioned to her in a comment to this post, quoting from Costrell's piece, Wisconsin teachers pay nothing towards their pensions. Not a penny. The taxpayers pay for it all. How is it they get away with this? I can explain it in two words: collective bargaining. Hold on to your hats (or should I say wallets) because there's more. Lets' take a look at health care benefits:

Under the current collective-bargaining agreements, the school district pays the entire premium for medical and vision benefits, and over half the cost of dental coverage. These plans are extremely expensive.

This is partly because of Wisconsin's unique arrangement under which the teachers union is the sponsor of the group health-insurance plans. Not surprisingly, benefits are generous. The district's contributions for health insurance of active employees total 38.8% of wages. For private-sector workers nationwide, the average is 10.7%.

I wish my employer paid 100% of my health care benefits, but I know that won't happen because they can't afford it. They can't tap the taxpayers to pay for it all. And even if they could, the taxpayers couldn't afford it...hey, wait a minute! That sounds almost like...ObamaCare! And it won't work for the same reason.

I could go on and on, but it might be better if you Read The Whole Thing yourself.

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