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Divide and Conquer

When I think of collective bargaining I think of people coming together to negotiate as a group with their employer.  Without bargaining for benefits as a unit, the employer would hold all the cards.  As an individual, me going into the boss’ office to negotiate anything really don’t exactly amount to much.  If it’s time for discussion of benefits, I could hold out for something better.  But since there’s always somebody right behind me ready to take my place for even less than what I’m making now, or an employer can simply say my job is eliminated and tell remaining employees to just pick up the extra work, it might be a little prudent if I tuck tail and settle for whatever I can get.

With collective bargaining, it would be a little more difficult for an employee to replace everybody at the same time.  While a single employee can be dismissed as a nonthreatening entity, an entire work force is something that must be taken seriously.  Employers with a single minded focus on profits rue the day collective bargaining was invented.  No longer were employees simply pawns.  People negotiated en masse with their employer and there was strength in unity.  The best way to combat an environment of collective bargaining is to break that union puppy up into individual pieces.  Divide and conquer.

It’s a no brainer that collective bargaining is a headache for employers.  When it comes time to negotiate pay and benefits, whoever has the weaker hand would be far easier to manipulate.  And the weaker the hand the easier the manipulation.  So to hear an employer say that collective bargaining can cost a lot of money, that’s the whole idea.  Paying people a reasonable wage cost a lot more than paying people a pittance.  That’s not rocket science.  And as a society, we shouldn’t want to have it any other way.

The way some people like to spin the story, it’s all about jobs.  If we can pay people less, if we can give fewer and cheaper benefits, we can hire more people and create more jobs.  That’s an interesting way of looking at things.  It’s also a very narrow minded way of looking at the issue as well.  Slavery created a lot of jobs.  Paying people nothing makes for a very profitable business.  In the very narrowly focused terms some people want to approach this argument, enslaving people could be a viable option that all of us should be looking forward to.  We’d all have a job and the unemployment rate would drop to zero.

But that’s not the answer because it’s more than just jobs for the sake of jobs.  People need to be able to earn a living and be able to provide a future for themselves and for their family.  We know America is devolving into a social fabric of unraveling threads.  What was once a strong structure that enjoyed some sense of socialism is now a worn ragtag of people who want less and less to share any responsibility for each other unless we are talking about the ones calling the shots from the top of the employer-employee food chain who just so happen to control so much of the wealth in this country.

I heard someone an opponent of collective bargaining describe the union representatives as a bunch of elitists.  Unless there is a new definition of the term that I’m not aware of, such a statement is truly preposterous.  While it might be true that some union representatives might consider themselves as part of an exclusive group full of highbrow snootiness, such a term is misplaced in this context.  The term elitist should be reserved for people who travel with entourages and encased in a protective shell of bodyguards and security personnel, like high profile politicians promising to break the back of unions and executives with gazillion dollar salaries who look to benefit from union busing.  Honestly, who is more out of touch with the needs of common people?

A Governor says he has to terminate people’s ability for collective bargaining because he wants to do whatever he can to protect jobs, and then threatens to layoff public employees in order to get his political opponents to show up on a vote guaranteed to terminate collective bargaining.  It should be pretty clear that there really isn’t any concern to keep people working.  When the union makes every financial concession without exception in order to help the state’s budget and the Governor says it’s not enough, it’s pretty clear that something’s afoot with his motives and that it’s not about making sure people have what they need.

Nothing about this affair is about people having jobs.  It’s all about keeping the little people as little as possible.  That way, corporate entities and agencies can control employees can have its way as painlessly as if it had serfs or slaves under the thumb to control.  The more we allow true elitist to have their way, the ones who feel they truly have the right to control our lives and feel disadvantaged when they don’t, the more we tolerate this disparity, the more they will feel that they are entitled.  Not that sounds like some elitist thinking.

Thursday, February 24, 2011 - Posted by | Life, Thoughts

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