Are unions still viable?

An interesting thread started in the comments of the post asking if Congressmen should recuse themselves from votes where there is campaign cash involved- and it came down to business vs. union.

Jeffrey of Louisville (former publisher of the much missed Daytonology blog) contributed this comment after we’d already taped today’s Dayton Grassroots Daily Show- on the very topic. Greg and I aren’t near as well informed on the history of Dayton’s union movement:

The Dayton business community had a very successful history in crushing unions. In the 1890s about 40% to 50% of the workforce was unionized. The business community was able to organized and destroy these unions, rendering the city mostly union-free by 1910 or so (the industrial sector). Then the streetcar union was busted (but not without some violence, riots on West Third Street at the carbarns). So the city was virtually union-free. The only problem is the workers started voting for socialists. This was busted via municipal reform government.

It took the CIO organizing drives in the 1930s to bring unions back to Dayton. This only worked because of two things…the CIO union active here, the UE, used disciplined and committed CPUSA cadre to organize, and there was a big influx of briars from the coalfields of Appalachia, who were favorably disposed to unions due the UMWA and John L Lewis. It was this Appalachian workforce that signed those cards and brought the unions back to Dayton.

That era is over now, the private sector union has had its day. The unions that need to be busted today are the public employee unions, which includes the FOP as well as the NEA and AFCSME. People don’t want to touch the cops and firefighters but public safety payrolls and pensions are the big line items in local government budgets.

via Congressman, recuse thyself? NEVER..

The reality is that some of the benefits that unions expect like pensions require the business to continue and grow- just like the base for Social Security- or the funding system breaks. When the car manufacturers reduced skilled labor due to automation, or sending jobs offshore- the backs of the existing labor force were made to carry a heavier load to support the pensions promised.

Also, pension plans are hugely tied to the Wall Street Casino– which means the crash also wrecked a lot of pensions.

As Jeffery points out, the public employee unions are creating an even greater drag on the system- since they are backed by the government, not by companies that actually have to make money. Who ends up paying the price? All of us, as our debt responsibility to these pensions grows, it creates an even greater tax burden, which in turn, drives more jobs overseas.

There are huge arguments in Europe going on about their retirement plans: Germany raised its retirement age by 2 years to 67, while being asked to bail out Greece which still has 60 as the checkout age. As life expectancy gets older, the costs continue to rise.

The old model is breaking- and the unions don’t have answers either. With the adversarial model of unions vs. management, no one seems to be winning. One thing is for sure, the only guaranteed retirement plans these days belong to government workers and the CEOs of the Wall Street Casino ilk.

The rest of us- well, try to get a government job?

Here’s our show for the day- watch at your own risk.

Note- these shows aren’t pre-scripted or discussed before we start. We pick a topic and go. Sometimes we’re just bouncing ideas as they come- and are here for you to share in the discussion. We value your input, and hope that you find something stimulating in the discussion.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed! If you wish to support this blog and independent journalism in Dayton, consider donating. All of the effort that goes into writing posts and creating videos comes directly out of my pocket, so any amount helps!