Happy Labor Day (sorta)

Labor Day is a celebration of the American worker, who helps turn management’s vision into reality. In that spirit, I wish everyone a happy Labor Day. Well, almost everyone. Let me explain.

For as long as I can remember, my father owned a small manufacturing company in southwest Michigan. He didn’t pay the highest wages in the area, but he treated each employee with respect, and these workers in turn gave Dad an honest day’s work. That mutual respect, combined with a unique bonus program that all his employees participated in, made for a steady workforce.

The times, however, are a-changing. An ugly, vocal minority has risen from the ranks and is overshadowing all the good that labor accomplishes.

We saw it recently in the public union demonstrations in Madison, Wis. Gov. Scott Walker, in a budget-balancing effort and after a great deal of drama, curtailed some of the public union’s power. Even FDR opposed government unions,  writing that “All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining . . . cannot be transplanted into the public service.” Although the unions lost that battle, they continued to loudly demonstrate inside the state capitol building, and Republicans are now denied participation in the Wausau Labor Day Parade.

The public employee battle spread to Ohio, where Gov. John Kasich  wants public employees’ benefits and working conditions to more closely resemble those in the private sector. As expected, unions reacted loudly and swiftly.

In the private sector, U.S. auto workers are among the highest paid and benefitted in the world, and their union was a huge beneficiary of their industry’s reorganization. They repeatedly show their appreciation by drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana on their lunch breaks, according to a Fox2 TV news investigation.

Private-sector unions have a friend in the Obama administration. In April, the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against Boeing Corp. for building a plant in South Carolina for the company’s new 787 Dreamliners. The problem, from the union and NLRB’s standpoint, lies in the fact that South Carolina is a “right-to-work,” or non-union, state. Boeing announced its plans four years ago, and the plant has since been built to the tune of $750 million, yet the NLRB chose now to file its complaint. To sit idly by while a company invests close to a billion dollars on a new facility before filing a complaint is the pinnacle of unfairness.

When organized labor prices itself outside the bounds of reality, business has the choice of either outsourcing or hanging a sign on the front door announcing, “Gone fishing — permanently.” Government should be especially mindful of this given the fact that Boeing is the United States’ largest exporter.

So, to the vast majority of our nation’s workforce, I bid a happy Labor Day. I hope your beer is frosty, your steak is juicy and your potato salad creamy. As for the NLRB and the screamers, saboteurs and on-the-job drinkers, get a real job, or better yet, start a business of your own. Learn what it’s like to meet a payroll, and conform to a mounting list of regulations, tax increases and union demands. A dose of reality will do you a world of good.

Finally, to all the BizPac Review readers, enjoy the weekend and be safe. It’s a jungle out there.

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