13 December 2010

Unions Transforming Into Temp Agencies? ... a rough draft ramble about Economy (and China)

How would you like to have your birthday off? Weeks and weeks of guaranteed vacation? Increases every year at 4 times the rate of inflation. Sounds like a sweet deal? It is, and it's the deal that government employee unions have in a small Detroit suburb.  It's such overpayment, in fact, that the city is seeking bankruptcy protection so it can renegotiate contracts and get out of big debt.
In large municipalities we're seeing the re-emergence of local unions for electrical repair, plumbing and other skill trades.  These unions are beginning to advertise a single number for 'all your needs' and they'll send out a certified, drug-tested, legal, skilled technician right away.
The beauty of these organizations is that they act as a company without having all those pesky corporate regulations, because each worker who shows up, is an independent contractor.  But looky...the union membership dues get you discounts on healthcare, referrals for work, etc.  And if you are sick...no problem, someone else is on the job.  And if you want to take a vacay...no problem, off you go.  And if your rates aren't as discount as the customer expects...well, there's that handshake agreement that all of the guys in that are 'certified' will charge $50 per trip and $75 per hour.  Weird.  No worry about competition.
And those folks who don't want to play ball...well, your union dues can campaign for 'certification' and can advertise in your locality to explain how your competition is small potatoes and shoddy.
And about those teachers' unions who insist that tenure is a better way of retaining teachers pay-for-performance...it depends on your goal? Parents want the best teachers for their kids in government school...unions want control to run the schools like a small prison, with little oversight or information within the community.
President Obama's administration has created a fertile environment for the rise of unions.  The encouragement to work collectively rather than empowering individuals has proved damaging in many aspects of society.  McVictimization of America, or the loss of property, or the inability to provide for family, or the constant worry over what will happen next in the local or broader economy.  Crime up.  Severe weather.  Hard candy Christmas evolving into Black Christmas.  Hopelessness on the rise.
So it makes sense that the brotherhood and solidarity of the collective union is making a comeback.  Safety in numbers appeals to our basest instincts when we're threatened.  The surety of benefits, steady income stream, and guaranteed breaks means less personal risk, less competition, less uncertainty.
Is it any surprise that the unions are appearing to evolve into a membership co-op, blessed with the ability to avoid anti-competitive lawsuits, the ability to undercut the mom & pop standalone shop, and the 'certification' of membership which permits is members to work as much or as little as they desire, ultimately does a huge disservice to the patrons it serves by raising the rates by eliminating competition and rewarding members handsomely.
Will card-check make us all temps? With ObamaCare mandating collectivist insurance, eliminate the last vestige of the employer/employee relationship (remember the gold watch retirement? gone before I came along, how about you?)  Next, we can expect that corporations, overwhelmed with 1099 paperwork, research on the legality of their workforce, and confused by diversity requirements, will seek a temporary and replaceable workforce.  People will swap in and out like cogs of a machine. The Exceptional America will fade into the past like those gold watches and the codependent relationship employees once enjoyed with their employer.  Collectivists seek to replace individual pride and skill with uniformity and predictable inefficiency.  No spark.  No out-of-the-box thinking.  No invention.  How very...Mao.
Could we be on the verge of a huge move toward the virtualization of the American workforce?
Texas windfarm energy, you know that green energy that is supposed to replace that dirty, filthy oil they're pumping there...well, it turns out that the company who'll manufacture the turbines...China.  The company that won the bid to install and maintain the windfarm...in China.  So whose economy are we stimulating with these 'new economy' jobs.
I'm reminded of Sam Walton's vision of "Buy America" back when Wal-Mart was a warehouse club with products on pallets.  I worked for him back then, before the slipstream economy made Wal-Mart the big box of cheap-stuff filled with short-bus screamers.
A prime example of how our nation's gut has changed shows up in the Food Stamp program...now being accepted at fast food locations.  What the, what?  Shouldn't food stamps be there for items that WIC approves? You know milk, cheese, flour...basics...not Taco  Bell.  If these folks aren't working, they have the time to make biscuits and soak beans.  And if we're going to pay for healthcare, should we be handing them a meal ticket for high-sodium, high-fat foods?  Shouldn't they be eating a salad?  Down is up.  Up is down.  Inside out.
Until we as a nation prioritize our need to stimulate the economy at home; empower individuals to earn and spend based on the needs of individual families, we're all temp's renting apartments in the hive of queen Obama's collectivism.