Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

There is a lot of anti-union propaganda going on in this thread. I call it propaganda because most of it has no root in reality.

Having an organized workforce should be the cost of doing business. If you can only survive as a corporation that does the bare minimum to take care of employees you have no right to be an employer in the free market. Most corporations _can_ function with organized labor, but would rather not because it cuts into profits.

Unions should be in the interest of any corporation that wants healthy, productive workers, the same goes for social insurances that take a lot of angst from the workers. Prussia passed the first relevant laws for compulsory health insurance in 1845, way before the Americans bashed their own heads in over slavery (and other things).

As a customer, I hate interacting with unionized industries. Try, for example, having a booth at a trade show. It is completely awful, and most of that is because of unions.

> If you can only survive as a corporation that does the bare minimum to take care of employees you have no right to be an employer in the free market. Most corporations _can_ function with organized labor, but would rather not because it cuts into profits.

Think about this from a systems perspective. If you are a country that requires businesses to take a certain amount of overhead, then some percentage of businesses will just not be viable. Therefore your entire economy is x% smaller (at least). You can claim that this is offset by the economic well-being of the employees, but that's not at all obvious and would require a lot of justification. (If it were true, you'd expect countries like France to be more healthy economically than the USA, whereas in fact France is quite stagnant). If your economy is x% smaller, it means you are not competing effectively with other countries and have less leverage when dealing with them. And the shrunken economy has real consequences on the standard of living of people living in the country. etc, etc.

If you think of this only from a lens of "capitalists are evil people who deserve to be taxed to support the good workers" you are going to be missing most of the picture.

If you are using economic growth as the key indicator of a healthy economy you are missing most of the picture.

We hyperfocus on growth at the expense of other aspects of our economy. If you create consumer goods but systematically depress the wages of the consumers who buy the goods, eventually you've cannibalized your source of revenue. Similar to how cancer cells are hyperfocused on growth at the expense of working within the systems they're assigned.

I don't see how the economic wellbeing of workers is in need of justification.

Wow ... relating management to cancer.

In a free market, workers would be able to find other employment if their company treats them poorly. In reality, the demise of the free market here hasn't been hastened by "cancerous" management, determined to "screw the workers over" ... it has been hastened by rent seeking behaviors of the unions, driving costs up. Which has resulted in said management looking for ways to control/lower costs.

Such as moving labor intensive work to a) lower cost areas, and now b) automating to the point of which you no longer need many workers.

Those are all cost based decisions. No one, that I am aware of in management, is twisting their mustaches saying "if only I could find some way to screw my workers over even more". Everyone in management is being asked "how can I increase productivity as measured in producing more widgets per unit cost, or reducing the unit cost to produce each widget?".

Unions do not reduce cost per widget. They do not increase productivity in terms of more widgets per unit cost. They simply increase costs. Which drives the conversations on how to reduce costs. Move factory. Automate.

Take an industry with net margins of a few percent at best (most industries), and have one portion of their cost structure increase to remove a material fraction of that margin. The company owners (stock and bond holders) would be all over that board to find a way to reduce costs.

The darkly ironic aspect of this, is that 401k's and/or pension funds (defined benefit is going away in favor of defined contribution) that may be part of a comp program for union and non-union folk, are likely investing in these companies, making these demands upon them, to increase their profitability. That is, the union worker has competing antithetical goals at play that cannot be simultaneously satisfied.

Yeah, it would be nice to pay everyone a wonderful wage, have no poverty, no hunger, etc. The moment an industry player says "yes we are going to raise our prices to pay our people more money", is when their competition comes in and says "but we will charge less" and takes their business.

If you don't cannibalize your own revenue, your competitors surely will. Amazon is doing an incredible job of this, in they find niches which become profitable for some, which they then enter, leveraging their buying power. And they have largely cannibalized Walmart, who used to do the same to others (don't feel bad for them as they get a taste of their own medicine).

Denial of reality and the way economics actually works is a recipe for disastrous consequences. The free market is there, whether you want it to be or not. If you refuse to grow, your competitor will. At your expense.

If you increase your costs in one column without being able to decrease them somewhere else without harming productivity, you are increasing your risk. Not paying people better. But betting their jobs on something that isn't based upon sound economic theory.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact