Comments about ‘Charles Krauthammer: Michigan's, and America's, right-to-work dilemma’

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Published: Sunday, Dec. 16 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

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Shaun
Sandy, UT

Charles left out some key points. First most people do not know what right to work really means. If you are working for a company and the employees decide to join a union then that will still happen regradless you are in a right to work state or not but you as an individual you still have a right to not join the union and still work there. Which means you will not have to pay union dues. However you will still get the benefits the union will bring, like higher wages, better and safer working conditions, etc.

Some people think this okay, but all that will happen is it will pit union paying workers against their fellow workers who enjoy the benefits but does not pay dues.

Something that Charles also misses is people who make more can spend more. Who honestly brings more benefit to the economy, a person making 9 a hour or an union member in the same field making 15 a hour?

Who pays more taxes a non union or union worker?

Who is more likely to have insurance and a retirement?

J Thompson
SPRINGVILLE, UT

Shawn,

I don't understand your logic. If a union "gets" $30 an hour for McDonald employees, does that mean that McDonalds just opens its piggy bank and pays that triple wage - or does it mean that McDonalds begins charging $15 for a Big Mac? When McDonalds charges $15 for a Big Mac are YOU going to buy one because you believe that the union has the "right" to do that? Or, are you going to pay $15 because you think that a Big Mac is worth every cent of $15? Or, are you going to buy your lunch somewhere else?

Every dollar that businesses pay in wages is passed on to the customer. If the customer decides that the value is less than the price charged, then that business closes, those employees pay no taxes, and the government gets to support those families at your expense. Look at Hostess and the 18,000 employees that the union helped out of work.

If you want a better wage, make yourself more valuable, then you won't need a bigger baseball bat to threaten your employer with.

RedShirt
USS Enterprise, UT

To "Shaun" your example falsely paints unions to be organizations that are out there to protect the worker.

Which is better for the economy. A non-union shop that can hire 15 people to run the shop and pay them $10/hr, or a union shop that requires 30 people to do the same jobs and mandates $20/hr? You will think that the union shop is the way to go. However, with the non-union shop the goods and services can be sold for 1/4 the cost, which means that they can do more good for the economy. The owner will be able to expand his business faster, more people can buy his goods, which means that the suppliers will be able to hire more people because the materials needed are in higher demand.

With union shops, costs are higher, and expansion is slower.

So, which is better for the economy, businesses that can expand and sell more goods and services or hiring union employees that do less with more people?

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

There is no such thing as the right to work. Somehow that part of humanity towards humans never got into the Constitution. If there was such a thing as a right to work, society would have the obligation to make sure that every person could be gainfully employed. Either by private enterprise or by the government. When private enterprise fails to do it’s desired service to society it is for the government to fill the gap.

The government should hire every unemployed person needing and wanting a job at a living wage. There are millions of jobs that can be done for the welfare of the general public.
The wages paid to these workers would be funded by a general tax on private enterprise.

Private enterprise, business, organized groups serving society do so at the pleasure and according to the rules set by society. The rules governing the distribution of wealth from business were made hundreds, perhaps thousands of years ago, when labor was the main ingredient of all wealth.

The rules need to be brought up to date according to today’s world.

Screwdriver
Casa Grande, AZ

This all boils down to theories of economics. The supply side thoery of economics keeps it's erronious grasp on the wealthy simply because it fits thier own short term, myopic interests.

If you want a brilliant explanation of labor, land and capitol, you should read "Progress and Poverty" by Henry George.

J Thompson
SPRINGVILLE, UT

Does a union generate money? Does getting more money for the employees mean that the company makes more money? Does having a union guarantee that people will buy the product? Does having a union mean that the product is superior?

Before a union can get higher wages, the company has to have more money to pay those employees. The company has to have a service or a product that people are willing to buy at a higher price or be willing to buy in greater quantity.

Hostess showed what happens when a union demands that non-existent profits be paid to workers whose value is less than they are already being paid.

There is no magic that enables a union to transfer wealth from the "rich guy" to the "worker".

Nobody is willing to buy overpriced products - look at the garment industry. Union members shop at WalMart, just like everybody else. They are not loyal to their fellow members in other industries. They buy at the cheapest price, just like most of us.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

So why did Henry Ford pay his employees so well, almost twice the amount of other factory workers and competing businesses. It is because he knew something--if he paid his employees enough they might buy cars instead of making them for the uber-rich only. I'm not sure what economic theory this fits in, but it seemed pretty smart for the employer and the employee.

Mountanman
Hayden, ID

3 reasons why unions are declining in the US:
#1:Globalization is and will continue to make private sector unions obsolete. Consumers can and are purchasing products from abroad cheaper than domestic union made goods. In other words, consumers are voting with their wallets and union produced goods are losing their customers.

#2:In the case of public sector unions,(teacher's firefighters, police) taxpayers are voting against them as per Wisconsin, Michigan and other states because taxpayers can not fund their benefits which in most cases are better than the taxpayers receive while the services they provide is declining (student test scores)

3:There is also the ugly but seldom discussed issue of the "stimulus" where the public was told we ere spending nearly a $ trillion for "shovel ready jobs" Instead, the vast majority of the money was given by Obama and the Democrats to public unions members so they didn't lose their jobs while many other private sector people did. Then to make matters worse, unions then gave the Democrats huge cash donations for the re-election of union friendly Democrats= money laundering at its best!

UtahBlueDevil
Durham, NC

@Mountainman... once again... on point 3 - support this statement with a reference to something please.

Actually, Charles has some good points here... except he slips right back into conservative talking points where he states;

"Volkswagen to Samsung — began to overtake American industry that was saddled with protected, inflated, relatively uncompetitive wages, benefits and work rules."

Ummm.. no. Volkswagen is not only very heavily unionized, but both VW and Samsung are companies that live and thrive in what many conservatives call socialist countries where every employee is given generous health and retirement benefits. This justification of anti-union chatter is the biggest lie, and the weakest argument.

I personally am in favor of right-to-work states. I worked my way through undergraduate school at UPS, as a Teamster, unloading trucks while most everyone else slept. But I think employees should have the right to choose if they want representation or not. As I saw one GM worker who was a union guy state when this law passed, this will make the unions have to be better at adding value for employees and employers.... otherwise employees will not hand over their money to them. This is all goodness.

JoeCapitalist2
Orem, UT

So Shaun, let me get this straight...It is very bad when a single shop has both union and non-union workers in it because the union members are paying all the bills (union dues) while all the workers (including the non-union, non-dues paying workers) reap the benefits.

Giving workers a choice will certainly end up in situations like this and that is totally unacceptable to liberal, pro-union individuals like yourself.

My only question is: How is that situation any different than the "tax the rich" mantra of the left, where some of the people pay all the taxes while everyone enjoys the benefits?

RedShirt
USS Enterprise, UT

To "Howard Beal" you also realize that Henry Ford paid his employees so well at a time before the UAW. Can you imagine how much a Ford would cost if they had maintained the high wages?

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Most consumers are workers.

Most workers spend all their income sooner rather than later.

More workers or higher pay produces more spending.

More spending creates a better economy and more profits.

More profits creates more jobs.

etc. etc. etc.

Low wages produce low economy and low profits.

low profits means job loss.

low employment means low profits.

etc. etc. etc.

UtahBlueDevil
Durham, NC

Redshirt - here is a number for you to chew on - 10%. That is the lobor cost for the average car. So say you take the average car sold in the US which sells for $30,000.... labor represents $3,000 of that cost. Lets take the wildest estimate and say that unionized labour was 50% percent more expensive than non-union labor (which we all know isn't the case but it makes the math east). So in this best case scenario... car cost would come down to $28,500.

In the real world, that difference is much more muted... less than $1,000 per car.

So to your comment about Ford and the expense of his cars - the difference really wouldn't be that much. He could even double the wages, and it would really only make a modest change in cost. The fact is he only paid the $5 a day living wage for a short time and got into very violent battles with the unions (see battle of the overpass)... and only left leadership after Edsels death because Ford was doing so poorly.

It is an interesting story... worth some study.

logical
Meridian, ID

UtahBlueDevil: Where do you get your facts? There is about $100 worth of raw material in a car. Where does the rest of the cost come from? I understand capital is in there, but??? If it is capital then the real value of a car then comes from the knowledge and genius that created, designed, built, and financed that capital. This is what has made the USA great, not its labor. Anything that hinders capital growth hinders our greatness. High punitive taxes that take from the creators of capital and give to labor hinders our greatness.

Why are we stuck in an economic malaise? Risk takers aren't willing to take risk in our current political environment. Also, there are too few risk takers, thinkers, etc. People in America feel entitled to a "living wage". Where is the incentive to excel in school or Get a degree in the sciences and engineering fields when I am entitled and shouldn't have to really "work" for it? The constitutional protection of HUMAN GENIUS and RISK taking is what makes and will make us great again. Get POLITICS out of the way and let us go.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

Redshirt:

Ford did what he did because it was visionary. It was good/responsible capitalism. It was a win-win. He didn't have to do it but he did.

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