Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My Friend Victor Provides a Labor Day Post Corrective

My friend Victor Rauch is a savvy investor, real estate developer, and he ran a successful construction company for 20 years before that. He is an astute and knowledgeable observer of the economy. He takes me to task for my Labor Day post.

Victor says I'm being too rosy in describing the achievements of labor in my first paragraph.  He also, rightly, points out that the 11.3 percent union participation rate is skewed by the fact that the public sector continues to be unionized in excess of 35%.  Unionization in the private sector is down to 6.7%.

Here is his comment:
Roland much of what you say about paid holidays, vacations, and such is wishful thinking. How many people do you know, or better yet what percentage, have today off with pay? 
With private sector union membership around 7% of the work force and falling, and most people spending months before they run into a union worker who is not working in a hospital, school, or government, the labor movement of my parent's era is long gone. This did not happen by accident, it was self inflicted by the unions and aggressively promoted by some industrial employers. You probably do not remember when anti war demonstrators were pummeled by construction workers in the street during the Nixon administration.  
Used to be butchers, grocery employers, construction workers, health care workers, teachers, aids, school nurses, hospitality workers,  farm workers (yes that is the sixties and seventies), truck drivers, stevedores, ..... now I am guessing that none of your friends are in a union. Pretty amazing. No unions  at farmers markets, Whole Foods, Traders Joes, Peets, Starbucks, the Cheese Board, Acme Bread, ski resorts, music venues,vineyards, wineries, brew pubs, or any of the restaurants you enjoy.
I ran a union shop for over 20 years. Hard to find a progressive bone in any of the unions I dealt with, although they did have high wages. They did not have paid vacations, sick leave or holidays.


  1. I work in a non-union company that provides paid vacation/sick days 7 or 8 holidays off a year. This company provides health benefits although the employees are asked to contribute. This is privately held company whose owner believe that by providing employees with good benefits they maintain loyalty and stability.
    Thus my view of the issue is prejudiced. The work force at this company is not particularly progressive but we have jobs. And I for one, am glad about that.

  2. Thanks, Don. Non-union but paid vacation/sick days and holidays is also the norm in law offices. I say "don't fix what ain't broke." This does not appear to be true at Walmart.