Cocktail Arrogance

Wow! Times have changed since 1961. That year I graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. Manufacturing jobs ruled the country. Every engineering student I knew had a minimum of six job offers. The starting salary for engineering graduates ranged from $480.00 to $620.00/mo. The highest paying jobs were in the aeronautical fields. The lowest were in teaching and government. I do not really know what engineering graduates make today, nor does it matter. What does matter is that the pay scale has flipped. Teaching and government jobs pay higher than private sector industrials.
Finding an industrial job is a difficult task, as most companies have moved manufacturing to Mexico, or China to avoid unions, and to take advantage of lower wages. Why have they fled? Because, unions take advantage of any company that makes a profit. The union bosses really believe the profit comes exclusively from the blood, sweat, and tears of their membership. Forget about the years of research, development, and the engineering that goes into any product. Forget about all the effort that goes into marketing, and sales of the thing. Forget about defending a patent from competitors. Forget about the money the investors put into the company so they can have the infrastructure, and tools needed to produce. All a union sees is the effort they put into assembling the thing. They believe that because union workers made the thing, union workers should get the profit from it.
I spent a few years working for Government Motors when it knew how to make money. At the time, Walter Reuther was the big cheese of the UAW. Every time GM announced their profits, good old Walt made a statement to the press that the UAW deserved to get a bigger piece of the pie. It did not matter if they had a contract, he would find a loophole to strike or go into re-negotiation. He was very successful at getting concessions from GM management. Management always caved because they owned so much stock themselves they did not want their dividends or profit sharing affected. The UAW became so greedy that GM finally imploded under the weight of the legacy carrying costs.
GM was not alone with union demands. Any company that had a union was under the same stress. Laws protect worker’s rights to organize. Once a union is in place, it is nearly impossible to get it out. The current effort to initiate unions with open ballots would make organizing even easier. The difference between 1961 and 2010 is that the unions do not have manufacturing to organize anymore. Instead, they organize office, and service workers. I was shocked to learn the extent of their penetration into government. I was aware of teacher, police, and fire unions, but not government worker unions. I wonder how Uncle can keep them from becoming a threat to national security. Imagine if the union boss announced that because the government collected more taxes this year, the union would take a larger share of the pie.
Unions also demand work rules. They want rules to have reason to strike, file grievances against management, and thereby leverage new demands at contract time. A very recent case of the reluctance of the SEC to fire or discipline an individual who spent his day watching and downloading porn on the job is an example. In the private sector workplace, a single visitation to an inappropriate website is cause for immediate dismissal. Why doesn’t the same rule apply to government workers?
Obama sees big government as the answer to every problem. He is actually promoting unionization of the government workplace. Why is that? A union will allow his bureaucracy to abdicate all responsibility for good management. That sets up the whole system for patronage appointments of cherry jobs throughout. Without the need for management skills, idiots can manage the entire bureaucracy because work rules will define worker function, and union bosses will police infractions through the grievance system
God what have we gotten ourselves into?

8 Responses

  1. Born in Indiana, moved to Hegewisch 1950, graduated from Bowen HS 1959. Was close to Burnside.

  2. Grumpa Joe, seems one of my very dear friends is a friend of yours also. I think you were his boss for a period of time. He speaks very well about you. After the RR, I tried a year in the steel mills and then became an Ironworker. Celebrated my 25th birthday in Viet Nam
    in 1967 on the ring of HAPPY VALLEY outside of DA NANG with the SeaBees, MCB 133. Hope your Independence Day was enjoyable and that America will remain the same for many vears to come.

    • This small world is getting scarier. The next thing you will tell me is that you grew up in Burnside.

  3. Grandpa Joe,
    I graduated HS in 1959 at 16 years of age. Married in 1962, first job working as travel agent for Illinois Central RR, made $ 520.00 a month. Have saw the destruction of our beloved American by a tyranical government run mostly by attorneys. Bankers, politicians, and attorneys have one thing in common.They produce nothing tangible. All they do is take from those who do.

    • This is truly a small world. I turned down an offer from ICRR in 1961 for the same pay. My dad spent his entire career working for the ICRR in their Burnside Shops as a laborer. I married in 1961 after graduating from the U of I.

  4. Unions operate the same as government, more taxes equal more money. At the same time, taxes, licenses, fees and surcharges , along with union demands, continue to drive business out of the country, Now we have a government trying to nationalize autos, insurance, banks and healthcare. What happened to our beloved Republic founded 234 years ago? May America remain One Nation under GOD. Government should not penalize someone with the intelligence to suceed. God given RIGHTS can not be legislated.

  5. Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

  6. I have saw the absolute abuses by unions all my working life. They were a good thing in the beginning but they have over stepped their reason for being. Protect workers rights yes, but don’t ruin the company in the process.

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