Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Unions: Anti-Capitalism At Work

Most people would begin a piece on how unions are bad by issuing some standard broiler plate that "they had their place," and "they were necessary once."  I don't grant that.  I don't grant that they were ever necessary- certainly not as they were actually constituted.  I don't grant that they ever provided a needed service- labor changes were already occurring, and the negatives associated with them were always higher than the benefits they provided.

Regardless of how one views the rise of the unions, however, one cannot seriously argue that they are still necessary.  They are a suck on productivity, they support the worst workers to the detriment of the best workers.  They are quite willing to destroy livelihoods of innocent parties to get their way.

Two cases to illustrate.

The union representing the pilots for American Airlines have successfully organized what is probably an illegal sick-out.  They were smart enough to do it vocally, so they'll probably get away with it, but ever since a Bankruptcy judge said that AMR could impose a contract on the pilots, an unusual number of them have been calling in sick, or submitting maintenance requests.  They will never convince me that this is a coincidence.  Whether the union itself organized it is immaterial- the pilots are engaging in a sick-out. 

As a result of this sick-out, less than 2/3 of American Airlines flights are arriving on time.  Given that most flight traffic is business in nature, this is costing the economy potentially millions or billions of dollars.  It is certainly costing American Airlines millions of dollars that, given it is in bankruptcy, it doesn't have to spare.  And even if the pilots are successful in getting a "better" contract, all they'll do is make American's fiscal situation worse.  That could ultimately cost all of them, all of the flight attendants, and all of the ground crews their jobs- not to mention the associated vendors.  As a result, more fliers will go on other airlines.  Since the competition will have decreased, meaning the supply of flights will have decreased, but the supply of flights will not have increased, you can expect airline tickets to increase in price.

The pilots don't care about any of that, though, they only care about their own paydays.  But it's the AMR executives who are the greedy ones.

The second case is that of the NFL Referee's strike/lockout.  Currently, an NFL ref probably has a full-time job outside of officiating.  So, for the six months a year of part-time work they do for the NFL, they get paid $150,000.  Yes you read that correctly.  For (being generous here) 80 days of work, they're being paid more than many "middle class" families.  So what's the problem?  They want a pension. 

Seriously?  You're getting paid $150,000 for 80 days of part-time work, and you can't put some of that money away for your own retirement?  Maybe referees are as stupid as people claim.  As a result, injuries are already up.  At least one, and possibly two, games have been decided by bad/questionable calls.  And the people who are going to be hurt, if the refs are successful, are the players and vendors, not the owners.  Owning a professional football team, unless you're Jerry Jones, is a hobby.  It's often a well-paying hobby, but it's a hobby.  You don't do it if you can't afford it.  So it's not going to hurt the owners, particularly, if the season is a shambles.  What will happen, though, is that more players will get hurt, games will be more boring, and fans will walk away.  And that hurts vendors.

But the referees don't care about that.  They only care about getting a pension for part-time work.  But it's the owners who are the greedy ones.

The thing is, this is the only tactic unions have.  The only thing they can do is destroy, or threaten to destroy, a business.  They're a legalized protection racket.  "Nice business you have here.  Be a shame if something were to... happen to it."

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