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Making The Argument for EFCA

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on January 25, 2010

Kevin Binversie, right wing blogger, just put up a post lamenting the fact that now more union jobs are being held by government workers than by the private sector workers.

We’ll ignore the fact that he was just tweeting that he was a Washington DC bureaucrat that was “underpaid.

What Binversie does do is link to the story he cites as his reference, which offers some unique facts that he chose to omit from his post.

One of the parts is how Gerald McEntee, president of AFSCME, reacted to the news:

Gerald W. McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, voiced dismay that government employees now represented a majority of union members.

“It’s a very bad sign,” he said. “We’ve been banged around some, but when you see what’s been happening to the industrial base of this country, to the steelworkers, to the autoworkers, they’re been hammered much more.”

As Binversie did admit in a minimal way is that most of the reason is the recession which hit manufacturing and construction jobs the hardest.So what is the answer to this dilemma? He doesn’t say. If he clings to party lines, it would be to of course, create more unemployment by laying off the government workers as well.

Fortunately, there is a different mindset in charge:

Assessing the drop in private-sector unionization, Paula B. Voos, a labor relations professor at Rutgers, said, “It’s a sad commentary on the ability of private-sector workers to unionize.”

“Unions have less strength when they represent a lower percentage of workers,” she said. “Nonetheless, unions have strength in those sectors of the economy where they are organized. Workers who are in the entertainment industry, workers who are on the docks of the Port of New York and New Jersey still have the strength of their labor organizations.”

Noting that union members generally have higher earnings, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said in a statement: “As workers across the country have seen their real and nominal wages decline as a result of the recession, these numbers show a need for Congress to pass legislation to level the playing field to enable more American workers to access the benefits of union membership. This report makes clear why the administration supports the Employee Free Choice Act,” a bill that would make it easier to unionize.”

But the point that I have yet seen anyone make is pointing to where all the money is going if it is not going to the workers.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel showed us a sliver of a small sampling of this a few weeks ago, when they pointed out that even though some CEOs were taking “pay cuts,” they were still raking in millions of dollars each year. Imagine how many jobs they could have saved if they actually took serious pay cuts and tried to survive on a mere million dollars or even half a million, and reinvested that money in their employees. The employees would be able to still spend money a little more freely and that would do more than anything to help speed up the economic recovery.

In government, however, even though political CEOs like Scott Walker or Jim Doyle are probably overpaid in many people’s eyes, their salaries are paltry numbers compared to the private sector CEOs. That frees up more of the money to have workers to provide services to the community. Thus you would have more workers in the government sector, since the money isn’t being held up at the top by overly excessive executive salaries.

If the private sector CEOs put the same limits on themselves, the economy would get so much better so much faster, and we would all be better off.

Imagine that.


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