December 01, 2009
“Thuggery” in the White House ~ by Colonel Bob Pappas, USMC, Retired
“Thuggery” in the White House
by Colonel Bob Pappas, USMC, Retired
I am no expert on unions but like many have observed their inner workings off and on from my first job. Succinctly put, unions have been both a blessing and a bane. Whereas they have been at least peripherally responsible for improvement in safety, working conditions and wages, at the height of their public sector power they embraced “thuggery” and other less than civil practices to achieve their goals.
There is a plethora of material available showing connections between organized crime and the nation’s unions. And, to be fair, there is plenty of corruption to go around, whether unions, business or politics, but today is about unions. Think NEA, AFGE, SEIU, ACORN, AARP (yes, I know the difference between a union and an association) and others.
Unions grew, spread and combined until they became large enough to affect not only individual factories, but entire business organizations. Thus emerged national and international trade unions and along with them came labor legislation. In the U.S. union political clout was enough to result in the Department of Labor.
However, as with many well intentioned programs and ideas, unionization was not a panacea for the working class. As a teenager I worked as an assembly line technician in what eventually became the largest school bus manufacturing operation in the world; Blue Bird Body Company.
That was my first experience at observing union organizers first hand. The episode wasn’t anything grand, just that a nice guy working at the Fort Valley, Ga. plant was let go. Since I had met the “organizer” and liked him, and was fairly well acquainted with the owners, at the tender age of 18 I had the brass to inquire as to, why? The answer was short and direct, “he was a union organizer,” and that was the end of the conversation.
I let it pass without further ado but made note of the fact that at the time this “school boy” was making $1.10/hour and the work at Blue Bird was grueling and hot. School bus orders for the fall term had to be filled and school districts typically waited until the last minute to place them.
The workday began at 7 and ended at 5 six days a week, and from morning until evening a typical worker could lose as much as 15 pounds of body fluid. So what’s new? That was grist for a union organizer: schoolboys, $1.10/hour, long hours, and hard work. But it was a job and with my suite of qualifications at that stage of life I was fortunate to have it, although my vanity told me that I could be the CEO.
My next encounter with unions was as a quality control analyst, at Monsanto Company (Monsanto Chemical Co. in those days). There, two years after the Blue Bird experience, I made three times as much money and thought I had tapped the mother lode. Was there a union? Yes, but I was salaried and exempt from union membership. But on my second job I had no choice but to join the union if I wanted to work at Sears.
At the then “mature” age of 20, I learned that union contracts included union rules. Those rules negotiated over months, even years dripped with opportunities for abuse and union members didn’t hesitate to exploit them. One astonishing example involved abuse of overtime.
The essence of the rule was that if an employee was next on the overtime list and wasn’t contacted for whatever the reason, the company had to pay triple-time for that employee to sit at home. That was in addition to the overtime payment to the employee who had been contacted. The payment was referred to as “rocking chair.” Was the rule abused? Yes, often and with enthusiasm. Does it still happen? Yes.
Union contracts, rules, benefits and exorbitant pay increases often forced companies to seek refuge in other locations in the US, but relocation costs were high and fraught with legal battles. Consequently, in the mid 1960s companies began to close their doors and relocate their entire operations to foreign countries. The shoe industry was one of the first to go, textiles followed suit, and soon steel began an exodus. That was the incipient “global economy.”
Are unions all bad? Absolutely not! Labor history is replete with stories of worker abuse, underage labor, and squalid working conditions attributable to greedy owners; and to their eternal credit, unions were the force that changed that. Unfortunately for union members they missed one little fact, neither they nor the union were the owners of the businesses. In most cases, and at the “end of the day,” union power held such a strangle hold on many businesses that it became more advantageous to move manufacturing operations offshore. That story has been repeated thousands of times and continues.
Fast forward to 1990s, the Cold War was over and the global economy took off powered by a host of factors including among others, the World Trade Organization, North American Free Trade Agreement, the European Union, cheap labor in the third world and lack of Congressional intestinal fortitude. Result: industry in full flight, why? Less regulation, lower taxes, cheap labor and you got it, no unions. Manufacturing is becoming extinct in the USA due to a combination of unions and political leftists disguised as environmentalists, and etc.
Until President Nixon went to China as part of his initiative to bring an end to the Vietnam War, (and incidentally, doing so opened the door to explosive trade), most US companies were fleeing to Europe, Japan , Taiwan, or Indonesia. But pick up a cap, shirt, coat, in fact almost any product today, check to see where it is made and 9 times out of ten it will be some foreign country with Communist China dominating the list.
Union strikes, disruptions, and slowdowns, do nothing to retain jobs in the US. All of the foregoing are union tactics, it drives out business and can only damage the very people it is claimed to help, and the nation. That noted, businesses that abuse workers, and cheat customers and investors are every bit as blameworthy as are unions.
However, excessively taxing “business” has been a favorite hobby of Democrats for decades. Until the last general election, most socialists/Marxists-in-Democrat-clothing were careful to not reveal their true colors for fear that they might lose their elected post. However, with the advent of the Obama Administration and Democrat majority in both Houses of Congress, their masks have come off and we now observe them for what they really are.
Those so-called “progressives” are nothing more than socialists/Marxists. Those who want government to run everything are setting the stage for it to take away individual freedom, private property, freedom of expression in both speech, and if they had their way, worship. So far, they don’t have the cojones to go after the latter but they vigorously attack freedom of expression, most of it in the form of political correctness. All one has to do is listen and observe.
Obama and his merry band of socialists/Marxists are advancing the specter of union corruption (What else, he is from Chicago isn’t he?) on a grand scale. Obama’s strategy is to expand the role and power of unions with him as their Commander-in-Chief, along with his “Organizing for America,” and how about his call for a civilian security force:
“We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded.”
With that he would attempt to position himself as the Chavez or Castro of the United States, and in the process reduce it to the same third world status.
For those who claim that Obama doesn’t know what he is doing, get your head out of the sand. He knows and is doing it. Unless you want a US version of the Soviet Union with its gulags, 50 million dead and other niceties of socialist-Marxism, it’s time to bring his train to a stop.
Conservatives unite! Keep the pressure on your Representative and Senators, and spread the word! Then when it’s time to vote, vote for proven conservative patriots. We’ve all see the bumper stickers, “Take Our Country Back,” well, this time it’s for real.
Wild Thing's comment.........
GREAT write up, thank you Col. Pappas. He is soooo good.
I love how there are such awesome people on our side, like all of you here at this blog big time!
....Thank you Mark for sending this to me.
3rd Mar.Div. 1st Battalion 9th Marine Regiment
1/9 Marines aka The Walking Dead
Posted by Wild Thing at December 1, 2009 04:45 AM
Colonel Bob Pappas and I see it the same way, I have been a member of a trade guild, the Teamsters and the IBEW, apprenticing under the IBEW. Like our respective government leaders the power is consolidated at the top, the union bosses are like the national party committees . They exploit work rules to keep the rank and file faithful, they will even wield unreasonable power to further their demands for increased business concessions. Much like the Obama spending spree during a fiscal national crisis, they will put the labor force out on the street even if it means that the employing company folding within a year or two due to lack of profits. An organization is only as good as it's members, I commuted 110 miles round trip to attend every union meeting, only a handful showed up and most were within a 10 mile radius, many meetings were so small that the board members outnumbered the working members, the only time they showed up in numbers was during the political instability of negotiations where the leaders would whip them into a frenzy of hate toward the corporation.
We members dutifully stood fast, walked out, picketed, bled in street battles, a couple even died. In the end the leaders accepted 2% less than the 5% we'd been suffering for for 4-1/2 months and the loss of one paid holiday. That Company was Westinghouse, it had to sell off it's appliance division to White to survive the Nixon and Carter years and the oil embargo. That strike fund we all paid into never released one red cent to us, we didn't qualify for any compensation, I worked in a produce warehouse 12 hours a day at minimum wage, drove that 110 mile RT for picket duty all throughout that strike. I had given my word to them, honored the dispute to the bitter end. My credit union packed my sorry ass for 6 months on loan non payments without penalties or interest, I still 'bank' there.
That was my second bloody union strike, the worst one. I had my journeyman rating and left Westinghouse the day the strike settled, never to return, I didn't want to work for either sorry organization.
We have to unite against the common enemy at this time, government oppression, both the corporation and the leaders are locked in the battle to destroy our freedom of choice.
Posted by: Jack at December 1, 2009 11:51 AM
I have never been a union member. But, I have had a job ruined by a union, have paid higher prices because of unions and now find that almost everything I purchase is foreign made because of unions. America has lost it's manufacturing base because of unions, crooked politicians and, yes, corporate greed.
I faced union "thuggery" in a good job I had when I returned from Vietnam. I had a good position as the nightman on an aircraft servicng station and as a security watchman there. I had worked out my wages with management and was happy. Then the majority of mechanics voted to go union. I refused to join and two intimidaters were sent to "talk me straight". The dummies forgot or didn't know I kept an M1 carbine handy. So they went home meeker and milder. I still had problems with tactcis such as attempted sabotage of planes during my watch, false phone calls to make me busy for aircraft that never arrived, early arrival of day shifters who bad mouthed me, etc.
I finally had enough and left. In fact I reupped in the Army and was very happy. The aircraft repair I had worked for was sold off several years later and eventually just went out of business.
I am sure that my experience happened thousands of times or more during the union growth of the 60's and 70's. Now America has so little left of manufacturing. What is left, plus the service sector, seems to be manned by unions or illegal aliens. I sure wish we could strike a medium between those two extremes.
Posted by: TomR at December 1, 2009 12:47 PM
Jack, thank you for sharing about that.
I agree so much.
"We have to unite against the common enemy at this time, government oppression, both the corporation and the leaders are locked in the battle to destroy our freedom of choice. "
Posted by: Wild Thing at December 2, 2009 01:40 AM
Tom, that is so bad what they did. I
understand completely about going back
in the Army.
Posted by: Wild Thing at December 2, 2009 01:44 AM