Monday, May 14, 2012

Heavy at the Top

By Annoyed With Things

I am only commenting on this story because it dovetails with my Air Traffic Controller post “Union Culture Run Amok” and helps to illustrate my contention that unions in general are in need of a major overhaul.  In today’s story (, which looks at the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers (the IBB), we will see the huge disparity between the union leadership and the rank and file, blatant nepotism and outright fraud.
Some generalizations first -  The basic union mythology goes something like this: management is made up of blood-sucking morally bankrupt greedy capitalist trying to squeeze the last ounce of productivity from the oppressed worker.  Union leaders are the crusaders of the fair deal and the tireless protectors of workers’ rights.  They have the rank and files’ best interest at heart because they are one of them, people of the people.  In broad strokes, it can also be said that many large national trade unions tend to align with and support politicians who are sympathetic to the workers cause.  Look at the teachers union, teamsters and many other large unions and you can see this is generally true through endorsements and donations. 
Ok now let’s start looking at the reality.  According to the article, the Boilermakers union president is a guy named Newton B. Jones; he makes $607,000 some odd dollars in total compensation (plus what gets expensed).  He got the job from his father, Charles W. Jones in 2003 and his brother, sister, son and other relatives all work for the union in some capacity and are making very good salaries..  There were hunting trips, executive jets, lavish “business and networking” trips.  And this is just one family involved with leadership in the IBB.  The Creeden family also seems to be on the inside with several members also working for the union to the tune of $624,000.
So here is my point and major annoyance for today.  What a bunch of hypocrites!  If this was a private company’s CEO the unions would be screaming bloody murder.  I’m not saying some CEOs don’t live lavish life-styles, but they are involved in the business of making money, the unions are supposedly in the business of watching out for their members.  Add to the, shall we say robust executive compensation the fact that these union executives aggregate enormous political power and leverage over our political system through endorsements and donations, and I begin to start wondering who is working for whom.
In the old days, unions were the protectors of the worker and business owners and management were out to make as much money as possible, even at the expense of the workers.  However, we have come a long way from the days of sweatshop labor and railroad work gangs.  There is so much federal regulation at the workplace that companies need full time employees just to ensure compliance.  So tell me again why we need unions with bloated overheads and political activist leaders.  The article also points out that there have been grumblings from the rank and file but it has to be anonymous for fear of retribution.  Now that’s an organization looking out for the welfare of the little guy.  What a bunch of hogwash.  The union system in this country needs a complete overhaul if they want to stay relevant.  Ignore these grumblings and the growing tide of anti-union sentiment and one day the unions will go the way of the horse and buggy – a quaint “olde tyme” anachronism that when seen in today’s modern world makes us all smile and long for the good old days.

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