Thursday, February 24, 2011

Unions May Be Dumb

But Management is Dumber.

Now, knowing a little bit about Unions in the US and union organizing, it's my feeling that if you're against collective bargaining you're seriously a sad sack of kitten meat.
What's the matter? You can't handle collective bargaining? Why not? Did your mommy tell you not to collectively bargain?
As an employer, I recognize that you're just an idiot.
Look, I'll be more than happy to complain about unions. No, I don't think unions should be automatically certified based on a card-count rather than an election. Go ahead and elect the union to be your bargaining agent in a secret ballot. If you're a union organizer and you can't win an election then you're just a panty-waist.
And if you're an employer and you can't sit down with a union rep to negotiate a contract then you're some freeze-dried pussy whip too.
So why shouldn't public employees be granted collective bargaining? Answer: because you're stupid. And incompetent.

A few years ago when the MTA workers went on strike I thought it was unquestionably dumb of them. They had in their previous agreement insisted on getting binding arbitration in their agreement. That, on the face of it, is more than fair. But for whatever bing-bong reason they decided they would strike the next time contract negotiations came up rather than using the binding arbitrator. What's up with that? That's just a union being dumb. Go ahead and show me the numbers but I can't imagine that the members of that union have made the money back that they spent striking for... nothing.

Employers are perfectly willing and able to force strikes where they're completely without merit too. Just look at the Broadway Producers' League and the silly givebacks they tried to get from the IATSE a few years ago. To what end did they let their theaters be closed for (I don't remember exactly and I'm too lazy to look it up) two weeks? So that some poor schlub who mops the floors between the matinĂ©e and evening shows gets overtime for working through dinner? What is that? The cost of one ticket per night? Half a ticket? Gimme a break.

If you want me to complain about a union I will. But I assure you with 100% accuracy that if a trade union is being cranky it's ultimately the fault of bad Management. Let's go back to the MTA. The workers hate their management. Why? Because the management of the MTA is just silly. And they act like dicks to their workers. So then the employees in the bargaining unit get all pissy -- and end up striking over malarkey.

There. I'm glad I got that off my chest.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Shut Down the State

So, you know me, I'm not one to get all rally-y and hue-and-cry-y. But I have to say, denying public workers the right to collectively bargain is a pretty big deal.
Note that the right to be a member of a union isn't being questioned -- that would be completely unconstitutional and even the most right-wing moron on the Supreme Court wouldn't let a law like that stand.
Collective Bargaining Bunny
But being able to "freely assemble" and having the right to collectively bargain ain't the same thing. You can join a union, but the union can't (legally) do anything. Here's a (sometimes poorly worded) list of all the states and their position on collective bargaining. Only a handful of states do not allow collective bargaining. You'll note that those states do not exactly have the most stellar schools.
The right to join a union and collectively bargain is a matter of Federal law -- specifically the National Labor Relations Act of 1948 1935. But the NLRA specifically does not cover government workers (or railroad workers or Postal workers although now Postal workers are in a weird nebulous legal zone between working for the Government or a private company.)
Note that Section 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, in part:
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
So basically when they're taking away rights--rights that we, as signers of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, have held up as fundamental rights for all people--you gotta set back and say "Wait a minute. We need to actually do something about this."
I say, shut the State of Wisconsin right on down. Shut it down.
That's just the anarchist in me, don't listen to her him.
But really, shut it down.
And police and firemen of Wisconsin? You guys know you're next.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I'm So Glad Hillary Clinton Isn't President

Remembering the fiasco of the Iranian revolution under Carter, my feeling is that the American response to the streets of Cairo could have been very bad.

And I think (as I pointed out in an earlier post) that Obama has been pretty forthright in our support of the burgeoning democracy in Egypt (which is, right now, actually a military dictatorship but er, hopefully that's just a technicality.)

From the New York Times:
With restive crowds of young Egyptians demanding President Hosni Mubarak’s immediate resignation, Frank G. Wisner, Mr. Obama’s envoy to Cairo, had just told a Munich conference that Mr. Mubarak was indispensable to Egypt’s democratic transition.
Mr. Obama was furious, and it did not help that his secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mr. Wisner’s key backer, was publicly warning that any credible transition would take time — even as Mr. Obama was demanding that change in Egypt begin right away.
If that's true, I'm glad Mr. Obama was furious. He should be. We don't need idiots like Dick Cheney mumbling about how Mubarak has been such a good friend to the United States. And we don't need Hillary Clinton trying to maintain the status quo in the Middle East. Which is something she has had a dangerous tendency to do.

The Neo-Con dream of foisting democracy
1. cheaply, and
2. at the end of a gun,
3. as long as the ideology of the government is appropriate,

just doesn't work. You can only pick two of those things. Sometimes you don't even get two of them. Germany and Japan were certainly forced democracies. Marching our armies into their countries was incredibly expensive. We're still occupying those countries. And actually, they have been allowed some freedom in selecting their own governments. Even MacArthur allowed the Japanese to select a Socialist cabinet (albeit for only a year.)

Velvet revolutions are perhaps rare. But soldiers can, and have, stuck flowers in their guns. And when they do, dear Lord, don't do anything to stop them.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Ninny State

Or: All About Me
So the New York City Council just voted to ban smoking in parks and public beaches.
We've had a small slew of nanny-state laws over the last several years.
The cleaning up of Times Square: I don't really go to Times Square. Actually, I actively avoid it. I'd probably go there if there were more hookers and drugs available there. Result: doesn't affect me.
The ban on trans fats: I went into a bakery where the guy behind the counter was complaining that he was going to have to change all his recipes. All I could think of was "I think that you changing all your recipes is a good thing." I mostly went to that bakery for its free ATM. Result: doesn't affect me.
The ban on smoking in parks: I don't smoke. You'd think I wouldn't care. But I've never been bothered by someone smoking at a public park. The smell of dog poo at the dog run? Holy cow, yes. That's bothered me. I usually hold my breath while walking by the one in Washington Square Park. I'm more bothered by those freaking "gauntlets" of smokers huddling outside the front entrances of buildings. But I think we banned those too. Result: doesn't affect me.
Forcing Chain Restaurants to List the Calories of their Menu Items: Okay, you got me. This has dissuaded me from buying a lot of doughnuts. As it's a New York City law, and not a New Jersey law, it's made me buy my doughnuts in Jersey City. But in New York City I just stay away from the fast food chains. I'm sure that Trois Pommes has done less good for my weight than Tim Horton ever will.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Whoa, He's Serious

So today President Obama gave a little speech about Egypt. One thing I like about Obama is that he has the capacity to not mess this up. The sticky thing that he and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have to deal with is that the US can't be seen as manipulating the politics of Egypt, and can't be seen as shoring up the present Egyptian regime.
And boy, in this speech Obama sure does not throw in his support for Mubarak.
Diplomatically this is a delicate balance. Because you can never be too sure who is going to come into power. But between Obama and Clinton, like I said, the capacity to not mess this up is there.

UPDATE: Ooh. It looks like HRC did have the capacity to mess things up. Luckily for a democratic Egypt, Barry was there to swat down some old-time thinking.