Final BART Agreement Passed by 80%

Now this is Union news I like to hear.  High approval, but acquiesce to the realities of the world.  Fact is, there is less money collected.  One can’t just go to the politicians and say, “hey, raise taxes so we can keep paying our employees”.  The only options are;  a: lay off a bunch of people and maintain pay at threat of reducing fare collection and possibly requiring MORE lay offs in the process or, b: decrease benefits and wages until a time when fares, collections, and other funding returns to their previous levels.

To me, this always seems like an inanely obvious solution, you go with the later.  Simple reason is you don’t want to can people, NOBODY does no matter what the general populations’ opinion of companies is.  Force reductions are at most, a temporary solution to anything in the economic activity of the world, and often times don’t work out in the long run for companies at all.  The most rewarded entities are often those that can keep their workforce, maintain its enthusiasm and moral until heavy workload resumes.

I commend those agencies and ESPECIALLY companies around the country & world that can do this.

So hats off to BART for pulling their act together.  Keep that ridership as high as possible, and don’t give anybody a reason to strike.  Let logic prevail and get the job done.

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20 Comments

  1. As I became more familiar with the facts surrounding this dispute it became apparent that there was definitely union related problems here that needed to be solved.

    I’ve always maintained, while unions are not perfect, they are absolutely necessary to keep the greed factor in check in terms of managers/administrators/owners.

    Reply

  2. I followed this story. It got REALLY ugly. Yea there were some crazy union rules, but basically they used media to create "class envy" between the citizens.

    "I don’t get paid that much why should they?"

    Shame, shame, shame.

    Americans, being such an ignorant culture, fell for it hook like and sinker.

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  3. Yeah, it was a mess, but usually negotiations get that way. Now I’m not going to go on about how much these people make versus these other people make. But I’ll add Americans have a VERY hypocritical stance toward people being paid X amount.

    When people are paid based on merit and value to society, a worker at McDonald’s gets about $4-10 bucks per hour. Often it could be argued they are sometimes worth even less than that depending on the location of the store and the demand. On the other hand a CEO (average, not the outliers who make zillions) makes about 20x that at around $200-$550k per year. At least, that is the general CEO price. However, the position of CEO has a direct impact to the bottom line, more risk, greater pay out, and is WORTH hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    However, who gets attacked day in and day out? CEOs.

    But then we flip th spectrum to the extreme opposite and we pay based on seniority and equality. What happens then? We end up with a vastly smaller pay gap and pay range. The pay scale goes from a few bucks and hour to maybe a dozen being average, the peak being closer to a couple dozen. But then people feel screwed because they’re not rewarded when they increase their value to society, increase their productivity, or other criteria.

    So we’re stuck with this somewhat hybrid approach of unions vs. non-unions, merit vs seniority, and other conflicts that really boil down to some annoying conflicts.

    At the end of the day I believe that the mixed work place is the only real solution, however it is far too skewed by the media and the extreme outliers. We actually have it really really good in this country and people have an even more skewed view of this reality because – primarily – of the media. Merit, demand, and seniority in that order of priority, should make up 100% of the pay decisions. Unfortunately people don’t realize that is how most companies determine pay.

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  4. Oh dear, I don’t know where to begin with your response, Adron.

    There’s a certain naievete in believing that "merit" is the best determinant of wages, or even whether "merit" exists. The use of quotes is deliberate.

    You do have the right idea when you say that such measurable factors as productivity, supply and demand of labor, and location have direct bearing on compensation. That doesn’t give any indication of what is a fair or correct wage.

    Comparing fast food workers to CEOs is a false dichotomy. The former is a large yet nonrepresentative snapshot of the broader economic picture. There are many other professions that beat fast food workers in wages because there is a degree of skill or credentialing that limits the pool of applicants.

    Fast food workers’ wages are low because they are deskilled jobs. Deskilled is a cousin of unskilled. An unskilled job is what requires a low level of training and competency to complete. A deskilled job is an unskilled job that is so specialized and yet so standardized that it cannot be used outside the conext of that job. Humans essentially do the work of robots. Economic advancement is going to be pretty bleak except for a raise in the minimum wage.

    Many large fast food chains adopted the McDonald’s model of food and service that is standardized in taste, consistency and presentation. Fast food is cooked in a central kitchen, frozen and shipped to franchises. The workers are just there to heat the food and put them in the packaging. Grills and fry baskets have timers precisely set to heat food to a predetermined formula. They don’t really cook the food, per se.

    Wages are going to be low because the skills in the job are embedded in machines and processes, not people. The uniforms are very easy to fill, and whatever job experience is gained cannot be ported to other careers. A McDonald’s worker, likely, cannot go off and start his or her own restaurant because they didn’t gain cooking ability. The burger patties come in brown, not pink, and the french fries have all been peeled, salted and cut. Also, managers have to only deal with a single source for suppliers and run operations according to practice, so management only exposes workers to the stress, not the mechanics, of effective operations management.

    This is bleak, yet a lot of workers are insulated from these pressures.

    Continued …

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  5. … Continued from above

    Defenders of executive pay, no matter how exorbitant, like to trot out Econ 101 answers and say it’s pretty much self-evident. Libertarians are the most egregious offenders.

    If libertarians see economics as the most evolved science, or perhaps the True Faith, they ought to turn their scorn on executives rather than unions for scientific or theological sacrilege.

    Executive is the most anti-libertarian job classification possible.

    For one thing, boards are prerequisites to incorporation. They are a necessity of operational function secondarily and for legal reasons primarily.

    What gives a corporation its authority? Legality. What gives legality its authority? The state, or an actual body that can enforce its will (punish you with police or courts).

    So first of all, a corporation could not become strong without a strong state to enforce laws and contracts or have a safe and honest environment in which to conduct business transactions.

    The government is not the enemy of the corporation, it’s the spouse. So these Reaganite and/or Randroid masters of the universe ought to recognize who brung ’em to the dance. Without a strong government, most corporations would be too feeble to function properly.

    The only real-world examples of a truly libertarian corporation, ones that are free in every sense of the word, are terrorist organizations, traffickers of illegal goods and pirates. Even western libertarians are squeamish to embrace these people as role models. And for good reason. Yet, these are the only ones truly capable of functioning in a true libertarian atmosphere.

    (Note: Terrorist groups are not bona fide libertarian as their ultimate aim is to produce a desired political outcome. However, they resort to the same methods as traffickers and pirates, who seek to produce a desired economic outcome but are otherwise apolitical.)

    Unlike corporations, these illicit groups are very agile and resilient and can operate fluidly if a hierarchy is disrupted. The drug trade didn’t collapse when Pablo Escobar was killed, for instance. Corporations, on the other hand, need a stable hierarchy in order to function.

    In this anti-libertarian hierarchy can an executive rise to the top. Most of the executives’ function and worth to the company is the privileges and recognition embedded in the title of CEO, CFO, etc.

    So in other words, the position is an expensive luxury brand whose value exceeds its true function.

    Now then, we could also see whether the journey to the top qualifies for the very expensive destination fee.

    How does one become an executive? Well, there’s no ladder, as every company is different. Executives have to make their own ladders. How do they do that? By asking for a boost.

    If there’s no clear path to the top of the hierarchy, there is a method typical to many large companies and the executives who run them.

    For many companies, becoming an executive or board member is akin to becoming accepted into an elite fraternal organization. They need to gain the confidence and trust of the people judging them (fellow executives and investors) and they need to have a desirable pedigree.

    What are some of the desired traits? For one, a degree from a highly selective institution of learning. Second, it helps to come from one of the fields of expertise that most other executives worked at during journey-level work: sales, legal or finance. These jobs provide the behavioral, intellectual and analytical experience, respectively, to know the deeper workings of the modern corporation. Third, you need to have friends in high places who can vouch for you. Investors and other executives are conservative in the sense that they seek stability and security. Trust is key to assuring both of those things. A known entity is preferable to an unknown entity, and a person who has more in common with his or her judges is seen as more trustworthy than another person with the same qualifications but some shoulder-chips that they try to correct once they gain power. (See the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings and why the biggest stir came from her "wise Latina" comment and not anything related to her jurisprudence — which we heard little about.)

    Reply

  6. … Continued from above

    Defenders of executive pay, no matter how exorbitant, like to trot out Econ 101 answers and say it’s pretty much self-evident. Libertarians are the most egregious offenders.

    If libertarians see economics as the most evolved science, or perhaps the True Faith, they ought to turn their scorn on executives rather than unions for scientific or theological sacrilege.

    Executive is the most anti-libertarian job classification possible.

    For one thing, boards are prerequisites to incorporation. They are a necessity of operational function secondarily and for legal reasons primarily.

    What gives a corporation its authority? Legality. What gives legality its authority? The state, or an actual body that can enforce its will (punish you with police or courts).

    So first of all, a corporation could not become strong without a strong state to enforce laws and contracts or have a safe and honest environment in which to conduct business transactions.

    The government is not the enemy of the corporation, it’s the spouse. So these Reaganite and/or Randroid masters of the universe ought to recognize who brung ’em to the dance. Without a strong government, most corporations would be too feeble to function properly.

    The only real-world examples of a truly libertarian corporation, ones that are free in every sense of the word, are terrorist organizations, traffickers of illegal goods and pirates. Even western libertarians are squeamish to embrace these people as role models. And for good reason. Yet, these are the only ones truly capable of functioning in a true libertarian atmosphere.

    (Note: Terrorist groups are not bona fide libertarian as their ultimate aim is to produce a desired political outcome. However, they resort to the same methods as traffickers and pirates, who seek to produce a desired economic outcome but are otherwise apolitical.)

    Unlike corporations, these illicit groups are very agile and resilient and can operate fluidly if a hierarchy is disrupted. The drug trade didn’t collapse when Pablo Escobar was killed, for instance. Corporations, on the other hand, need a stable hierarchy in order to function.

    In this anti-libertarian hierarchy can an executive rise to the top. Most of the executives’ function and worth to the company is the privileges and recognition embedded in the title of CEO, CFO, etc.

    So in other words, the position is an expensive luxury brand whose value exceeds its true function.

    Now then, we could also see whether the journey to the top qualifies for the very expensive destination fee.

    How does one become an executive? Well, there’s no ladder, as every company is different. Executives have to make their own ladders. How do they do that? By asking for a boost.

    If there’s no clear path to the top of the hierarchy, there is a method typical to many large companies and the executives who run them.

    For many companies, becoming an executive or board member is akin to becoming accepted into an elite fraternal organization. They need to gain the confidence and trust of the people judging them (fellow executives and investors) and they need to have a desirable pedigree.

    What are some of the desired traits? For one, a degree from a highly selective institution of learning. Second, it helps to come from one of the fields of expertise that most other executives worked at during journey-level work: sales, legal or finance. These jobs provide the behavioral, intellectual and analytical experience, respectively, to know the deeper workings of the modern corporation. Third, you need to have friends in high places who can vouch for you. Investors and other executives are conservative in the sense that they seek stability and security. Trust is key to assuring both of those things. A known entity is preferable to an unknown entity, and a person who has more in common with his or her judges is seen as more trustworthy than another person with the same qualifications but some shoulder-chips that they try to correct once they gain power. (See the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings and why the biggest stir came from her "wise Latina" comment and not anything related to her jurisprudence — which we heard little about.)

    What does it say to society when the most important functions of our economy are entrusted to a class of people who primarily choose people who are very much like themselves and deem them competent?

    Nothing has to be said. The results are all around us.

    Workers, investors, students, children, everyone. We’re all hurting.

    Reply

  7. If we took all of the executive pay in the United States, and handed it over to the "workers", we’d still be making about what we make now with almost zero change.

    Chasing after the executives without fixing the system that is broken (monetary system, regulatory practices, legislative issues, etc, is absolutely 100% non-functional. We can tax em’, chase em’, hell some of the craies out there could noose em’ up, we still end up with the absolutely astronomical issue of NOTHING changing – except for the executive. If anything salaries may depreciate, dollars would, etc. Yank all of em’ out, equalize workers, etc., etc…

    In the end, people noose up the execs, they screw us all in the process. There are honest corporations, and punishing the many because of the few isn’t right. Making a case against them because of the outliers won’t do anyone any good…

    …and I’ll have to read the rest of your rant later. Got work to do, based on MERIT, which allowed me to attain my position.

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  8. [i]If we took all of the executive pay in the United States, and handed it over to the "workers", we’d still be making about what we make now with almost zero change.[/i]

    But we [b]did[/b] do that, and it also turned out to be a disaster. I am talking about the credit card bubble and the housing bubble.

    It wasn’t just the irresponsible financial sector giving out money to people with bad prospects. It was also the consumers who were financially illerate and socially conditioned to be that way.

    Think about what the credit card bubble and the housing bubble were on the consumer side of things. Consumers thought of credit cards and home equity as supplemental income. And they aren’t entirely to blame.

    The U.S. standard of living has been in decline since the time JFK was assassinated. You had an overhanging crisis of financing the fruitless Vietnam war, inflation and economic stagnation while the government enacted civil rights laws that consequently attracted many more workers into the labor force. This crises took about a generation to resolve. After the early 1980s recession, the U.S.’s economic growth had become dependent on bubble creation rather than slow secular, diversified growth.

    You had Finance Bubble I under Reagan and Bush, and it burst as Bill Clinton took office. You then had the Technology Bubble under Clinton’s time, which burst just as Bush II became titular leader. Bush became the beneficiary of Finance Bubble II, but unlike under Reagan and Bush I, most of the fire breaks had been removed leading to much bigger gains but more economic wreckage when the bubble burst. And it did.

    This is the ticking time bomb of the economic condition. It goes beyond looting the executives.

    This doesn’t give the executive class a free pass, though. You’re right that the problem stretches to the monetary system and regulatory practices, but saying that we’ll just have to live and let live is like a defense attorney pleading to the jury to acquit his client for killing his wife because the worst dictators of the 20th century killed millions of people.

    The executive class grew their pay and compensation orders of magnitude beyond inflation, the real value of goods and services exchanged, the cost of living, the cost of health care, the cost of energy and the costs of government combined — with money left over to balance the budget.

    Real wages and purchasing power have gone in the other direction for what is going on 50 years now.

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  9. "But we did do that, and it also turned out to be a disaster. I am talking about the credit card bubble and the housing bubble."

    So whatever the argument, my case in point is, we don’t need to attack the individuals who make up our executive class in America. The system may need fixed, but we don’t need to berate, assault, squander, push away, discourage, or otherwise attack people who are executives in this nation. The overwhelming weight of the world is often felt on their shoulders and people act like they’re just some overpaid monkey. There aren’t exactly a plethora of candidates waiting to fill their shoes (there are some, but not a lot, nor many competent).

    But please don’t get me wrong. "This doesn’t give the executive class a free pass, though. You’re right that the problem stretches to the monetary system and regulatory practices, but saying that we’ll just have to live and let live is like a defense attorney pleading to the jury to acquit his client for killing his wife because the worst dictators of the 20th century killed millions of people. "

    …I absolutely don’t think they need a free pass. If they commit a crime throw em’ in lock up. Nail em’ up. I’m also their harshest critique, but I absolutely cannot wrong an executive for trying to increase his/her net value. Especially the net value of their company or the market for their company. These are the things they’re often under attack for and it is specifically their JOB to do!

    …and as you point out, the monetary policy is broken, the monetary system is more broken, and real wages and purchasing power HAVE been going down dramatically for at least a few dozen, if not 50+ years or so. 🙂

    …it is a sad sad state for us Americans to be in, and most have no clue it is happening.

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  10. [i]The overwhelming weight of the world is often felt on their shoulders and people act like they’re just some overpaid monkey.[/i]

    Cry me a river.

    The problem is far worse than what they are paid. The problem goes to executives’ incomes rising by orders of magnitude well beyond any sort of cost metric, while executives as a class had the agency to enrich themselves by taking ever larger shares of productive workers’ incomes for their own gain or prerogatives. I used the word agency because I undercut the argument that some divine supernatural force caused wages to fall, but it was the direct and empirical involvement of humans that caused the outcome.

    [i]There aren’t exactly a plethora of candidates waiting to fill their shoes (there are some, but not a lot, nor many competent).[/i]

    On the contrary, there are. Just as there are billions of dogs on this planet, only a few dozen can be best in breed and only one can be best in show.

    The process works in a similar way. It largely boils down to pedigree.

    There are many exceptions to this rule, as many companies still cultivate talent from within and offer an executive stepladder. This isn’t the norm, though.

    [i]I’m also their harshest critique, but I absolutely cannot wrong an executive for trying to increase his/her net value.[/i]

    But when a union does the exact same thing … ?

    I also have harsh criticisms of unions, but I believe in fair play. Everyone has a right to pursue and exercise their economic self-interest within limits of law and morality. What morality? A universally accepted principle, both religious and secular, of treating others the way you would be treated.

    I do draw the line at one point.

    The difference between a worker and executive is that the worker actually produces a tangible good or service. An executive’s wisdom and authority comes from formality and perception.

    The modern executive has regressed to the landed gentry in feudalism. Their wealth lies in rent produced for them. They aren’t producers in and of themselves. They treat producers as the bounty that nourishes them.

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  11. Ok, I’m lost now Wad.

    I haven’t had time to follow every argument so I’m going back to the original banter I commented in regards to and ask you…

    – Are you against mixing merit, seniority, and other characteristics of an employee to pay them?
    – Are you against merit being used as a measure? Pro Seniority?
    – What exactly do you suggest be done about this <1% of people that earn these lavish incomes as CEOs, CTOs, CFOs, or otherwise? Whatever your feeling is toward these individuals, how do you think they should be managed?

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  12. [i]- Are you against mixing merit, seniority, and other characteristics of an employee to pay them?[/i]

    Not at all, though I quibble with the use of "merit."

    I’m not opposed to merit pay per se, but if it is to reward high achievers, merit must first of all be defined, and if workers must compete for them, it would be best to:
    1. Let workers, not managers, determine the metric for merit. Managers would referee the process and ensure the workers are meeting the target and not contaminating the results.
    2. Define merit in a quantifiable outcome, rather than an abstraction. This is so the results don’t lead to disputes among workers.
    3. Not let the outcome be dependent outside of the workers’ control. For instance, positive or negative customer satisfaction responses don’t really give an indication either way as to how well a worker is performing. Ideally, complaints should be held at zero. Then again, customers are more likely to report negative experiences than positive ones. So even if a worker is doing a stellar job, many customers won’t respond to note it.

    I’m not positing unreasonable conditions here. I just don’t expect to see these implemented in any workplace. No. 1 won’t happen because managers as a class feel such a process undermines their value to the company: supervision. No. 2 and No. 3 don’t happen because most merit pay is structured to favor the company and not the workers. Like in Vegas, the house always wins. But there has to be a plausible chance that the workers can get the pay, too.

    [i]Are you against merit being used as a measure? Pro Seniority?[/i]

    I have a bias toward seniority, yes. Disclosure: I had been a union shop steward at my job, and I have respect to the seniority system.

    I am very aware of the criticisms of seniority. Yes, senior workers cost the company more in pay and benefits. There’s also a growing body of work that shows some, but not all, high-seniority workers tend to be set in their ways and have more of a clock-punching mentality as they better understand the company.

    Yet, there’s no denying the experience that can only be had with experience. Unlike in sports, most professional workers do not arc in their performance that deteriorates in their later years. These experienced workers also mentor younger workers and serve as leaders and advisers. These tangible and intangible qualities make up for the higher pay.

    I wouldn’t object to merit being used to pay workers, but it works only if the results are transparent, measurable and the workers have a stake in the outcome.

    I can’t tell you how many offices make merit pay a process where you petition your supervisor for a pay increase then have to justify your worth. First off, supplication is degrading. Second, your merit is determined in the mind of your manager. Third, the point is for managers to keep the costs down and deny you the raise, not to give it. Fourth, the meetings are usually documented, and these documents can be used against you if you bring charges against the firm.

    One colleague described this scenario as "kiss ass pay," since the process gave managers too many opportunities to play favorites.

    [i]- What exactly do you suggest be done about this <1% of people that earn these lavish incomes as CEOs, CTOs, CFOs, or otherwise? Whatever your feeling is toward these individuals, how do you think they should be managed?[/i]

    We cannot do away with executives just as we cannot do away with the corporation. Corporations have done many despicable things, but despite U.S. law treating them as persons, corporations have no sentience. They are a reflection of the collective ambitions of their executives, shareholders and workers.

    The economic system should be built in with incentives to keep economic growth tied to economic value.

    The take-home pay of executives is pretty small in relation to things like bonuses, stock options, or in-kind perks that the corporation springs for.

    Each of these actions carry incentives and subsequent consequences. This is what built the last "boom" of the past 25 years, and this is what led to the crisis in capitalism we are seeing right now.

    In 2008-09, we saw the economy contract enough to wipe out the whole decade’s economic gains. Since these effects are compounded, and if we regard 1964-1984 as America’s "lost decade", if the recession continues through President Obama’s term, you can reasonably assume that his presidency would be marked by an economic crisis that wiped out nearly 50 years of gains!

    To correct this, the incentives have to be changed. Re-emphasize taxes on rents while lowering them on productive activities. Move to a Georgist tax on land (though not 100% as Henry George advocated), convert a capital gains tax to a securities transaction tax (what your broker does right now) that’s paid up or down, exempt regionally produced goods from sales tax, etc.

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  13. Aha, I see your bias now. I don’t agree with it, as most of the unproductive in the software industry end up being the senior, union represented people working in Government (they often pay 2-68x as much as most private projects). So thus, that is where most of my bias comes from. Albeit I will admit the highly experienced (i.e. senior) developers that work contract/consulting are easily 10x more productive than the senior, tied to their ways, Union Software Developer…

    …of course, my sample set is small as there are NOT many Union Software Developers out there at all. Most software developers wouldn’t be caught dead undermining their incomes that way.

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  14. [i]I don’t agree with it, as most of the unproductive in the software industry end up being the senior, union represented people working in Government (they often pay 2-68x as much as most private projects).[/i]

    I could think of another motivation for why the "weakest of the herd" in your eyes, wants to leave for government. It isn’t the pay so much as a stable work environment.

    Granted my sample may be smaller than yours, but I do hear that a lot of programming-oriented jobs in the private sector are contract or permatemp. At least they are in California. It has some of its advantages, as it allows you to travel as well as learn new languages when there’s some downtime. Younger workers like this, but it becomes less appealing when you want to put down roots somewhere or you want to start a family.

    Also, most government IT sector jobs are for technical support. What few programming jobs there are in government are usually database maintenance — typically Oracle — or server architecture. Most government software purchased is built and maintained by the private sector, by workers on contract. In that case, they are not covered under the municipal bargaining agreement. Plus, contract workers [b]cannot collectively bargain by law[/b]. The contract serves in place of a bargaining agreement.

    Granted, these are well-paying jobs under any circumstances, but sometimes there are people who tire of the "code hobo" lifestyle.

    [i]Most software developers wouldn’t be caught dead undermining their incomes that way.[/i]

    That’s because they wouldn’t be allowed to in the first place. The software industry insulated itself from collective bargaining through the use of contract workers. Essentially, the worker is his or her own bargaining unit.

    Workers couldn’t unionize if they wanted to. They can form guilds, though. They work the same way as a labor organization and are seen in the eyes of the law as such, but they differ in the other forms of organization such as trades and shops.

    Shop unions are what governments and private businesses have. This works when there’s a single manager and there’s a steady supply of work.

    Trades and guilds are where workers have to deal with many sources of employment but cannot be guaranteed work. Trades are mostly in construction, and guilds mostly deal with technical and artisan jobs. That’s how they are similar. They are different in that trades have a standard, generally accepted level of training whereas guilds have a skill that can’t be standardized.

    Guilds are better in situations where workers bargain collectively mainly around work standards rather than pay. Modern guilds include the entertainment industry unions and the professional sports players’ associations.

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  15. "Granted my sample may be smaller than yours, but I do hear that a lot of programming-oriented jobs in the private sector are contract or permatemp."

    This is true. The programming oriented job is absolutely the worst occupation a "put down roots, white picket fence, two cars, two kids, a house, a dog, a wife wanting" individual should have. Those people quickly become bottlenecks and choke points in the software industry. They often get behind the curve if they’re not ready and willing to keep up with it themselves. Not that one can’t have the above mentioned things, but more than 99.9% of humanity can NOT deal with that type of lifestyle and be good at software development.

    "Essentially, the worker is his or her own bargaining unit."

    Right, and because of demand, and market dynamics that makes software developers far more valuable than any "group bargaining" ticket. Good software developers can almost demand anything, but those that aren’t good can’t and must prove themselves. With a union in place the weak developers would probably get more chances but we’d end up cutting the good ones off at the knees.

    …effectively killing the industry in the US. Europe has done it, Japan seems to be trying, and a few other areas have effectively derailed any growth of the industry.

    As for not being allowed to unionize, FTEs (full time employees) of which there are tons of them here in pro-union Portland, are absolutely NOT into unionization. From an idealogical or reality perspective, the vast majority of software developers do not want to give up the level of individual control to allow a union to represent them. I’ve held panels and open discussions on this, so yeah, I do honestly know. I’m not making that up. As far as the union movements of the US are concerned, the workers of the software industry are NOT fans of unionization.

    "entertainment industry unions and the professional sports players’ associations" two prime examples of groups that shouldn’t be allowed to unionize. Bad work conditions my ass. You got on me about saying CEOs are overpaid, those two occupations are overpaid and provide even less value to society than a mere CEO of even the smallest company.

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  16. [i]"entertainment industry unions and the professional sports players’ associations" two prime examples of groups that shouldn’t be allowed to unionize. Bad work conditions my ass.[/i]

    People don’t realize why these groups formed a union in the first place, because we don’t see it anymore.

    The impetus for unionization was to abolish the contract system. The workers at the time saw it as a form of bondage. They sought to gain greater input in the terms of their work. They also rightly saw the value of their intellectual and athletic property (royalties and licensing), since they realized their employers can exploit their past work in perpetuity.

    [i]You got on me about saying CEOs are overpaid, those two occupations are overpaid and provide even less value to society than a mere CEO of even the smallest company.[/i]

    Really?

    A collective bargaining agreement is a contract between both sides. Labor and management must come to agreement on terms, just like any business contract.

    If labor feels they got shafted on a contract, they could sack their leadership or decertify the union and hope for better terms. If management feels they are strong-armed, they have the right to lock out workers and hire scabs.

    If management feels it is overpaying their workers, there’s always the bankruptcy option. Bankruptcy law trumps CBAs. However, fiduciary law trumps bankruptcy law. Managers cannot deliberately bankrupt an operation to shirk on any contracts.

    As for entertainers and athletes, they are "overpaid" because they happened to ride the wave of a favorable market environment. Entertainment and professional sports are highly patronized by the public. Receipts will prove that.

    In this case, entertainers and athletes are multimillionaires because they actually produced something of value: spectator entertainment. The guild union system worked for them because each participant realized they brought unique qualities that offer no substitute.

    The public can identify with a marquee star or an athlete. If the Chicago Bulls felt Michael Jordan was overpaid, why didn’t they feel it was worth the risk to release him and fill the void with lesser paid players?

    Because fans could see that it was Jordan who they paid to see, not some player filling the Bulls No. 23 jersey. Also, the coaches and teammates know that Jordan fills a singular role and is a critical part of the team.

    Most importantly, Jordan produced. The stats are everywhere. The only thing left to argue about is whether he was the greatest NBA player in history.

    Michael Jordan would have been great with or without a union. He was still a part of it, as are many great players. Yet the culture in team sports, and entertainment, is a fraternal one. Both are industries where the more prominent and less prominent participants recognize one another’s importance and see it in their interest to cooperate.

    Not every industry is like this.

    And, going back to who is overpaid more, executives vs. athletes/entertainers — the latter are enjoying the fruits of their labor, and had the benefit of defending their economic self-interest.

    Executives are a class created by incorporation. (I am focusing on corporate executives per se, and less so on sole proprietors and/or partnerships.) They have enriched themselves mostly through rents, not of actual productive endeavors or of their own financial risk. They have mostly enriched themselves by being on the right side of moral hazard and the principal/agent problem … until last year, of course. 🙂

    Reply

  17. "I am focusing on corporate executives per se, and less so on sole proprietors and/or partnerships."

    ? Why discriminate? Especially when who you speak of are probably more the outliers than the main population of this exec class?

    Anyway, this is a circling argument, I don’t like how unions operate, you don’t like execs and the way they operate. I’m just going to leave it at that.

    …unfortunately we’re both getting our ways. Unions aren’t exactly gaining friends and execs aren’t either. They’re both as "entities" in society continually doing a disservice to themselves by their very behavior and reason of existence.

    Reply

  18. You’re right, this is carrying on way too long. I just have one more answer to your question:

    [i]Why discriminate? Especially when who you speak of are probably more the outliers than the main population of this exec class?[/i]

    The structure of the businesses are very different. Sole proprietors and partners have more of their own skins in the game and liabilities are unlimited.

    The incentives and the uses of capital are different. Corporate executives, unlike proprietors, have limited liability.

    Reply

  19. I’ll admit, I despise corporatism as much as I dislike the necessity for Unions. In my perfect world people would drive their lives by their own individualistic self determination. But I understand, that with most ideal cases, it is a pipe dream at best.

    …got a good write up of Portland’s new Green Line coming… should be up by end of day. Better topic than a bunch of union banter. 🙂

    Reply

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