“Good Union Jobs”

Biden, and other Democrats, like to talk about “good union jobs.”  Unsurprising–what is a little surprising is how many conservative commentators have picked up on the same phraseology: for example, when talking about the impact of Biden’s pipeline shutdown, I’ve hear them talking about “union jobs lost” rather than just about “jobs lost.”

I’m not opposed to unions (private-sector unions, that is), they can serve a useful purpose. But they do add a certain rigidity to business operations and to compensation and promotion decisions. They are not for everyone, and there are a lot of people who have excellent jobs that have nothing to do with unions.

Democrats like to talk about unions, I think, partly for reasons of nostalgia but primarily due to the inherently collectivist worldview of the Dems: they would rather think in terms of categories of people than of actual individuals. The old feudal idea of “no man without a master” resonates with them, I think, although they would phrase it differently. And, of course, they view unions as excellent sources of campaign funding.

Conservatives/republicans mindlessly echoing this phraseology and implicitly the worldview that underlies it.

11 thoughts on ““Good Union Jobs””

  1. With the history of unions with respect to minority workers, shouldn’t “good union jobs” be cancelled for being “racist” ?

  2. Not clear what theory gives the feds the power to ban right to work, but the Dems and the courts don’t recognize any limits on their power so that probably won’t stop them.

    The fact is that the word “union” still has a lot of power to call to mind a time when American cities and towns weren’t apocalyptic wastelands, so I won’t hold the rhetoric against the GOP. It’s far from their most egregious sin…

  3. There have also been some attempts to interfere with secret-ballot requirements in union elections; obviously becomes even more harmful when union political power is strengthened.

  4. Private sector unions are dead anyway. They’re not a major part of the current Dem coalition. The public sector unions, on the other hand…the GOP needs to aim to completely obliterate them…

  5. I think Democrats like unions because unions give them lots of money. It doesn’t need a lot more analysis.

  6. To be more charitable to Republicans, I think their use of the phrase is meant to harken back to the days of the ‘Regan Democrats’, to signal the increasingly blue collar orientation of the GOP, and to highlight the disconnect between the support given largely by union leadership to the Democrats and the actual policies implemented by Democrats such as killing the Dakota Access Pipeline.

  7. Brian,

    I imagine that Biden et al intend to *revive* private-sector unions via ‘public-private partnerships’. Want to get subsidies for your battery plant?…better have a union. Want to get financial help sending your kid to pre-school?…need to have a day-care workers’ union in the place to qualify…a day-care workers’ union as woke as, and ultimately as powerful as, the NEA.

  8. David: I think they’re too late to try to use government funding to force private sector re-unionization–the federal government is completely broke and disaster is coming within the next few years.
    As for day care, they’re already in the process of folding that into schools–because schools are run so well and are so effective at their current mission, right?–so that they will all be part of teacher’s unions. My wife is on the board of the daycare we sent our kids to, and they will almost certainly go out of business in a few years. They can’t keep workers around–they can’t compete with the in-school pre-school programs for benefits, and like every other business that pays minimum wage they can’t find workers due to the government unemployment programs. (And of course if they “just paid their workers better” they’d have to increase fees and would lose most of the parents.)

  9. When I worked as an engineer for Bechtel, the huge international construction company, we loved construction unions for our big domestic mega-projects.

    We knew we could order competent craftsmen, well-trained and reasonably disciplined, from the union and they would deliver. They acted as labor contractors for us.

    It was a mutually beneficial business partnership. Plus, the union guys would turn out and vote for the politicians funding useful infrastructure projects that Bechtel could competitively bid on and then deliver.

    But public sector unions are a blight on the Republic and need to be banned. There’s no competition for government.

  10. Unions, as implemented in the US? Legal organized crime.

    We’ve a cultural inability to avoid the vices of crime in our institutions. Why? No idea, but the fact is readily apparent. You simply do not have the underlying social customs or mores to enable effective and efficient governance of such institutions–They all eventually fall prey to the vice of criminality, mostly because the people who enter them and who wind up elevated to the leadership are inherently criminal in mindset and habit.

    In Europe, there’s often a different mentality, one which enables honest government and effective unions. For the Germans, a job in the bureaucracy is seen as a socially respectable thing, something to strive for. As such, it attracts a different sort of person than the grifters we have here in the US. It’s similar to the attitude that the classic Germanic/Prussian Army had towards its NCOs–Such men were highly respected, and went on to minor jobs in the government by design. They were respected members of society. Here in the US, and in the UK? They were denigrated and despised–Which became a self-fulfilling prophecy, in terms of the men who made careers in those jobs. You wonder where the low-level efficiency and initiative came from, in the supposedly “authoritarian Prussian” military…? Yeah; right there: Respect, actual demonstrated respect, by society as a whole, for what those men did. NCO in the Prussian system was something to be aspired to; here in the US, it was seen as a sign of social failure, a position held by losers. We still have a lot of these prejudices, to this day–Anyone who was a commissioned officer? Automatic acknowledgement of status; anyone who was “merely enlisted”? You have to explain to people what that means, when it comes to the career rankers.

    Because of this, America doesn’t do administration worth crap. We’re a culture of entrepreneurs, millionaires awaiting their luck to hit. We don’t do the guild system of operation with unions; in Germany, if you’re a union member and your peers catch you stealing from the company? You’re screwed; likely to be blackballed from your entire industry. Your peers will rightly see you as a threat to their livelihood, and will eliminate you from your job, permanently. Here in the US? You steal from your company, and you’re a hero; Robin Hood, the guy to emulate. Instead of your union looking out for the company and the employee, it’s there to enable your thefts, and to ensure you get to keep right on stealing. In Germany, you don’t need to worry about the company ending your career, but the guy on your left and right, who is not only going to be pissed when you do things against the company’s interest, but who will outright throw you under the bus as a non-performer. There is very little to no “craftsman’s instinct” in the US unionized labor force–I’ve worked with former “union-trained” carpenters and other tradesmen, and they’re universally a bunch of lazy-ass featherbedders who can’t make it on jobs where it’s not prevailing wage, and they get to laze their days away with zero concern for what it costs to do the job. Outside government contracts, there are reasons why most construction is non-union in the regions where it’s allowed; you simply cannot compete with a unionized labor force where it isn’t mandated. Which is why the unions seek, like all organized crime, to have their existence mandated and demand that they be “respected”. They’re criminals, all of them. By instinct and act…

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