489 Comments

Barry, you can do better than this.

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I'm sure the steel workers, textile workers, furniture makers, large bunches of the automakers, coal miners, et al, wish the teamsters, fast food workers, and the 130 or so NFL running backs well. I'm sure in 40 years we'll be wondering what happened to the latter as we wonder today what happened to the former.

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This is a ridiculous case for unionization. NFL players make a ton of money as paid gladiators who train and vie to enter the arena to perform their skills. They are not forced in any way to be running backs. And they are born with physical attributes that makes their aspiration to play professional football possible, unlike the vast majority of the population who rightfully admires the athleticism they portray. How many of us would like to bask in the light of admiration the public shiines on them, receive the scholarships, endorsement contracts, and access to lifelong income from investing their big salaries? Personally, I would have loved to play major league baseball, but totally lacked the skills. I would have done it for free! But then, someone would tell me that the next guy in the batting order was making more than me, and my natural instinct would be to demand equal treatment, and so it goes. In my opinion, the ability to play at that level is a gift to the athlete. And they are trying to monetize it to ridiculous heights.

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Interesting that the author believes that this phenomena is occurring because of the higher morality of young people. Don’t kid yourself, it is ALL about the Benjamins! We have reached a critical juncture where it has become unaffordable to live in most areas of this country. The younger people are just astute enough to realize this. $65 fast food??? Have you lost your mind? Fast food workers should strike and shut that lousy industry down. Quality food and a fairly compensated workforce will survive. The rest can fail and go straight to hell.

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Pretty much a union labor propaganda piece. Sorry if I don’t feel bad for running backs who make 5 million and think they’re worth 6 million. Or the barista or bag boy with no special skill thinking they deserve $100k.

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I do feel sorry for someone, who after a free college education, only made 13 million dollars in four years at his first real job. Playing a game no less.

Bring on ESG in sports and let’s have some walk on 150 pound sluggish running backs on the field.

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So true, the staffers run the government.

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It was a good article until I saw this: "they are, in fact, doing little more than giving voice to the aspirations of America—making the modern workplace less hospitable to sexual harassment, more meritocratic, more respectful of our differences"

What??? The workplace has NEVER been less hospitable to sexual harassment, the American society has NEVER been more meritocratic than the one they grew up in (and unions are some of the least meritocratic institutions around, by their very design), and the younger generation is the LEAST "respectful of our differences" (see this survey of 55 thousand college students: nearly two thirds believe it is "always, sometimes, or rarely acceptable to shout down a speaker to prevent them from speaking on campus" https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/college.pulse/viz/2024CollegeFreeSpeechRankings/2024CollegeFreeSpeechRankings?publish=yes )

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Unfortunately, private-sector unionization is a very mid-20th century response very obsolete in the 21st century. It might work in a few pockets; don't expect to sweep the economy or lead to anything like a revival of New Deal America circa 1950.

We live in a world of highly leveraged, footloose corporations light in physical assets. There's no way unionization can change this. We need to go back to the Progressive Era, not the New Deal, for the right model -- that is, changes in politics and law that reshape corporate structures and practices. For example, an end to the era of ultralow interest rates, therefore leading to an end of the parasitic cottage industries of share buybacks and private equity. Other changes in law that end the bias toward debt. Better trade deals with developing countries and an end to illegal immigration.

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Your presentation is very convincing. Can remember back to Walter Reuther and other such dinosaurs. Enough that was turned off to unions for decades. Healthcare, and a number of other goals had long been reached, and it was never enough.

The goals you posit are worth the attaining, preferably in a non-politically correct workplace.

If that can be done, removing stereotypes, harassment, making sure labor gets a fair share, but that business still has enough to innovate, do research, improvise and adjust as market conditions necessitate, would support such a goal for the unions.

Unfortunately, the Teachers Unions, still seem to decry giving unions to much of a free reign.

Yet, without some change, on both sides, no progress is possible. You've convinced me to be open to such a change, though will retain my skepticism of its ultimate results for the economy, both large and small.

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Sep 9, 2023·edited Sep 10, 2023

I’m confused why the commenters on here think it’s right and proper for life to suck for some workers. Why would you not want people to make a living wage? Have healthcare, etc? Don’t you want that for yourself? For your loved ones? If someone works a full-time job, shouldn’t they at least be able to feed their families, pay rent, and maybe even save a little or have a vacation? Is that asking so much?

But this would break the economy, you say. How? A single-income, working-class family in the 50’s and 60’s could afford to buy a home, a new car, save for retirement, take vacations, etc. Our economy was fine. It was great. Unions were strong. In the 1950’s the average CEO made 20 times the average employee. Today that number is 400 times. How is this good for the economy? Is drastic inequality necessary for a strong economy? Obviously not. Why shouldn’t the worker get a bit more of the profits like they used to? Who’s going to force wealthy companies to share the windfall? Unions. There’s no other way except government interference which I *know* you don’t like.

In any case, it’s strange and sad to me that y’all seem to accept life should just be hard for some people. Dream big!

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That is a mischaracterization. Nobody that I've read thinks "it is right and proper for life to suck for some workers." I just do not think unionization is a fix for economic failures. Nor do I think government fixes of expanding programs are a fix. As for the 1950s and 1960s it was literally a different economic world. The US dollar was backed by gold so was not a true fiat currency as it is now. And the US government had balanced budgets. We have been off the gold standard since Nixon and have not had a balanced budget since 1992. The national debt has increased over a trillion dollars since the Republicans caved on the debt limit in June of this year. It is now $32,850,000,000,000 dollars. Every time you go to the grocery store or fill up a vehicle you see what your dollar is worth. These things matter. Things are bad and are going to get worse. There are no simple fixes.

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Why did we have balanced budgets in the 50’s and 60’s? Also, not sure the republicans “caving” on the debt ceiling is the cause of our national debt situation. Income matters as much as spending when it comes to balancing a budget so tax cuts are just as much of an issue. The debt has consistently risen under tax-cutting Republican governments (some states are an exception but they themselves are exceptions as compared to the nation as a whole)

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I was wrong. From 1901 until 2019 the budget was only balanced less than a handful of times. However until 1949 it was pretty evenly split between surpluses and deficits. In 1950 they deficits began to outpace the deficits but they were pretty small deficits. According to the linked material "[T]he 1950 milestone indicates the point at where federal budget deficit ceased to be the result of a combination of circumstances such as war engagements or economic

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Sep 10, 2023·edited Sep 10, 2023

Fair point about maybe mischaracterizing the bulk of these comments (though I still disagree with 90% of them). I read a few that had this implication and I think it brought me right back into my old arguments with folks who said teachers were paid too much. I would often ask why they were so angry about teachers being able to have a decent lifestyle while at the same time feeling like the ultra-wealthy deserved what they had. It’s always struck me as weird to hear the “little man” arguing on the side of the wealthy bosses. I’m not anti-capitalist or anti-rich, but I am pro-fairness and anti-extreme inequality. And I think both unions and some government restraints are required to keep capitalism healthy, competitive, and as unharmful to as many people as possible. I think the financial security of all - within a capitalist system (until something better comes along)- is a goal worth pursuing.

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That I understand and agree with. Apologies for the insult.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall unionization rate for the national workforce was about 10% in 2022, which the press release says is the lowest on record. This decline in the statistic was due, it says, to a very large expansion of the workforce overall but the unionization rate didn't keep pace. This is despite the ridiculously easy rules for establishing a union in businesses like multi-state, multi-unit businesses like McDonald's and Starbucks. The highest unionization rate is among government employees at about 30% vs. 6% for private sector employees. I was very surprised by your "sweeping" characterization, which seems a bit fevered.

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Thanks but I didn’t need this education and we’re off topic.

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The elderly codgers of the 80's are out in force today, babbling their fact free shibboleths.

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The elderly codgers of the 80s existed in similar dysfunctional economic times and their fears bear scrutiny by intelligent persons.

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I codger, she codgers, we codgertate!

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Quite so. They were codgered at themselves, and like most younger generations, blissfully ignored them.

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True. Very true. But I did learn to live below my means.

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For many jobs corporations will simply substitute capital for labor. McDonald’s will automate more functions. Grocery stores will eliminate checkout and bagging. And who knows what AI will eliminate.

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AI will eliminate human comments on articles no longer written by humans!

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American unions do nothing good whatsoever, which is why those advocating them speak exclusively of the existence of problems, not of how unions will improve situations.

By and large our problems would improve if we removed their causes, and nearly every cause today has its roots in the ideology of the type who promote unions.

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