As I write this on my afternoon train, I’m sitting across from a thuggish looking man who has a T-shirt which reads “UNION!” on the front, and if my ham fisted translation can be trusted, “No human being is illegal” in Spanish across the back. To someone with even a little knowledge, this looks like an economic version of a murder-suicide note, but it’s worse than that. The only way that that particular garment could manage to get more firmly cemented on the wrong side of history would be if it advocated slavery, or said something about phrenology.
Once, the chief concern of unions was the safety and well being of the worker. But the government has long since taken on that role in their place. For all of my lifetime, the last 40 years or so, unions have had the singular economic effect of decimating the various industries of America in which they were involved, by killing company after company. Forced to pay more for the labor to produce a product than they were able to make selling it, one after another they either declared bankruptcy, or moved offshore. These days, when you “look for the union label” it usually reads “Made in China”.
But unions have been more insidious that just destroying a few companies. The stated goals of a labor union are to both raise the cost of labor for companies, and to lower the productivity of the company as well. The way they do this is by developing a compensation plan that rewards the least productive 25% by paying them the same as everyone who produces more than them, and punishing the most productive 25% by paying them the same as those producing less. The effect of this is obvious and immediate… no one will produce more than anyone else, and the entire labor pool will settle into a “lowest common denominator” approach.
(If you combine that lack of incentives for productivity with the unlimited funding of government, and the reduced accountability of a bureaucracy and you’re really getting down to the bottom of the barrel…. I’m working on a longer piece about why I think civil service unions should be illegal)
So knowing that, the fact that this man is so proudly advocating the support of his union must mean that he’s one of those people who gets something out of it, in other words, he’s more than likely among that 25% who typically under-produce his peers. That’s fine with me, like T.E. Lawrence said when they called him a clown “we can’t all be lion tamers”. But what about the “no human being is illegal” bit on the back?
The pro illegal alien movement is really organized labor’s worst nightmare. Rather than exporting jobs to Mexico, it’s allowing US industries to import the Mexicans instead. And along with them, they are importing Mexican labor laws, Mexican pay levels and Mexican health and safety standards. A company that hires illegal aliens will not pay for health insurance or pensions, will not pay social security, and will not pay a mandated union wage. Since they are here illegally and distrustful of the legal authorities, the illegal alien will not have any branch of government they can complain to if they are asked to work 15 hours a day, or in unsanitary conditions, or go a full day without a break.
To management in some ways, that looks like the perfect employee. It dramatically lowers their costs, increases their productivity, and removes the accountability for even basic safety and health standards. Not only does it eliminate the tyranny of the union, but the intrusive government as well. Even better, since the illegal alien cannot sell their labor to just anyone, management doesn’t even have to worry about the free market and competition. So long as there are enough illegal aliens, they can be as unfair as they like and no one will complain.
That a union could support something like that seems to defy all logic. They want higher pay with less work… I get that. They want reduced accountability to management, and more governmental authority to force people to join them… I get that. They want additional laws that will allow them act with impunity in the political sphere… I even get that. I disagree with everything they represent because I believe they make things less fair to those who want to do for themselves, but I understand their motivation for it all, and see how it is connected to their political self-interest. But they want to allow increased illegal immigration?
I guess there is simply no teaching some people. And if this guy’s shirt really says anything at all, that would probably be it.
(For the record, I’m firmly against illegal immigration because it contravenes the rule of law. I have no problem with large-scale “legal” immigration from Mexico or anywhere else, but the people coming here must be doing so from a desire to become American. My personal 3 point plan is: eliminate the minimum wage, give no social services of any kind under any circumstances to anyone who isn’t a citizen, and reinforce and defend the borders with mine fields, concertina wire and .50 caliber machine guns if necessary…. But that’s also the topic of another longer piece, which is currently under construction)