January 18, 2008
New Book on Union Global Campaigns
September 17, 2007
Food Industry Requests More Regulation
In an interesting twist major US food corporations are asking for increased regulations.
I've searched but couldn't find any union position on the matter. Union's have ceded space to corporations over the years to the point where they no longer have a major voice in industry regulation/lobbying.• The News: The food industry is seeking more government regulation on safety measures.• The Alternative: Without a uniform standard, companies face a web of rules and audits from states and customers.• The Bottom Line: Some calls for rules on imports may be protectionist. But they underscore the challenges of U.S. companies as they seek to ensure the safety of products sourced from around the world.
September 10, 2007
Mexican Truck Explodes Killing 37
How fitting that on the day where the first Mexican trucks enter the U.S. we hear of a major trucking disaster in Mexico. I think it is a huge mistake, not just in terms of what this will do to labor markets and the economy, but also in terms of national security.
Sep 10 08:59 AM US/Eastern
PIEDRAS NEGRAS, Mexico (AP) - A truck carrying explosives for the mining industry exploded after running into another vehicle in northern Mexico, killing at least 37 people, a federal police official said Monday.
The two cars collided Sunday evening on a highway in Coahuila state, near the town of Sacramento, Luis Horacio de Hoyos said.
Soldiers, police, emergency officials, nearby residents and reporters were on the scene when the vehicle suddenly caught fire, igniting the truck full of explosives.
Maximo Alberto Neri Lopez, a federal police official, said 37 people were killed and 150 were injured. He said the explosion left a 3-meter by 15-meter crater in the concrete.
De Hoyos said three newspaper reporters from the city of Monclova were among the dead.
September 05, 2007
United Auto Workers vs Toyota Round 16
There are two troubling facts about the U.S. auto industry.
1. US Auto employers' US operations have been in decline for the past 20 years resulting in plant closings and layoffs.
2. Foreign Automakers have been opening plants up in the United States at a fast pace, but the US autoworkers union has been unable to organize any of them.
As time goes on more than half of all automobiles made in the USA will be made at foreign owned auto plants by non-union workers. For the current and retired members of the UAW it is important that the union establish a presence and foothold within these foreign plants. Yesterday's NY Times featured an article suggesting that the UAW's luck may be changing for the better.
Hardly a Union Hotbed (NY Times Login Required)
September 03, 2007
Mexican Trucks On a Highway Near You
The Teamsters Union's request to halt a Bush Administration plan to allow trucks from Mexico on U.S. highways has been rejected by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This move will affect both union and non-union truckers further shaking up the labor market and U.S. trucking firms. The Bush Administration's plan will also compromise border control and highway safety. I am a bit surprised there isn't more of an uproar over this.
The plan will only be in effect for a year as a test or experiment. I guess next year at some point they will tally up how many fatalities were caused by unsafe trucks from Mexico and then decide on whether or not to expand the program?
I don't know the full extent of the program i.e. how will they ensure these vehicles meet U.S. standards, what labor laws will govern these drivers etc but I will look into it.
October 18, 2005
Interview With Delphi Boss
Yesterday's Wall Street Journal featured an interview with Delphi's boss.
Here is the link and brief excerpt:
Reassembling Delphi (WSJ Subscription Required)
WSJ: Can you elaborate on those forces?
Mr. Miller: Globalization is a fact of life these days. What has been brought into sharp relief is the differing value the global market places on knowledge workers versus basic manufacturing workers. I was struck by what I saw when I visited our Delphi operations in Mexico last week. Our average hourly worker makes about $7,000 a year, while the average salaried worker makes about $35,000 a year. A spread of five times. The same spread, or wider, exists in all low-cost countries. The implications for America are enormous, and it boils down to this. If you want your kids to enjoy the great American dream, get them a good education. The days when manual unskilled labor can deliver a $65-per-hour wage are disappearing.
My recent experiences have been with industries that are undergoing profound change What they have in common is a social contract, worked out over the past half-century with strong centralized labor unions, to elevate their work forces with elaborate defined-benefit retirement programs. Back in the days when you worked for one employer till age 65 and then died at age 70, and when health care was unsophisticated and inexpensive, the social contract inherent in defined-benefit programs perhaps made some economic sense.
Today, defined benefit programs are an anachronism. First off, they force people to stay with one employer, even though we have a much more mobile and flexible population these days. Second, the notion of having all your retirement eggs in one basket -- your employer -- is a concentration of risk that is simply inadvisable for anyone in today's fast-moving economy. Finally, people are living longer these days. Of course, that is a good thing. But the question is, how can we afford it?
October 15, 2005
Chapter 11 Weapon
FInancial Times Columnist John Gapper blows the Delphi Chapter 11 wide open in his most recent column. I provide a link and excerpts below:
John Gapper: The Danger of Rewriting Chapter 11 (Financial Times subscription required)
Steve Miller, chief executive of Delphi, was in New York this Monday to explain why he was putting the Michigan automotive parts supplier into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. “We are broke,” he said, holding his hands in the air. “I am sorry to be the one delivering that message.”
Mr Miller did not look very sorry. In fact, he seemed like someone whose bargaining position with his employees had just become a lot stronger. Instead of having to wheedle unions into accepting cuts in pay and benefits for Delphi’s 34,000 hourly-paid US workers, he can threaten them with the company defaulting on its defined-benefit pension plan.
Organised labour, meet organised capital. Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code used to be regarded as a bizarre US arrangement allowing a troubled company’s managers to stay at the helm and restructure instead of being kicked out by the creditors. Eastern Airlines went into Chapter 11 in 1989 and remained there for two years losing money before collapsing.
These days, managers and creditors are often on the same side from the start. Chapter 11 has become a device for reasserting management fiat over workers with the backing of bankers. Financiers have forced steel industry employees who were used to being highly paid to accept lower wages and fewer benefits. Delphi’s Chapter 11 filing suggests Detroit’s workers and retirees are next in line.
The way that Delphi is handling its bankruptcy shows how things have changed. David Skeel, a University of Pennsylvania law professor, says the interests of managers and creditors have been aligned by two things: companies are supported – and controlled – with specialist financing and managers are given very large financial incentives to act rapidly and to take tough decisions.
All of this carries a price. They say you should not visit a sausage factory if you like eating sausages and in this case the ingredients being ground up for profits are health and (perhaps) pension rights. It does not take a union activist to be disturbed by the prospect of Delphi workers losing benefits that they dedicated their lives to gaining by working there.
The stark contrast between workers’ losses and managers’ gains was one reason for changes to Chapter 11 in the bankruptcy reforms that come into effect next week. The new law bars companies from paying managers Chapter 11 bonuses and limits the time during which they have the sole right to propose a restructuring plan. Managerial prerogative, as well as wealth, is taking a haircut.
September 30, 2005
Open Labor Markets In Ireland: The Effects
From The Financial Times (subscription required)
Irish Continental Group (ICG), owner of Irish Ferries, has set a deadline of Sunday for 540 of its Irish workers to accept a redundancy offer, enabling the company to replace them with cheaper east European labour on a contract basis.Ireland, the UK and Sweden were the only European Union member countries to provide immediate access to their labour markets for workers from central and eastern European states following enlargement in June 2004.
David Begg, general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, described as "deeply obscene" ICG's plans to "dump 543 workers and replace them with people on around €3 per hour".
He told a conference: "This should serve as a wake-up call for legislators at a national and EU level."
Mr Ahern told the Dáil on Wednesday he would "not defend for one second" the manner in which the company has acted. He added: "The jobs will be filled by non-nationals from God knows where, and on conditions that nobody knows."
*** (CLICK LINK FOR THE REST)
September 22, 2005
Vietnamese Unions Adapt to Globalization
Are labor unions in "third-world" countries winners or losers in the latest incarnation of the global economy?
Unions Face Changes With Vietnam's Imminent WTO Membership (Thanh Nien News - free)
September 18, 2005
The Financial Times takes a look at the US Auto Industry and asks what the industry's current crisis means for both labor unions and the industrial U.S. I post a link and excerpts below:
Dented Detroit Puts Union Gains Under Pressure (Financial Times $ubscription Required)
In boardrooms and union halls across Detroit, a realisation is spreading that the city’s motor industry is facing one of its biggest challenges since Henry Ford began producing the Model T on Piquette Avenue 97 years ago.
General Motors and Ford Motor, the two biggest Detroit-based carmakers, some of their key parts suppliers and the United Auto Workers union are weighing up painful decisions that may determine who survives and who crashes in an overcrowded and ferociously competitive market.