Monday, September 7, 2009

Well the holiday is over....

and of course that means back to the office in the morning. How is it that long weekends are never long enough? Had a great afternoon visiting with my brother and his girlfriend. Got a few things done around the house but generally made it a no labor, labor day weekend.

I do appreciate the holiday. I am not sure that many people of the younger generation have a clue what it means though, much less how it came to be. Most of them forget that there was a time in the not too far distant past, that forty hour weeks were unheard of. If you didn't work seven days a week, you weren't working. Child labor, long, hard hours, dangerous conditions, for little pay were the norm. I was lucky enough to have been born into an old family and can remember the stories about picking cotton, following the crops, and doing without.

That era was when unions came to be and they were there to protect the worker. Contracts and laws were put into place to protect the worker and their families. Better than half of all workers, back then, were blue collar workers. Those hard working men and women built this country. They built it with their sweat and their tears and they did it all so that we, the younger generations, could have better. I am almost ashamed of what it has turned into. Greed and corruption have caused the unions to outlive their usefulness. Now before you come after me with a noose, hear me out.

I knew a man years ago that worked for General Dynamics aka Lockheed Martin. This man had no formal training past what he was given through work. He had no college education. He put a part in a machine, pressed a button, and took it out of the machine. All day. That is all he did. If the machine broke, he called someone to fix it. If they were changing the design of the part, someone came by and coded the machine as needed. Part in, push button, part out. Nothing more. In 1984, this man was earning nearly 30 dollars an hour. 25 years ago. That was for a straight 40 hour work week.

Of course Lockheed is a contractor of government parts and material, therefore deadlines were involved. If you wanted overtime? No problem. Time an a half of course. Oh, you don't mind working on labor day? We will pay you triple time to work a federal holiday. If your overtime falls on a Sunday, you get double time. 25 years ago, that man was making MONEY and a hell of a lot of it. Why is this relevant you ask?

All these "perks" were written into their contracts by the union. Sure it is fair that they get time and a half for overtime. That is federal labor law. That is something that all hourly workers are entitled to. It is the other completely outlandish perks that prove my point. People wonder why things made in the USA cost so much? It isn't quality like it was back in the day. It is union contracts. GM used to have a contract that stated when you retired, your insurance was paid, in full, just like when you were still working. Now I am not a mathematician by any means but any half brained moron knows that you cannot continue to do that forever. That isn't good business sense.

As a result of union contracts, most items are now priced ridiculously high. We complain that items made in the USA are overpriced and we can't afford to buy them. We buy cheap junk from overseas and if it breaks, oh well, we will just buy another cheap one to replace it with.

Back in the day, when our grandparents were working and these labor laws went into effect, they were still turning out quality products. I recently went into an old store in Cooke City Montana. The lady running the store had a 1948 Frigidaire refrigerator, still working, in the store. That item was made by Frigidaire, owned by none other than GM. Yeah you remember them right? Yep, pre-government motors. 1948. It not only worked, but she had not had one problem with it. That refrigerator is 3 years younger than my mother. She retired last year. The fridge didn't.

I own a Frigidaire refrigerator. I can assure you, that in 60 years, it will not still be running. 1948, metal with metal working parts. 2008, plastic. Need I say more.

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