HolyCoast: Happy Labor Day! Now, Will the Labor Movement Just Go Away?

Monday, September 05, 2011

Happy Labor Day! Now, Will the Labor Movement Just Go Away?

Back in my banking days I went through the whole One Minute Manager course and I've never forgotten a story Ken Blanchard told during the training. There was a company that had a plant in big trouble. The place was basically out-of-control so the company brought in a no-nonsense tough guy manager whose job it was to shape that place up.

Within a year that manager had completely transformed that plant, gotten rid of the deadwood and replaced them with motivated, productive people. But then things started going wrong.

The manager knew only one style and while that style was what a troubled plant needed, a plant that was running well would quickly chafe under that kind of leadership. Morale began to tank, production started to slip and the company knew they had to make another change. They brought in a new manager and moved the tough guy to another troubled facility. Conditions improved and the company thrived.

The tough guy manager had only one gear. He only knew how to manage a troubled situation and couldn't adapt to changing conditions. That pretty much describes the labor movement.

They did a lot of good work in their early years. Through their efforts, combined with federal and state regulation, dangerous working conditions were changed, hours were adjusted, child labor ended...but the labor unions have never learned to adjust their style.

They still operate as though we have a thriving economy and can afford to pay someone $35 an hour to bolt bumpers on Chevys. They still treat management as though they're making them work 80 hours a week in dangerous conditions (even if all they're doing is teaching first graders), and they still act as though every company is inherently evil. They've never learned to adjust to the modern era or modern economic realities.

Frankly, the same could be said of the civil rights activists.

Both of them have outlived their usefulness. We don't need them anymore. It's time for them to go away.

1 comment:

sally said...

As a graduate in HR Mgt, I learned a great deal of the history of unions, and the difficulties businesses face in dealing with them....delays, costs, unreasonable expectations. We see public unions gone rampant in the news lately. I agree, their usefulness is many times long gone.

The only thing in your commentary I take exception to is the phrase "even if all they're doing is teaching first graders".....Trust me, teaching first grade isn't an easy job. Neither is teaching Kindergarten with 28 in a class, and no aide, with several behavior problems. My daughter happily did this, sans union. I understand the recent frustration with union-represented teachers, but it would be nice to have non-unionized teachers who do a great job not be minimized.