A Flea in the Fur of the Beast

“Death, fire, and burglary make all men equals.” —Dickens

Category: Labor

Employment Report, Good and Bad

by evanmcmurry

By most indicators, today’s jobs report was cause for relief. That the unemployment rate dropped three-tenths to 7.0 without a decline in the labor participation force is especially notable; in a good number of recent reports the decline of the unemployment rate has been at least partially attributable to people dropping out of the job search altogether.

None of that, however, changes the fact that November’s labor participation was the second-lowest in the past decade, save for October:

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That goes a long way toward explaining why Obama’s approval numbers on the economy are so low despite a few months in a row of modest hiring. Until that labor participation number goes up, the economy isn’t “improving” in a way that’s immediately palpable, whatever the larger indicators say.

Now, good news for everybody but Ted Cruz: “The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) fell by 331,000 to 7.7 million in November.”

The deplorable rollout of Healthcare.gov and the seizure over  “if you like your crap plans you can keep them” has distracted Obamacare’s critics in the past two months from their main narrative that the ACA is a job killer. One of their specific predictions is that the ACA’s mandate that employers provide insurance for everyone over 30 hours or pay a fine will create a part time economy. Granted, the employer mandate doesn’t kick in until next summer, but if this warning were in any way true, that part time number would be going up, not down by 330K.

by evanmcmurry


Race to the Bottom, Michigan Edition

by evanmcmurry

For a guy who didn’t want to pursue Right To Work, Rick Snyder sure does seem awfully happy about it:

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder says state development officials are already hearing from manufacturers interested in relocating, just 10 days after he signed new right-to-work legislation into law. 
“The phone’s already been ringing at the MEDC (Michigan Economic Development Corporation) since we passed that legislation,” Snyder told reporters today, according to the Detroit News. “People are starting to look at Michigan.”

This is, of course, what’s called “race to the bottom,” in which states compete to see who can gut their own standard of living the most to offer best tax breaks to corporations, all to steal businesses from just across state lines, a constant downward march of declining wages and disappearing benefits in which one state’s gain made on the backs of workers is another’s depleted economy. But hey, “People are starting to look at Michigan.”

Naturally, though:

Snyder told the paper it was “premature” to name interested companies.

Michigan will just have to take his word for it, just as they did when he said, multiple times, that he wouldn’t pursue RTW.

Who’s Afraid Of Teachers? Breitbart Reporters, Apparently

by evanmcmurry

Breitbart.com caught (ahem, “caught”) a teacher union representative at a Marxism conference and made him say “um” about it. And given that Breitbart.com buys broad brushes in bulk, naturally everybody ever involved in teaching or unions must now be part of a “revolutionary movement.”

Read over their transcript of the interview, it’s worth it (“What’s the alignment with Marxist organizations and revolutionary movements?”). But the best part is this:

This occurred at the same all-day event where, upon being labeled as “not in solidarity” and recognized as a Breitbart News correspondent, I was forcefully removed by a group of teachers, social workers, and others members of the ISO attending the Marxism conference.

And stuffed in an ACORN duffel bag and thrown by Susan Rice into a Soros-owned quarry, no doubt. Breitbart is somewhere between Daily Caller’s empty cynicism and WND’s insane credulity, which means it’s always a question of how much they believe what they print: did writer “Rebel Pundit” (I shit you not) have to put his title in a conservatorship long enough to type that sentence about being “forcibly removed” by Ms. Krabapple, or does he actually believe he was manhandled by the last two groups who would ever be mistaken for thugs?

How Richard Nixon Almost Ran Baseball (And Why It Would Have Been Better If He Had)

by evanmcmurry

The historical what-ifs embedded in this paragraph are boggling:

In 1966, when he was elected to run the players’ union, Miller was in some ways too big for the job. An economist and leader in the United Steelworkers union, he had met and directly negotiated with American presidents and been offered both a visiting professorship at Harvard and work directing a long-term study for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Baseball, by contrast, was a backwater. The players were so naïve that he had to explain to them at an early meeting that they were being screwed over because their pensions didn’t have any mechanisms to adjust for inflation. He also warned his soon-to-be constituency that Richard Nixon, a rival for the job, probably had political ambitions beyond heading their union. (Later, he was able to gloat. “I was glad to see he had managed to find work after losing out on the Players Association job,” he wrote of meeting President Nixon in 1969.)

Nixon did have those ambitions, and because he didn’t get  the job he was free to pursue them, no? Can anyone imagine what baseball would be like right now if Nixon had gotten his fangs into it in 1966? More important, wouldn’t the 300 million non-baseball players of this nation be a lot better off if he had? I dunno about you, but I’d gladly forego free agency if it meant the southern strategy had never been invented and implemented, wouldn’t you?

Increased Living Standards Brought To You By: Magic

by evanmcmurry


Because they do, most of them accept for example that going down and joining the union made workers better off, by giving them better bargaining power against the bosses, even though the historical evidence is crushing that unionization did not make workers better off (rising productivity did). (via)

Yup. I remember when children were no longer needed in factories due to rising productivity. Or that time when mining safety regulations were passed, all thanks to rising productivity.

The author’s point is economic, of course, but that’s the whole problem: if you define a worker “being better off” solely through economics, miner safety doesn’t factor in—even though the historical evidence is crushing that miners would rather not die on the job. Neither would Bangledeshi workers making Walmart products. What’s rising productivity done for them?

Unskilled Capital

by evanmcmurry

Today in things you already knew:

News stories have been filled with reports of managers of manufacturing companies insisting that they have jobs open that they can’t fill because there are no qualified workers. Adam Davidson at the NYT looked at this more closely and found that the real problem is that the managers don’t seem to be interested in paying for the high level of skills that they claim they need. (via)

Again, you already knew that. But now you know know it.

The One-Person Walmart Walkout

by evanmcmurry

A round for this soul:

The walkout included just one worker — Vanessa Ferreira, age 59. Ferreira informed her manager publicly Wednesday morning that she was going on strike. The other employees watched her walk out of the store, then went back to doing their jobs.

[…] Ferreira said she tried to recruit members, but it wasn’t easy.

“They’re so scared,” Ferreira said of her co-workers. “I couldn’t get anybody to join. They said, ‘You can’t fight Walmart.'”

Hostess Finds Money To Pay Bonuses, Just Not Workers, Like We All Knew They Would

by evanmcmurry

Not that you need to be told, but

Reuters is reporting that the arm of the U.S. Justice Department that oversees bankruptcy cases opposes Hostess’ wind-down plan because it would also give improper bonuses to company insiders — this, after the company blamed excessive demands from workers for the need to shut down. (via)

Any sentient human already knew Hostess’ claim that it was being bankrupted by union demands was likely hypocritical on top of being false, but now we know know it.

Unions Give Away All Leverage For Chance To Take Photo With Obama

by evanmcmurry

So the long-rumored cool-off between organized labor and the Obama Administration, which caused some unions to consider withholding their endorsement of the incumbent during the election, lasted eight days:

Labor union leaders emerged from talks with President Barack Obama on Tuesday vowing a side-by-side battle against Republicans to bring about higher taxes on the wealthy as part of an effort to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.

“It was a very, very positive meeting,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told reporters in the White House driveway after the meeting.

“The president, like we are, [is] committed to preserving the tax breaks for the middle class and making sure that rich people pay their fair share. He’s very, very committed to that, we are committed to that,” Trumka continued. “We are very, very committed to making sure that the middle class and workers don’t end up paying the tab for a party that we didn’t get to go to. And the president is committed to that as well.”

Granted, the AFL-CIO has always been the most toadying of the unions to presidential power, especially Democratic. But still. One might think that they’d want to preserve their leverage for at least 24 hours—until Obama finishes tomorrow’s meeting with the private jet crew, or perhaps until after a Treasury Secretary is named—so as not to pre-rubber stamp any compromise Obama makes. I mean, it’s not like labor helped him win or anything.