Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I'm Officially An Old Man...

...I have to wear black socks to work!!

I'm taking a break from the Jobian Tale. Still too close to the source to finish it right now even though I've played the whole story out in my head as I fall asleep!

Speaking of falling asleep...that's usually when I write my best stuff. I've preached sermons, written bestseller, composed arguments and wooed women! (Okay...I wooed my wife!)

The other night it was Unions. Labor Unions that ran through my mind. How I view them as a necessary evil. There are companies whose sole interest is the bottom line they don't care about their employees. Especially in very large companies. Or large companies who grew exponentially and many of the things that employees should get they aren't. Take NetJets for example.

(The following is my opinion. It is based on my observations and thoughts. I have not done extensive research into the issue nor do I want to. I come from a fairly biased position in that I am no fan of Labor Unions. I think, for the most part, they are not needed now and in some instances, can be considered dangerous to our economy.)

Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet's company, owns NetJets/Executive Jets. Their pilots were represented by a certain Teamsters Local that wasn't doing them any good. They weren't servicing the membership. The pilots got together, left that local, joined another then went to the company and requested some changes. As the Fractional Flight Department segment of the aviation industry is still fairly new, there are and have been, many growing pains. The Union, in this instance, served the membership correctly, negotiated in good faith with the company, and got the pilots the things they needed to make their jobs safer and make the pilots more productive. All in was fairly painful. Yes, there were the typical Union-ites who screamed "STRIKE" but there were in the minority to my knowledge. NetJet pilots and their Union have set a new bar for the Fractional Industry. One that I hope isn't pushed higher and higher every three years.

Which is what some Unions do. Take the UAW or Teamsters. Both of those Unions often came out demanding the moon of employers, threatening to walk causing the employer to lose money which they will frantically try to avoid. In the early to mid 70's, the Japanese took their concept of war and applied it to economics. The Japanese employee is devoted to his company, maybe a little to radically for my tastes but what it did was create and economic giant in the automotive and electronic industries. They basically attacked America via the economy making low-cost, cheap cars, radios, TV's, etc. Through the years, they developed, refined and improved on these products, borrowing heavily from American Know-How and German ingenuity. Car makers, electronics companies and the like resented the challenge and dug in their heels. While gas prices soared, Japanese cars were gas-sipping econo-boxes while Detroit continued to put out large, gas-guzzling V8's. (I love Big Block V8's but then again, my first car was a 1966 Ford Mustang with a 289 with a 4bbl carb and dual exhaust, four on the floor and racing slicks!) When the US finally decided to challenge the Japanese it was almost a joke. Small American cars weren't half as fuel efficient as the Japanese ones were. And yet in the meantime, as fewer American cars were being bought, fewer people were needed at the plants making it harder for workers to make ends meet so therefore the Union's decide that all the workers need a raise...and a big one at that. And more company paid bennies.

Instead of working with the company to make a better car, a streamlined production plant and getting more bang for the buck, the Union's basically drove several companies to near bankruptcy and some right into receivership.

The airline industry witnessed the near destruction of United, Delta, Continental and the demise/rebirth/quasi-demise again of the once mighty Pan-Am. Why? Airline pilots were making 150-200 thousand dollars a year, working 4 days a week, sitting on their butts, pushing buttons and drinking coffee. Not to say that they shouldn't be rewarded for the years they put in flying crappy airplanes through crappy weather but there has to be a limit to pay for a job that anyone can get without having any higher education. Aviation is probably the only industry where one can have only a high school diploma and make over 100K a year. It's called a profession because of the specialized training but the standing joke amongst aviators is that we can teach monkeys to do the same job! While not true in reality, we realize we have become well-paid button pushers!

And there are times when the Union and it's members work with the company to help the bottom line and keep jobs and when the company turns around, the company conveniently forgets the people who sacrificed to help. Bombardier is in this position. As my old boss used to tell us, "If the company makes money, you make money. If the company doesn't make money, you don't make money." How simple is that?

Bottom line is greed. Greedy company owners. Greedy Union officials. Greedy employees. All of them hear those three little words, "I Deserve More".

So where is your loyalty I ask? My Dad taught me my loyalty in my job lay with the man who signed my paycheck for he held the key to my employment future. I've learned the hard way not to bite the hand that feeds. I owe a debt to my employer for hiring me and paying me a decent wage. Not a fantastic, out-of-this-world wage. But a decent wage. A wage that allows me to make my bills, set something aside, take a vacation once in a while, helps me care for my family. In return, I do my best for my employer. I need to be honest, forthright and upstanding in my field. I need to, as my old boss said when he wrote the company policy, "Do what is in the best interest of the company." One sentence. It sums it all up. Doing what's in the best interest of the company benefits me and my fellow co-workers. When I do what's best for me, I punish others.

Just my 2 cents on Unions, workers, companies and such. Don't expect you to agree as this issue is just as loaded as politics and religion.


No comments: