Sunday, February 26, 2012

Misuse of Ryan Braun Decision

So it turns out that some folks on the left want to use the Braun verdict as some kind of validation of the supposedly unique benefits offered by collective bargaining. Apparently non-unionized employers who do drug testing don't care about chain of custody or whether their testing results are accurate. They just want to jettison employees without regard to whether or not they have used drugs.

I have advised on such a program (although I am not a fan of drug testing in non-hazardous or athletic workplaces) and I must have been hallucinating about the care and fairness that non-unionized employer insisted upon. Yes, they were wonderful people but they were also acting in their self interest. Why would you want a program that wasn't as accurate?

There are arguments that can be made for unionization. But treating employees more "fairly" is generally not one of them. Under certain circumstances - mostly in private companies facing few competitive pressures, unions can increase wages. The implementation of work rules and process beyond those that an employer would rationally choose are far more likely to protect poor performers than the unjustly treated.


capper said...

There was a time when the burdensome task of being treated more fairly included eight hour work days, forty hour work weeks, holidays off, safe work environments, children allowed to go to school instead of a sweatshop.

With the continuing erosion of the unions' strengths, these things are now coming back.

Unless you think allowing kids to be kids is just protecting the poor performers.

Tom said...

Thanks for proving the exact point we're trying to make in this debate, capper. Those fair treatments are now largely protected by law, reducing the benefit any union provides.

That point is even stronger in the public employment sphere. Tate is praising collective bargaining because, in MLB, it resulted in an arbitrated grievance procedure. He ignores the fact that such a procedure also exists, wholly independently of any collective bargaining agreement, in the public workplace.

Billiam said...

Sweatshops caps? C'mon man! Save the drama. The company I drive for is non-union, and very safety oriented. We have to be, as practicing safety is cost effective from both the physical and equipment standpoints. As to union wages, I know teamsters who earn what they're paid, and slugs who can't be fired. I've been on union docks that are corrupt as hell, more so than their non-union counterparts. unions are not the answer for every business, as Rick points out. This chicken little pose does not become you, my friend. Hope the wife is well.

capper said...

@Tom - Perhaps you missed the rest of the comment, where I point out that with the diminishing power of the unions, these same conditions that were fought against are returning.

I know a man who lost his non-unionized job because he and his wife gave birth to a disabled child. He was deemed to expensive to maintain on the payroll, even though his work record is exemplary.

To emphasize the point, you ignore the fact that many of the conditions that you say exist in the public workplace was only put into law because of the unions, and now that the unions are weakened, those same protections are being diminished.

@Bill- The company you drive for has to be to stay competitive with the unionized companies. If they paid peanuts and had you drive unsafe rigs, you'd switch to one that paid better and had better safety.

Remember, "right to work" states average a salary $5000 less than unionized states and also have a higher work-related injury rate than unionized states.

Tom said...

"I point out that with the diminishing power of the unions, these same conditions that were fought against are returning."

You claim that. You provide nothing other than a single anecdote to prove it.

Show me the child labor. Show me where OSHA and other safe workplace laws aren't in effect. Show me where overtime laws aren't being enforced.

The fact is that despite the substantial decline of union strength and participation over the last several decades, the important protections unions fought for so long ago are still in place.

Billiam said...

Chris, the equipment I drive is BETTER than most teamster companies. I see their junk every day. Also, if every company had to pay teamster wages, do have any idea how much YOU would have to pay?

Rick Esenberg said...


If that is what happened, it is illegal. When I was in the corporate world, management would become aware of employees who had suffered some misfortune that would require substantial medical bills. No one ever dreamt of firing them and, if they had, I would have told them that they could not.

Unions don't drive up wages for non-unionized employees. The only way for that to happen is if their is a labor shortage. If there is a labor shortage, unions are unlikely to have substantially affected the market wage.

The dystopia that Capper imagines has eluded me. Try to have a 13 year old help her Mom put together some binders over the weekend for pocket money. DOL will come down on you like a ton of bricks. I've seen it happen.

Tom said...

And God forbid your neighbor kid wants to earn some spending money on your farm now (unless DOL comes to its senses, which doesn't seem likely).

George Mitchell said...

Capper's allegation reminds me of a similar story involving an employee at a non-union company in NE Wisconsin. I know the company cut off health insurance after a worker's spouse received a bad diagnosis. I agree with Rick that such action seems illegal as well as irresponsible. I suggested that the worker pursue that but lost track of the story. In any event, such outlier stories are just that...reprehensible but outliers. Existing law, especially for public employees, gives workers more than enough protection from egregious and atypical employer abuse.

George Mitchell said...

Journal Sentinel has done an excellent job of examining the chain of custody issue.