Unions are Our Future

Labor Day is brought to you by those who brought you the weekend – Organized Labor.

When I worked in Germany for a short time in the 1990s, labor relations often came up. Some of my colleagues were envious of the US system while most hated it. All of them, however, had a term for what they understood our core principle to be – “Hire and Fire”. The idea of an “at will” employee with no job security in law and no loyalty by tradition was alien to Germans.

Compared to the nations in the developed world which we compete with, our position is unusual. It’s a bias at the foundation of our system – a natural outcome of the demand for a flexible workforce. This is also likely to change as more and more skill is needed to do the jobs of tomorrow.

Continue reading

Advertisements

It Starts With an Excuse

Through the first decade of Barataria, one theme becomes clear.  There is always hope, there is always a better way if we just figure out how to talk honestly about what’s wrong and how we have to work together.  The exceptions to this theme are the most illuminating.  This post is from January 2010, the low point in the recent Depression.  The distinct lack of hope is a bit chilling.

What would make a recovery sustainable?  If you ask an economist, they’d tell you that what makes any economy grow and prosper is, ultimately, what they call “productivity gains”.  That’s the ability to make more with less that allows a people to propser.  During the 1990s this was given as the reason why interest rates could remain low and we could have one Hell of a party – a sloppy, hazy bender.  We live in the hangover that resulted, but have we really learned how intoxicating this one, simple idea is?

Continue reading

Labor Unions are Inevitable

Labor Day is brought to you by those who brought you the weekend – Organized Labor.

When I worked in Germany for a short time in the 1990s, labor relations often came up. Some of my colleagues were envious of the US system while most hated it. All of them, however, had a term for what they understood our core principle to be – “Hire and Fire”. The idea of an “at will” employee with no job security in law and no loyalty by tradition was alien to Germans.

Compared to the nations in the developed world which we compete with, our position is unusual. It’s a bias at the foundation of our system – a natural outcome of the demand for a flexible workforce. This is also likely to change as more and more skill is needed to do the jobs of tomorrow.

Continue reading

Labor Day 2016

Labor Day. For most of us, it’s one last picnic as the seasons change over. It’s one last chance to look back over the hot, lazy summer to reflect on where we’ve been and where we are going.

What it’s really for is Labor. Rather than give workers a May Day holiday, the deep suspicions and fear lingering after the Haymarket Riot made politicians wary enough to put the official day clear on the other side of Summer. The US, and later Canada, decided to go it alone in our celebration. Some things never change.

The two of these facts have a lot in common this year as we look back from what is clearly a turning point in the economy. The glass is indeed half-full for Labor – or, if you’re not so optimistic, half-empty. Jobs are being created, if slowly, layoffs are at an all-time low, and wages are finally beginning to creep up. What’s ahead of us? If this keeps up it may surprise just about everyone that a serious labor shortage is in the works – indeed, there already is one in some industries. That’s worth celebrating even more than the end of Summer.

Continue reading

About this EU Thing …

I’m sitting here watching the BBC site as the results of the Brexit referendum pour in. It’s not looking good for the EU right now, and that has to give us all pause. The EU is absolutely essential, in some form, but the bureaucratic mess that has resulted isn’t necessarily helping anyone. The UK never went all in, keeping the Pound, so their view has always been a bit askance.

For far too many, it comes down to an interesting revelation. Did Germany actually “win” after all? Signs point to yes, they did. But how? What does this mean to other industrialized nations? Is there something we should all learn? Is Britain right for possibly wanting to go it alone?

Continue reading

Labor Day

The election of 2016 is still over a year away,  but on this Labor Day we can feel something brewing.  Democrats are being called back to their basic values of standing up for working people, especially with the tremendous crowds that Sen Bernie Sanders is drawing. Republicans also feel a need to be more populist in a turbulent fight that feels like just about anything might happen.  The people of the US are clearly in the mood for more support for working people.

If we can only get it together for once something great may happen.  I, for one, think it’s going to take a much deeper understanding of our core values and what is really happening around us before we can make it happen.

Continue reading

A Critical Weekend

Monday is Labor Day.  This is a critical day for labor in America because its success is about to define our economic future, at least for the next few months.  By the time you read this, you may know how many jobs were officially created in August.  If it was 220k or more a September increase in the Fed Funds rate is likely.  If it was under 180k there probably will not be a rate increase.

The ADP Employment Report, which is less prone to noise in the first place, came in with a middling 190k gain in jobs.

What’s great about this is that Labor’s success in the last month could kill the stock market, pitting labor directly against investment.  There’s nothing productive about that arrangement, but it highlights how strange the world has been.  This oddly critical holiday is a good time to recap some of the topics that Barataria has gone over the last few months.

Continue reading