In the following web resources: http://www.aflcio.org/joinaunion/voiceatwork/efca/
http://www.uschamber.com/issues/index/labor/cardchecksecrbal.htm address the concerns raised in the continuing viability of the U.S. labor relations system.
Answer the following:
- The issue of whether the current labor reactions system is meeting the needs of U.S. workers;
- The pros and cons of the EFCA as a possible mechanism to improve the existing labor relations infrastructure; and,
- As workers, how can we believe the current system should be adjusted to better ensure concerns as a worker are addressed?
- And last, how to “make things right” in finding that balance between efficiency, equity and voice in the 21st century American workplace.
As these websites attest, the labor relations established in the 20th century were based on economic conditions that have since changed so drastically since, say, 1950 that a whole new description of the labor/business partnership is necessary (the union system is no longer viable.)
We should begin by identifying the new makeup of the product/ consumer duality– no longer simply the local domestic market from which the working population emerges, but an international marketplace, made possible by the container system (itself a product of the Vietnam War), and no longer the available domestic workforce but also an international non-union, non-democratic workforce willing to work for a fraction of the domestic workforce expectation, not only in base pay but in benefits such as pensions, sick pay, vacations, insurance, and job security. As one economist put it, “Our poor cannot compete with the world’s poor.” When these truths are addressed, it is obvious why Henry Ford’s dictum (that his cars should be priced low enough for his own workers to purchase) can no longer be a guiding labor/business “golden rule.”
Whatever basis the relationship had post-WWII, a new paradigm must be established. The experts in this area think the solution lies in the “living wage principle – that any adult working 40 hours per week should be able to establish a life with necessities – a place to live, food, family, transportation. Four complications immediately arise: first, the definition of a “necessity” is contested – a television set? a computer? etc. Second, what is the government’s role in providing those necessities? food stamps? Rent controls? etc. Thirdly, how does a two-income family measure against a one-income family? Does an employer take the second income into account when adjusting wages? Finally, is there a “class” distinction between an educated employee and a general laborer? The articles in question only superficially address these complications.