Eliyahu Gasson | Staff Writer
There is a specter haunting the United States – the specter of unionized labor – and I’m all in.
Yes, it looks like unions are making a comeback in the U.S. Granted, rates of unionization are still falling, but we’ve certainly seen organized labor gain support from everyday Americans. According to Gallup, 71% of Americans approve of labor unions, the highest that number has been since 1965.
Now the United Auto Workers has started making noise in opposition to the big three automakers Ford, General Motors and Stellantis.
The fresh UAW strike came amidst a number of high-profile union stories. In 2021 Kellogg’s workers went on strike demanding higher wages and improved benefits. Starbucks stores around the country have been unionized. Amazon, too, is under pressure from its overworked and underpaid workforce.
Hollywood writers and actors took to the picket lines outside of major production studios. Our country’s economy was nearly crippled by striking rail workers before the federal government put the kibosh on them.
What a glorious time to be a worker in the U.S.
For too long, our country has put the wishes of the bosses before the needs of everyone else. It turns out that our economy does not automatically assure that hard-working people get what they need to live via the benevolent hand of the free market. It turns out that the free market, when left to act as it wants, would like to see working people crushed under the boot of a petty and tyrannical business owner.
Of course, not all business owners are evil. As a matter of fact, I’d argue that most business owners want what the rest of us want—safety and security. That’s what drives us as people. We all want to meet the necessities of food, water and shelter.
Humans are lazy. We like to put as little work into something unless we feel like we are getting something good in return.
I remember when I worked for a local dry cleaner. I started working for $12.50 an hour at 36 hours a week. Over time, I started doing more. I was constantly on my feet. I was rushed through every task and still expected to do them perfectly. I had to deal with soiled clothes from rude customers. Our competition closed so our business doubled. I did not feel like I was making what I deserved.
I asked for a wage increase and got it. I was now making $15.00 an hour. However, my hours were cut from 36 a week to 25. A few months later we got a new employee. My boss took one of the days from my schedule and gave it to him because our new employee made less than I did.
I could never get over the thought that this man who I never saw and who was so blatantly screwing me over was able to take trips to Israel every four months for the holidays. It felt like I was producing more money for him than he was for himself and for some reason I was left poor and stressed while he went to Israel every four months.
So, I had been shafted by my boss, not a new story to be sure. Employers do it all the time, which is why unions are so important.
Bosses always have the incentive to pay their workers less and pay themselves more. Firms like Ford, General Motors and Stellantis see new technologies to get away with such a thing.
Employers love to argue that they need to keep wages low so that they can stay competitive. After all, to pay their workers more, they need to charge more for their product.
I don’t believe any executive who says that. My old boss did less work than me or my coworkers and was still able to afford all of his nice vacations.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Ford CEO Jim Farley received nearly $21 million in 2022 while Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares made $24.8 million and General Motors CEO Mary Barra made nearly $29 million.
The AFL-CIO says that Kellogg’s CEO Steve Cahillane made $13,263,040 in 2022. According to Marketplace, Disney CEO Bob Iger is set to make around $27 million per year.
Forbes indicates that Amazon chairman and founder Jeff Bezos is worth $154.1 billion, and that former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is worth 3.1 billion.
The bosses have and continue to make more money than you or I could ever hope to see in our lifetimes Companies like the Detroit big three can afford so easily to pay their employees a fair wage with good benefits. All they need to do is divert funds from their CEOs and other executives and give it to the people who make something of value, cars and trucks.
This is why unions are so important. Unions give workers a voice. They help to ensure that workers are treated fairly and that they receive a fair share of the profits they produce.
The unions are here to guide bosses into the right direction of compensating their workers fairly. This is why I am giddy with delight in seeing so many gorgeous strikes around the country.