Unions and Business Should be Teaming Up

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A key part of preparing a good future for our Grandchildren is making America a leading player in the global economy.

In my last post I discussed the migration of jobs from manufacturing unfriendly states to manufacturing friendly states.  The primary example was the production of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner in South Carolina (a Right-to-Work state) rather than Boeing’s original home state of Washington (a closed- shop state).  The April 21, 2011 Wall Street Journal editorial titled, “The Death of Right to Work” stated that one of the Machinists Union’s demands was membership on the Boeing Board of Directors.  Boeing’s refusal is, and should be, a legal choice and not grounds for any anti-union court actions.  However, I think the idea has great merit.

I would take the proposal one step further.  I propose that all major companies should have a rank and file labor member (not a high paid business agent or legal representative) on the board of directors (BOD).  Additionally, the union’s BOD should include a corporation representative.  These board members could be non-voting, advisory members, in both cases.  They would increase transparency and build team-work between labor and business.  In a global economy the old school concept of “business versus labor” must be replaced with a new paradigm, “American business AND American labor.”  Rather than bickering over how to divide a shrinking pie, they should be allies in devising ways to grow the pie bigger for all.

A labor representative on the business’s BOD would give labor a better understanding of the various costs (materials, labor, marketing, etc) and business needs.  It might also cause BODs to think twice before providing out-sized compensation packages to senior management.   More open communication would give the front line workers more confidence that profits were being shared fairly among labor, management and stockholders.  Higher morale leads to more productive workers.

The business representative on Labor’s BOD would give management a better understanding of the workers’ wants and needs.  It could help management recognize and fix issues in the early stages, before they become problems.  Labor wants and deserves a fair day’s pay; business wants and deserves a fair day’s work.   Management should be willing to provide the workers with good wages and benefits, and labor should support management in compensating good workers and eliminating poor workers.  This would increase the company’s productivity and competitive edge which is good for everybody.

We want our Grandchildren to inherit an America with a strong economy in a global market.  They should expect to contribute a productive day’s work and for that receive a fair day’s compensation.

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