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Labor

Will America 2.0 see a revaluation of labor?

Has COVID-19 softened Labor/Management relations?

By Dr. Larry Fedewa        Washington DC, April 26, 2020

Entrepreneur extraordinaire Mark Cuban has coined the term, “America 2.0” to designate the new realities Americans will face as a result of the COVID-19 quarantine. One of those realities has been the highlighting of the interdependence of labor and management required to attain a successful business. In case after case, we have heard employers and business owners discuss the extreme measures they have undertaken to reduce the burdens on their employees as they face loss of wages and even employment. Their pleas for help have finally penetrated even the hallowed halls of Congress and the Federal Reserve.

Many are learning the lessons that John Mackey discusses in his account of the time when his Whole Foods store would have failed if not saved by the efforts of his loyal employees, suppliers and customers. (Conscious Capitalism, 2013) He discovered that the fate of his business was really in the hands of all those whom he had served so diligently. They had repaid his loyalty to them by proving they were also stakeholders in his company.

This is the prism through which we are looking at the topic of this discussion. Clearly, there are external factors as well. Before the pandemic, we were very close to a labor shortage. We were hearing pleas from recruiters to retirees and other pools of unattached workers to rejoin the workforce. Hiring and retaining a competent workforce was becoming a high priority in some industries, and critical in others. The usual effect of such a situation is an increase of the enticements to candidates or employees to hire or retain their services, including bonuses, higher wages, and enhanced benefits.  Keep Reading

Three issues the Dems own: Wealth Gap, Health Care, and Climate Change

There are free market solutions for these issues waiting for GOP support

By Dr. Larry Fedewa (February 11, 2020)

On most of the issues highlighting the 2020 campaign, the Republicans have a great story, especially the economy, law enforcement, foreign policy (including trade), national security, energy, and job creation. The Democrats have concentrated on three critical issues, however, which are nearly ignored by most Republicans: the wealth gap, health care, and climate change

These issues are currently owned by the Democrat candidates; they have not even been addressed directly by the Republicans. This silence is a tragic mistake because current polls show that these three issues are of critical importance to significant numbers of the American electorate. If Republican candidates continue to ignore these two issues, they will suffer in the only polls that really count – the votes in November.

Today’s topic is the wealth gap, with discussions of health care and climate change to follow in succeeding columns. I use the term, “wealth gap” in preference to “wage gap” and “income inequality” because “wealth” includes assets which are relatively long range as opposed to “wages” or “income” which may fluctuate from time to time. Keep Reading

Workers’ rights in the 21st century: Unions and Conscious Capitalism

Do unions still have a place at the table?     

 

by Dr. Larry Fedewa (May 12, 2019)

“Conscious Capitalism” promotes the most expansive view of workers’ rights ever to be advocated by corporate management  in the history of capitalism. At last, workers are accorded the respect due to major stakeholders in the organization, whether a corporate giant or an entrepreneurial start-up. Almost always this means sharing in the profits of the company if not outright  stock ownership.

This view of the business flows from an idealistic definition of the enterprise which includes, among other things, the function of profits as a necessary means to a greater good. The greater good is the mission of the firm as providing a community service through the sale of its goods or services. Conscious Capitalism challenges everyone in the organization to contribute to  the fulfillment of this mission and provides the resources to do so.

Conscious Capitalists also tend to be anti-union. Keep Reading

Janus vs. AFSCME: A New Beginning

A new interpretation of workers’ rights

by Dr. Larry Fedewa (April 13, 2019)               
My first experience with a union came when I represented the newsroom’s intention to hold a vote for a union to the publisher of a national weekly newspaper. I had a summer job there after my first year as a high school teacher.
Later, as a training developer, I wrote, produced, and oversaw one of the largest industrial training programs in history for the Railway Labor Executives’ Association (a council of all major rail union presidents). I also executed major projects for the Federal Railroad Administration, AMTRAK, Conrail, and others. Still later, I worked very closely with the National Education Association, the professional teachers’ union in a major joint venture, a national research project, and addresses to two national conventions.
The reason I mention all this background is to establish my position as an ardent supporter of the labor movement. My comments come from a position of firm commitment to the need for workers to take their place at any table which determines their welfare.
The occasion of this attention to the labor movement is this week’s Supreme Court decision in Janus versus AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees). Not only do I agree with the decision, I also think it is good for the unions. On the first count, I agree that “freedom of assembly” also means freedom to say “no”. Otherwise, it is not free.

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Me and the Union

How I became a union rep for a week                                        

By Dr. Larry Fedewa (April 14, 2019)

My first experience of a union came early. I had finished my first year as a high school teacher and was hired for the summer by a national weekly newspaper as a proof reader. My status in the organization was quickly determined by my assignment to the night shift.

That timing worked out well for me since I was also back in college for some courses required to get my Colorado teaching certificate. Things were going well, and I was promoted after the first month to an exempt (salaried) position as copy editor. This put me in the company of the editors and reporters, which was an exciting development for a young guy.

One day, a senior editor dropped by my desk and quietly invited me to an after-hours “party” at his house. Flattered, I quickly agreed. It turned out that the “party” was actually a meeting of the entire newsroom for the purpose of activating a just granted Department of Labor mandate to management to arrange for a vote on whether or not to join a union. The right to have the vote on company time was not in dispute. The problem was, who was going to approach the publisher with the news that the government had approved the application? Keep Reading