Meanwhile In Lansing, Michigan...

Tyler Durden's picture

Hours ago, the US labor union movement was dealt another crushing blow (the most recent being the recent liquidation of Hostess which left thousands of workers cold and unemployed just in time for Thanksgiving) when the Michigan legislature gave final approval to "right-to-work" restrictions on public sector unions in a state considered a stronghold of organized labor. In the meantime, over 10,000 protesters had gathered outside the legislature, chanted in the gallery, and generally expressed their displeasure quite vocally with this development that further set back labor in its endless fight against capital. As Reuters reports, "the House passed the measure making membership and payment of union dues voluntary for public sector employees such as teachers by a 58-51 vote.  The only government workers excluded would be police and fire unions. The Senate approved the same bill last week so it will now go to Republican Governor Rick Snyder, who has promised to sign it into law."

Incidentally, these same workers would be better advised to direct their anger at Chairman Bernanke who has done everything in his power in the past several years to shift the balance of power far more in benefit of capital courtesy of ZIRP and zero cost of capital, which allows companies to cut as many workers as needed in order to pursue the almight bottom line dollar, while extracting unprecedented productivity gains out of those still employed, as workers no longer can fall back on savings and are forced to accept any labor conditions in a New Normal world in which living paycheck to paycheck is becoming the norm for most, and thus giving employers all the leverage.

But that is a philosophical debate for a different place. But for now, here are two short clips to serve as a harbinger of what may and most likely will happen in the US as labor unions are stripped of even more power in the coming months and years, showcasing their reluctance to go gentle into that good night. This is how close the US is from violence at any one moment.

Luckily, nobody was seriously hurt this time.

Has the Syntagma riotcam finally crossed the Atlantic?

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FL_Conservative's picture

Right on, Redpill.  Unions USED to protect the workers....until they got a taste of how it enriched those at the top of the union structure.  Then it became all about what in it for THEM.  Funny....I can say the exact same thing about the vast majority of our (criminal) political class.

tbone654's picture

unions are no different than "street gangs"...    Where is the mob anyway?  they have just gone legit and now put their own in high paying union jobs...   and the underlings support them and protect them with fists...  sheesh!

Matt's picture

What do we want?


When do we want it?


Unions are just another form of representative democracy. The primary objective of the incumbent, is to remain the incumbent. 

Freddie's picture

The union dues are a big slush fund for mobsters and politcians.  Unions ARE organized crime.

Everybodys All American's picture

Unions protect blue state democrats as well. Especially the public unions. I personally have no problem with private company unions and in fact think they provide a great service in lots of situations.

However why do government workers need unions? I see that as a major problem of conflict with tax payers and the governing elite parties.

Jugdish's picture

Unions=Collectivism. Collectivism not good for man like me. Man like me smarter and work harder'longer than fat dumb man like you. Man like me don't want to be equal with ladyboy like you. Man like me want more cause man like me produce more. Man like me no workie 12 hrs a day. Man like me rather rob crack dealers who drive around with shiny rims an have white man's dollars.

Vendetta's picture

don't you find it a little odd that the nation has had its manufacturing gutted and NOW this is being done when unions make up less the 10% of the workforce?

Matt's picture

Nobody complains about having a smaler slice of the pie during times of plenty. It is only during a famine that people fight over crumbs.

fonzannoon's picture

Saying Unions protect workers at this point is the same thing as saying to me that Wall street ensures orderly markets. Both are wildy out of control. They each grab for more and more for themselves because they think the other one is the bad guy. The non union, non wall street worker is getting shred at the expense of both Unions and Wall street. Fuck that. Enough is enough. They both need to go.

Harry Ramiro's union boss and Jon Corzine should be fighing and clawing each other at some federal pound me in the ass prison to see who can avoid getting violated first, and it should be on pay per view.

LawsofPhysics's picture

correct, reasonable unions have been intentionally destroyed.  At this point nothing changes without total reset.  the moral hazard is simply too large now.  These type of things do nothing but show how easily the sheep are divided and conquered.

NotApplicable's picture

Reasonable gangs? Surely you jest?

I'm all for the right of free association, but granting special privileges to collectives (that are not possessed by individuals) is the very recipie for the disaster that's resulted.

It seems that everyone wants special treatment, without understanding that it's impossible, on the whole.

Ghordius's picture

interesting, "granting special privileges to collectives (that are not possessed by individuals)"

wasn't Adam Smith warning about granting special privileges (like easy bankrupcy and limited liability) to collectives possessed by individuals?

also known as corporations?

the basic natural form for humans is bands. like monkeys, we do not thrive alone. I know, you might be brainwashed by endless special-snowflake wonderful-consumer individualism, but the individual as-such is an imaginary construct. solitary confinement is still one of the worst tortures

so it's always about my gang vs your gang and let's gang up on the others

except when you talk, discuss, argue and bargain - which is what makes us human and different from animals

so yes, reasonable gangs is good and I fully agree with LawsOfPhysics' "correct, reasonable unions have been intentionally destroyed"'s picture

That no man is an island is not the issue. Consider that there are groups which one can join voluntarily and there are groups which one may be compelled to join. Legitimacy lies exclusively with the former as only the individual can rightly chose with whom he will associate.

Ghordius's picture

and the groups you were born to? family, sept, clan, tribe, gens, social group, economic/status class, caste, race, religion, state and nation?


in theory it's still about the "closed shop" issue, isn't it? where does it come from?

CH1's picture

and the groups you were born to? family, sept, clan, tribe, gens, social group, economic/status class, caste, race, religion, state and nation?

Here ya go:

family: I like some of mine, others I avoid.

sept, clan, tribe, gens: Guess someone missed those boxes on the birth certificate. Not that I give a shit.

social group: I have at least five of those.

economic/status class: This year, last year or ten years ago? And who makes such stupid definitions anyway?

race: I like a lot of folks with my general tint. I don't like others.

religion: Any religion I ever had was a matter of choice.

state: Fuck those thugs. 

nation: You mean the people who live on the same continent as me? Most of 'em are pretty cool.'s picture


in theory it's still about the "closed shop" issue, isn't it? where does it come from?


It comes from the use of fear and hatred to control individuals within groups. Negative emotions cause individuals to forgo reason and individual choice and follow the leader for the benefit of the leader. The net effect is negative overall and sometimes leads to spectacular failures.

Acet's picture

There is a big clash between Europe and the US when it comes to unions because the laws relating to unions are different. There is no such thing as a "closed shop" (a company where only union members are allowed to work in) in Europe. Apparently in the US, there are laws forcing people to belong to an union under certain conditons.

The point is that unions are not a bad thing - it's the way many unions and unionizing laws work in the US that's broken.

Originally unions were born during the Industrial Revolution, to fight practices like employing kids in factorys, 14h/day, tied to the machines so that they wouldn't fall from sleep or to correct the extremelly dangerous conditions under which miners used to work because the bosses wanted to save money.

At its most essential, unions are just people pooling resources together to be able to negotiate in a position of balance with a company (which, itself, is also a pooling of resources together). It's not a bad concept.

It's the centralisation of power in unions and the takeover of political power by unions which, just its counterparty (centralisation of capital and takeover of political power by corporations), is the problem. At the end of the day, the real problem is the broken voting system in the US (think electoral circles, gerrymandering, registered voter laws and the like).

tbone654's picture

markets are as orderly as they can be, having gone from fractions to decimal...  the unintended consequences of change...

CVfriendship's picture

Unions educate workers as much as FINRA tests educate investment "professionals".

Major difference is that FINRA isn't majorly responsible for such a un productive/over-paid/lazy work-force...or maybe they are, just not as good at it as unions... It's such a damn shame.  Once the gov steps in, a decent idea in theory, goes to shit.

LFMayor's picture

just be sure to wear the red armband when it starts, okay?

astoriajoe's picture

Perhaps the unions will go to China and work their magic there.

Lost Wages's picture

The boys at the top can do the labor if they want to keep all the money. The workers should go home and relax.

fuu's picture

Maybe play some golf and expense the cost.

toady's picture

Put it all on the corporate AMEX, at least until they cancel the card.

redpill's picture

Right, that should slow down outsourcing.

Lost Wages's picture

Another way we could stop the outsourcing is to simply go back to slavery. So ask yourself how many rights and benefits you are willing to erase and for which people? I mean, people died during the Haymarket Affair in Chicago just so the American worker could have an 8 hour workday. Should we just go back to 12 hour days for 10 cents a day? That would bring back all the jobs from China!

redpill's picture

I would think petty false dichotomies would be below someone who would take the time and effort to read and post on ZH.


NotApplicable's picture

Well, obviously, you think wrong. ;)

Things that go bump's picture

Redpill, you've forgotten your history, or were never taught it.  Less than 100 years ago, right up until the Gread Depression, children were working in the mines and mills and factories and sweatshops for 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, for next to nothing right along side their parents.  It was common practice to hire an entire family.  Children who were too small to work were mostly left at home and fended for themselves as best they could.  All the generations of a family of the working class worked and still they could barely keep a roof over their heads or food on their tables.  If someone hurt themselves at work it was their own lookout and their own loss.  If someone was killed in an accident they might drop the body off at the door.  My grandfather stood in the picket lines during the Minneapolis Teamsters' strike of '34.  My grandmother, with an infant on her hip, was among the women who cooked hot meals for those men and carried them to the picket lines. Our children and grandchildren will be fighting those battles again, God help them, because what was given wasn't given willingly, but only grudgingly and at great cost.  If your people came over from Europe in steerage around the turn of the 20th Century, chances are you have only achieved whatever your standing is because they banded together to wrest some sort of decent living from the man back then. 

redpill's picture


So we can't have child labor laws without federally sponsored labor unions?  Lovely non sequitur.


Things that go bump's picture

I notice you didn't address any of my other points, such as hours or pay or compensation for injury.  

toady's picture

Most people have no idea what people went through before unions tamed the industrial age. Your one example is beyond their knowledge, let alone the centuries of abuse and deaths.

They just mindlessly accept longer hours and less benefits because 'at least I'm still working'

redpill's picture

If you continue to work when you think you are being overworked or under compensated, that's your own fault.  Demand more or quit.

People who have never quit a job and hung around waiting for things to come to them until they get laid off or until some union "saves" them are only robbing themselves.


kingslayer's picture

What an absolutely ridiculous statement. You probably don't have a family, or are a trust fund baby.

redpill's picture

2 kids, no trust fund, sorry.  If anything having kids increases your PERSONAL responsibility to make sure you are being paid fairly for your labor.  Why in the world would you want to take something as valuable as the price of your own labor and hand it over to some overpaid union boss who doesn't give a shit about you or your family?  NOBODY will ever care more about your own labor or your own family more than you.  So abdicating that responsibility to someone that by definition cares less than you do is robbing yourself and your family.

It's really not that difficult a concept.  If you think you are getting the shaft, find someone that will pay you better.  If there is no such opportunity, perhaps your skills are not worth what you think they are.  Then you have the choice of doing something else that pays more, starting your own business if you have the resources, etc.  That's big boy world.  Sitting around and whining about not getting paid enough but not doing anything about it is about as juvenile as you can get.

Running to daddy government and asking them to point a gun at your employer and make them pay you more is simply thuggery.  Running to a union and asking them to take over your personal responsibility of negotating the value of your labor in hopes they can come up with clever ways of  blackmailing your employer to pay you more than the free market will is not only ultimately self-defeating but dishonest.  And the combination of the two wherein your blackmail is protected by federal law is the worst of both worlds.  That is way beyond collective bargaining, it is economic buccaneering.

Almost Solvent's picture

Depends on what "job".

Minimum wage, McJobs are not what I think you are talking about. 

You can only quit and find a better job if you have skills, which many McJobs not only don't need, but don't want their workers to have skills.

I agree that if you don't like it, quit - but if your only skill is being unskilled, then you're just trading one shit job for another. 

Not that spending thousands on a college degree gurantees anything unless you pick a field that is actually hiring and not offshorable. 


redpill's picture

If people expect to be able to be well paid in an advanced economy while having no skills, then they are either extremely naive or mentally disabled.  Learn to be a plumber.  Learn to be a bartender.  Look for what is hiring in your area and learn to do that.  If you managed to get to the point where you need to support yourself and/or your family and you have no marketable job skills, then it's time to stop doing things your way (because that obviously hasn't worked) and start learning the skills to do the things that people are hiring for.  People are so complacent and so unwilling to learn something new or go in a different direction.  Life doesn't come to you, you have to go out and grab it by the scruff of the neck.

Lost Wages's picture

The best part of the economic collapse will be seeing you in the unemployment line next to all the "naive" people.

NidStyles's picture

You do realize that is very unlikely with the amount ofknowledge and intelligence he displayed here.


With the civility he treated your commentary you felt justified to wish him bad tidings though. Who is really the aggressor here? Who is the anti-social actor in this conversation? Surprise, it's you.

Lost Wages's picture

Um, yeah I'm antisocial. Because this society is insane.

Vendetta's picture

or his kids burning up in a garment factory that some f'ing company so graciously brought back from bangalore after the last bastions of worker protections in this country have been eradicated.  But it will be the f'ing kids fault because they just didn't grab prosperity by the scruff of the neck and run off into the lsd colored sunset.

toady's picture

I was in a slightly different scenario. The company was downsizing, but I didn't play along.

As people were layed off everyone else had to work more hours. I wouldn't do it.

The froze wages and even asked some people to take pay cuts. I wouldn't do it.

They still have two guys doing 60-70 hour weeks doing my job. I do lunch with them once a month just to keep up with the gossip.

It would be very easy to accept your premise, but the world is not as simple as saying 'screw you' and walking out.

NidStyles's picture

Actually, it is. You're just scared of standing up for yourself.

Matt's picture

So, were you fired or did you quit?

Renewable Life's picture

Goodbye Detroit Auto Worker..... Hello Michigan Militia!!!!

Renewable Life's picture

It will be quit a dilemma for Obama, when ex-union workers start killing fat cat billionaires and their stooge politicians!! Will that be a justified workers revolution or a terrorist act???? Now things have started to get complicated!!!! It's a whole new ball game Obama, when it's northern industrial union workers instead of unorganized southern labor, isn't it????

Cursive's picture

@Renewable Life

The snake, lacking any further prey, must eventually eat it's own tail.