Union Millwrights


Ain't economics grand?
I, too, have been amazed at some of the vitriol spilled on this thread over the last few days, although it appears that some civility is starting to be re-established. I have been ignoring this until today; simply having tracked the number of posts appearing daily was scary enough. Just a couple of comments:
I, too, have had a dim view of unions generally, based on observations when I was younger (70s-80s, I would guess) of strike activities against automotive corporations when the relative wages of the typical worker in that setting were so much higher than most "normal" workers. I, like Harold, always have felt that I didn't need anyone to represent me to management because I could do it better, just by doing my job in the way I could do it. I did have an experience working for Harvard (at the medical school as a research machinist) during the time when a number of jobs got unionized. I didn't join the union as I recall, but my salary got bumped about 10% as a result of the process. That was nice, but it gave me a lot of mixed feelings.
The other main experience I had that informed my limited personal view of unions was while I was managing the shop floor at a plastics fabricator/machine shop in New England in the early 80s. We were fairly close to the GE jet engine mfg. plant in Lynn, Mass., and there were some massive layoffs there, resulting in a number of job seekers in the front door of my facility. People who had been there 15-25 yrs., calling themselves "machinists", were applying for all-around machinist positions, but had zero experience on any machine other than, for instance, a 48" vertical turret lathe, in all the years of work at the place. That seemed to me at the time ludicrous. My shop was a non-union environment, a division of a privately-held corporation, and there was no way I could justify hiring those applicants, even if I could have paid them at the much higher wages to which they were accustomed. They were appearing to me as unskilled labor, relatively speaking.
My more worldly views of late have come from the last 17 years of work for a high-tech company building optical metrology equipment. After 16 years and one previous merger, the company was acquired by a much larger corporation, about one year was spent putting the pieces in place, and then major chunks of both non-essential busywork and core technology were outsourced to India, Singapore, and other domestic suppliers. The acquisition was based in part on a motivation to eliminate competition. Two dozen people (20%) were laid off (after the co. had gutted the engineering staff at a different location, 70+ people), and the operation will now consist of opening boxes and bolting components on.
This most recent experience doesn't really change my views of unions, generally, but it is an indication that "increasing shareholder value" is THE driving force in the corporate boardroom. The tactics for doing so involve gains in productivity. Once you have reached the maximum gain in the existing location by improvements in efficiency, the logical next step is reducing the costs of that level of production. Different material suppliers and a cheaper labor source are your two choices.
It is my opinion that unions were a major factor in labor's economic development. The industrial "robber barons" and plutocrats of the early 20th century looked on the working class simply as a commodity, to be used as needed when needed, but not requiring any feedback or consideration. The wage scale disparity between management and the bottom of the worker scale was fairly wide. The interesting part today is that this gap, after narrowing somewhat in the middle and late 20th century, is widening dramatically again, for a number of reasons. It may be also interesting to see if the highly-compensated top executives located in the US end up getting themselves out- sourced to a lower-priced nation, where salary, options, and stock grants may be less lucrative....
Dan and Ed -- I wouldn't presume to offer much substance to your comments and discussion, but having had some small exposure to the German business economy from working through a European service division, I can say that there is a wide variety of subsidies and grants that many businesses in Germany use in various ways. Siting the AMD plant in Dresden in a high-labor cost area has a great deal to do with not only those subsidies, but also the availability of raw material within the local area (silicon wafers from Siltronic/Wacker AG).
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wrote in message

It's nice to hear some reasoned and experienced views on such a hot topic, Matt. Yes, we hardly touched on the effect of subsidies. Maybe we'll get into that next winter term, after finals. d8-)
-- Ed Huntress
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On Sun, 11 Nov 2007 00:36:17 -0500, "Ed Huntress"
<snip some good stuff>

<snip more good stuff> =====================NB: Your qualification "if it [capital] has no place to go" is the critical one.
If you check all the free trade pacts, capital movement is one of the first things discussed and guaranteed.
It should be noted that one of the foundational assumptions in Ricardo's thesis of "Comparative Advantage" was the fixed nature of capital, and has been pointed out by numerous later analysts/economists, if free flow of capital is assumed, any apparent "comparative advantage" disappears and only "absolute advantage" exists. This indicates the degree to which free trade pacts were and are justified by "new-speak" and "double-think" for more information on this point click on =========================http://www.pulsethebook.com/index.php/index.php?tag=theory-of-comparative-advantage "As David Korten points out, our global economy today is less about trade than about global economic integration. That difference is important because, although the theory of comparative advantage applies to ==>balanced<== trade between otherwise independent national economies, a very different theorythe theory of downward levelingapplies when national economies are integrated [emphasis added].
The problem lies in where investment capital flows. When capital is confined within the national borders of trading partners, he says, it must flow through the industries in which its home country has a comparative advantage. Contrast this with what happens when whole national economies are integrated with one another, as they are in today's model." ===================http://www.publicpolicy.umd.edu/faculty/daly/Globalization%20Inconsi.doc.pdf http://www.rediff.com/money/2007/feb/09guest.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_trade
Actually when the effects of inflation and taxation are considered, the typical US saver is getting a *NEGATIVE* return on their [real] money in the bank, leading to endless "squawks" from the chattering class about the low savings rates.
FWIW -- these "squawks" concentrate only on the cash savings UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE SAVER, and neglect extractions not under the savers control (and subject to expropriation and misapplication at any time) such as employer pension contributions [which are part of the wages paid] and social security taxes.
A quick review indicates that the US economic sectors currently providing an apparent high yield are also the ones receiving extensive direct and indirect governmental subsidies, for example bio fuels, health care, and defense related such as Boeing. Much if not all of these "earnings" and "productivity gains" are accounting bong-hits created from cob-webs and moon-beams, such as CDOs and derivatives, and are not verified by such pragmatic measures as "dividends" paid to the stock holders [with out dissipation of capital, ala GM ], redeemed bonds/reduced debt, and most important, higher tax revenues. Indeed by the pragmatic principal of "show me the money," these "hot" sectors are in reality, simply typical American money sumps with good accountants and even better political connections.
Unka' George [George McDuffee] ===========Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, 17 March 1814.
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wrote:

Yeah, except with China and India. They've both dragged their feet on that issue.

http://www.pulsethebook.com/index.php/index.php?tag=theory-of-comparative-advantage
My God, George, you've kicked off a 400-level course in trade economics. <g> I'll just sit back and watch.
Meantime, for anyone interested, it's necessary to understand "comparative advantage" and "absolute advantage" as economists use the terms. They are NOT what most people think they are. In fact, comparative advantage will throw anyone for a loop, the first time they find out what it really means.
Without that, though, you can't get anywhere in understanding what economists are talking about on the subject of world trade. Since it's becoming an ever-larger factor in our lives, it's worth taking the half-hour it requires.
-- Ed Huntress
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On Sun, 11 Nov 2007 14:42:43 -0500, "Ed Huntress"
<snip>

<snip> ==========As in "yes, we have no bananas..."
In short, "comparative advantage" is concentrating on doing what you are the least bad at. A real-life current example of "new speak" and "double think" which apparently underlies our economic and trade policy.
Unka' George [George McDuffee] ===========Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, 17 March 1814.
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On Sun, 11 Nov 2007 14:42:43 -0500, "Ed Huntress"
<snip>

<snip> =============Showing again how much difference having national leaders in your government, industry and society with memories of living under foreign occupation, or at least domination/exploitation, of your country, society, economy, etc. can make.
No "citizens of the world" in those governments, having been there and done that!
Unka' George [George McDuffee] ===========Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, 17 March 1814.
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snip-----

Heh!
While I was employed in the union shop that was closed due to the union killing production, I was told, personally, by a union worker, to slow down. I was turning out 25 final drives (threading shafts for lock rings) per day, but was told that the union liked each man to turn out only eight. They had the philosophy that if you turned out 25 each day, then had a bad day and got only eight, that the company would likely give you a hard time.
Makes sense to me. Give the company a bad day, every day, for fair pay.
I can't imagine why that plant closed down.
Eimco crawler tractor division. Doors closed in 1965, as I recall.
Harold
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to

--

a

Interestingly, most of the other SPAMMERS are pretty polite.
All I've ever seen is sweet-tempered Islamists trying to convince you that their way is right, and polite "businessmen" trying to convince you to do business with them.
They are vilified here - which says to me that it is WHAT you say.....not HOW you say it!!

wife

here.

Are you saying that you don't have enough self-control to avoid opening posts that you KNOW will be an insult to you?

As do many of the people who respond to other SPAMMERS without actually knowing them.
You don't need to have a cup of coffee with a SPAMMER to know that you don't like him.

but

money

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century,

about

the

you

about

Blah....blah...blah!

hall

Geez! I'll bet you walk into theaters yelling "FIRE!"

about

to

class.

Yet more blah....blah....blah!
Perhaps "un-American" would be a more appropriate phrase than the word "communist".....

the

....except to SPAM the group regularly - which entitles him to the same courtesies and treatment that all other SPAMMERS receive. My opinion is that he joins a l-o-n-g list of SPAMMERS who actually owe the newsgroup an apology.
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Well, if Ron were trying to get you to worship Allah or to sell you union T-shirts, you might have a point. But he's not, so you don't.
--
Ed Huntress



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I skipped this thread for a few days, but finally opened it and am a little bit surprised by the vitriol shown here.
i
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On Fri, 09 Nov 2007 09:24:57 -0600, with neither quill nor qualm,

Why, Ig? Most of us who have been in unions have less-than-favorable outlooks on them afterward. When someone comes in spewing like that, why shouldn't they get what they deserve? Usenet gives instant karma.
--
Real freedom lies in wildness, not in civilization.
-- Charles Lindbergh
  Click to see the full signature.
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Iggy---
I'm inclined to let people be------and don't particularly like the acrimony that has developed------but I also don't like being endlessly spammed by any individual that is peddling an agenda that is known to be harmful, at least to me, and is relentless in his/her presentations, using their assumed position to elevate themselves above others, as if their union affiliation, somehow, makes them better than the people to whom they're proselytizing. When this individual drops the union dogma, he's likely to be good company-----but not until then.
We can talk about just about any subject matter without insisting the "other guy" is good enough only when he joins our organization, and agrees with our point of view, which is obviously slanted to benefit a few at great cost to many.
Harold
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So, How would everyone feel if I started posting long endless dissertations on the benefit of having Hillary as our next president? After all, some descriptions of her have used metal related terms? I could go on and on and on and on as to why I think she is the greatest thing since popcorn. And everyone is expected to just accept it silently?
I don't think so. And I'm not a Hillary fan.
Steve
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*************************************************************************************************
Starrett Pocket Charts
I have lots of new Starrett pocket charts. The charts are 3x5 inches.. I have both tape drill size and the metric conversion.These charts are handy for your tool boxes. If you will email me your mailing address. I will send you a set or two.
Millwright Ron www.unionmillwright.com
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You don't have to accept it silently. All you have to do is disagree. If you attack the messenger as a "fool" or a communist, we'll know that you're really at a loss for words and not really up to engaging the argument.
--
Ed Huntress



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Funny, I swear you said:

Again, nothing personal, Ed. It's just that things are not always as they appear, or as you say they are. In this case, your positive union bias shows loud and clear.
Hell no, I'm not angry. This has been a damned good educational experience for this old uneducated idiot (that didn't see the writing's on the wall).
Harold
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Yeah, he slipped with the "only an idiot" remark. Those are the kinds of words that come when someone is really frustrated at communicating something -- like all of us here slip into once in a while.
If the arguments here were mostly pro-union, I'd wind up being the anti-union guy. I think the most accurate thing to say is that I'll oppose the most strongly prejudiced position when the facts actually are two-sided and complex. And that's definitely the case with unions.

Well, you're certainly not an idiot, Harold. Far from it. I don't waste much time talking to idiots, except when they start insulting me.
--
Ed Huntress



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Thanks, Ed. I consider that high praise from someone I respect.
Harold
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have

here

individual

or

that

do

say.....not

Close....but, as usual, taken - and answered - completely out of context.
It is pretty obvious that Millwright Wrong is trying to get people to worship the unions as ferventkly as he does......just like an Islamist extremist.
.
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And it's pretty obvious who you want us to villify, and that you want us to worship the political right.
It won't work, asterisk. You're trying to make something out of it that it isn't, while posting snarling sarcasm and insults in a ratio of about 10:1.
--
Ed Huntress



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