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View Diary: It's Not Wage Stagnation, It's Wage Robbery (151 comments)

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  •  DS - employee ownership is a path that I like (1+ / 0-)
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    Darth Stateworker

    This is an area I hope to write more about this year. In the past we had more incentives for business owners to sell their companies to the employees when they retired or decided it was time to sell and do something else. There are tens of thousands of small and medium sized companies sold every year in the US. How do we make the employees a legitimate player in the purchase of those companies? That seems to be a public policy that is in everyone's interest.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 06:07:37 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  The problem (1+ / 0-)
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      VClib

      with making an "employee ownership" argument - it's quite easy for righties to twist such arguments around to say that it's "socialism", as the workers actually do own the means of production.

      Is it really socialism?  No.  But given that the right has no problem labeling things as socialism inaccurately as it is, they can simply employ their favorite boogieman and continue their modern-day red-baiting campaign.

      It's a great idea - but it won't win any converts from the other side  and that's what we really need to do:  pry a few of them away from their cognitive dissonance protected ideology.

      As a side note:  One could argue more for German-style labor/management relations and get a similar effect as employee ownership would bring about due to Germanys penchant for corporate co-determination.  Of course, then the righties can run their mouths about the evil unions...

      Basically, they've got every angle covered with some sort of rhetorical nonsense, don't they?  Ugh.

      "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

      by Darth Stateworker on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 06:17:38 PM PST

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      •  DS - I don't think so for two reasons (0+ / 0-)

        First, socialism is government owning the means of production, not employees. Nearly every startups starts as an employee owned company and no one has any problem with employee ownership in that model.

        Second, the employees will be competing in the open market to purchase the companies. This won't be a gift, employees will have some skin in the game.

        This is all free market policy. I don't think the other side will mind at all. In fact, I think we can get them on board and make this bipartisan.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 06:34:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're missing the point. (0+ / 0-)

          I'm not saying it's an accurate argument.  I'm pointing out how easy it is for fact-free rightwingers to simply dismiss it using their go-to boogieman of socialism.

          Remember - they don't give a shit if the argument is accurate.  Only that it can scare the bejeezus out of their fear-driven base with evil sounding words or concepts.  The validity of what they are saying isn't relevant to them.  They'd try telling people the color orange is actually purple if they thought it would get them a few more votes.  Reality, as you and I see it, doesn't matter.

          In other words - my response is "devils advocate" on how Republican strategists would respond to such a suggestion being put forth by the mainstream.

          As such, I think we've simply got a better chance of convincing people that they deserve a bigger share of the profit - because it's the truth, it isn't gimmicky to say that, and you cannot malign a somewhat more equitable profit sharing with the "socialism" boogieman to anyone with half a brain, provided it's argued in a way that frames the argument correctly.

          The easiest way to make that argument is mathematically.  IE: discussing how much profit an employees position generates per hour - and then stating that the larger share of that profit generated by the employees work should go to the employee, while the employer would get a smaller share.

          However, it's the whole "making an argument mathematically" thing that bores the shit out of people and prevents them from paying attention.

          "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

          by Darth Stateworker on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 06:49:58 PM PST

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          •  DS - the problem is the ownership issue (0+ / 0-)

            Government can impose higher taxes on owners who take out large salaries. Government can also raise the minimum wage. Unions can help adjust the pie slices to negotiate a better deal for workers. But beyond that, what can government due to compel business owners to share a larger piece of the pie with workers? The owners slice the pie.

            The reason I like employee owned companies (and I think it can be bipartisan) is that the employees have the power through ownership to slice the pie in a way they collectively think is fair.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 07:07:21 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Which is why (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              VClib

              I talked about German-style co-determination above.  It combines both aspects of employees having a hand in how the company is run and having motivation to make the company more profitable.

              It does this without the liability of having the right scream "socialism" - the accuracy of which notwithstanding.

              I believe it would be easier to get their voters to go along with passing co-determination laws than implementing any other solution.  I think the recent kerfluffle at the VW plant in Chattanooga could be a springboard for that.  Basically, VW wanted the union because they wanted a works council - which is how they implement their co-determination.  They could not have a works council without the union because of how US labor law is structured.

              It's political gamesmanship.  One-up assholes like Bob Corker by saying "Let's change the law to require works councils, giving VW what they want while avoiding having to force workers into unions."  BANG!  Workers now have a voice on the job, while avoiding the union boogieman Republicans have built over the years.

              It's this kind of "turn-it-around-on-the-other-guy" type of politics that Democrats generally fail at.

              Basically, I'm all about strategy.  Like I said - I love the idea of employee ownership.  I just don't know if we can sell it to the masses.

              "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

              by Darth Stateworker on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 07:26:16 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  The concepts aren't mutually exclusive (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Darth Stateworker

                I favor changing the labor laws to allow works councils, but those councils will only have the power that owners bestow on them.

                I wonder how organized labor would view a bill to allow works councils in a non-union company? Are works councils widely used in union shops?

                "let's talk about that"

                by VClib on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 07:43:44 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  They aren't used in the US (0+ / 0-)

                  by any shops that I'm aware of, union or non-union.

                  However, my understanding is that under US labor law (basically, the way Taft-Hartley is structured), you could only implement one legally in a union shop.

                  That is why VW was so hard-pressed to try to get a union in Chattanooga.  Their German works council basically demanded it so the US plant would also have a works council.

                  As far as the level of power they'd get - that's why I said legislate them as they do in Germany.  It's German co-determination laws that gives works councils their power.  Basically, the laws state workers have just as large a voice in running a business as the shareholders do.

                  Which makes sense, because in any capitalist system that has any chance at lasting long-term, one needs to treat labor and capital as equals.  When one side holds too much power - the system collapses, just as we see here today in the US.

                  Even the righties here acknowledge the collapse.  They simply blame it on labor by inferring and implying it's our pathetically small union memberships fault - instead of acknowledging capital has a huge upper hand on labor in the US today.

                  "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

                  by Darth Stateworker on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 08:14:41 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  DS - required German style works councils (0+ / 0-)

                    are a higher political mountain to climb than card check or employee ownership. And I think you won't have organized labor as an ally.

                    "let's talk about that"

                    by VClib on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 08:58:47 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I'd disagree. (0+ / 0-)

                      It's all in the framing of the debate.  Frame works councils and co-determination as an alternative to unions.  Even most rightie voters realize they're getting screwed at work.  They just buy in to the anti-union vitriol.  So offering this as an alternative to unions could work.

                      As far as labors involvement: why would labor NOT want this?  It would seem to me a works council at a non-union employer would essentially be a benefit to unions, as it would theoretically be easier to organize since the works have some say-so in operations, so they could tamp down on the union crushing nonsense management tends to do at US companies.

                      "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

                      by Darth Stateworker on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 11:01:05 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  For the same reason organized labor has always (0+ / 0-)

                        been against organized work councils in the US. The unions see it as a replacement of, rather than a path to a union shop.

                        "let's talk about that"

                        by VClib on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 02:06:03 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I have never heard (0+ / 0-)

                          of organized labor in the US objecting to works councils here.  UAW certainly embraced the idea in Chattanooga.

                          Do you have an example of the opposite?

                          "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

                          by Darth Stateworker on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 03:25:57 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I should have worded my comment more (0+ / 0-)

                            carefully. I don't know of any attempts by unions to form works councils or any position by organized labor to oppose works councils. US organized labor has always been fearful of anything that looked like a "company union" and so I am speculating that they will think of these entities as union substitutes. The reality is that for much of Europe works councils have powers and authority that no union in the US has over employers and employees. You should reach out to some of the organized labor people here at DKOS, maybe by writing a diary, and see how they feel about works councils in non-union shops in the US. It would be interesting to read their views and see if they would support legislation to implement them.

                            "let's talk about that"

                            by VClib on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 05:08:14 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Having been involved in the labor movement (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            VClib, Tonedevil

                            for a long time, I think your speculation on this one is a bit off.

                            Labor knows that it's likely not coming back in the manner it once was in the US, and is actively looking for new ways for workers to have influence without a traditional union.  This is, in my opinion, exactly what labor leaders have been preaching for.  Contrary to the image the right portrays, organized labor is more about the workers than simply "collecting dues or making union offers the 1%" or whatever other bullshit the right usually lobs out there.  At the end of the day - it's about getting workers a fair wage and a fair shake.  As such, I don't think any true member of the labor movement would think of works councils as a bad thing in the slightest.

                            You make a good point in that I should query other union members specifically on works councils to get a reading on their opinions - but since I interact with fellow union members from multiple unions on a daily basis - I think it's fairly safe to say I've already got a good idea what these folks are thinking.

                            As for DKOS - in reading the UAWVW thread, I don['t recall seeing even one Kossack say anything negative about works councils - and if it was a problem for union Kossacks, I expect there would have been quite the discussion on it.  Mainly, all I saw was support.  TONS of support.

                            "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

                            by Darth Stateworker on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 05:36:13 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  DS - I have no experience at all with unions (0+ / 0-)

                            so I will defer to your experience and expertise.

                            "let's talk about that"

                            by VClib on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 05:42:15 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

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