As I am writing this, it is Labor Day in the United States. The holiday is supposed to celebrate the contribution of American workers to the success of the nation. In doing so, we also should remember the role of organized labor in keeping workers safe and protecting their rights while contributing to the growth of the employers and the economy.
While this is the day we should be celebrating the importance of workers, the political climate of today has the opposite effect. We are told unions hurt the economy, workers are not able to produce items, and there is no reason to raise the minimum wage. Their distorted reasoning would have us believe the poor are the reason the economy is not growing faster.
I am reminded of a story Dr. W. Edwards Deming, the founder of the quality movement told. He asked if his audience believed bank failures were caused by poor work of the tellers. Perhaps, he asked, the banks failed because tellers gave the wrong change to customers.
He pointed out how ludicrous that idea would be, using it to show the problems that lead to almost any business failure are the fault of the system, not the workers. What Deming said is true today.
The economic system today is slanted toward those who control it. The disparity in earnings between the top wage earners and those doing the production is growing. In many ways, the economic frustration of workers points out the need workers to be part of unions for financial survival.
A recent story on CNN suggests unions could be on the rise. The labor movement is as relevant today as ever, but it needs to maintain a focus on how is serves its members. Many younger workers do not understand the role unions have played to provide the conditions they now take for granted or the importance their union will play in preserving those opportunities.
Today we need to remember the contributions of the employees we depend on every day and not take their work for granted. We also need to remember the important role unions played in building our economy as politicians continue their attacks on the labor movement.
At CALMC, we believe management and employees must engage together to improve the work system for the benefit of all. If either party thinks their victory means the other must be destroyed, their system is doomed to failure.