Unions and Wage – Productivity Increases

Repost from the old site.
James Schipper’s comments suggest that productivity naturally leads to increased wages in capitalism due to the laws of capital and labor. I argue that productivity increases during conditions of labor surplus normal in most capitalist states probably come mostly due to the militant actions of Organized Labor.
James does aver that the replacement of American workers with illegal alien labor did have an effect on the destruction of wages in the construction industry. I argue that there were two stages to the process.
First they broke the unions, then they hired the illegals. Those were the two stages. The exact same thing occurred in many manufacturing plants, especially meat processing. Slaughterhouses, poultry-processing and seafood processing plants all used to be good union jobs with high wages as recently as the 1980’s.
First they took out the unions, then they brought in illegals or other immigrants to the work. Many other fields besides construction have been taken out by illegals, including painting and landscaping. My White friends did all of these jobs and made good or decent money doing it. Having your own landscaping business is still a good way for young White men to earn some decent money. So much for Americans won’t mow lawns. This is all gone now as most of this has gone straight on over to illegals.
James’ argument operates only in the cases of a labor shortage. With a vast surplus of labor, an “army of labor” as the capitalists call the teeming hordes of unemployed, there is not much need to raise wages to compete with other businesses for top employees, as there are 5 guys waiting to take the place of the guy who quits.
The notion that unions are not necessary for workers to have good working conditions is unique to union busters. If unions are superfluous, do nothing but harm workers, and don’t even raise wages or improve conditions, why would anyone join one? Better yet, why would capitalists oppose them so ferociously?
The record all over the West seems to be that the more unionized a labor force is or was, the higher wages were. Economic growth used to be spread out among all income classes in the US back in the 1950’s and 1960’s. In the 1970’s, this started to decline to the point now where, from 1980-1992, only the top 20% gained money and the entire bottom 80% of the population lost money.
I would argue that this is exactly how the capitalists wanted it. This occurred during the pro-business Reagan and Bush Administrations. Furthermore, the decline in US wages and the lack of filtering down of productivity dovetails perfectly with the devastation of US unions. Not only that, but the war on US unions, along with the theft of workers’ productivity growth, was all part of a project by US business.
To say that in the US, the businessman is the worker’s friend stretches reality. Unless the worker organizes to get a good wage, a share of economic and especially productivity growth and better conditions, thing look quite bleak.
James argues that it is better to work for a big business than a small one in Canada. This is probably true, but I would argue that workers are often treated better by very small businesses, who, around here anyway, often treat workers as if they are part of a family.

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