Sunday, May 4, 2014
The More This Guy Talks, The More Labor Suffers
Catchy Tag Line
"Skilled labor isn't cheap; and cheap labor just isn't all that skilled." That sounds right. Or at least it sounds like it should be right. But it's wrong on both counts. That's why Business Manager Chet Held of New Orleans IBEW Local 130 is blowing his members' hard earned dues money when he buys time to say it on TV; and, even worse, actually doing great damage to their cause in the process.
All labor - even skilled labor - is too damn cheap; and some that's cheaper than union labor is pretty damned skilled. Those are just facts. That's why Held's slick sounding pitch is so damned foul.
The Implicit Wrongheaded Strategy
Evidently some clueless but high dollar ad agency put precisely the wrong message in Held's mouth, which he is likewise too clueless to recognize. But what he lacks in perspicacity and talent, he makes up for in ego. He puts himself in these misguided ads, foolishly staring up at what can only be a teleprompter or read-out board of some kind because he apparently can't get his mind around even a stupid and shallow message without technical assistance. It is a thinly disguised pitch to the world - especially prospective customers - to hire union electricians even though we are not cheap, we cost a good deal more than the other guys; but, hey, we're worth it. And basically the other guys suck. That is a rather tawdry and cheap argument that few if any potential customers will buy. Worse, it dirties us by actually pitting worker against worker. By definition, that is the opposite of what the union position should be.
The Actual Message We Should Be Advertising
We should be making the case that all labor, skilled and unskilled is underpaid. Don't take my word for it. This is daily corroborated by every serious analysis of the modern economy. The most surprising recent work on best seller lists is a densely researched tome by French economist, Thomas Piketty, which argues that the developed world's capitalist societies are rapidly evolving into non-democratic Oligarchies. The middle-class has already eroded more mortally than the Louisiana coastline, and we're living in an environment of perpetual economic and political hurricanes. There is much for us as union members to do, but spending members' dues money on slick TV ads that wrongly argue our labor is not cheap, and that cheaper labor doesn't deserve better compensation, is a shameful disregard of our true practical and moral mission to improve the dignity and social standing of all working people.