Philosophy of a Company Which Rejects the ‘Plantation Theory’ America’s employers should thank their lucky stars for the labor movement that has evolved in this nation. That movement stands as a bulwark against statism from both right and left. The day American labor is rendered impotent, free capitalism as we know it will be on its deathbed. Hitler’s first target in creating his corporate state with the Nazis as takeover business partners was the free trade union movement. The founding fathers of the Soviet outlaw ed free the unions as instruments of the “bourgeois” state. As free trade the unions died in Nazi Germany and were outlawed in Soviet Rus lea sia, free capitalism and democratic freedoms also went down “un the drain. rec uara the to self-organization has been in place ntees lace in this nation workers for some right 45 years. The law was enacted to insure that American labor shall truly be free and that working people shall not fear for their livelihoods or personal safety because they choose to exercise their constitutional right to organize. Thanks to the law and because our political leaders must t reckon with organized labor, the “yellow-dog” contract, the openly circulated black list, armed thugs paid to keep out unions, the labor spy, the Ludlow massacres, and other anti-union tac c tics that often threatened class war are no longer the rule. I fear, c however, that major employers who should know better are g again igniting the flame of class hatred. There now is in evidence a carefully orchestrated attempt to IN create a “union-free environment” in the workplace. Major em ployers who have long had harmonious relations with unions of t their employees have joined this anti-union crusade. They hire a w new breed of union buster who travels under the consultant tr banner. The new union buster sows fear in the hearts of workers, often bending the law beyond repair. Some counsel e employers to take strikes, to defy labor board election results, to c resort increasingly to the courts, and otherwise to weaken or destroy unions. m No matter how stated, those engaged in creating the “union ar of free environment” are violating the spirit, if not the letter, of the m law. They are engaged in an intimidation that the law was sup posed to have outlawed. Consciously or otherwise, they are m readying a vintage where grapes of class hatred are stored. I w and reconsider. urge the reasonable employers of the land to stop, look, listen, b The basic labor code that One way or another, there will always be a labor movement in any free society. The choices may not be palatable to many at the top of our corporations. The possibilities include the codeterminism of West Germany, the British shop steward model, and the highly political movements of France and Italy. I urge t hose seeking to create a “union-free environment” to consider hese potential alternatives. There are three basic elements in the American democracy–a freely elected government, a free business ommunity, and a free labor movementall operating within the onstraints of democratically established law. If the freedoms uaranteed by that law are denied to any single partner hether by undue restraint or legal subterfugeall freedoms ill suffer. I speak as a citizen and businessman deeply troubled by oday’s trends. I speak because I feel that private enterprise as e know it cannot flourish in a society fractured by class haeds. I speak also as the head of a fully unionized and successful nterprise. The experiences of my firm are proof that aceptance of the union can mean a better-managed company. Obviously, we who manage the company often must comproise in our dealings with our unionized employees, but the net fecf has been a workforce unafraid to tell us what it thinks we e doing that is wrong and an environment that has made us ore competent and humane employers. There’s much talk about declining productivity with manageent increasingly seeking to shift the blame to its unionized orkforce. This is a cop-out, a virtual confession of failure. It . . an Ina ility to lead, motivate, and join with the workforce in finding creative compromise. There’s a tendency to “manage” by decree from on high. Top management frequently seeks to view the workforce as so many units of cost. Middle and lower management are shut out of the decision-making process; attempts are made to manage by substituting intimidation for effective leadership. The American worker has accomplished miracles of productivity. Given reasonable job security , economic stability, and hope of realizing the American dream of upward mobility for children if not for the parents, the American worker again will d the world. That will never happen, however, in any so-called ion-free environment.” American workers aren’t fools; they ognize wage slavery no matter how it is labeled. Bernard Rapoport, Chairman of the Board P.O. Box 208, Waco, Texas 76703 American Income Life Insurance Company 10 JULY 27, 1979
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