Updated: Jun 2
The top five worker unions in the U.S.A. have been able to maintain incredible collective bargaining power. They’ve been especially successful at negotiating better conditions for workers. The top unions include Communications Workers of America (CWA), United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), International Brotherhood of Teamsters (Teamsters). The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are on that list as well.
However, there is a cycle, a pendulum that swings back and forth over time. Sometimes it swings towards and favors the labor movement and sometimes the capitalist.
The capitalist needs three tools to fulfill its objective and have more currency flow to shareholders. Those tools are capital, labor, and physical resources. When unions are weak, the capitalist take advantage of workers to get more done in shorter periods of time. The capitalist also tries to find resources (including capitol itself) more cheaply. Lowering costs leave the capitalist with more currency. The currency is applied to shareholder profit or innovation of their product, service, or expansion of the business.
In a system of capitalism, this is the natural dynamic.
In the name of higher profits, we will move labor to low-cost countries when we can. We will find physical resources such as cotton, wood, food, energy at the lowest cost globally. We will lobby government officials to do things to make currencies cheaper to borrow. And we will lobby for all sorts of laws that are less financially burdensome to businesses.
Over time, this dynamic has a negative effect, and we will see workers unable to put bread on the table. Employment will go down as we export jobs to the low-cost bidder, and the wealth divide will increase. The positives to capitalists are higher profits, expansion, innovation, and usually a significant pay raise for the CEO.
There is a fine balance between owners and shareholders, and workers. But without workers, businesses will not be able to function.
What happens if a union abuses its power and makes a business unstable and less profitable? The business becomes unviable or unattractive to investors and risks shutting down…then no one wins. Shareholders pull their investments and put it elsewhere for a greater return. CEOs don’t make their bonuses and leave, or the Board of Directors replaces them.
On the other hand, what if a company abuses its power? What if it pushes workers into worse conditions in the name of profits (or other things)? Then the worker will also leave or, if they can’t relocate, they may form a union. With union backing, they will push the company to provide better conditions.
At this point in our short history, America is again at a crossroads. The worker is under incredible pressure as food inflation, energy inflation, and supply shortages increase. It remains that the majority of our country’s workforce can’t afford a $400 emergency. Where can anyone go with only $400? Are they not prisoners in a form of serfdom, unable to buy food, or to put gas in their car to get to work? Do they have time to find another job, to go on interviews, and risk losing their existing work?
And so, unions will be coming back, and with them some negotiating power to swing the pendulum towards the labor force.
Many corporations aware of this dynamic and have a great degree of compassion for their workforce. These companies understand the symbiotic relationship between profits and people, and that a fair balance must be maintained. For business to continue undisrupted, they understand the value of quality work and performance. And for employees to be at their best, they must be able to put food on the table. They must also know their employers are taking care of them in ways that they themselves cannot afford. This can come in the form of subsidized health insurance, and a 401k with matching funds. Other forms are a fun work culture with a clean workplace, and the freedom for employees to be themselves.
With only $400 dollars to their name, however, there is no emergency plan for themselves or their family. Their pantry is not stocked. Many businesses are in counties at significant risk of climate disasters. In fact, over one third of U.S. counties are in risk areas and will experience the knock-on effects thereof.
As capitalists and unions feel tensions, we need to confront the day-to-day pressures the American workforce is under. Capitalists need profits but inflation is increasing for everyone, and stock markets are tumbling. This is especially tough on retirees. We need to find ways to help each other develop a more stable future that secures us all.
While Secure Foods is not a panacea for all issues, there is an opportunity for peace of mind. The union workforce and capitalist organizations serve each other. They would benefit from knowing that if disaster strikes, the food portion of their disaster planning efforts is settled. This is especially true for those in high-risk counties.
Imagine a backstock of food, ready to hand out as if the company itself is FEMA. A corporation with a caring attitude and plan, is the hero of their workforce. Prepare to do something meaningful when hard times fall upon everyone, and employees will never forget.