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    Greg and Beth

    the political and personal musings of two
    mountaineers living in west-central Florida
     
    On Unions Comment
    Gregory Morris, 3/27/08 8:25:31 am
    Squeaky and
    SailorCurt have posts about unions. I could go on for hours about this, but I'll try and keep it focussed.

    Being a West Virginia native, the topic is quite important to me. WV is one of the places where the unionization movement began in a terrible and bloody way. Coal miners were being used basically like expendable slave labor, and this was one of the places where people finally said "we've had enough" and basically started a war on the coal industry. Similar stories have been told across many industries all over the country, but not many were as bloody as in WV (see Matewan as an example.) Those were the days when there was no rule of law, other than the town boss's will.

    That was then. Now, the state has laws protecting workers from predatory employers. Both union and non-union miners are paid well (although non-union workers are paid better and actually get to keep what they earn.) However, the unions have grown so powerful in the last 50 years that, with the help of heavy regulation and taxation, the coal industry has nearly been driven out of business.
    <tangent>Environment
    alists cheer for this, of course, but the state's economy is on the line. If you think the environment is being abused now, consider what would happen if the entire state went into a deep recession where the government was willing to do anything to keep afloat. Consider completely unregulated mountaintop removal. Consider easing restrictions on mine land reclamation and water treatment.</tangent>

    From an economic perspective, the coal industry should be booming. Demand is extremely high. Coal prices are up. We are exporting coal to China, who isn't able dig fast enough to keep up with their own needs (and they don't even have worker protection laws or unions.) However the artificial impairment of the industry has slowed it down and made it barely profitable. This isn't just a problem for a few coal executives... the entire state's economy depends on coal. No coal mines means low employment, which means the entire state suffers. It isn't hard to connect the economic dots here.

    It is a simple fact that at one point in our state's history, unions were necessary. It was the union that made coal companies treat their employees as human beings. They pulled together in the early part of last century and succeeded in their goals. They forced legislation through a government that had previously been under the control of the coal companies. They guaranteed better working conditions and higher pay. But they have since grown into mammoth bureaucracies who care little for either union members, or the state's collective welfare. Being pro-union in WV used to mean you wanted fairness for workers. Now it just means you are out of touch with the truth.

    [Comments are closed after a month.]

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