Harley's Ultimatum: Where's the Line?
I'm not asking to be snarky, but to help further the discussion surrounding the Harley union vote yesterday to reject compensation cuts in light of the company's booming profits.
After all, as a liberal, I see a line on the union side. In spite of my strong support for unions, there are times when I think unions should accept cuts (as the Harley union just did in 2003).
For instance, if the Harley company could show that it was financially necessary for the union to accept pay cuts of up to 33 percent for new workers, increases in health benefit costs for all workers, and a decrease in the pension benefit for all workers (and it also wouldn't hurt if the execs could show that they're also accepting cuts), then I would say the union should accept the deal.
And many of the union workers agree with that. According to the Journal Seninel this morning:
Does conservative ideology offer a similar line for management? Or when management says, "Jump," should the automatic union and public response be, "How high?'
Harley workers interviewed after the vote Monday said a highly profitable company - Harley is on track to net more than $1 billion this year - could afford to expand without extracting concessions from current employees and cutting pay for future hires.
"They try to portray themselves as being different from most companies," one woman said. "They're no different. They're greedy. They have the funds to provide what they're going to build."
Her voice rising, the woman also said a firm as profitable as Harley shouldn't be seeking governmental financial help.
"I personally think Harley should be ashamed of themselves even asking the state to kick in on something like this," she said.
Other employees indicated they would accept concessions if Harley were in financial trouble.
"I can understand if it were GM or Ford, who are hurting," one worker said. "They're not hurting by any means."
If there is a line, then it would go a long way toward helping the conversation on this issue if conservative commentators would share it rather than simply blaming the union for supposedly costing the area jobs (see here and here for two examples), as if management didn't have a choice in the matter at all.
Side-Note: Just to be clear, what Harley presented to the union wasn't merely a "concession package," as euphemistically described in the JS, but a set of compensation cuts. And it also wasn't an offer, it was an ultimatum.