RUSH: Here’s Tom in Evansville, Indiana. Great to have you on the program, sir. Hello.
CALLER: How you doing today, Rush?
RUSH: Very well. Thank you.
CALLER: I’m just calling up because you’re always ripping on the unions, and I don’t understand why. I’m a rank-and-file union member myself, I have been for over 29 years now, and all we get is a decent wage, we get health insurance and a pension. What is so wrong with that that you’re so dead against unions?
RUSH: Well, I’m not dead set against unions. All I ever said is that if you’re going to join one you should know what you’re doing.
CALLER: Well, exactly. I understand that. You know, and that makes sense there, but I mean you’re always talking about the union thugs and stuff like that, I mean —
RUSH: Well, come on, now. Don’t make me mention names here. I got in trouble once with the bricklayers, being right about them. I don’t need to go there again. Look, I don’t need a cement swimsuit tonight.
CALLER: Well, I mean, come on, Rush, you’ve been watching The Sopranos too much. It doesn’t work that way. I mean, with the average rank-and-file member out there that’s hardworking and goes out there and we build our pensions up, you have to get at least five years in to get vested, we build our pensions up but then we’ve got a governor of our state over here, first day in office, he gets $28,500, then they change the law where he gets $38,500.
CALLER: He’s a second term governor. He gets half of his money.
CALLER: That’s only eight years, I mean for eight years I would love to get $48,000 a year as a pension.
RUSH: Then leave the union. This is my point. Then leave the union.
CALLER: What’s that?
RUSH: Leave the union, if you want —
CALLER: Oh, okay, and go into a 401(k) plan?
RUSH: No. No, no, no, no, no. Let me explain —
CALLER: Well, what —
RUSH: I’ll explain it to you.
RUSH: By the way, I think what you’re calling about is we had a bunch of calls here talking about the auto industry and how there are a lot of people who think the unions have bankrupted them.
CALLER: No, not that, okay, go ahead. You’re wrong on that, so —
RUSH: All these auto companies, they are the ones that made the deals and people said, ‘Yeah, but they were thugged into it, they were strong-armed into it.’ The problem is that retired employees who are no longer producing anything are still getting retirements and pensions, they’re still being paid. This is all come home to roost. Those kind of things just cannot sustain themselves. And the competitors do not have these stringent union rules and therefore they’re a little bit freer with pricing and manufacturing and so forth. But I actually think who killed the US auto industry is the US government. CAFE standards, people like Algore putting pressure on auto designers to design cars with mileage factors and so forth that nobody wants and nobody would buy, the US government, what’s happening to the auto industry, with everything involved in it, is a classic illustration of what will happen to yours if the government takes over.
RUSH: If the government gets to regulate it or own it or whatever, you just watch. Now, I’m going to answer your union question now.
CALLER: Okay. All right.
RUSH: What kind of job — I’m not asking where — what kind of work do you do in Evansville?
CALLER: I’m an operating engineer. I run heavy equipment.
RUSH: Okay, you’re a heavy equipment guy. So you drive road graders and bulldozers and this sort —
CALLER: Cranes, yes, sir.
RUSH: Cranes. Okay. Now, when you decided that that’s what you wanted to do —
RUSH: — you had probably no choice. You had to join a union to get that job, correct?
CALLER: No. I worked nonunion, and then I had an opportunity to get in the union doing the same thing I was doing but basically I got a pension and insurance, which I didn’t have before.
RUSH: Okay. Fine. Now I say the same thing to people that go into the teaching profession, when you join a union, by definition you are scrubbing your individuality. Your job performance will matter not a whit to how much you money you make. You could be the best crane operator and somebody else could be a lackadaisical crane operator and goof up and screw up. You could show up on time every day. The only way you’re going to make more money than that other guy is come in and do over time or maybe get a foreman or supervisor position. So it takes the merit out of things. Now, if you understand this going in and if the pension and health care is what’s important to you, and the union provides that, that’s cool, that’s fine. But then at the end of the day, I don’t understand the complaints about what other people make doing what they do and what their pensions are, because you went into it knowingly. You went in knowing what you were going to make. You know that you can’t negotiate for your own raise, some representative is going to do that. You also know that a lot of what you contribute in form of dues is going to be taken and used to elect Democrats, you know this going in, and so if you have an individual entrepreneurial ambition, the union is not a place for you.
But if security and the security of a union contract and, like you say, the pension and so forth, if that’s what’s attractive to you, fine, but you should look at other industries who have made deals years and years and years ago to pay pensions and unemployment or retirement packages to people that no longer work for them, eventually the companies that have made those deals are going to be in huge trouble. That’s what’s happening now to the auto industry and a number of others. Airlines are trying to off-load their pensions to the federal government. They’re trying to off-load their health care plans ’cause they can’t afford those to stay in business. When you have a business and it makes a deal that’s unionized, and it knows what its labor costs are, and as a business you want to know, get as good idea as possible your fixed labor costs, but if all they’re going to do is go up, and deflationary cycle in your business or a down economic time, then something has to give and if they’re not producing enough revenue and income to pay everybody and still report a profit then they’ve gotta dig in and write off and lose money for a while, how long can they continue to do that, and if there’s no flexibility in the workforce to help them through periods like that — in the airlines there have been, some places there have been give-backs and so forth, but it’s still pretty tenuous. And I think one of the things Obama wants to do is have this employee Freedom of Choice Act where he could unionize a shop with an open ballot, which would allow for people to be pressured into accepting the union.
CALLER: Yeah, but, Rush, there’s also what’s known as the management’s consultant which is basically union busting companies that spend so — a company spends so much more money to keep a union out, you know, you’re making it sound like they’re just coming in there, there’s the a card check, here I write my name we’re going to be union. You know that’s just not true, Rush, you’re not getting the whole story on this thing, and just like they’re talking about —
CALLER: — with the pension plan on Ford. For example, my union has an $8.6 billion in the pension plan. Ford was underfunded, and they held the cookie jar. They were the ones that had it, $12.9 billion underfunded. Now, if they would have came in, why didn’t the government roughshod over the top of them saying, wait, you guys are a billion dollars behind today, or next year you’re two billion behind or whatever it is. They overlook our union stuff all the time. I get the statements and I read it, and I know how much we’re funded —
RUSH: The question you’ve gotta ask yourself is, why were they behind?
CALLER: Because they wrote down, they agreed upon a collective bargaining contract, but in the meantime Mr. Ford still got his bonuses, still got his paycheck, but basically collective bargaining is what they did.
RUSH: You have fallen prey to the class envy argument. Mr. Ford happens to own it. You do not. As the owner, Mr. Ford, his board can set up a compensation structure or whatever. Now, you might think that Mr. Ford’s bonus and payment, I don’t know what it is, is way unfair based on what the rank and file are getting, but welcome to the real world. You chose what you’re doing. You probably went into this thinking management’s unfair and management wants to steal from you. All I can tell you is is that I’m not going to talk you out of this. I know you love the union, and you think that there’s this constant battle, which is exactly what Democrats want. They want you hating the boss, they want you distrusting the boss, and they want you thinking the purpose of the company is to provide a job, rather than anything else, but you need to look around.
There are some profitable businesses in this country. Find out if they’re unionized, take a look at the businesses that are hurting the most in this country and ask yourself if they are. And, now, granted I’m not saying management’s never to blame, I’m not saying that these people aren’t reprobates, but there’s a reality here. You go into a courtroom, the judge is the judge and the judge may live in a mansion and you don’t, and just because you have a different living does not mean the judge has no right to pronounce a sentence or conduct the trial. The owner is the owner! I can’t tell you how many times I had to learn this over the course of my life working for people. Who you work for is the boss and if you don’t like the way they run the business, then there’s other things to do. Anyway, I’m glad you called. I appreciate it.