Unionanimous, or not

Polity: A particular form of political system or government.

Uh oh. I told you not to get me started on the unions: A brief history lesson for the younger crowd residing in and about Southwestern Michigan, where I grew up: Clark Equipment Company, originally known as the George R. Rich Manufacturing Company, was formed in 1903 as a side business by certain executives of Illinois Steel Company in Chicago. The company moved its operations to Buchanan in 1904, following the hiring of Eugene Clark, a 33 year-old engineer, as CEO, and for whom the company would eventually be renamed. This move was in response to an offer from the Buchanan Chamber of Commerce for free rent and low power costs in order to attract industry (jobs).

It worked.

By the 1960’s (over a period of about 57 years) the Company had been, by far, the single, largest employer in our little hometown of 5,000 citizens. It had also become international in scope with fifteen plants operating world-wide and producing $1.4 billion in revenues and, working from memory here, 25,000 employees worldwide—with its corporate offices, lo and behold, remaining right there in little ol’ Buchanan, along with the axle division, where my Dad would eventually become the company’s chief industrial engineer. However, based on an impeccably reliable source, management finally felt compelled to respond to increasingly unrealistic demands from the unions in order to remain profitable. Thus, in 1975, the entire Buchanan operations, including the foundry, finished machines and all other departments, along with the corporate offices, migrated, lock, stock and barrel, to North Carolina, a right-to-work state. Sad to say, this resulted in the elimination of hundreds of jobs in Buchanan. Adding insult to injury, the company abandoned the plant and real estate to the city to do with as it deemed appropriate—“See ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya.”

And so, it sits as we see it today.

In my view, there was a time in this country, during the industrial revolution, when unions were an extremely important deterrent to the power and corruption of the rising steel and industrial magnates of the 19th century. However, that was then, and this is now. Modern federal and state work laws provide substantial protection from the abuses of workers that were common a hundred years ago, sometime overwhelming so. The Unions, though, unfortunately, have become ATM machines for union leaders (have you ever noticed how difficult it is to know who these people are?). In many states, (most notoriously, California, and Michigan as well, until recently), people are required to pay union dues in order to get a job. In Wisconsin and many other states, these union dues are, or were, deducted from employees’ checks just like taxes. They have/had no choice—pay up or don’t get the job. And, as you hopefully know, the unions have been lobbying Congress to pass a federal law to require “card checks.” This legislation, which would trump state law, would require employees to divulge to the unions whether or not they voted for or against unionization—is this America we know and grew up with? These actions have little to do with employee rights—it’s all about the money and power. Read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” and then make up your own mind.

And don’t get me started on AARP.

Red Bud City

Here’s a little musical ode to my idyllic hometown of Buchanan, Michigan, also known as Red Bud City. Hope you like it.

Clyde’s dale

I’ve always loved horses. Probably because, as I’ve noted in earlier essays, I was raised on a seemingly unending series of TV westerns during my childhood back in the 50’s (remember this? Cowboys and Cowgirls)…

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