1,400 unionized workers at a Carrier air conditioner plant in Indianapolis were given pink slips last week. They were told that the A/C units manufactured in Indiana were now going to be made in Mexico.
That kind of headline surely makes the average American seethe with anger, right? Those nasty, heartless suits at Carrier have no loyalty to U.S. workers, and without hesitation will throw 1,400 Americans into the unemployment line. How callous. How dastardly, how low.
Not so fast, there, Che Guevara. There is one major factor that went into this decision that is not getting any ink in any of the mainstream media: the United Steel Workers union bosses were given a choice before this decision was made. They either had to agree to reduce their union benefits packages, and thereby save these 1,400 jobs, or the management had no choice but to shutter the plant and move to Mexico. The A/C biz is highly competitive, and they just couldn't compete when they had to pay these United Steel Workers union members $48/hour to sit at a production station and screw in some sheet metal screws into a compressor unit. That kind of skill is just not worth $48/hour. It just isn't, as you could easily train a chimpanzee to the same skill level. And something had to change.
The union didn't even blink: they dared the management to make this move. They gave nothing back, nada, zilch, bumpkus. The management didn't blink, either: they did their fiduciary duty to the shareholders of United Technology (Carrier's parent company) and adjusted their assets to maximize the shareholder's equity positions.
The bad guys here are clearly not management at Carrier and United Technologies. The villains in this episode are primarily the United Steel Workers union bosses.
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