We are seeing unprecedented changes in the Middle East. Egypt and Tunisia are being transformed, and now we are seeing similar occurrences in Libya. Needless to say these changes are going to have ramifications on the US for years to come. But if you really want to look at some potential radical change, don’t go east — but north to Wisconsin.
Whether or not Governor Scott Walker and his Republican supporters are able to pass any legislation which in affect “busts” the unions is really moot. What is fascinating is that a politician is willing to take on a massive labor issue which could be the end of his political career.
This issue of life-time benefits with no caps, if left alone in our governments (local, state, federal) will create tremendous imbalances in our economy. The idea of being able to provide benefits with no caps (and that’s what we’ve been doing for years) is problematic for our society. It’s a lesson many have learned in the print industry. If a business is not able to grow and stay profitable, how can you even think of “guaranteeing” future benefits. This is the sad story we’ve just seen play out in Kansas City as Greystone Graphics is in the process of being liquidated.
We can not just blame the unions (Greystone was a union shop) for its demise, in fairness there were probably many other reasons, but one thing I find interesting was the rumor that several firms were looking at acquiring the business but all walked away because of the unfunded liability of the employee’s pension plan. What does this say for the hundreds of unionized firms in our industry?