Tuesday, August 20, 2013

North Carolina's Anti-Floc Anti Market Legislation

North Carolina's legislature has been taken over by the tea party contingent, and I think they continue to make clear what has been obvious for a long time.  Free markets are for the poor and weak.  The rich require a nanny state.

Floc is an organization that attempts to unionize migrant farm workers.  As you can imagine this is a bit difficult because of the transient nature of the work.  A worker may want to join a union, but he may not be back next year.  How do you develop an organization that represents changing populations?

A further problem is that you can't just get workers at a single farm to join a union because as soon as you improve the compensation for workers the farmer is probably going to need to pass those costs on to the companies that buy his products.  RJ Reynolds buying tobacco is an example.  If one farmer wants to treat his employees decent, how is he supposed to compete with others that don't?

But nobody needs a union more urgently than migrant workers.  These people are getting paid minimum wage with no benefits to live in rat infested, cockroach infested shanties.  See this report from Oxfam documenting some of the abuses in N Carolina.  To improve that situation they obviously need a stronger bargaining position in the face of their employer.  RJ Reynolds does not directly employ them, but in the end Reynolds is the key in determining the share of revenue generated that goes to capital and the share that goes to labor.

Baldemar Velasquez, President of Floc, understands this.  He understands that punishing farmers is not the answer.  His idea was pretty simple.  Go straight to Reynolds.  They must require all of the farms in their supply chain to be part of a union.  Yeah, we get it that they think they are washing their hands of responsibility when they say that they don't employ migrant workers directly.  But we're not buying it because they have the power to make this situation right.  In fact this is the only way.  If it's the only way to make it right, and they have the power to do it, they have a moral obligation to do it.  So we're just going to shame them into doing it.

I met a migrant worker this weekend that sprays his bed with Raid every night before going to sleep because of the bed bugs and cock roaches.  A man with no health care sleeps in toxic fumes, just so the roaches don't keep him awake and prevent him from harvesting crops.  And there's thousands more just like him all over the country.  We can create an organization that gives that man the power to demand something better.  It's a no brainer.

Well, suppose you're a right winger and you don't want to see a union be successful.  You should still regard it as acceptable that the market should dictate.  The free market allows us to shame Reynolds.  They don't have to listen.  The free market says they can sign a contract that compels all their farms to be under a union rubric, or they can choose to not sign that contract.  Let the market decide, right?  Floc has succeeded with this model before.  Campbells Soup and Mt. Olive Pickle.  The strategy works and involved no government compulsion.  Also, just for the record, the Wagner Act, which gives ordinary people the right to organize without reprisal, doesn't apply to the agricultural industry.  So this is really about as close as you can get a free contract.

The Tea Party should be fine with it.  But the Tea Party North Carolina legislature is not.  HB 74 will make it illegal for a corporation to compel members of it's supply chain to have workers represented by a union.  It's not enough that workers are barely organized now.  They need the nanny state to come in and prevent even the possibility of organizing.  Such is their commitment to the free market.


Chad said...

Sounds like Reynolds is doing a pretty good job.


After watching the destruction of Detroit and every Liberal big city out there - most by the hand of the unions - the TP boys in the Carolina's might be doing the city/state a favor.

With that said - as long as employers are not forced by law to use union workers and individuals have the righ to opt out of said union then I say let them organize all the want.

Jon said...

Well, I'm glad we agree that they should be freely permitted to sign a contract compelling members of their supply to chain to be in a union or not. But where is your outrage at this violation of the free market? You start with some Reynolds cheer leading, then more condemnation of unions, and finally as kind of an afterthought you say, sure, let them organize. This I expect is the way it will go for them. So called supporters of the free market get really silent when the government comes in to help the rich, but really start to fight against government coming in to help the poor.

The Tea Party doesn't support free markets. Only free markets for the poor. For the rich they are all about the nanny state. So they have to bring in the government to save them from migrant workers.

As far as Reynolds, let's assume that press release was truthful. I don't regard them as any different from any other company. In other words, I'm sure good people work for them and run the place. It's good that they enforce legal standards, though I'd be curious how much teeth they really put into their requirements. For instance have they actually fired farmers for violations.

But I went to a labor camp in NC this weekend. A 21 year old and his father told us about a fellow worker that was injured by a fork lift operator on the farm. His leg had been injured and he couldn't work. The farmer basically chased him off. Reynolds didn't do it, right? But if he had a union he'd have a means of getting the compensation that is due to him. As it stands, and particularly as this law goes forward, he has no chance. No means of addressing what has happened to him. He'll wander around. Doesn't speak English. He'll try to make his way home to Mexico. What do you propose that can remedy these kinds of situations?

This is the same deal with Obama Care. House Republicans understand that millions of uninsured and denial due to pre-existing conditions is a problem. The only way to resolve it is either single payer, or Obama Care or something else a lot like it. So they don't propose anything because they have no answer to the problem (I understand your answer, which is let them all die if charity doesn't pick up the tab, which we know it won't, but Congressman mostly aren't going that far yet.) They admit the problem, but offer nothing but stonewalling the proposals of others.

BTW, Detroit was in it's hey day at the peak of union strength, and has declined as unions have shrunk and been weakened. I know you have a story in your head that says unions caused the problem, but what evidence do you have?

Examinator said...

I think you're missing the point of what the TP is doing.
The issue is that the Hispanics are mostly 'not Americans','illegals'... 'free loaders(?)'. They're a threat to the dominance of the the real 'Merncans'.

Jon, it is a collective (group thunk) hysteria knee jerk response.
As I see it they have genuine under current of fears and inculcated long term resentment against a government(any organizational structures). This has a founding in the deliberate (self-interested) implied (fallacious)wisdom in the constitution that business leaders (ipso facto)are best suited to know what is best for the country.
This myth may have elements of truth back when 80% of the public had less than completed grade school literacy. It is from this level of ignorance that the American 'individualist' mythology sees it's beginning. There is a demonstrated link between the level of education and uncontrolled experiences have on the brain developing more creative cognitive pathways.

Sadly too, the more insular people the less experiential knowledge induced pathways they have and the more they are subject to act/think 'instinctually' (the most observable outward manifestations are their emotions in this case fear of the uncommon/ new/ very different) based on what familiarity and cultural influences. Hence people tend to 'invent?' explanations for observable occurrences based on their level of familiarity experience and comfort.

It is a demonstrably a self serving comfort myth (Prejudice) to assume that primitive equates to lessor mental capacity. There are books (many) full of objective research that disprove the soundness of that 'emotional reasoning'. In this case giving the workers power can be interpreted by a tea bagger as better the devil we know than the one we don't.

Simply put the element of self interest is ever present. Chad would as some level be more concerned about significant changes in the Capitalist system because he's doing well as it is BUT any significant change in the system his lack of alternative skill sets may mean that he can't compete as successfully (Heightened survival
instinct). While Maslow's hierarchy of needs has its issues it is sufficient to assume that he has a lot more to lose than the itinerant farm worker. The average TBer isn't mentally challenged per se rather they are the consequence of limits often by circumstances, knowledge (education not in the sense of math and curricular type learning but more in line with experience and the skills to know what options are available and how to use them.)
Sadly most Americans drink the kool aid of the above mythology not realizing the probable consequences to THEM if they keep repeating the same ways of doing things.
Chad and his ilk still recycle the same non seq and false Equivalence arguments. i.e. what worked before won't necessarily work again in the future. And the past does not equal the future. Things have irrevocably changed and like Abu Ben Abam in the poem All the pleas and tears, threats won't change it.

Examinator said...

University isn't about making one an expert but rather teaching the tools for HOW to BECOME ONE.
Your criticism on Liberal arts degrees is a point in fact. Those degrees teach one the skills on how to think clearly, how and where to research, how to critically assess (any) issues/topic objectively etc.
Of course there is no real use for “C16th women's movements but the skills needed are widely transferable i.e. What do you think a degree in journalism comes under?
If I wanted a TV news, a fact checker researcher an archivist what degree would you suggest? A liberal arts teacher people like those who work in art restoration … which degree do you think the people who look after the maintenance of the actual Declaration of Independence have? Some would be science based most of the workers would be a division of a fine arts degree.

As it happens a man I know has a degree in advance mathematics and a PhD on a specific Solar Activity … Yet He's head of a government bureau of statistics office helping to design complex computer programs to analyse the demographics of the public in order to provide the basis for services. One thing they're not is some armchair bozo with a Gun with more attitude than Knowledge...thank what ever God you revere for that. Contrary to TB self created mythology the mechanics of running a country takes skill, talent, knowledge and definitely more dedication to the people as a whole than any one corporation whose primary interest is their own profit.

Hence just because a person has say a Science (geology) degree and PhD or a masters in Archaeological geology that doesn't make them an expert on AGW. Like wise a Nobel laureate in (Nuclear) Physics does not mean he can speak authoritatively about the ills or not of tobacco, DDT or AGW.

The point of that in context is things aren't simplistic as a Tea Bagger may assert. but the reality is that there are good unions and bad unions as there are good corporations and bad ones and the majority of both are a bit of both.
There are many factors why Detroit has died.... not just unions. Corporate attitudes towards (cash cowing) profit without keeping up to date with world markets is/was a big one. The US auto industry got used to producing a style of vehicle for America/Americans but didn't note that the WORLD MARKET/EXPECTATIONS had changed. Specifically not every one wants a SUV , truck or muscle car.
Objectively US vehicles took their eyes off the ball they kept producing the same sort of thing in the end they couldn't compete technologically/ comfort with the others.

Chad your tools to understand the potential future are limited and or out of date you really need to look at the world Car industry to see how out of touch American Auto industry was. Take a look at their first venture into electric cars and how they tried to corner the market on them (like IBM on PC) and when they couldn't ....well read up on it.It's not pretty reading more a case of Arrogance and Hubris.
See also their resistance to radial tyers about that time and what happened. it was pure greedy intrangnence.

Jon said...

Ex, I think the TP is doing both things. Yeah, it's about what you said. Those Mexicans are the root cause of all of our problems. Blaming them is a good way to distract from the more obvious causes, which implicate others. Powerful, often wealthy people that have made decisions that have led immediately to the very problems Chad and others complain about.

But in addition to that factor there's also the factor I'm discussing here. Free market advocates are only advocates of free markets when it helps the rich. When it comes to helping the poor the pretense is abandoned. So we can see what their style of governing is really about. Do whatever it takes to protect the wealth and power of the currently wealthy and powerful. These people are simply scared that the hoards will take what they have, so they erect these protections, do whatever they can. Nanny state, lots of security, surveillance, etc. Keep the rabble at bay. It's not really different from the former kings that just used their power to make sure others wouldn't take it away.

Examinator said...

All too true.
They only want a free market when they PERCEIVE it benefits them.
What they fail to see is that in the long run they are courting disaster.

Both Capitalism and free markets are about Abstractions, things not people.

Consider the obvious conclusion to both with regards to Chad's position as an example. One can reasonably predict his reactions if both come to pass where he works.
When production goes off shore and his job is given to a less expensive more educationally qualified younger and *cheaper* person(a female perhaps)!

What TB's don't understand is that at their extremes Capitalism and free markets are mutually exclusive.

What they are inadvertently supporting is Corporatism which is the tool of the Plutocrats to facilitate and maintain a plutocracy. In reality no market is/can be 'free' in a corporate or Capitalistic environment. both afford advantage, to the detriment of the little player and innovation. That is aside from the law of diminishing returns (efficiency). Consider how much more profitable say a Monsanto would be if it had the same ratio of productive staff to supervisory and other non productive staff.
It is fact that the ratio widens with size and therefore productivity decreases. This law applies equally to corporations as it does government bureaucracies all that varies is who gets the benefit. Again this is not revolutionary it has been proven in real research studies.

All corporations do is redistribute the benefits away from the producers to the capitalist(including the share holders i.e. how many shares do the farm workers have?.

Now consider who has the longest hours, worst conditions and who takes the biggest physical(life debilitating) Chad with his investments?
I'd ask what is more important one's life or inanimate 'property'?
Chad and his ilk are happy to risk SOMEONE ELSE'S life and blame their situation on them! He also supports suppressing all attempts to change the level of their inequity ( NB I didn't say equality.
Note too how quickly/readily they change the topic to an abstract and it's relation to discretionary spending i.e. 'Merican corporation made Vehicles' and all that implied including executive incompetence and their non free market predatory practices.
Anything but face the truth of the Mexican workers inhumane treatment.

Jonathan said...


"Well, suppose you're a right winger and you don't want to see a union be successful. You should still regard it as acceptable that the market should dictate"

I just listened to a podcast on the latest in Egypt, and there are some interesting parallels here I think. What do you do when you are pro democracy but the majority of the people are in favor of doing something you view as wrong, i.e. persecuting minorities. Do you actively work against the will of the people? Does that make you anti-democratic? Must you either be fully 100% pro democracy all day every day, otherwise you are just faux democratic?

I think it's the same thing here for someone on the right. On one hand, they are for free markets, yet they view unions as bad. So they say free markets are fine, but let's limit the ability to create unions. This is a completely rational and cogent thought process. You might disagree with the role or benefit of unions, particularly in the case you sited, but I do not think it must follow that one must either be pro free market or they are just a puppet for the rich. I think you're being dogmatic here if you insist those are the only two options.

For what it's worth, I think it's helpful to look at the issue on a higher level, at which you would actually have more common ground with the average right winger than you might think. The vast majority of people are not in favor of free markets for free market's sake, or unions for union sake. It's what these represent and the outworkings of these systems that people either support or reject.

Jon said...

I think I pretty much agree, Jonathan. Anybody that recognizes that free markets sometimes need to be abandoned is expressing my view. But once you've gone that far you now must abandon some of these arguments. For instance conservatives say taking from the rich and giving to the poor is wrong because it violates free market principles. If that's true the answer is, so what? Free markets cause problems, as all sides are now admitting given that they want to violate the free market to stop unions from forming.

On the right you don't just hear that raising the minimum wage or compelling multinationals to pay overseas peasants decent is bad. You will hear from some that it is actually wrong because it violates their notion of freedom. Freedom is expressed in free markets. You're basically saying that free markets sometimes produce good outcomes, in which case we should abide by them, and other times they produce poor outcomes in which case we should abandon them. That is something I agree with. I object to the people that claim violating free markets is immoral.

Just as a side note, the example you gave regarding democracy and persecuting minorities, I'm not so sure I would abandon democracy if the majority wanted laws that led to persecution. I might. It would probably depend on what exactly was happening. If it were something like Jim Crowe I'd probably stick with it. Democracy doesn't mean I can't advocate a minority position. It only means that the majority rules. I like that principle a lot because I think it works well. When you get away from that you need some sort of special, minority class that rules and that produces other bad outcomes. But still, your point is valid. I stick with it not because abandoning it is intrinsically bad, but because it's a system that works pretty well. Same for free markets. I'm fine with free markets for some things. I think it produces good outcomes a lot of the time. Other times it doesn't. So I don't go around pretending that violating free markets is actually immoral so as to justify keeping wages low for the poor or anything like that. On the right you do hear that.

Examinator said...


I'm Sorry old friend but your set up paragraph ["just listened to a podcast on the latest in Egypt.... "] very troubling in that it reeks with right wing self justification, it's based on a false equivalence, a ridiculously simplistic definition of Democracy(one without a context), a non seq argument, and finally assumptive reasoning.
Democracy in reality isn't just the (unqualified) will of the majority...that's a demonstrably bogus 'lynch mob' aka 'mob rule' argument. One that either any 2nd year political Science or philosophy student should be able to demolish. In reality the term is a philosophical one and as such has context(s) to be valid in a form of government. Simply calling a government Democratic doesn't make it so. In reality the term is miss-used by the public in that it tends to mean many things to different people. It's a bit like Chad calling social security Socialist. The hard fact is that social security was a concept at the base of capitalism. It has be used in many forms by many political philosophies... even the right wing armchair commentariate.

However, in political philosophy has a hard precise definition i.e. a market that is totally unregulated.
By the tone of your argument you are NOT a supporter of the above rather you are in favor of a partially regulated market. I would venture that is the case with most right wing commentators/ supporters.
Likewise, I'd submit that by far and away most (so called) “liberals, lefties etc” aren't in favor of a TOTALLY REGULATED market either.

In reality the PEOPLE from the Republican side and the DEMOCRATIC side in reality are squabbling over degrees of the same point rather than either the extreme. The parties for brand definition are presenting the issues as black or white when in reality it's about shades of grey. That said there should be room for compromise meeting in the middle somewhere. However HUMAN nature (emotions read instincts take over) rather than logic and the debate (Sic) is really about Power and self interest, both at the macro and micro levels.

At this point I'll remind you that I'm not a liberal, democrat, republican et al for the reason you so appropriately pointed out my views don't match very well with ANY party or political philosophy. I'll also point out that my philosophy (the nearest) is probably Post – Con and thereby preclude any set political philosophy... i.e. the larger perspective as you put it. Careful mate you're starting to sound like a post con too.

As for Egypt's situation being like US right V left that is a false equivalence. I could go into why but you probably wouldn't read the 5-10 pages of differences. The only real similarity is conflict.

Your statement that making access to unions is neither nor reasonable accurate. Again we're taking about degrees and equity. The argument should be about how to achieve equity (not equality or dominance).

Jonathan said...


Again, jumping to conclusions without the information - check out Dan Carlin's (a libertarian and historian) latest podcast on the Arab spring and Egpyt which ties together 1000 years of history, 200 years of recent history, and various views on democracy, and judge for yourself.


You're right - I probably wouldn't read 10 pages of difference between Egypt and left v. right, but my point still stands, and I can summarize it in 1 sentence for you: Person A's ethic of personal freedom often impinges on person B's ability to maintain freedom themselves - it's the balance between the two that is the issue.

Examinator said...

Thank you for responding but I'd ask where precisely was I jumping to conclusions? I'm now concerned that my powers of prose is worse than I thought.
My intention was to respond to what you actually wrote. I was surprised that that paragraph read so much like a scrambled logic justification of a myopic libertarian/Tea partier. to me it was so unlike you.

Perhaps it was the hour I started to listen to the post but gave up sometime after half way. Largely because of the shallowness of his historical knowledge. i e. Egypt has been a country since the time of the joining of the upper and lower kingdoms back in about 2500 BC. It has been ruled by invaders since Alexander's days.
Yugoslavia on the other hands has been separate kingdoms since Roman times with the odd conquering power. The national identity is strong.
The protagonists in the Egyptian uprisings stem from invaders and the Western Colonial powers ambitions and promises made for support during WW1 which was at the demise of the Turkish empire.
In so doing they rewarded some and neutralised those countries that they saw as a threat ARMENIA was one such nation it is currently divided between four 'countries' two of which didn't exist. In 1918 the Turkish army drove 100000's of Armenians from the part they were given into the desert where most died. Some of the Armenians are each of the surrounding created countries.

Read about the promises made by the Brits through T E Lawrence (of Arabia). Take Arabia it was an area not a country Yemen, The gulf Emerates, and Saudi Arabia were deals done to allies. The also promised them Iran (Persians [not Arabs] and Shi'ia, Bahai, Zoroastrian and Iraq (Sunni) and Egypt. Syria, (Trans) Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon borders were monkeyed with by the colonial masters with out any consideration to culture, Race or religion.
The point is CARLIN'S conclusions make sense ONLY if you ignore the facts. … and view them through an uber USA interests (supremacy, chosen people mental prism)...A bit like the Zionist Jews justification for their atrocities.
BTW right wing perspective by definition is beyond the middle ground Nationalism.... along the lines of Chauvin who was an ultra nationalist. The term Chauvinism has been appropriated by the feminist movement to stand for male bias.

Chad said...


Sorry for the delay in a response.

I will not back away from the fact that I have said (multiple times) that Unions are needed. I have not read this law specifically admin detail, but I suspect that your taking one part and blowing it up significantly. Is the law similar to RTW in that unions can not force participation or is this law to completely eliminate the ability to organize labor? Can you blame the TP for carrying the football right now? We have seen what happens when Dems have the power they ram bad policy down our throats so why should the TP be above them now that they have the nuts? When I talk to fellow TP'ers they a pissed, scared and concerned that America's going straight down the crapper and in many ways they are right. Especially when you read anything Ex has to say - that fear is real. Then you look at every single big city disaster - um controlled, ran for decades by - you guessed it the Dems and unions.

No matter how you spin things - Detroit is on life support and that city/state has been ran by democrats and democrat policies for decades. Same with Chicago, New York, Cincinnati, Cleveland, San Fran and the list goes on and on. The knee jerk reaction and in some cases the suspension of free market principals or conservative principals happens or is happening because of what has happened to this country in a short period of time when under democrat control at the state or federal level. Not to mention sir that unions rival some of the most corrupt organizations that have ever lived - ever.

Let me repeat myself again - IF a new union was born out of the ashes of the dying old where the charter to protect the GOOD worker and conditions for said good workers - it would get support across the board. The union I would like to see be born would police itself, would fire bad workers, would work with management/ownership as a partner - contracts that take and give back and not be built on a road of failure like every single public sector pension program out there today. Work is fucking work - it sucks, but anytime you have a group of people who are paid by the private market and you set low retirement ages, higher earning levels and give huge bene's along the way (thank you Dems) your setting the system up to die and fail - just like soc sec, just like Obama Care - it's all gonna die a slow and painful death.

So the answer is never easy, but it it starts with the dirty little words called work and jobs. Until the idiots on the Left (primarily) but bot exclusively figure out how to get the hell out of the way of business - private sector business - to allow stability, hiring and earning to happen this is all a dumb exercise sir.

IF and this is something that Progressives just can't comprehend. If unemployment is 4% - hell let's say 3% for giggles then the pool of unskilled labor farming the fields in North Carolina would be thinner - competiton for unskilled labor would rise and therefore that unskilled farmer could negotiate wages with other farmers - wow what a freaking concept! I feel bad for your farmer buddy, but he should be pissed at the Liberals for stopping job creation so he might have more opportunity to earn more and learn a new skill.

Look at North Dakota - I think they are negative unemployment right now and I read that there is such a shortage or workers that fast food places are hiring at a double digit per hour rate - what a concept - competition - whoa. Mthey don't need some artificial min wage - they need workers. Get unemployment under 4% and then let's get together and talk ObamaCare and pensions. Whatever it takes - get hiring going in the private sector.