race to the bottom, or the top
Reader comment on: The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
Submitted by ben (United States), Mar 28, 2011 15:47
Sure, we can abolish all workplace regulations to keep up with countries without any. But I would much prefer a race to the top, not the bottom. Workers should have basic health and safety conditions wherever they work, whether in the Far East or the Lower East Side. This will surely mean paying slightly more for our clothing and other manufactured goods. I would prefer that companies compete based on quality of the product and efficiency of production, not on how poorly they can treat their workers. If we had internationally accepted basic standards of workplace safety, these manufacturing jobs would likely still be in developing nations as they have a comparative advantage over us. China is not competing with us for these low skilled jobs, it is competing with Vietnam and the like (which is why it will follow our path and the grandchildren of current factory workers in China will be doctors and lawyers as well).
This is what bothers me about all the union bashing of late. People decry teachers/firefighters/policeman making 100k including benefits because those in the private sector aren't making as much for comparable work. The argument should not be that teachers should make less, but that those in the private sector should unionize and take what is their fair share of the corporate profits their companies reap. The average worker at a company makes a far lower percentage of what the CEO makes in the US today than any time since the robber baron era. Does the head of Exxon-Mobil really work thousands of times harder than one of those guys on an oil rig? Private sector workers need to organize - not just in the US but around the World, to balance (not take over - I am not a communist!) the power of CEO's.
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