The IUSB Vision Weblog

The way to crush the middle class is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation. – Vladimir Lenin

IUSB Club Wants All Campus Bought Products to be Union Made – How Nice…

Posted by iusbvision on February 25, 2011

The Preface:

IUSB United Against Sweatshops is the IUSB-driven segment of the United Students Against Sweatshops campaign.  The IU division is called No Sweat.

“We want Barnes and Noble and the school to provide products that are 100% union-made,” said Tony Lamb, treasurer of the Student/Worker Association.  “We have one brand that has been approved, called Ulta-Gracia.”

Currently, the IUSB bookstore, which is owned by Barnes and Noble, carries Champion clothing.  Champion is owned by Sara Lee, who also owns Hanes, Wonderbra, and Coach leather goods.

“These companies have been known labor rights violators in Honduras and El Salvador,” said Lamb.

The goal of the IUSB United Against Sweatshops campaign is to sit down with Barnes and Noble and the university to do research on suppliers of items sold in the bookstore.  They are hoping to come to an agreement to provide Ulta-Gracia clothing, which promotes workers’ rights.

[Editor’s Note – Did The Preface attempt to get a comment from Hanes/Champion etc? Not a chance. Did The Preface even do a few searches or make a few phone calls to the Department of Labor or the State Department to see if the sweatshops claim can be confirmed by a non-union affiliated entity? Did they show us some credible evidence that we can verify that they are sweatshops? Nope. Has anyone at The Preface ever taken a journalism class?

Did The Preface even check to see if said “Ulta Gracia” clothing company was what the student club said it was? It looks like the answer is no because they didn’t even spell the name of the company correctly. It is called “Alta Gracia” and from what I can see the company is what it claims to be (LINK), which I think is terrific. But I have been given no way of knowing if Hanes really runs sweatshops. I have searched for hours online searching government web sites, Google and Yahoo, and I have found NO non-union affiliated/sourced evidence that said the companies use sweatshops. In every case on-line the source was a union affiliated outfit, or the sweatshop link forwarded me to a porn site. Maybe they use sweatshops, maybe they don’t, but I as the reader have been given no way to know.

The editor’s at The Preface need to ask themselves, what if the sweatshops accusation used to be true but is not any longer? What would the consequences be?

I am old enough to remember that new laws and watch groups were put into place after it was discovered that the Kathy Lee line was at least in part made in sweatshops back in 1996. It was a huge scandal and the elite media reported the situation was greatly improved after. If this is not the case when it comes to Hanes I would be interested in seeing evidence I can trust because if it is true I won’t be buying their products. ]

Of course this begs the question, do the student club advisors want products that are not made in sweatshops or do they want products that are 100% union-made? The not so well-kept secret is that unions define all non-union shops as “sweatshops”.

Oh you doubt it? Here is just one example of many. Meet W & K Steel in Pittsburgh, PA.

  • For the past 8 years W&K Steel, LLC has hired refugees and immigrants thru Catholic Charities and the Jewish Family and Children Services.
    Our Goal in doing this is to offer someone new to our Country an opportunity to work and learn a trade.
  • To assist the refugees and immigrants in their success we offer:
    – On the job training,
    – English as a Second Language course and
    – A Basic Math Class – To fabricate steel a person must have a solid understanding of math using inches and feet. This is a must in order to advance to new positions.
    W&K Steel, LLC pays 100% of these training costs.
  • W&K Steel, LLC has a state certified Safety Committee that meets on a regular basis to discuss safety issues and training needs.
  • W&K Steel, LLC has an outside safety expert, Mr. Bob Merante of Safety Management Training and Consulting, LLC who conducts safety training and inspections on a regular basis. Mr. Merante has been working with W&K Steel, LLC for the past 2 years.
  • W&K Steel, LLC is an AISC certified shop – This certification is similar to the ISO 9000 only for steel fabricators.
  • W&K Steel, LLC, is committed to providing its associates with one of the most competitive and favorable benefit programs in the industry.
  • W&K Steel, LLC participated in an AISC national compensation survey for steel fabricators. The wages we pay our associates are very competitive on a national and local basis.

The union iwlocal3 has been pressuring W & K to join the union. W & K’s  pay and benefits are competitive. After all pressure tactics failed and the employees who like working there told the union thugs to take a hike, the union went to the Allegheny County Board which the union controls. The union said that since W & K hires some immigrants that they are a sweatshop. So the county passed an ordinance saying that sweatshops cannot do business with the county. At the hearing to declare W & K a sweatshop all of the employees at W & K showed up to stick up for the business. The County Supervisors refused to let any of them speak and refused to let the owners of the company speak. They declared it a sweatshop, even though it did not meet any of the eight criteria in the ordinance. Now W & K has hired an attorney and is suing the union and the county for defamation among other things.

They want all products that are 100% union-made? Translation, at least domestically, that really means that anyone who is in business has to pay protection to leftist political parties as union leadership spends hundreds of millions on politics while leaving union retirement funds so underfunded that they are lobbying the government for the taxpayer to bail them out. Ask many rank and file union members and they will tell you that they are all too often about money and politics, not about workers or customer service as I will explain more below.

Do you have any idea how many of the manufacturing jobs here in the Michiana area are non-union? Would they like to even attempt to demonstrate that all of these jobs are sweatshops? By all means please show us the dozens of evil local businesses that are forcing children to work 12 hour days in front of dangerous machinery for $2.00 an hour.

In many industrialized countries working conditions are a matter of law and union membership has little to nothing to do with it.

I will give you a good example of what union over reach in the private sector has accomplished. Have any of you shopped at Kroger lately? Have you noticed that your choice when you check out is a long line or that awful “self checkout” machine?

Kroger has a union and what happens when there is only so much of a percentage for labor? When the union forces a situation where the union member has to be paid more than what that labor is worth in a competitive environment it ceases to be labor vs. management. It becomes labor vs. labor because the only way to keep labor within the competitive percentage is to have fewer workers.

As a result you the customer sit there and wait in line. So the next time you shop at Kroger and wonder why they can’t get another person to work a register to get people out the door in a reasonable time now you know why.

Of course union over reach does more than just drive the cost of labor. If that was the only consequence the problem would be more manageable.

The problem is that unions pour hundreds of millions of dollars into leftist political party’s that pile on taxes and regulation which favors big and international business while socking it to the smaller and medium sized domestic competition.

One example is the tobacco bill that passed early in Obama’s administration. It increased taxes and regulations on tobacco. Phillip Morris lobbied Democrats for the bill. Why? Phillip Morris has such a large operation that the economies of scale allow it to absorb the price of new taxes and regulations whereas the smaller competition is forced to raise prices.

Obama has revoked coal mining permits that have been in good standing for no apparent reason causing many union jobs to be lost? The purpose seems to be social engineering. If we end up having to import coal like we do oil do you believe that Chinese and Malaysian coal miners have more or less protection than our guys in West Virginia?

Obama said on CNBC that he wants to see gas at $4 a gallon. Obama has instituted an illegal offshore drilling ban which has lowered our domestic production 13%. The Obama Administration is in contempt of court for illegally keeping the ban in place. Many thousands of jobs have been lost. Would you “sweatshop” club people like to explain to the student body how much more protection Chinese, Mexican, Libyan etc. oil workers have over the United States?

Leftist professors would have you believe that they and the Democratic Party are interested in genuine class warfare. I am about to demonstrate to you that they are not.

Democrats have not been interested in taxing the genuinely rich and aren’t now. John Kerry made $5,072,000 in 2003 and had a total federal tax burden of 12.34%. The really fat rich enjoy a 16,000 page tax code that is filled with exceptions for them. Much of the income those like John and Teresa Kerry receive is defined as non-wage earnings or earnings that are not taxable at the wage earner rate. So even if the regular income tax rate was increased to 50% the percentage the Kerry’s would pay would only go up by a couple of percentage points.

Yet small business “sub-s corporations” (most domestic small businesses that have between 1-200 employees) would get creamed paying that same 50% rate. Small businesses do most of the hiring in this country. Would someone care to explain how you can claim to be for workers and against their employers?

The truth is that very few people make over $250k in taxable wages. Obama talks about taxing billionaires and millionaires, but the way the tax code works the wealth of these people is almost perfectly protected. If George Soros and the Kerry’s paid a percentage like small businesses must, who would fund the Tides Foundation and the left’s 527 groups?

As you may be aware, Google made $3.1 BILLION last year and had a federal tax burden of 2.4%. Google throws fund-raising galas for Obama and the Democrats and have given the Democrats massive donations. Where are the Democrats condemning the Google Corps of the world? Yet Obama has waged a rhetorical war against the Chamber of Commerce and who do they represent, you guessed it, most small and medium-sized domestic businesses.

Policies such as ObamaCare, tax increases, and other actions that cause regulatory uncertainty which causes the wealthy and the producers to stop moving their money domestically. They have the option of just parking it or investing it in China, all of which has the effect of transferring the tax burden away from the wealthy onto the working poor and middle class. Democrats are not interested in taxing the wealthy, they are interested in taxing the domestic producer class.

This brings us to Norton’s First Law: Big Business loves big government because big government taxes and regulates the small and medium-sized competition out of the competition.

This is why Obama’s bipartisan deficit commission is advocating lowering tax rates, lowering the corporate tax rate, and simplifying the tax code to encourage tax compliance and to encourage more wealth to come back home (so it at least can be taxed).

If you wonder why so many jobs have moved overseas and in some cases to places where governments are corrupt and workers are really exploited; now you are seeing the other side of the coin. The private sector and the jobs that go with it cannot be expected to pay for a government that costs $4 trillion a year and expect to remain competitive. If you want to see workers get treated better, start by making it more economical for jobs to come home.

Students, you can expect to see some respondents to call me names and attack me personally, but sticks and stones will not change the economic reality you have just opened your eyes to. As for the student’s in the club, I do not blame them either as it is likely they are victims of unethical academics who are interested in indoctrination and not a dispassionate search for the facts. The Preface has permission to print this letter.

Chuck Norton
IUSB ‘10
Former page two columnist for The Preface.

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