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BUSINESS AND LABOR


While theories based on intertemporal relationships between the labor-market dynamics and business growth are qualitatively consistent with long-term empirical and historical data, events of the last decade have threatened to debunk the almost century-old hypothesis on the subject.

The fluid relationship between business and labor in the United States, and for the whole world for that matter, is a subject that remains hazy and imprecise, even at the best of times. More so following the post-dot-com bubble era of the early 21st century and the 2007-09 depression, which saw numerous ancient, monolithic American firms crashing to the ground, and in the process, taking away the promised social welfare support and retirement benefits of its workers and their families.

The fall of Bethlehem Steel and Bethlehem Shipbuilding in 2001, in particular, illustrated the issue perfectly and brought the issue of labor and businesses into the forefront. With over 75,000 retirees on its pension roll, as opposed to only about 15,000 active employers, the industrial titan was handicapped in its battle against international rivals. It eventually crumbled in the face of falling steel prices, rising fuel costs, and the pressure to replace warehouses filled with old equipment and machineries. The 144 years-old manufacturing titan is now a subsidiary of Indian-owned AncelorMittal.

The fate that befell Bethlehem, once the symbol of the American manufacturing prowess, brought into question the effectiveness of the American private welfare concept against the more capitalistic industrial practices of its international rivals.

The Franklin Roosevelt-inspired New Deal private welfare concept, which has so successfully integrated itself into the national business model for the last 80 years, is now being aggressively challenged. Several central tenets of the concept - minimum wage, Social Security, pension, health care and labor unions - have suddenly developed an aura of decay, despite the fact that the United States has long been considered a welfare laggard among industrialized nations, while its unions' influence and political reach are relatively tiny compared to its contemporaries in other developed nations.

There are growing cries from within and outside of the business community that the private welfare concept is an antithesis of the traditional American business culture, and it is shackling the growth of national enterprises while creating a culture of dependency and entitlement among the populace. Even the most profitable sectors of the economy is struggling to provide iron-clad economic security and welfare support for its employers, while still remaining competitive.

On the flip side, proponents of the New Deal legacy believe that socially responsible businesses are one of the distinguishing features of a moral America. Private welfare relieves the federal government of the onerous and expensive task of providing a socioeconomic security net for the majority of the American workforce, while ensuring that private enterprises maintain a balance between profitability and social responsibility. Instances of worker exploitation and abuse, seen so frequently in most of the world's emerging markets, are a relatively rare occurrence in the country, a testimony to the success of the morally and ethically sound employment practices of American enterprises.

Related Issues:
Minimum Wage
Immigration
Trade Issues


Current President of the United States

Barack Obama

Presidential Candidate Barack Obama
Obama Position on Business and Labor

• President Obama is a strong supporter of worker's rights. He believes they should be given the
right to bargain collectively and strike if the need arises. He would see to it that striking
workers are not completely expelled from work.

• Obama believes in the Employees Free Choice Act which is a bipartisan effort to enable workers to organize. The essence of the Act is to give the employees a choice whether to join a union or not and not simply be pressured into joining.

• He opposed Bush's National labor Relations Board's 'Kentucky River' decisions to classify workers such as nurses, construction workers as supervisors. They were not to receive protection under Federal labor laws under this decision therefore Obama cosponsored legislation against this.

• Obama intended to raise the minimum wages index it to inflationary levels and thereby raise the Earned Income Tax Credit.

• Obama supports the United Auto Workers and AFL-CIO and the right of workers to bargain collectively and strike if necessary. While running for election he said that he would work to ban the permanent replacement of striking workers.

• Obama believes that America's future lies in developing new clean energy jobs which can be achieved by mandatory limits on carbon pollution which will create a stable business environment welcoming investments from entrepreneurs in a new energy economy.

• Obama plans to invest in innovation and development by giving increased access to capital and by cutting health care costs and also by introducing a new Small Business Health Tax Credit.

• He supports the setting up of a national infrastructure bank to use public and private capital to fund projects. He builds in creating jobs by rebuilding business infrastructure.

• Obama believes that workers should have the freedom to choose whether to join a union without harassment or intimidation from their employers. Obama cosponsored and is strong advocate for the Employee Free Choice Act, a bipartisan effort to assure that workers can exercise their right to organize. He will continue to fight for EFCA's passage and sign it into law.

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