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Chicago lawyer amazingly claims Boeing’s move to South will net workers with "poor skills"

Honest to goodness, if this doesn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will.

Yet the Boeing case has a scarier aspect missed by conservatives: Why is Boeing, one of our few real global champions in beefing up exports, moving work on the Dreamliner from a high-skill work force ($28 an hour on average) to a much lower-wage work force ($14 an hour starting wage)? Nothing could be a bigger threat to the economic security of this country.

We should be aghast that Boeing is sending a big fat market signal that it wants a less-skilled, lower-quality work force. This country is in a debt crisis because we buy abroad much more than we sell. Alas, because of this trade deficit, foreign creditors have the country in their clutches. That’s not because of our labor costs—in that respect, we can undersell most of our high-wage, unionized rivals like Germany. It’s because we have too many poorly educated and low-skilled workers that are simply unable to compete.

We depend on Boeing to out-compete Airbus, its European rival. But when major firms move South, it is usually a harbinger of quality decline.

Wow … really?  So all those F-35s being built in Ft. Worth, and all those C-130s and F-22 Raptors being built in Marietta, GA, not to mention the myriad of car manufacturing plants, specialty steel plants, hi-tech industries, etc. all have seen ‘quality declines’ because they’re located in the South?

Good grief, my guess is this guy hasn’t been out of Chicago since 1970?  You’ve got to love the correlation he tries to draw between “high-skill” and $28 bucks an hour with “low-skill” and $14 bucks an hour.  Yeah, that works, doesn’t it?   It’s a bit like saying a guy who opens and closes a blast furnace door at $28 bucks an hour is a “high-skilled” worker.   Doesn’t correlate at all does it?  But that was an actual wage for an actual job at a steel plant before it went out of business because it was uncompetitive, thanks to unions, years ago.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the guy writing this is a labor union lawyer and he thinks everyone who reads the Wall Street Journal is an idiot.

Here’s his one and only example of why he thinks he’s got this all figured out.  As he says, he “represented the workers” in the first plant.  He’s speaking of Outboard Marine Corp:

In the 1990s the company went from the high wage union North to the low wage South and was bankrupt by 2000. There are reasons workers in the North get $28 an hour while down in the South they get $14 or even $10. Adam Smith could explain it: "productivity," "skill level," "quality."

Of course the reason it went bankrupt might have absolutely nothing to do with any of that.  It might be because the corporation was uncompetitive well before the move and the move was a last ditch effort to save itself.  But we don’t know, and this yahoo decides it is “productivity”, “skill level” and “quality” which were the problem.  Of course BMW’s plant in SC doesn’t suffer from any of those problems does it?  In fact one of the reasons the Germans are making their cars there is because of the productivity they achieve there.  Same with all the car plants across the south to include those opened fairly recently by Honda, Kia, Hyundai, BMW, and Mercedes – in Tuscaloosa, Alabama for heaven sake.  The reason they’re in the South is they get more “productivity”, “skill” and “quality” for the wage than they do in the North.

But to admit that would be to admit that perhaps the problem is unions, not Southerners.

However, our clueless lawyer isn’t done:

Here is yet another American firm seeking to ruin its reputation for quality. Why? To save $14 an hour! Seriously: Is that going to help sell the Dreamliner? In terms of the finished product, the labor cost is minuscule: $14 in hourly wage, at most. It’s incredible that conservatives claim such small differences in labor cost would be life or death to Boeing. It’s not labor cost but labor skill that is life or death to the survival of Boeing, never mind pilots and passengers.

If the history of runaway shops proves anything, it’s that many go "South" in more than one sense of the word. If that sounds unfair to the South, it is union busting that has inflicted the real unfairness in the region: income inequality and inferior schools.

Yessiree – those airplanes they’ve been building in Marietta GA and Ft. Worth TX have just been falling out of the sky because of all that income inequality and those inferior schools.  What, no “redneck”, “hillbilly” or “barely in shoes” included?  No NASCAR jokes?  Remarks about family trees that don’t fork? Dueling banjoes?  He missed his chance, didn’t he? 

Of course the reason Boeing is opening a plant in SC has nothing to do with wages per se.  His point is correct as far as it goes.  The plant is opening so Boeing and its customers aren’t held hostage to the work stoppages that are normal fare in the union plant in Washington.  And it is hard to blame them for doing that, isn’t it?

Of course pig-headed ignorance about an area like this simply has to be seen to be believed and he proves himself as the poster boy for that.  If abject and unqualified ignorance is bliss, this is one happy, happy labor lawyer.

Wow … 2011 and you find something like this in the Wall Street Journal.  Who said their editors don’t have a wicked sense of humor?

Give ‘em enough rope …

[HT: J.E. Dyer]

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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