Hoffa Does Not Speak for Working Americans

James P. Hoffa's résumé suggests that he knows little or nothing about genuine blue-collar labor, either as a practitioner or a facilitator such as an engineer or technician.  His depiction of Tea Party members as "son of a bitches [sic]" shows that he knows nothing about public relations either.  As stated in Paul Linebarger's Psychological Warfare (1954, emphasis added):

Sending the Japanese cartoons of themselves, mocking the German language, calling Italians by familiar but inelegant names -- such communications cropped up during the war. The senders got a lot of fun out of the message but the purpose was unintelligently considered. The actual effect was to annoy the enemy, stiffening his will to resist.

If it is bad policy to demonize rank-and-file enemy soldiers whom one wishes to persuade to surrender, malinger, or desert, what must be said of somebody who talks about "taking out" rank-and-file members of an opposing political movement?  Mr. Hoffa has done at least as much as if not more than any conservative columnist or talk show host to mobilize the Tea Party movement.  He has also armed the Tea Party with political ammunition to use against Mr. Obama next year -- noting that Mr. Obama associated himself with Mr. Hoffa's  intemperate language instead of disowning it.  Republicans can combine Hoffa's "Let's take these son-of-a-bitches out" with the stick-wielding Black Panthers who allegedly intimidated voters in 2008 to paint a vivid picture of Mr. Obama as a Chicago gangster who praises the language of thuggery and also uses it: "If they bring a knife, we bring a gun."

Henry Ford, the creator of the United States' affluent working middle class, identified Mr. Hoffa as what he is decades before Hoffa's birth:

A spokesman who does not work in the shop, who does not work in any shop, whose sole ambition perhaps is never again to have to work in a shop, is usually the "bargainer," and it is from what he says or does that many employers draw their opinion of the men in the shop (Ford Ideals, 1922).

Mr. Hoffa is the official face of the Teamsters, whose dues-paying members must recognize that the American public as well as employers will draw their opinion of their union from Mr. Hoffa's behavior.

Mr. Hoffa also accused the Tea Party of "waging a war on workers," which reinforces Ford's advice that workers need to identify their friends and enemies very carefully.  Again per Ford Ideals (1922):

It is a truth which every American workman ought to know is that 95 percent of the agitation which they see around them does not grow up out of the working people, but it comes down through hired agitators from the would-be capitalistic rulers who want to use the workmen themselves to break down the very industries on which the workmen depend, in order that then the workmen may be thrown on their tender mercies.

The agenda of Mr. Hoffa's friend Barack Obama includes the wholesale destruction of high-wage jobs exactly as Ford has described.  Mr. Obama, and not the Tea Party, has declared war on the coal industry and therefore on miners who, unlike Mr. Hoffa, actually perform blue-collar work and earn good pay for doing it.  Mr. Obama's running mate Mr. Biden backed this up by saying openly that he wanted no new coal plants in America, but only in China -- where they will supply cheap energy with which Chinese manufacturers can take even more jobs away from working Americans.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) clarified further, albeit unwittingly, in "Cap and Trade could be a Boon to New York" (Wall Street Journal, October 21, 2009) who is actually waging war on American workers:

An infrastructure is already beginning to form, as entities like the New York Stock Exchange, J.P. Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and the new Green Exchange are developing carbon trading platforms or expanding their environmental trading desks.

Genuine Democrats do not destroy working people's jobs to line the pockets of Wall Street investment banks.  The problem with Mr. Obama is therefore not that he is a real Democrat, but instead that he is a panderer to fat-cat special interests at the expense of working Americans.  He has meanwhile held DNC fundraisers for which the price of admission can be as high as $38,500 -- possibly a year's pay before taxes for many of the people the Teamsters claim to represent.  We doubt we will find many UPS delivery truck-drivers at these lavish affairs.

Ford summarized in one sentence everything that anybody needs to know about industrial and labor relations: "It ought to be the employer's ambition, as leader, to pay better wages than any similar line of business, and it ought to be the workman's ambition to make this possible" (My Life and Work, 1922).  If labor demands more than the job produces in value, the job will either cease to exist or it will be sent offshore.  This is something labor needs to recognize before it welcomes employer health insurance mandates.  If executives take big bonuses while laying people off or cutting wages, however, they should not be surprised when workers do little more than show up and do as little as they can to collect their paychecks.  An employer cannot expect workers to give their best when it cuts wages, people, or piece rates when the workers make their jobs more productive.  Frederick Winslow Taylor made this explicitly clear a hundred years ago in Principles of Scientific Management (1911).

Labor must meanwhile recognize that the only way a supply chain can simultaneously deliver higher wages to labor, higher profits to investors, and lower prices to customers is to eliminate muda or waste (anything that does not produce value).  Lean manufacturing, which Henry Ford developed and Japan later adopted as the Toyota production system, is the means of achieving this.  One does not learn lean manufacturing as an economics and law student (Hoffa) or as a community organizer (Obama).  This is why neither of them knows how to create or maintain high-wage jobs.  Ford elaborates in My Life and Work (1922):

The only true labor leader is the one who leads labor to work and to wages, and not the leader who leads labor to strikes, sabotage, and starvation.

Mr. Hoffa's support of Mr. Obama's agenda leads labor nowhere but to unemployment, poverty, and loss of the well-deserved pride that comes with the creation of genuine value for society.  Teamsters therefore need to question seriously what they are getting in exchange for union dues that pay Mr. Hoffa's six-figure salary.

William A. Levinson, P.E. is the author of several books on business management including content on organizational psychology, as well as manufacturing productivity and quality.

James P. Hoffa's résumé suggests that he knows little or nothing about genuine blue-collar labor, either as a practitioner or a facilitator such as an engineer or technician.  His depiction of Tea Party members as "son of a bitches [sic]" shows that he knows nothing about public relations either.  As stated in Paul Linebarger's Psychological Warfare (1954, emphasis added):

Sending the Japanese cartoons of themselves, mocking the German language, calling Italians by familiar but inelegant names -- such communications cropped up during the war. The senders got a lot of fun out of the message but the purpose was unintelligently considered. The actual effect was to annoy the enemy, stiffening his will to resist.

If it is bad policy to demonize rank-and-file enemy soldiers whom one wishes to persuade to surrender, malinger, or desert, what must be said of somebody who talks about "taking out" rank-and-file members of an opposing political movement?  Mr. Hoffa has done at least as much as if not more than any conservative columnist or talk show host to mobilize the Tea Party movement.  He has also armed the Tea Party with political ammunition to use against Mr. Obama next year -- noting that Mr. Obama associated himself with Mr. Hoffa's  intemperate language instead of disowning it.  Republicans can combine Hoffa's "Let's take these son-of-a-bitches out" with the stick-wielding Black Panthers who allegedly intimidated voters in 2008 to paint a vivid picture of Mr. Obama as a Chicago gangster who praises the language of thuggery and also uses it: "If they bring a knife, we bring a gun."

Henry Ford, the creator of the United States' affluent working middle class, identified Mr. Hoffa as what he is decades before Hoffa's birth:

A spokesman who does not work in the shop, who does not work in any shop, whose sole ambition perhaps is never again to have to work in a shop, is usually the "bargainer," and it is from what he says or does that many employers draw their opinion of the men in the shop (Ford Ideals, 1922).

Mr. Hoffa is the official face of the Teamsters, whose dues-paying members must recognize that the American public as well as employers will draw their opinion of their union from Mr. Hoffa's behavior.

Mr. Hoffa also accused the Tea Party of "waging a war on workers," which reinforces Ford's advice that workers need to identify their friends and enemies very carefully.  Again per Ford Ideals (1922):

It is a truth which every American workman ought to know is that 95 percent of the agitation which they see around them does not grow up out of the working people, but it comes down through hired agitators from the would-be capitalistic rulers who want to use the workmen themselves to break down the very industries on which the workmen depend, in order that then the workmen may be thrown on their tender mercies.

The agenda of Mr. Hoffa's friend Barack Obama includes the wholesale destruction of high-wage jobs exactly as Ford has described.  Mr. Obama, and not the Tea Party, has declared war on the coal industry and therefore on miners who, unlike Mr. Hoffa, actually perform blue-collar work and earn good pay for doing it.  Mr. Obama's running mate Mr. Biden backed this up by saying openly that he wanted no new coal plants in America, but only in China -- where they will supply cheap energy with which Chinese manufacturers can take even more jobs away from working Americans.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) clarified further, albeit unwittingly, in "Cap and Trade could be a Boon to New York" (Wall Street Journal, October 21, 2009) who is actually waging war on American workers:

An infrastructure is already beginning to form, as entities like the New York Stock Exchange, J.P. Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and the new Green Exchange are developing carbon trading platforms or expanding their environmental trading desks.

Genuine Democrats do not destroy working people's jobs to line the pockets of Wall Street investment banks.  The problem with Mr. Obama is therefore not that he is a real Democrat, but instead that he is a panderer to fat-cat special interests at the expense of working Americans.  He has meanwhile held DNC fundraisers for which the price of admission can be as high as $38,500 -- possibly a year's pay before taxes for many of the people the Teamsters claim to represent.  We doubt we will find many UPS delivery truck-drivers at these lavish affairs.

Ford summarized in one sentence everything that anybody needs to know about industrial and labor relations: "It ought to be the employer's ambition, as leader, to pay better wages than any similar line of business, and it ought to be the workman's ambition to make this possible" (My Life and Work, 1922).  If labor demands more than the job produces in value, the job will either cease to exist or it will be sent offshore.  This is something labor needs to recognize before it welcomes employer health insurance mandates.  If executives take big bonuses while laying people off or cutting wages, however, they should not be surprised when workers do little more than show up and do as little as they can to collect their paychecks.  An employer cannot expect workers to give their best when it cuts wages, people, or piece rates when the workers make their jobs more productive.  Frederick Winslow Taylor made this explicitly clear a hundred years ago in Principles of Scientific Management (1911).

Labor must meanwhile recognize that the only way a supply chain can simultaneously deliver higher wages to labor, higher profits to investors, and lower prices to customers is to eliminate muda or waste (anything that does not produce value).  Lean manufacturing, which Henry Ford developed and Japan later adopted as the Toyota production system, is the means of achieving this.  One does not learn lean manufacturing as an economics and law student (Hoffa) or as a community organizer (Obama).  This is why neither of them knows how to create or maintain high-wage jobs.  Ford elaborates in My Life and Work (1922):

The only true labor leader is the one who leads labor to work and to wages, and not the leader who leads labor to strikes, sabotage, and starvation.

Mr. Hoffa's support of Mr. Obama's agenda leads labor nowhere but to unemployment, poverty, and loss of the well-deserved pride that comes with the creation of genuine value for society.  Teamsters therefore need to question seriously what they are getting in exchange for union dues that pay Mr. Hoffa's six-figure salary.

William A. Levinson, P.E. is the author of several books on business management including content on organizational psychology, as well as manufacturing productivity and quality.

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