September 9, 2011

The Employee's Leverage

Justin Katz

Statements such as the following are so foreign to my way of seeing things that there must be some fundamental question at the bottom of the difference:

To understand how we got here, first consider the Ben Franklin-Horatio Alger-Henry Ford ur-myth: To balk at working hard -- really, really hard -- brands you as profoundly un-American. All well and good. But today, the driver is no longer American industriousness. It's something more predatory. As Rutgers political scientist Carl Van Horn told the Associated Press recently: "The employee has no leverage. If your boss says, 'I want you to come in the next two Saturdays,' what are you going to say -- no?"

Employees should have plenty of leverage. The company has already invested in their training. They've got institutional knowledge and contacts that take time to develop and that could help competitors even more than just as a matter of training, not the least because employees could take clients and other valuable employees with them. Smart employers also need to protect organizational moral and sense of community purpose.

Never mind that bosses are actually human beings with emotions and moral senses, too.

Leverage comes in making one's self of value. This applies in greatest to degree to star employees, but even those who are merely competent are more valuable than they probably realize — the workforce is full of laziness, dishonesty, cantankerousness, and other qualities that could harm a business's operations. If people want jobs that allow them never to have the courage to stand up to managers on an individual basis, then that comfort is going to come at a price.

Admittedly, multiple factors have made such courage more difficult. For one, prices have adjusted to the assumption of two-income households. For another, we've waded into a swamp of new necessities — from cell phones to expensive higher education — without which we think our lives would be incomplete. (It's one thing to see such things as tools to increase personal value; it's another to think them necessities for which funding must be found.) For a third, government regulations have decreased the ability of employees to take their institutional and occupational knowledge and start off on their own to compete.

That's where this difference in perspective becomes so critical: In the solutions that we believe will alleviate the situation. If employees are helpless cogs, then one will call for more government regulation of employers, more forceful confiscation, and more empowerment of third-party labor organizations. If employees are the company's and the nation's most valuable asset — merely boxed in by cultural and regulatory factors — then one will call for changes in those areas.

The authors of the above-linked essay, Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery don't dive into the former pool, but the only solution that they describe (actually, the beginning of a solution) is to complain to friends and coworkers. Such communication could be a first step in either direction, but it too often precedes the next step of voting for officials who promise to tilt the playing field rather than the next step of standing up too the boss.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

To refute progressive/union claims that employees have no leverage without unionizing, simply ask them why all nonunionized employees don't earn minimum wage and watch their head explode. "Ok, ok," the smarter ones might backtrack, "employees might have 'some leverage.'" Well, where does that leverage come from? "It's just because... because... it costs more to the employer to find a new person. See? The employer is still greedy. I win." Ok, so make yourself more valuable than it would be to fire you and you won't get fired. "Well, not all employees can do that." Yes, now we're getting somewhere.

In the semi-skilled to skilled work environment:

Bad employees have no leverage.
Average employees have some leverage.
Good employees have a lot of leverage.

This is the way a the workforce should work.

For the few truly unskilled jobs left in our economy, that haven't been driven to Southeast Asia, workers can always organize as well. Yes, you heard me right - I have no problem with spontaneous unionization of a workforce - without all the corrupt government protections, mandates, and monopoly power that come along with it in some states. Hence the importance of right-to-work to keep that healthy competition going and keep the union honest.

Posted by: Dan at September 9, 2011 8:06 AM

Boys and Girls,

Why have I not received a headline - I'm one of you and just got unjustly booted from the state house? Please, I need support! Your comments?

(Folks, there's shady stuff going on among Republicans. Be observant... this commenter's name is Don, not Dan. Surely the real rep would spell his name correctly.---Justin)

Posted by: DonGordon at September 9, 2011 8:51 AM

"Why have I not received a headline - I'm one of you and just got unjustly booted from the state house? Please, I need support! Your comments?"


Posted by: Max Diesel at September 9, 2011 9:11 AM

"Just counting work that's on the books (never mind those 11 p.m. emails), we now put in an average of 122 more hours per year than Brits, and 378 hours (nearly 10 weeks!) more than Germans."

On a more serious note. Both my wife (medical) and I (technology) approached our bosses and asked to work four long days to have three off. Neither batted an eye. Damn those Germans, I should have asked for more.

Posted by: Max Diesel at September 9, 2011 11:48 AM

All the lefties in the house, sing it with me!

Oh! If you want a raise in pay, all you have to do Go and ask the boss for it and he will give it to you Yes, he will give it to you, my boys, he will give it to you A raise in pay, without delay, oh, he will give it to you

Ohhh, put it on the ground, spread it all around
Dig it with a hoe: it will make your flowers grooooow!

Posted by: Russ at September 9, 2011 4:12 PM

Having no argument to speak of, Russ sings silly songs.

Posted by: Dan at September 9, 2011 5:17 PM

Would this blog please provide some insight into the Gordon situation. As a local voter I would like to know what he may have done. He was somewhat evasive on the radio the other day. Justin as a TCC member you should be aware of what is going on, after all the group did endorse him. I here rumors that he does not even have a construction company as he claims and there are issues about being banned from an Amvets in Tiverton or Portsmouth.

Posted by: tiverton voter at September 9, 2011 5:40 PM

I've also heard of a stalking incident allegedly involving Gordon and another GOP legislator.

Posted by: bella at September 9, 2011 5:59 PM

"If your boss says, 'I want you to come in the next two Saturdays,' what are you going to say -- no?"

Well, you wanted the job didn't you? You "took the king's shilling".

As the phrase is in the self employed world "twelve hours is only half a day".

As to the comments on Germany, it is a welfare state protected by very high tariffs. Employers think they are lucky if you show up 5 days a week. If you are unemployed and receiving compensation, a pet is a dependent and you get more.Some of this changed when they "unified", East Germans had no "work ethic" at all.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at September 9, 2011 6:53 PM

I second the request for information on the Gordon situation. No one will come out and say exactly what happened. I heard it was in regards to comments on social networking sites. If this is the case, why are the details not public?

It's very strange and doesn't reflect well on anyone in the Republican party in RI. Transparency?

Posted by: Bucket Chick at September 9, 2011 7:04 PM

I'm sure some progressive will accuse me of a "cover up" or "hypocrisy" or something in that vein, but I'm squarely in the "who cares" department on the Gordon thing. An irrelevant Republican legislator may have said some things that hurt the feelings of some other irrelevant Republican legislators - ok, whatever. How is this a "transparency" issue? The bloggers can speak for themselves, but I assumed the lack of coverage was simply because there is nothing to cover. What can be said about it?

Posted by: Dan at September 9, 2011 8:16 PM

Latest on Dan Gordon:


Posted by: Max Diesel at September 9, 2011 11:14 PM

I would think that a dust up in the republican caucus would deserve mention on the leading conservative blog in the state, but then again, I'm not a republican. I'm just nosy, I guess. And if it was worth expelling someone over, why not just say what it was about? Instead of two people taking to the airwaves to dance around the issue? Unless there are legal reasons - and if so - why not just say we can't talk about it? I hate secrecy in the public sphere. But I also think that all public union contracts should be negotiated in the public view as well...
I'm just nosy, as I said.

Posted by: Bucket Chick at September 9, 2011 11:22 PM

This blog made a huge deal of some union rep acting badly in court but now won't even mention it when one of their own is accused of something or involved in some bad behavior. Especially telling is the fact that this guy was endorsed by Justin and his pals at the TCC.

Posted by: East bay guy at September 10, 2011 5:57 AM

What is there to say, as yet? Everything is rumor. "East bay guy," who is also "tiverton voter" (among other names), is engaging in a bit of cynical political opportunism to tar people in any way associated with Republicans or Dan Gordon.

When it's possible to offer some sort of fair assessment of things, I'll do so. Until then, I'm not inclined to stoke a fire that the likes of "East bay guy" would be just as thrilled to throw me in as he (or she) is Dan.

Posted by: Justin Katz at September 10, 2011 7:30 AM

Justin it does not matter who I am, what really seems important is that a state rep that you endorsed has gotten himself into some hot water. We know that if this was a dem or a union rep you would be all over. Do you andbthe TCC plan to endorse this strange man again?Have you ev er encountered him in the construction trade or heard of any of his projects?

Posted by: East bay guy at September 10, 2011 4:28 PM

East bay guy - if you care about meaningless personality conflicts and squabbles so much, go read Perez Hilton or watch Real Housewives. So far there are no details available and it has zero effect on public policy. Why would Justin write an article about nothing? When Dan Gordon starts threatening union members in a courthouse, then I'm sure it will get coverage here.

Posted by: Dan at September 10, 2011 5:44 PM

Dan, This blog beat to death the story about a union rep talking tough in a court house. You would have thought an assault took place. Here we have a rep that can no longer serve his voters very well, who may have stalked another rep, and who is acting like Lydecker online but no hypocrisy on this website.

Posted by: eastbay guy at September 10, 2011 6:05 PM

"Latest on Dan Gordon:



Posted by: Monique at September 10, 2011 6:48 PM

You're missing some important distinctions (not the least of which is that you're an anonymous coward seeking to impose a standard for ethics that you clearly are not willing to follow, yourself). The main story, at this point, is an action of the GOP, and I sincerely do not believe that were the "R" changed to a "D," we'd have very much to say about it, particularly with this low level of detail.

With Rainone, we had an incident to evaluate. Nothing that I've been able to confirm in Gordon's behavior is quite at that level. Regarding Liedecker, whatever Gordon has done, he's actually been the victim of Liedecker-like activities.

Perhaps most importantly, given the vagueness of reports and the obvious interest that I have, I've been digging around trying to figure out what's going on before I offer opinions. That may not suit your timetable for political attacks, but it'll have to do.

Posted by: Justin Katz at September 10, 2011 6:51 PM

eastbay guy,
Why don't you skip on over to RIFuture and challenge them on their Cicilline coverage or the lack of coverage of Rainone and Medina. At least those stories have some facts and public allegations. You're trying to hold this blog to a higher standard.

Posted by: Max Diesel at September 10, 2011 8:55 PM

Justin could you please explain what you mean about Gordon being a victim of Liedecker like activities? Why am I a coward? Is it because I don't offer my name much like many of your other posters who use nicknames. I look forward to your attacks on all other poster who don't use their full and exact names.

Perhaps you could tell us what the TCC saw in this guy and I would also like you to answer if you know of him and his alleged construction company. I worked in construction until two years ago and have never heard of him or Alliance Construction.

Finally, you are all being as intellectually dishonest as Gordon himself is morally dishonest,if you really don't think you guys would be all over this if it was a democrat. If Pat Crowley so much as farts in an elavator the attack dogs(many anonymous) on this site are unleashed

Posted by: eastbayguy at September 10, 2011 9:19 PM

Other than being a fraud eastbay guy/tiverton voter, maybe you could explain why you thought you needed to use two different names to drum up interest in this story.

By the way, Pat Crowley gives people like me plenty of material without the need to worry about his bodily functions. But that's just me.

Posted by: Max Diesel at September 10, 2011 10:00 PM

Because I forgot the info while moving from one computer to an IPad. Why do you feel the need to use the name Max Diesel. I guess that makes you me and Dan The Watchman Gordon frauds.

Posted by: eastbayguy at September 10, 2011 10:07 PM

Eastbayguy - Somebody in this thread was posting, pretending to be the representative (you maybe?) Liedecker did a similar thing to Gablinski, resulting in his arrest and trial.

It's not the fact that you're anonymous. It's the fact that you were posting under different names without identifying yourself to make it look like others were agreeing with your initial post. Whether that was your intent or not, that's generally considered a no-no.

(LOL - eastbayguy uses an IPad...)

Posted by: Dan at September 10, 2011 10:20 PM

Readers know that I'm not a fan of anonymous commenting, but it is common on the Internet and doesn't necessarily indicate cowardice.

What makes your case different EBG isn't so much that you've posted under multiple names in this thread... and in the past... but that you've clearly got political motives for making the demands that you do, and yet you won't put your name to them.

Let's say, for example, that you're a state representative. You're supposed to be a leader in your community, and yet in order to create discomfort for your political opposition, and to decrease public trust in them (in me), you're taking to the Internet to post demands for transparency and accountability beyond reason... and doing so under multiple assumed names.

Posted by: Justin Katz at September 10, 2011 11:17 PM

Justin I have posted under two names in this thread and I am nothing more than a Tiverton resident who know has less effective representation in Providence. All that stuff about anonymous posting is never a problem so long as they agree with you.

I have noticed that you are avoiding the question about the TCC endorsement and about Dan's apparently non existent construction company.

As for decreasing public trust in Dan Gordon, I think the rep and his behavior have done that on his own.

Dan yes I use an IPad as do several other billion peopl LOL.. As web say here in Rhode Island, that wicked funny.

Posted by: Eastbayguy at September 11, 2011 7:56 AM

Oh, I know that millions (not "billions") of people use iPads. I see all the tech-illiterate middle-aged women and spoiled college girls playing solitaire on them on the Metro everyday because they're useless for anything other than that and looking at Facebook photos.

Are we still doing the "turn in your man card" thing? No? That's not funny anymore? Oh well.

Posted by: Dan at September 11, 2011 8:38 AM


I count 14 different names under your IP address. My reaction to your anonymity has nothing to do with your disagreeing with me; it has to do with the nature of your attacks. Anonymous people disagree with me all the time, here and elsewhere. It's when they begin throwing grenades that challenge ethics and credibility from their anonymous shadows that they prove themselves cowards.

I'm not avoiding any questions. I've spent several hours on the phone, this weekend, trying to sort out what's going on, and even still, most of it amounts to he said/she said, dealing with very personal matters. We're not a gossip site, and until somebody has audio or video of behavior or goes the distance of filing police reports, it's irresponsible even to publish commentary of the "if this is true" sort. Honestly, I expect I'd have even less to say given the same amount of information regarding a Democrat in this same situation.

As for Gordon's business, I'll probably be commenting on that later today or tomorrow.

I know it would suit your political purposes for me to jump right in with no information and give you and your friends dirt to lob at me or a further wedge to use against your opposition, but I'm not here to serve the political purposes of shadow dwellers.

Posted by: Justin Katz at September 11, 2011 8:48 AM

14 Ip adresses on this story is that right Justin. You are lying to yourself if you think Dan gordon is a good guy and lying to yourself even more if you don't admit that if this was NEA or some other union or DEM that you wouldn't be all over it.

Posted by: eastbayguy at September 11, 2011 10:19 AM

I didn're say 14in this thread, and I didn't make any qualitative statements about Dan.

Posted by: Justin Katz at September 11, 2011 10:53 AM

"Having no argument to speak of, Russ sings silly songs."

Songs including that one above share a long history with the labor movement, a history that shows just how much leverage individuals have against corporations.

Perhaps you folks would be happy in a workers' paradise like Dubai without all those pesky unions and government regulation to get in the way.

What leverage!

Posted by: Russ at September 12, 2011 12:45 PM

Hey Russ-you didn't exactly grow up in a blue collar environment did you?Don't try to wear clothing that doesn't fit.
BTW-I did grow up one paycheck from poverty,so don't even think about throwing one of your stupid block quotes at me.

Posted by: joe bernstein at September 13, 2011 2:05 PM
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