Boeing: We will fix our labor problems
Actually, upon further review, Boeing already has fixed its labor problems through negotiations with its largest union, the International Association of Machinists.
In fact, the two parties reached a deal in November after just six weeks of talks in which both sides agreed to make major compromises.
In listening to the rhetoric in Congress, we could not have imagined a settlement was possible. Congress sought to get involved in Boeing's labor issues in April after the general counsel for the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint against the company for an unfair labor practice.
The NLRB urged a settlement, but Congress saw a chance to go to war against federal labor laws.
The thirst for battle was particularly high among representatives and senators from South Carolina, which just 150 years ago declared war on the U.S. That war brought no benefits to the state's inhabitants, and yet South Carolina politicians are at it again. Some back a bill disingenuously called the "Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act," which would limit the NLRB's powers. Some are refusing to approve President Barack Obama's nominees to the five-member board, hoping that without a quorum to enforce labor laws, our country won't have any.
So forgive us for thinking Boeing needs a New Year's resolution to end its labor problems. Rather, members of Congress need to recognize that sometimes, problems can be settled amicably through negotiations.
In fact, they should try it sometime.
FedEx and UPS: We will fix the U.S. Postal Service
FedEx and UPS helped break the U.S. Postal Service, taking away most of the premium business, and now they should fix it.
They clearly have an interest. FedEx is the largest postal service customer, because the post office delivers its SmartPost product. It is also the largest postal service contractor, hauling its priority mail. UPS also does hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business with the postal service each year.
The principal problem with the service -- no surprise here -- is that Congress oversees it. Congress made it liable for pension payments far exceeding what private companies pay and won't let it raise prices quickly enough or set wages and benefits it can afford or close facilities it doesn't need.
To its credit, Congress does recognize the unique importance of rural post offices that also function as community centers and ought to be preserved, even if they must be subsidized. It does, we hope, recognize that this is a bad time to fire 100,000 postal workers. It clearly does not recognize that businesses generally ought to perform tasks at a rate that enables a profit and pay wages and benefits that do not overwhelm that profit.
In any case, FedEx and UPS print money because they were able to devise systems that deliver high-margin letters and packages around the world. UPS, it should be noted, is able to do this and also to pay union wages to most of its workers.
So in 2012, let's ask these two corporate leaders, rather than Congress, to devise a plan for a post office that works.