WASHINGTON, D.C. — Unfair labor practices are only unfair to workers, according to a new study commissioned by the International Labour Organization.
Published in the upcoming issue of the Journal of Labor Economics, the study from researchers at George Washington University found that unfair labor practices greatly benefit employers, a handful of whom admitted to the study’s authors that they wished they could institute more unjust policies to further enhance their bottom lines and make the soul-crushing conditions faced by today’s working class that much more devastating and difficult to overcome.
“Unfair labor practices get a lot of bad press, but that negative publicity is only telling half of the unfair labor practices story,” noted the study’s lead author, Cyrus O’Halloran, Ph.D. “For example, unfair labor practices are anything but unfair to the nation’s employers, who see every rundown, potentially toxic factory or inadequate employee-sponsored healthcare program as boons to their bottom lines that help them to control costs and therefore maximize profits.”
It’s such dividends that O’Halloran and his fellow researchers feel are too often overlooked in favor of the more sensational stories associated with unfair labor practices, such as asbestos-laden warehouses or questionable interpretations of child labor laws.
“It’s easy to sensationalize unfair labor practices and depict these cost-conscious business owners as Dickensian monsters hell-bent on chaining every last Chinese person they can find to a sewing machine,” said O’Halloran. “But on the other side of that coin are savvy, exorbitantly wealthy businessmen enjoying lavish lifestyles they could not possibly afford if forced to pay living wages to the millions of anonymous employees whose misfortune they exploit with each 7-day work week they mandate.”
The negative public perception of unfair labor practices has led some business owners to go on the defensive and publicly champion the cause of treating workers as easily replaceable means to incredibly lucrative ends. As founder of the “Let Them Eat Cake” campaign, Midwestern hamburger bun magnate Ted Ridnour advocates for paying less than livable wages and manipulating labor laws by classifying seemingly full-time employees as independent contractors in an attempt to divest business owners of their legal responsibilities as employers.
“Look, when they learn about the short hours I keep and the numerous extended vacations I take each year, of course my employees working 12-hour shifts for little pay are going to play the ‘unfair labor practices’ card,” Ridnour said. “But I’m not forcing them to package my baked-to-perfection hamburger buns. The reason they need to do that is to satisfy their most basic human needs, like the need to eat, have roofs over their heads, support their families, and that kinda thing. But that’s something they should take up with the almighty Creator, not Ted Ridnour. Because trust me, Ted Ridnour had nothing to do with any of that. If I had my druthers, my staff wouldn’t need food, sleep, bathroom breaks or any of those things that only serve to distract them from packaging my golden brown buns.”
Ridnour’s efforts to rebrand unfair labor practices as good for today’s business owners was what initially compelled O’Halloran to propose the study, the financing of which has reportedly spurred deep regret at ILO headquarters.
“Mr. Ridnour makes a fair point about unfair labor practices,” O’Halloran wrote in his conclusive statement. “Much like the undereducated third world factory worker wouldn’t be able to eat without that $2-an-hour job subsidized by forward-thinking men like Mr. Ridnour, Mr. Ridnour and his ilk wouldn’t be able to traverse the world and entertain university researchers aboard their luxurious yachts if they were unable to circumvent labor laws en route to ill-treating their most interchangeable, unskilled employees. In that light, things seem less unfair and a lot more symbiotic, do they not?”