Friday, February 15, 2013

Current vs Future Membership

If you are the democratically elected leader of an organization, is your obligation to the long term well-being of the organization itself or to satisfy its current members?

The United Autoworkers have signed contracts that put new employees on a lower pay scale than current employees. Doing so prevented draconian cuts in wages and benefits to a workforce that is near retirement. Yet when these employees do retire,  their younger replacements will know that - no matter how they work and how much seniority they build up - they will never have the same earn potential as their older peers. If I was in that position, then I would be bitter towards the union that sold me out. I would vote to decertify in a heartbeat. My own pocketbook would thank me for it. It might take a decade or two before there is enough people who agree with me, but the day of reckoning is coming. If the Autoworkers took the cuts in stride, then their current membership would take a severe cut in lifestyle on their verge of their retirement. Something nobody wants.

The Republican party is in a strange place with immigration reform. The current membership is in an old and white party that is getting older and whiter every year (and starting to die off). They know the demographics are changing to become increasingly more Hispanic. The politics of New Mexico and Nevada have already flipped from solid Republican to Democratic because of the no-tolerance position towards illegal immigrants. Arizona and Texas are on their way, too.  If the party continues to satisfy its current membership, then the party will only be hurting itself in the long run. If the party changes its position on the issue, then the Hispanics would join the party despite the wishes of the current membership.

What is the philosophical role of leadership in these instances? This is not an easy issue to answer.

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