Andy's speech was passionate and compelling and made me think that he should be leading a political party. I wish we had people like him in Japan.
He fielded a number of tough questions about the failings of unions and his response was that unions have their problems and they need to be addressed, but that there were many issues that would never be resolved without unions. When presented with some examples of dysfunctional unions, he said that you had to blow up the bad unions before incrementally fixing them.
He said that "there is enough money. It is just not distributed properly." "I love philanthropy, but I want to allow people to be independent and provide for themselves." He made a solid attack at the notion of CEOs walking away with millions of dollars while cutting benefits for workers, and then turning around and setting up foundations to "give to the poor."
One person in the audience gave the example of a company which was picketed for using an un-unionized contractor. The person complained that they had a good relationship with the contractor and didn't want to switch just because these unions were picketing. Andy pointed out that the contractor would probably walk down the street and jump up and down if the company told them to. Why not tell the contractor to get unionized. It is the responsibility of the company to help the workers in the contractor and encourage them to become unionized.
I grew up in a fairly liberal environment and I heard a lot of war stories from union organizers. I've also seen union organizers abusing their power. Like Andy, I believe that their benefits outweigh their cost and that we should be thinking about how to reinvent them. They have developed a tainted image over the years and hopefully Andy can help change that. I support Andy in his efforts and believe that people like him may be able to save the Democratic party of the US by talking to the concerns of the working class instead of alienating them.