REAL WORLD EVENT DISCUSSIONS

The institutional legitimacy of labor unions?

POSTED BY: MINCINGBEAST
UPDATED: Sunday, June 10, 2012 16:25
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Friday, June 8, 2012 8:16 AM

MINCINGBEAST


Recent events in Wisconsin got me thinking (which I am loathe to do, and intend to remedy with some bath salts momentarily) about Unions. Do Unions have any institutional legitimacy?

A generation or two ago, if you weren't in a Union yourself you knew someone who was. More importantly, you knew what Unions did (aside from BAWWING, draining the public coffers and giving corporations further incentives to move jobs over seas) and probably understood Unions to be a perfectly ordinary incident to capitalism. Now, chances are you aren't in a union, don't know anyone who is, and view them with mild disdain and befuddlement. Who are these pampered and unproductive relics of the past, and why should I care what happens to them?

I grudgingly believe that the rise in income inequality in America is related to the decline of Unions. Income inequality sucks; Unions suck, too. Most Unions that I am familiar with seem to operate under the assumption that it is 1906.

Anyway, do Unions have any legitimacy left? If not, how can they regain it, and what role can they play in American life, aside from being a favored scapegoat of entitlement?

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Friday, June 8, 2012 1:03 PM

RIONAEIRE

Beir bua agus beannacht


I do think unions are still needed to insure certain standards of pay and workplace safety. But unions can also get out of hand sometimes when they start demanding stuff that ultimately is unrealistic. Then people turn against them and public opinion suffers.

I assume you're my pal until you let me know otherwise.

"A completely coherant River means writers don't deliver" KatTaya.

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Friday, June 8, 2012 1:16 PM

ANTHONYT

Freedom is Important because People are Important


Hello,

There was a law recently proposed (and opposed by the GOP) which centered around women's equality in the workplace. It addressed things like paying people based on their merits instead of their sex, allowing people to talk to other people about how much they earn (currently not allowed at my workplace), and allowing people to sue if they felt they were discriminated against. (Which I thought they already could, but there was clearly something here that needed to be worked out.)

We have other laws about workplace safety and such concerns.

Many of the best practices in the modern workplace can be traced to union efforts. Yet I sometimes think it is in Union's best interests that there be few legally codified worker protections and weakly codified worker rights, because otherwise people would have no reason to pay union dues. If sufficient universal worker protections are built into Federal law, then Unions would be obviated.

But whether I trust unions or not, people have the right to form associations as they will, to bargain as they can, and to leverage every asset at their disposal to obtain whatever they feel entitled to.

Of course, sometimes they will fail, and that may effect their longevity and the perceived benefits of membership.

--Anthony



Note to Self:
Raptor - women who want to control their reproductive processes are sluts.
Wulf - Niki is a stupid fucking bitch who should hurry up and die.
Never forget what these men are.
“The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.” -Thomas Szasz

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Friday, June 8, 2012 5:31 PM

MAGONSDAUGHTER


i am in a union, although I am also in another country. I am happy to pay my union fees as they assist us with our workplace agreement and will respresent us at work if we need assistance with issues around disciplinary stuff etc etc.

Our workplace had virtually no union membership but thanks to a bullying former CEO is close to about 60%.

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Friday, June 8, 2012 7:28 PM

CATPIRATE


Mincingbeast, Spoken like a true poor person. Always worrying about someone else's pay. Do you worry about athlete's pay too. Ok I work for a living. Why do people alway's worry about my pay. Let's see 18 years in a union. 6 years military. 4 years non union. 2 years as a military contractor. I worked with civil service people too. Now having said all that, this is what I have heard. I am making the big bucks, I am overpaid, the military took care of me, the union took care of me, you get benefits, you have to much time off, you don't earn your money, you should be only getting this amount, and God a lot more. No matter what I do it was some one or some thing else taking care of me. The truth is I am here for the money, I work for a living pay me what you owe me. Not to mention the skill level, experience, and licensed or degree requiring the position. Ok, if you don't like your pay, quit. Now if I get paid more with out benefits why are you worried about my pay when you have benefits. Non union people can't get a union job or unskilled workers can't get a skilled job. It's petty jealousy. Union workers do produce. They built the world with Pittsburgh Steel. How about all the Commercial and Military aircraft, ships, and hardware.

My experience in non union jobs. I see chaos and the customer suffers from the lack of OT during crucial parts of the flow of production. By the way one of the best paying non union jobs I had went under because the company had shiftless workers.

The question is does Wisconsin have cash in the till? No. So the union should have got on board with the governor to take a pay cut and pay for some of the benefits. Now white collar unions (teachers) and state unions are a different animal compared to blue collar production lines. Where by the way when your paid good you better produce or your out the door.

I said a year ago to the military officers that there is no money in the coffers so they will be cutting the military down. Well that is what they are doing. The military people who get a 20 year retirement with full medical and dental worried about how much I was making. Of course they don't think their union even though I am just a hourly contractor.

Jobs equals taxes. Homes equals property tax which pays for the military, police, firefighters, and city works. Ok, homes plundered in value. Half of taxes cut then foreclosures shrink the tax income by 25% more. So no money. Layoffs, Pay cuts, Pay freezes, and out of pocket for less benefits.

When criticising union leadership that is a different story. They get a company retirement plus a union one too. By all means hammer them fat bastards. And they sometimes are on the side of the company making backroom deals during contract negotiations. I've been around. But at the end of the day take care of yourself and family. Management only takes care of the upper management. All the floor or lower to mid range level types are the scape goats.


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Friday, June 8, 2012 8:30 PM

MINCINGBEAST


Megan: There is no industrialized nation with more anemic unions (or less health care, for that matter). I suppose this is what is meant by American exceptionalism. Is your experience with unions typical for your corner of the world?

Kittypirate: If the institutional legitimacy of unions is waning its not because of sweaty guys trying to bring home a living wage. I'm interested in your perspective as a union member. Aside from "player hating", why do you think that your experience with organized labor seems so irrelevant to so many of your fellow Americans? Especially when their interests should be aligned with yours. I assume you're in a private union, and curious about your opinion on public unions.

To be clear, I'm not worried about your pay, or worried about you losing your job because starving foreigners will do it well enough for nickels.I'm worried about 'Murica, and suspect that emasculated unions aren't good for the country.

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Friday, June 8, 2012 9:37 PM

MAGONSDAUGHTER


union membership has been declining steadily over the past few decades, but some industries are more unionised than others - health care workers, teachers, public sector workers, and of course the building industry and what is left of manufacturing.

It's not compulsory to be a union member in most industries any more, in fact, officially I think it is illegal.

I see the need for collective bargaining in workplaces. It's okay to negotiate as an individual if you are in some highly specialised sort after industry, but for most employed people, their negotiation capacity is pretty low.

I can see how unions can negotatiate unreasonable pay claims that lead to job losses, but in the end, I have found them helpful and I know that I have the backing of something larger than myself should my employers try to do me any mischief.

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Friday, June 8, 2012 10:03 PM

CATPIRATE


Well first I don't care about any American who loses their job with a jap car in the drive way. You didn't keep the money in America. No body ever felt sorry for me when I was laid off from the big union job.

Competing with overseas workers. Well they also have national health care. American workers have to fight for this. Not saying we should have national health care.

Unions are really for the skilled worker not the minimum wage worker. This is where people get off on the wrong track.

I am a right winger, ultra conservative, and vote republican. But make no mistake I am about America first.

Now Obama did the right the thing bailing the auto industry. So did Reagan by the way. Yep it isn't true capitalism like Max Keiser in Germany would say let the market straighten it out. But your cornerstone of your nation is your industrial manufacturing. You need this to build tanks etc. So the O did the right thing.

Machinists, mechanics, and assorted tool and die type skilled labor is very hard to find. Good example is the mining industry in America has lost a lot workers from death, retirement, and closures. SO when we start reopening mines once closed we have to get the German's to retrain or teach our workers.

Young people are not coming into the trades anymore. They want a position, a tie, and office, a title, and have a blackberry with their computer. And they call that work.

Where I think blue collar people have slipped I am talking skilled labor not fast food technicians is they think they are white collar workers. With meetings, team energy speeches, and even posters from the mall about achievement. It's funny how about getting the job done.

Also a skilled mechanic or machinist must have his own tools which are very expensive for his trade. Not to many women in these fields some but not much. Yet some state college grad with a company car and company cell phone thinks that he deserves it. Not to mention certain fields you are a journey men till you get up to a certain level.

Now corporate greed. That is killing the US. In the 80s it was Icahn, Trump, and Lorenzo. The junk bond king days. Raising junk bonds that became worthless so they could buy a company to raid it and strip it for cash to buy the real company they wanted. But the end the workers are out of retirement, benefits, pay, and finally a job.

I have seen it many times. I watched a non union company make 100 million in profit in one year to reduce the non skilled worker to 38 hours to get out benefits then make their job contract workers 3 months later.

So we live in times where the early bird gets the worm. Today is really about having your bills paid and surviving.

Working Americans who don't break a sweat always think they are underpaid. Right now you have an oil boom in the Dakotas but yet all these jokers out of work say they can't find a job. RigZone.Com. Just check the jobs which are good pay in a bad economy for an entry level. My point is you have a good job and someone doesn't feel you should have it. I went through this in the mid 80s with people who had no skill and thought I was stealing their job. Even thought I drove across the country to get. Then that leads you to the next job. But you have to show up for an interview, can't oversleep.

The argument you pose I heard a year ago from someone from Wisconsin. Bashed Unions guess what his father was in a Union. I guess they put food on your table didn't complain about that. What a fake. Yes this young man had is his first real job out of the service. He was lazy and way overpaid. Good for him. He will learn the hard way when the job is up.

If the company was good to you it's workers would not need to unionize. I worked 18 years in one with two districts. Man since I have been laid off I have made more a couple of times and don't work as hard with time off as good. Boy did I fall for a lie about how lazy us union workers were. When you are paid high dollar you'll find they own you. Called golden handcuffs.

But why do people worry about a company they don't belong to and the workers pay. I don't get that. Worry about your own job.

I have actually known personally some CEOs. Man did they feel they deserved every bit of their compensation. They got in 4 years what would have took me 30 years to get. Ok I wasn't paid that much. But they would lay off and didn't care about that they kept their company box seats for the Atlanta Braves. Not to mention I have also seen a revolving door when it comes to the executives getting compensation with premium stock even when they were fired for bringing the stock down. In the Union jobs I had 7 CEOs. All left with over 100 big ones and lifetime health packages in 18 years so what an average of 2 years of work. Sweet Baby Jane that is a deal. But I make to much.

Teachers unions and State unions these people feel they are entitled because they went to college. Trust me those same Wisconsin types who are pro union probably drive foreign made cars and think I make to much. They are not true trade unions.

You may disagree but the unions you'll have a better chance at keeping benefits and retirement than a non union company. The last ten years showed me that. One example a company I worked for as a contractor ask me to join. So I finally did. Then it took two months for processing. Well they waited one day after a certain date. Because if I had hired on in that two months I would have been in the company vested retirement program. This way I only got a 401k with a crappy investment company running it.

When your 20 and starting out it don't matter about a lot of things. But after 40 things change, health, kids going college, and women are more of a medical expenditure in mid life.


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Saturday, June 9, 2012 2:03 AM

WHOZIT


Quote:

Originally posted by MINCINGBEAST:
Recent events in Wisconsin got me thinking (which I am loathe to do, and intend to remedy with some bath salts momentarily) about Unions. Do Unions have any institutional legitimacy?

A generation or two ago, if you weren't in a Union yourself you knew someone who was. More importantly, you knew what Unions did (aside from BAWWING, draining the public coffers and giving corporations further incentives to move jobs over seas) and probably understood Unions to be a perfectly ordinary incident to capitalism. Now, chances are you aren't in a union, don't know anyone who is, and view them with mild disdain and befuddlement. Who are these pampered and unproductive relics of the past, and why should I care what happens to them?

I grudgingly believe that the rise in income inequality in America is related to the decline of Unions. Income inequality sucks; Unions suck, too. Most Unions that I am familiar with seem to operate under the assumption that it is 1906.

Anyway, do Unions have any legitimacy left? If not, how can they regain it, and what role can they play in American life, aside from being a favored scapegoat of entitlement?



You're a typical lib, after all the Unions have done for you now you bail on them, keep it up and you'll run out of donors. You guys use to get big $ from Tobacco and Wall Street, keep it up and they won't give any $ to the Repulicans but they'll stop giving it to you.

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Saturday, June 9, 2012 1:10 PM

MAGONSDAUGHTER


It's funny that the righties seem to support unions, or am I missing some of the colourful vernacular of the posts?

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Saturday, June 9, 2012 2:38 PM

DREAMTROVE


I don't think unions have any validity, because there is no competition of unions and free association. There should be multiple unions and non-union members at any facilty if unions are to continue; Otherwise, it's just another unelected authority looking out for itself.

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Sunday, June 10, 2012 11:06 AM

ALIASSE


Boring......

When are you going to update already?

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Sunday, June 10, 2012 11:45 AM

SIGNYM

I believe in solving problems, not sharing them. SECOND: I am so very sorry I libelled you by labelling you a Russian Troll. I apologize for this. http://www.fireflyfans.net/mthread.aspx?bid=18&tid=64646&p=2


The problem with unions is that they have too narrow a scope: they are a bargaining unit, which is already a reactive position to whatever management has done. Personally, I think unions should take a more managerial stance... start thinking and operating like owners and managers and stop just responding.

Also, unions should not only represent themselves, they should also be thinking about other workers and the unemployed. That is why the Occupy movement doesn't unite with the unions.... because they represent the privileged worker.

We're in a clusterfuck because we let owners be owners and have limited ourselves to very narrow concerns.

Oh, btw, I'm in a union. (A professional association, really.)

As far as competing unions is concerned DT, isn't that antithetical to the definition and purpose of a union? Besides, it's really not necessary. If you don't like your union, it's easy to decertify. In my workplace, we've decertified at least five... usually when our labor lawyers get complacent and lazy. Then we elect a new board.

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Sunday, June 10, 2012 4:25 PM

KPO

Sometimes you own the libs. Sometimes, the libs own you.


Quote:

I grudgingly believe that the rise in income inequality in America is related to the decline of Unions.

This is a neat graph, if you haven't seen it:



The Economic Policy Institute has a whole report on the subject here: http://www.epi.org/blog/union-decline-rising-inequality-charts/

It's not personal. It's just war.

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