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Thread: The Union?

  1. #1

    Default The Union?

    Some people as of now see the Labor Union as 19th Century Europe saw the Ottoman Empire(the sick man of Europe), the "Sick Man" of capitalism. The on going struggle between labor and management is ever prevalent in today's society, lay off, out sourcing, etc. So, what is your opinion on the union and what is society to do with it? Are we to take diplomatic action towards it, to try to help it stabilize? Or are we to deploy the national guard to Union strong holds and do as Carnegie did during the Homestead Strike of 1892?

  2. #2

    Default

    Well in my opinion Unions have become way too powerful in the last 100 years since the dawn of WWI. Sure they were needed during the time when America (sorry dont know much about Europe) was and export based economy, but now we are incrediblly import based. Many of the Unions that exist today have become barricade to competition and better quality services and products. For example, outsourcing has become such a problem since a combination of Unions wage barricades and minimum wage (even though both are needed to an extent) has created less quality workers at higher prices . Just look at GM, some of their factory line workers were/are making 15-50 dollars an hour, most without a college education and even a highschool diploma. Now what has this caused? Better foreign cars, at lower prices. (Toyota)

    The teachers union has also created a dilema, which is a service that cannot be outsourced. The Teacher's Union is probably the most powerful union in the US. It guarantees complete security with incredible benefits. What does this create? (No offense to any teachers here; good teachers are the majority.) It creates teachers with 10 year who lose most of their motivation who then sit back to enjoy a career of great benefits with little input. Some State counteract this well with , but many states severely lack in the education department.

    Okay i see that this is a single sided argument at the moment, but i would like expand on it when I have more time.

  3. #3

    Default

    Well, I want to start off by saying that I am a part of the Teamsters Union here in Seattle Local 714. I'm working for a package handling company. If it wasn't for the Union, I would have lost my job a year ago as the economy tanked. The Union is the reason I'm still working, paying rent, and getting medical help when I need it.

    Not every Union is Honest to god great and lovely. There are the bad as well as the good with everything. Some Unions out there are shams, and should not be trusted. This is the way everything is really. You have to make that call when you get into one. If I found hard core corruption in my Union, I would leave it in search for a better one.

    My Dad was a Union man his whole life too, and as far as I've seen, Unions have done nothing but help my family and me when I've needed it. The same cannot be said for the places I worked that were non-Union. I'm not saying that the Union cares for me as a person, Just that they have been there when needed. I'm sure the Union has one goal, like everyone else, make money.
    With my contract in place, the business I work for has to treat me with respect. They are not allowed to just fire me, or lay me off without reason. and then I'm still allowed to dispute it and attempt to get my job back if need be. I'm allowed to work at my own pace without harassment from my supervisors.

    Those GM workers making a lot of money, without a high school diploma were skilled workers most likely. You don't make that much fresh out of high school. Now there are a lot of people employed without a HS diploma, however most of those people are all older and they got those jobs 30 or more years ago. So it's understandable they would be making a lot of money if they've been on the job for years. You do get raises you know. Even 20 years ago it was really easy to get a job without graduating High School.

    The reason we have better foreign cars is because foreign companies have begun to develop better products to compete with overseas markets. The labor union percentage of HS dropouts versus HS graduates working in the US here has NO effect on how Japan produces and sells their Toyotas. Most foreign car companies have plants here in the US! and you know something, they're filled with skilled union laborers that are American. I honestly can't see how you would try to connect American labor workers with foreign car quality in another country.

    On a last not. You can thank the Unions for everything you may enjoy about your job today. (If you have a job) The 8 hour work day, 40 hour work week was created due to Union pressure. The Weekend was never even heard of until the Union workers organized and fought for it. Child Labor was abolished with help from the Union otherwise you may have grown up in some plant at the age of 5 working from 6am to 9pm.

    Some of these things the Union has brought about has been for the better for all of us. They have fought for human rights and stood to defend the working class of America.

  4. #4

    Default

    Unions have caused a lot of problems in my state. The teacher's union is probably the worst. There a quite a few "veteran" teachers in my own school that have simply no skill at teaching and are continuing to get paid. Other newer teachers (several of which were very good) have been laid off from lack of senority. Also, the union is blocking payment by performance, something that would greatly motivate the teachers to do a better job than they are currently doing.

    The unions cause a lot of other problems in the state. People on the health department aren't even evaluated. Many people have a completely secure job just because of how long they have worked there, leaving us with a ton of incompetent workers.

    I'm not sure how unions are affecting states elsewhere, but they certainly aren't a good thing here.

  5. #5
    Peachy

    Default

    Unions server a very specific and important purpose in our society and economy. They ensure that working conditions and pay for employees are at an acceptable level.

    Obviously, employers have more power, as they can more or less fire people at will (depends on the country's labor laws). So if workers demand better conditions or higher pay, they could just fire the current workforce and hire new people. As a counterweight, workers have the right to form unions to have more collective power. Without unions, we'd go back to the raw capitalism of the late 19th century, where working conditions were unbearable.

    However, unions can go overboard with their power and demand unreal things, like too high a raise of pay, or stupid perks for their workers.

    Peachy

  6. #6
    Fudgebunny

    Default

    i have to agree with peachy there

    being in the construction trade unions are a must as it is common place for people to get hurt and even killed, i have seen some very close calls, and if it was left up to the companys these would have all been covered up so no one would know.

    but then some can demand too much.

    but then saying that the one i was in was use less, as i was still an apprentise and i was layed off even tho i had paper work stating that i couldnt be layed off. and then they backed down from sueing them, and since i had no job i could not aford it, nor have i had a job for nearly a year now

  7. #7

    Default



    Quote Originally Posted by pastrami View Post
    Unions have caused a lot of problems in my state. The teacher's union is probably the worst. There a quite a few "veteran" teachers in my own school that have simply no skill at teaching and are continuing to get paid. Other newer teachers (several of which were very good) have been laid off from lack of senority. Also, the union is blocking payment by performance, something that would greatly motivate the teachers to do a better job than they are currently doing.

    The unions cause a lot of other problems in the state. People on the health department aren't even evaluated. Many people have a completely secure job just because of how long they have worked there, leaving us with a ton of incompetent workers.

    I'm not sure how unions are affecting states elsewhere, but they certainly aren't a good thing here.
    I agree with you there, the teachers union is fat and lazy. I have many good young teachers at my school that got canned b/c of lack of senority, where there are some old farts who are just terrible teachers and get high pay for doing a bad job.

    The health care thing burns me too, companies should have never offered that in the first place, look at GM they pay billions per year in health care to retired workers.

    I think the union should just be there to make sure you aren't literally being worked to death on the line and in the mills. Where you can work an 8 hour day, for a REASONABLE wage, not $25 p/h, more like min. wage and up depending on your skill level. So if you are just cleaning up scraps, then you get what ever min. wage in your state is.

  8. #8

    Default

    They have outlived their usefulness. Health and safety and labour laws function for what they were originally for. Now they just make things more expensive by driving up wages and keep incompetent people employed.

    If your job can be moved or outsourced you don't want to be in a union. They drive up the cost of labour to the point where the company picks up and moves to India, China or just another part of the country with worse labour laws. I know of a brewery that was shut down after a long strike because it was more profitable to do that than comply with the demands. The people I have worked with said it was pretty common for sawmills to close in similar circumstances. I am not even sure if the increased wages would be worth it in some jobs because they could get wiped out pretty quick when you are making $100 a week on strike pay.

    Where it is great to be in a union is in a government job or one that can't be moved because it serves a specific area or is near a resource. Take grocery stores, my friends has seen people caught on video stealing that were not fired because of union intervention. Or auto-workers: since the steel mills and mines have set up a nice infrastructure their jobs can't really move so a semi skilled to unskilled person can make more than highly skilled and experienced tradespeople or even some people with degrees in other parts of the country.
    Last edited by WildRoseBaby; 15-Feb-2010 at 21:50.

  9. #9

    Default

    Like most people have said, I think they were needed at one point in time, but not anymore. There's a lot of regulation by the government about wages, working conditions, safety, hiring/firing, etc. The days of people working 12 hours a day 6 days a week in a factory that was unsafe and had horrid conditions are done. Now, the unions are about power. Power is addictive, I'll be the first to admit it. However, what unions are doing today is near criminal and personally I feel that it is unions that are responsible for the collapse of the American automobile industry.

    On the subject of automobiles, I'll explain why this happened. As of recently, Detroit was NOT, I repeat, NOT giving us crap automobiles. I've personally owned 6 cars, 3 jap, and three from GM. I can tell you that my GM car's have been at least, if not more dependable than my japanese cars (two subie's and a nissan, if you were wondering) All three of my jap cars have left me stranded on the side of the road, not something I can say about any of my cars from the general. Also, my detroit cars have lasted longer, aside from my nissan that went over 200K miles. Aside from my brand new one, my other ones are on the road still, one with @140K and the other at about 215 thousand miles. Though I will admit, for those of you car guys out there, 2 of my three "american" cars are "NUMMI" cars. For those of you who do not know, it's essentially a collaboration between GM and Toyota, so they are kind of half Toyota. However, my mileage-master at over 215K is pure GM.

    The issue was not quality in my opinion, it was the built in added costs that union labor added to the price of the cars. Let's put it this way, say Chevy and Honda make the exact same car, same options, same quality, etc. Honda can produce it cheaper because they are not paying the huge legacy costs that the UAW forced upon them. If the two automakers are producing the same thing, I'm not willing to pay more for one, so they need to be priced the same. The detroit automakers simply couldn't pay these costs anymore and required the bailout, AKA OUR HARD EARNED TAX DOLLARS!

    Another thing that unions have burdened the rest of us with is the early retirement packages. Many unions have something called "30 and out", meaning put in 30 years, retire at near full pay with benefits. I understand this for some types of workers, cops for instance, but government workers, factory workers, teachers... no, absolutely not. Let's take this example, an auto-worker's UAW contract is designed to give retirement after 30 years... sounds like a long time. However, what happens if that auto worker started there when he was 18? Retirement at age 48. Average life expectancy is in the mid 70's, meaning that person will likely spend nearly as much of his life in retirement as he did working. Something has to pay for all of this, and that would be the pension. That's where these huge legacy costs are coming from and while it's great for union workers, it's not so good for the rest of us. Why should teachers be able to retire in their mid fifties whereas most of the rest of us needs to work into our mid 60's or beyond? To quote Obama (who was speaking on a different subject which boils my blood) "It doesn't compute."

  10. #10

    Default

    Virginia is a right to work state, which ironically enough means you can't have unions. I work as a TA for a junior high school, and my wife was a career teacher until she had to retire on full disability. Starting salary in Lynchburg for a teacher is 30,000 a year with no possibility of a raise while we are in a recession. Every year, more and more teachers are laid off because the state refuses to fund public education. My job may be eliminated at the end of this year. We have absolutely no protection.

    As a TA who has worked for 7 years, I make $15,000 a year. My one benefit is hospitalization, though I have to pay into it. I have to swipe a time clock, and I have to stay within 5 minutes of accuracy. This includes swiping out and in for my half hour lunch.

    Unions, in my opinion, protect workers from being abused. As a child, my grand mother worked 12 hours a day in a sweat shop in Newark, New Jersey. It was because of these atrocities that unions were necessary and child labor laws were established. Yes, powerful unions hurt both our products, productivity and our economy. The car companies should have been stronger and held their ground. The market place however, found its own solution, as it usually does. Over time, there are always economic corrections. One day, the Chinese who work for a dollar a day will rise up and demand to be paid the same as the EU and American workers. It just will take time.

    In the long run, I think we are better with unions than without. Virginia is a good example as to why.

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