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The W - Current Events & Politics - West Coast Port Shutdown
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Bizzle Izzle
Bockwurst








Since: 26.6.02
From: New Jersey, USA

Since last post: 47 days
Last activity: 47 days
#1 Posted on

President Bush will seek a court order to force people back to work at the west coast ports that are currently shut down do to labor disputes with the dock workers union. I've seen the estimates of damage to our economy range from $1 Billion a day, at the start of the strike, to $2 Billion a day now. I haven't heard much debate in the press about this, which is amazing considering the damage to the economy. Granted, I don't watch news programs 24-7, but with the level of news watching that I do, I would have expected to hear some debate.

I've seen figures that put the average salary of the dock workers as low as $80,000 a year and as high as $100,000. The benefits the workers get are unbelievably good, like health coverage with no out-of-pocket expenses. Given their high salary, these workers can sustain a long strike and have no urgency to return to work.

With Bush's request for a court order, I wonder how many people will agree with "...James Spinosa, president of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union International" who says "The government, along with the corporate world, are trying to break unions."

I am not anti-union, having grown up in a union family and union benefits were an extremely important part of our lives. But given the astronomically high salaries these people make, it seems more like they are being selfish than making a stand for union rights. In effect, they are holding the whole economy of the country hostage as produce rots on the docks, and factories sit idle since their parts and materials can't be delivered. The financial costs have already been estimated, but what about the human costs? What about the tens of thousands of people who are losing out while these dock workers let cargo just pile up?







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Pool-Boy
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Since: 1.8.02
From: Huntington Beach, CA

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#2 Posted on
Oh, it is worse than that. Aside from the salaries, the longshoremen on the west coast are still on the 1 on, 1 off policy that was implemented during WWII. They have 2 people working EVERY job! You go in for your 8 hour day, work for 4 of it, and then leave, because the other person takes over. They also get an additional 30 minute break BEFORE THEIR LUNCH to wash their hands! Some workers get paid for full 8 hour days just to show up with doughnuts!
It is not technically a strike... it is a lock out. The longshoremen's contract ran out a few months back, and they began a work slowdown (dropping in production by a factor of 10!) in order to force the Ports to change the contract. See, the issue is that the Union is afraid that with the implementation of new technology, many new jobs will be created that will not belong to their union. The ports said- you are practically striking, and you are working without a contract, so we are locking you out (work slowdowns are forbidden under their original contract) until you sign a new deal, or an extension on the old one. The union is refusing, sticking to the assertion that all new computer-related jobs must belong to the union.
So the longshoremen admit that they have ideal working conditions (how can they complain at all?) so why are they not signing the deal? I mean, seriously, what buisness does a longshoreman's union have dictating who a company should hire in Utah or whereever these computer jobs will be?
It is bad- you can see the ships lines up all across the horizon at the beach. While it is doing tremendous damage to the economy, I can't help but think that it is necessary- that union is too powerful as it is, and something needs to be done to break their strangehold. I mean, seriously- can you imagine how much cheaper things we were paying one man to do the work of one man, for a reasonable salary? For a full 8 hours a day? This union needs to be broken... badly...



Craig Reade
"Pool Boy"

Detroit Lions! 1-3!
On the road to oh and sixt... Wha?
Grimis
Scrapple








Since: 11.7.02
From: MD

Since last post: 1233 days
Last activity: 1030 days
#3 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.29
I am not anti-union either, but the President is making the correct call here. Much like Truman shut down the coal miners and railroad strikes in the 40's, it is in the national interest to send the longshoremen back to work. The work slowdown and subsequent lockout are forcing cargo ships to back up in the west coast and are forcing innocent, hard working folks out of work due to layoffs from their manufactured goods not reaching their destinations.

It is outrageous that such a rich and prosperous union would willingly undertake such malicious harm to our economy. It's not like these guys are working in sweatshops for minimum wage. God, for the price of one of these guys you can put two teachers in the classroom!

EDIT: Spelling...

(edited by Grimis on 8.10.02 1447)
StaggerLee
Scrapple








Since: 3.10.02
From: Right side of the tracks

Since last post: 13 hours
Last activity: 45 min.
#4 Posted on
I never really lived anywhere near a big union town, until I moved to ST louis. I used to think, "yeah, unions are good" then I got here, and started paying attention to what they are actually all about. EXTORTING MONEY! Plain and simple.

If you have a guy doing work at your place of business who isnt union, they put picketers outside with signs saying you are paying substandard wages, making you look bad.

If the guy working comes out, he gets harrassed.

The owners are basically blackmailed into hiring guys and paying them twice the money for the same job.

There are billboards here in the area that urge boycots of businesses because they either refuse to use union labor, or they dont make enough to hire union labor, and cant afford it.

Its organized crime with political power, plain and simple.
MoeGates
Andouille








Since: 6.1.02
From: Brooklyn, NY

Since last post: 28 days
Last activity: 1 day
#5 Posted on
Hey this is America. Capitalism, remember? You use what resourses you can to get as much money as you can. The reason the union is so strong is because it's very skilled labor. You think that management wouldn't replace them with $8 dollar-an-hour laborers if they could? Those guys have a skill, bargaining leverage, and they're using that to get the best deal they can.

Why is it that Conservatives only complain about people making money when they are in a union. I thought making as money as you can was what you're supposed to do. Or is that only if you wear a suit to work? Don't you guys harp on Liberals when government pokes its nose into business practices (and what is this if not government activism) when it's in the "national interest," like regulating companies and such? Or does that only count if businessmen don't like it?

Who are you guys to decide what's too much money for a particular job? Let the market decide. Who are you guys to say someone has to work if they don't want to, for whatever reason they don't want to? Isn't this America? Isn't slavery over? Because last time I checked, making people work is pretty much just that.

These guys get paid a lot of dough because, for better or for worse, they're that valuable in our economic structure. Whatever the motives are or anything else in this case, why not let it work itself out without government intervention and regulation? ISn't that what you guys always say?

How can you sit there with a straight face and complain that these people are overpaid, or aren't acting in the best interests of society? You want that the government should determine what the best interests of society is and step in to make sure it happens? Oh, and how much each job is worth? That's been tried. In Russia.





Expressing myself EVERY day - but especially on July 22, 2002!
Pool-Boy
Lap cheong








Since: 1.8.02
From: Huntington Beach, CA

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#6 Posted on
But your argument contradicts itself. Union Labor, in most cases, is the very OPPOSITE of skilled labor. The whole point of the unions is to prevent sweatshops, and unfair labor conditions. If that were the strict definition of Unions today, I would completely agree.
Take the longshoremen's union, for example. Define skilled labor in this instance! It would take minimal training to perform that job. The machines they use are uncomplicated, and the workers are overpaid. They get over $100k a year to work less than 20 hours a week! They have FREE health care, cannot be fired, and are guaranteed a job for life. The union is not fighting for better conditions for their workers, they are fighting to become more powerful. They want their fingers in every aspect of the west-coast shipping industry, and it is way out of line.
With the introduction of Minimum wage and other labor laws, the need for Unions is virtually gone. It is not capitalism at work, it is redistrobution of funds, or socialism. Think about it! This union is opposed to high technology because it is afraid it will cost them membership! They already have TWICE the necessary workers to perform the jobs required (remember, 1 on, 1 off), and now they want more.
Anyone who supports this really needs to take a hard look at the facts. We all want cheaper goods, and competitive wages. This unions extortion of the entire economy is criminal. It is a time of war (like it or not). It is a time when the economy is down. This unions actions caused about 1 billion a day in lost revenues to this economy. And they were fighting for nothing more than their own greed.
Break the union to bits, I say. Put the jobs on the FAIR MARKET and see what the market dictates the salary for this job is. I'll bet you can get plenty of workers with the skill and intelligence needed for a job like this at half the cost they are paying now. Offer $50,000 to unload boxes from a ship, with Full Medical and pension. I'll bet there would be more than enough takers. They will save about $150,000 per job, per year, the workers will all be happy, and their hand will no longer be tied by a greedy union. They will be able to finally implement the technology needed to get the indistry out of the stone-age (which the union opposes) and efficiency will skyrocket.
Then we will ALL see the benifits when we shop.
Tell me how this is evil?



Craig Reade
"Pool Boy"

Detroit Lions! 1-3!
On the road to oh and sixt... Wha?
MoeGates
Andouille








Since: 6.1.02
From: Brooklyn, NY

Since last post: 28 days
Last activity: 1 day
#7 Posted on
Not skilled labor? From Boston.Com

Hotel employees have had difficulty organizing because so many people are qualified to do the work, Olney said. Port jobs, on the other hand, require skills that can take years to master and often carry risks.

''Lashing containers on a rainy, wind-swept night on the deck of a cargo ship is an extremely dangerous job that takes a high degree of skill,'' he said. ''I always challenge my colleagues at the University of California to spend a night lashing containers on a ship. They wouldn't last 10 minutes.''


This is a lockout. If they were as unskilled as you say, management would simply start training new workers right now and not renew the contract.

Unions are much more succesful in skilled trades than in non-skilled trades, for the simple reason that skilled tradesmen are much harder to replace. For example, the pilots union is one of the most powerful in America, and I would hope that you wouldn't call airline pilots "unskilled."

The function of unions is not to provide minimun wage and fair labor conditions and such, although that was the reason they were started. Their function is to get use the resources at their disposal to get the best deal for their members. This is a right conservatives extend to everyone else. It's called capitalism. How is it the redistribution of funds? It's a contract signed by both parties, unless the government steps in. They get paid a very high salary because they have very good barganing position for a number of reasons. If two businesses are making a deal, and one has better bargaining position than the other, is the deal "socialism" and "redistribution?"

Management can use whatever resources they have to get the best deal, and in 99% of the cases it's a hell of a lot better deal than the workers get. In this rare case, the union's getting the better deal (although I'm sure their bosses get more than they do). You may be upset that they are getting paid more than YOU think they are worth. CEO's get paid more than I think they are worth. However, you'd cry bloody murder if I proposed that the goverment step in and make CEO's work for, say $1,000,000 a year. And would you call that CEO "Greedy?" He's worth however many millions they pay him to the people that employ him, even if I hate that fact (and I do). I's not the government's job, or yours, or mine to say otherwise.

Someone making a ery good living for working hard is "greedy?" Isn't that what you conservatives say you're all about? Or again, is that just if you wear a suit to work?



Expressing myself EVERY day - but especially on July 22, 2002!
PalpatineW
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Since: 2.1.02
From: Getting Rowdy

Since last post: 2794 days
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#8 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.44
Moe -

Everything you said makes sense, but, from what I can discern, this lockout isn't about the workers themselves. It's about the Union trying to gain control over new jobs, jobs yet to be created. To use your business analogy, isn't this kind of like collusion?



Using a key to gouge expletives on another's vehicle is a sign of trust and friendship.
StaggerLee
Scrapple








Since: 3.10.02
From: Right side of the tracks

Since last post: 13 hours
Last activity: 45 min.
#9 Posted on
Moe, when I was in the navy, we had to tie planes and helos down to the flight deck. The most uneducated, backwards assed people on the ship, the ones with no technical training, are the ones who are sent out to do this job.

And of course, College professors arent going to be able to do it. Neither are most pilots, doctors or machine shop personell.

To sit and cry that unloading a ship is a SKILL, you are just plain wrong. and, all that crap is loaded and secured BEFORE the ship leaves its original port. Its called "securing for sea" Everything gets tied down.

You want to talk about how corrupt unions are? The nurses at a local hospital wanted a union, so what union did they join? The TEAMSTERS. Since when is NURSING a TEAMSTER job? But, The Teamsters know that they can take people's dues from them for the 4 or 5 years that the contract runs for, and then only have to actually provide them anything in return when it comes time for a new contract.
Jeez, even the frieking cashiers at the supermarkets here in ST Louis are unionized. How much SKILL does it take to find the UPC code and run it over the scanner? NOt a whole lot!

UNIONS = CORRUPTION and EXTORTION
Pool-Boy
Lap cheong








Since: 1.8.02
From: Huntington Beach, CA

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#10 Posted on
Hotel workers have a hard time organizing because a) there is a high turnover rate in that industry and b) the workers do not necessarily want to be in a union.
See, that is the key there. Personally, I would never join a union unless it was totally required. I hate was they stand for these days. They prevent buisnesses from making the decisions they need to to keep a buisness running competitivly.
Again, take the longshoremen. They CAN'T put those jobs on the market, because even though there was a lockout/strike, the union still controls the hiring decisions! The docks are prohibited from offering those jobs on the market unless the government steps in and breaks up this ridiculously huge union.
I may not be able to determine exactly what these jobs are worth, but they sure as HELL are not worth what they are paying for. This is NOT skilled labor, these are lazy thugs. They could not get a job at McDonalds without this union. And it is BS.
Here are your skilled workers. Look at them! SCREAMING to come back to work (the fat bastards). And what happens when Bush throws open the doors? They BITCH! "Oh, he should not have done that!"
This union was NOT negotiating a better deal for its workers in any way. It was trying to gain more power. And when ANY organization begins to do something like that at the expense of not only the national, but the economy, they have crossed the line and need to be broken up. Their goals stopped being about worker's rights a long time ago.



(edited by Pool-Boy on 9.10.02 0956)

Craig Reade
"Pool Boy"

Detroit Lions! 1-3!
On the road to oh and sixt... Wha?
Zeruel
Thirty Millionth Hit
Moderator








Since: 2.1.02
From: The Silver Spring in the Land of Mary.

Since last post: 3 days
Last activity: 34 min.
#11 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.05

    Originally posted by MoeGates
    The reason the union is so strong is because it's very skilled labor



??????????

i had to join a union at UPS because i moved boxes from one belt to another...but i was 17, so i was exempt from the union dues & fees...

that didn't take skill, just muscle, because you had to handle upto 70 pound packages, and move almost a box every 2 seconds....

think Lucy at the choclate factory...



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