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The W - One Question... - What do you think about unions?
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Since: 10.10.02
From: New Hampshire

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#1 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.74
I'm currently a member of one for service workers, and while my gut instict is to stay with it, it seems like not a lot is changing for the better at my job. I pay about on hour of my wages per pay period as the dues.
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Matt Tracker
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Since: 8.5.03
From: North Carolina

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#2 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.05
Raised as I was in anti-union South Carolina, I've only heard bad things about unions as they allegedly relate to ownership and productivity. I like the ideas of unions as a modern guild network, providing skills and opportunities to younger workers to perpetuate a knowledgeable labor force. But I wonder, given the growth of technology, how many established union workers would learn more from the younger folks used to complex computer systems. But the common argument here against unions is that they would enforce closed shop rules, turning the guild idea against those needing new careers once the local textile industry shut down.

I can tell you that in my own working experience, no employer was more rabidly anti-union thatn Wal-Mart. The store I worked at regularly held meetings discouraging union discussions and touting the problems a union would cause. The reason any talk of unions began was the very reason all union talk begins -- Wal-Mart paid horribly and arbitrarily extended work shifts under threat of firing.

And to work this into a wrestling reference, the LWO (the WCW Latino union) might have worked better as a face faction had they not debuted in Columbia, South Carolina, a town not known for liking a)Latinos, and b)unions.



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Since: 2.1.02
From: Kentucky - Home of the 8 time NCAA Champ Wildcats

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#3 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.04
Touchy topic....

I think that unions were needed when they began to emerge in the United States during the latter stages of the 19th century. I think that Samuel Gompers is worthy of respect and that he helped many people for many years after his death.

At the same time, I feel OSHA, ADA, and standardized labor laws have accomplished much of what unions were intended to do - thus in a sense making unions less meaningful. I also feel the need for unions has been muted somewhat by a more educated labor force that is more likely to move to "where the jobs are" - an educated, mobile labor force makes firms compete to hire the best labor.

I also feel that there are things wrong with some unions. I've heard stories from reliable sources that "perpetuate the stereotype" - employees told by union bretheren to slow down and produce less as to not make the others look bad, employees napping on the job, managers uncapable of disciplining employees for insubordination or laziness, employees not being allowed to do things "outside of their area of expertise" (like change light bulbs), and stories of unions striking to avoid working the holidays.

I feel that some unions have hurt areas of the country (at least some small towns) by being too contrary and demanding more than they "earn". I also feel that closed shop laws are wrong. I know a man who was forced to join a union that he voted against simply because of such laws.




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Since: 11.1.02
From: Houston

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#4 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.57
My experience with unions is that they're in place to protect the lazy.

An old employer tried to terminate more than one employee for constant slacking and not doing their job, only to have their decisions overturned time and time again once the union got involved.



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Since: 20.6.02
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#5 Posted on | Instant Rating: 2.56
I hate unions.

A story concerning that: I worked for a security outfit back in Toronto; and not only were the union dues steep (a thirty-five dollar initiation feel, but a ten dollar deduction every two weeks, plus whatever the card cost)....it wasn't worth my effort.

Anyhow, if it wasn't the cost, it was the fact that I had to contact the union myself for my card, even though I wasn't officially a member until after three months into my employment though I was paying dues since the start. (The card should have been automatically sent to me by the group, by courier, as according to the handbook). Second, I had a grieveance with someone I worked with, and I was told to take it up with the union rep...who was the person I had the grievence with. There was nobody else to talk with.

Couple that with some experiences in general (why should [public service, who are serviced by a union strike and throw everyone's lives into disarray...like government, busses, and everything....) I don't see the point.



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Since: 28.1.02
From: Louisville, KY

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#6 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.28
welllll...

I have only been in one for one short time period (FOP). But, they are needed ... in some industries.

For one, in the pipefitters union, they make sure that Union fitters use the safe methods and they are are up on the latest methods and the rest. It's more consistant, I guess.

I see some of the technical trades that are unionized and merely a standardized way of certifying craftsmen (and craftswomen). Yes, I acknowledge that non-union craftworkers can be as or more skilled, but as a contractor that needs, say, an electrician, for a day or two, I can call the hall and get a person and know what the cost is up front.

Wow, this is almost a current events and politics question





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Since: 24.3.02
From: Oshkosh, WI

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#7 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.12
It's a difficult question. I remember a story (I think it must have been on here but I can't find it) someone told about being hired by a company to work undercover to spot theft and wrongdoings and things, and then finding it nearly impossible to be fired at a union job (IIRC, it was something about throwing a punch at a boss and the union still tried to get him to keep his job. Hopefully someone remembers the details.)

On the one hand, good, competent employees deserve to have certain protections. You shouldn't have to fear arbitrary dismissal.

On the other hand, unions seem to go too far. They make it nearly impossible to fire anyone (as exampled above), which leads to laziness. City government workers (Water department, etc.) are the worst (I think they're unionized). Then there are those industries where the unions are pricing themselves right out of a job, like the auto industry, I hear. As opposed to many of the airplance unions, which have agreed to wage decreases in order to avoid massive layoffs. And then those manufacturing unions act shocked that companies are taking their operations overseas instead.

So I am in a difficult situation. I think there are some places where unions are needed and can do some good, but then I also think some unions are too powerful, and don't listen to the needs of their constituency. And I think where possible, the best employees should be able to get a better deal for themselves than a union can provide.

Plus, the jobs that could most use unions IMO are the lowest-paying jobs, which are the ones which will never get them.



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bash91
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Since: 2.1.02
From: Plain Dealing, LA

Since last post: 707 days
Last activity: 23 hours
#8 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.41
Hmmmmmm??? How to be polite and still answer the question?

Since my mother in law is currently locked in, and will be for at least the next 3 weeks and then will be locked in 8 of every 10 days until she retires in 18 months or the idiots ratify the contract (fwiw, my money is on her being locked in until retirement or the plant just gets closed), at her plant due to the imbeciles in the union there going on strike and my father in law has been shot at for having the audacity to be a salaried employee and cross a picket line, my opinion of unions isn't particularly high. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the modern version of the union is proof positive that Satan does exist and has influence over the affairs of man.

Historically speaking, there is no doubt that unions were a necessity in the evolution of workplace safety and in a livable work week. I only wish that they had died out then instead of becoming the evil corrupt bastardized things that they've become. As I've said elsewhere, I'll happily cross any picket line, I try not to buy anything with the union bug, and I absolutely won't work in a union shop. Other than that, I've got no problem with unions.

Tim



Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit. -- Erasmus
spf
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Since: 2.1.02
From: The Las Vegas of Canada

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#9 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.57
I had a long contentious rant typed out, but I decided it's not worth it.

I'll just respond by saying that if everyone else in this country truly thinks that they're better off with absolutely no one advocating for them when management is making decisions about their welfare and their livelihoods...best of luck to you all. You obviously have more faith in ownership to not screw you over than I do.



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Since: 10.1.03
From: Enter your city here

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#10 Posted on | Instant Rating: 3.62
Pipefitters union helped to insure my ass until I was 21. Thanks to my granddad who worked 40 years at BFGoodrich. Allowed him to retire without having to get a parttime job bagging groceries or moving into an old folks apartment. Something I won't be able to have, since union jobs are getting pretty hard to come by.

So, I think they are pretty good.
Jaguar
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Since: 23.1.02
From: Phoenix, AZ

Since last post: 107 days
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#11 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.61
    Originally posted by spf
    I had a long contentious rant typed out, but I decided it's not worth it.

    I'll just respond by saying that if everyone else in this country truly thinks that they're better off with absolutely no one advocating for them when management is making decisions about their welfare and their livelihoods...best of luck to you all. You obviously have more faith in ownership to not screw you over than I do.


I don't think anybody wants to be left on their own without any recourse and at the mercy of their employers, but there's no denying that there are plenty of corrupt unions out there, as well as many that push things too far. We need something else rather than this Mob-Style "Protection" racket that is the modern day union.


Oddly enough, when thinking about the problems with unions, my brain linked them to some of the same problems we have with lobbyists. Sure everybody wants their special interest to have an advocate in Washington, but the way they go about it is just plain wrong.



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bash91
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Since: 2.1.02
From: Plain Dealing, LA

Since last post: 707 days
Last activity: 23 hours
#12 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.41
    Originally posted by spf
    I had a long contentious rant typed out, but I decided it's not worth it.

    I'll just respond by saying that if everyone else in this country truly thinks that they're better off with absolutely no one advocating for them when management is making decisions about their welfare and their livelihoods...best of luck to you all. You obviously have more faith in ownership to not screw you over than I do.


I guess the question I'd ask is why you would have any more faith in a union than management to "not screw you over?"

Tim



Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit. -- Erasmus
spf
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Since: 2.1.02
From: The Las Vegas of Canada

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#13 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.57
    Originally posted by bash91
      Originally posted by spf
      I had a long contentious rant typed out, but I decided it's not worth it.

      I'll just respond by saying that if everyone else in this country truly thinks that they're better off with absolutely no one advocating for them when management is making decisions about their welfare and their livelihoods...best of luck to you all. You obviously have more faith in ownership to not screw you over than I do.


    I guess the question I'd ask is why you would have any more faith in a union than management to "not screw you over?"

    Tim

Because the Union has some vested interest in my success, or at the very least in my sustenance as an employed dues-paying member of my union. As opposed to management who has a vested interest in giving me as bad a deal as possible without harming the company (and oftentimes not even that serves as a brake due to short-term judgment clouding the long term).

Don't misunderstand me, I don't think unions, especially as constituted right now are some sort of pollyanna. I have seen enough pieces of garbage keep their jobs due to unions, and enough shady union bosses at work. I look at it though the same way I look at the legal system. I would rather see strong unions with the ability to stick up for me and in the process give some undeserving people things they might not deserve, just as I would rather have a few guilty people get off if the protections they use keep innocent people out of jail.



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Since: 7.1.04

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#14 Posted on | Instant Rating: 3.94
(deleted by CRZ on 15.9.05 1026)
Von Maestro
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Since: 6.1.04
From: New York

Since last post: 133 days
Last activity: 16 min.
#15 Posted on | Instant Rating: 2.63
    Originally posted by spf
    Because the Union has some vested interest in my success...


spf-

It's interesting that you look at it that way, as I see it as exactly the opposite. Management has a direct interest in your success, as your success at your job directly contributes the company's ability to succeed & be profitable. When I was managing my old firm, I was always thrilled to raise the pay or benefits of an employee that helped my company grow.

The Union has less of an interest in your success as much as it does an interest in your continued employment. As you pointed out with many "pieces of garbage" remaining employed due to Union influence of intervention, the Union's are definitely not looking out for the success of the company & by extension are not looking out for your future.

The origins of unions are to be remembered & praised, but the system as it stands now needs to be reevaluated. In the current age of availability of information & the ability to spread & find it, the initial concerns that brought about the need for a Union are no longer around. The balance of power has shifted too drastically to the Unions, & it is hurting Americas ability to produce goods & remain competitive in certain industries (specifically production industries).
bash91
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Since: 2.1.02
From: Plain Dealing, LA

Since last post: 707 days
Last activity: 23 hours
#16 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.41
    Originally posted by spf
    Because the Union has some vested interest in my success, or at the very least in my sustenance as an employed dues-paying member of my union. As opposed to management who has a vested interest in giving me as bad a deal as possible without harming the company (and oftentimes not even that serves as a brake due to short-term judgment clouding the long term).

    Don't misunderstand me, I don't think unions, especially as constituted right now are some sort of pollyanna. I have seen enough pieces of garbage keep their jobs due to unions, and enough shady union bosses at work. I look at it though the same way I look at the legal system. I would rather see strong unions with the ability to stick up for me and in the process give some undeserving people things they might not deserve, just as I would rather have a few guilty people get off if the protections they use keep innocent people out of jail.


Fair enough. Much of my problem arises from seeing unions act in the exact opposite fashion. In the case of my mother in law, it's painfully clear that the union leadership doesn't care about keeping their members employed or they wouldn't have ordered* the strike knowing full well that a strike of any length guarantees that this marginally profitable and old plant will be closed. In that case, without going into too much detail, the union is actively and deliberately going against the interests of the average worker there because the union as a whole believes that tailoring a contract to the area means that they caved to management and they can't do that. Instead of a contract that both sides agreed was fair but didn't give either side everything they wanted keeping the plant open and the workers employed, they've got what will soon be about 600 union members with no job and no prospect for a job without moving out of state. Seeing that and hearing people I know who are in leadership positions in the union say that this is a good outcome for everyone makes me sick to my stomach.


Tim

*I use the word ordered advisedly because the process for voting on a strike in that particular union involves going into the office of the local president and marking your ballot in front of the union leadership and then having it immediately tallied with you being questioned about your vote if it was different than what the leadership wanted.



Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit. -- Erasmus
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Since: 3.10.02
From: Right side of the tracks

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#17 Posted on | Instant Rating: 2.39
Personally, I dont see how unions are any different than the mafia.

Living in St Louis, its a HUGE union town. I see absolutely no need/use for unions. All the talk about making sure people are trained is great, but, after they are trained, what does the union really do for them? I am sorry, but I dont see where the guy working at the grocery store driving a forklift should be making as much as a nurse. I dont see how the guy securing bolts on a truck really needs to be paid over $30/hour to secure bolts. Is pushing a torque wrench REALLY so difficult that the person doing it should be paid that much?

I know, we are all going to get the "you couldnt get food if the guy driving the forklift wasnt there" argument. But, does that mean the guy needs a UNION? Not really. Nobody is working in the coal mines as a teenager, nobody is working a 90 work week against their will. The Union's job has become obsolete in today's world.
Jaguar
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Since: 23.1.02
From: Phoenix, AZ

Since last post: 107 days
Last activity: 107 days
#18 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.61
Well after a bunch of reading that I've done, I fail to see how the "Right to work" is a form of union suppression. For the most part, most of these sites just like to show how much less the average income of Right to Work states is compared to Forced Union states (16-18%). None have offered a reasonable explanation for why the Right to Work states have not further unionized, something that the workers are able to do if they wanted.

Of course, looking at this map it seems to me that most of the Right to Work states have a much lower cost of living than the forced union states.




It just sounds phony to me to be forced to pay for representation that you may or may not want.



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Since: 17.11.02

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#19 Posted on | Instant Rating: 2.84
Unions can help a low waged worker make more money.

Unions help those same workers keep jobs and stop large companies from firing them and hiring some other guy to do it. They also help you get another job pretty quickly if you lose a job or if a job is finished.

Unions also look out for you in helping you get health benefits and stuff some large companies would rather make you pay for out of your already low income.

I'm all for unions and unionizing workers to help better their work environment.

Sadly, thanks to the company I work for, I sound like a hypocrite.
BigSteve
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Since: 23.7.04
From: Baltimore, MD

Since last post: 2749 days
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#20 Posted on | Instant Rating: 3.00
Eh, unions do great things and unions do horrible things just like most other organizations that have influence over a large group of people. On the whole it seems like I hear more doom and gloom stories about corrupt unions and such, but the good stuff is out there, I suppose.

(edited by BigSteve on 16.9.05 0014)
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