Unions. Are they still needed?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 18, 2011 12:49 PM GMT
    Taking into consideration all of the federal and state rules and regulations regarding worker safety, rights, etc. are unions a thing of the past, and need to be eliminated or do the still have there place in the US work force?
  • creature

    Posts: 5197

    Sep 18, 2011 1:24 PM GMT
    I still think there is a place for them.

    Just because there are state and federal regulations regarding safety does not mean they are being abided by. Without a union a worker may feel defenseless without someone to back him or her up should they choose to confront the company or department about unsafe conditions.

    Not everybody is brazen to speak out. Unions give those fearful people a voice. Why suffer in silence when a union can make the fuss for you?
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    Sep 18, 2011 4:11 PM GMT
    Wages are falling.

    More and more jobs are being shipped overseas. Our infrastructure is falling apart. Our schools are deteriorating. Unemployment is rising. More and more people are being forced into homelessness.

    The poverty gap is widening, more and more families are falling behind, more and more people are unable to access the basics that once marked our country as a civilized nation - food, shelter, healthcare, a decent wage, etc.

    Black families have 1/20 the assets of white families and upwards of 80% of wealth in this country is controlled by the top 10%.

    The Citizens United ruling, which is the second worst ruling by the Supreme Court in the HISTORY of the Supreme Court rulings (second only to the Dred Scott ruling) has given corporations political rights.

    Citizens United was the exact opposite of Dred Scott. In Dred Scott, the Supreme Court turned people into property. In Citizens United, the Supremes turned property into people.

    If you are a natural person, meaning you breathe, are made of flesh and bone were born, have a pulse, then YOU are a second class citizen as you, one day, hopefully not today, will die.

    If you are a legal person, in that you exist on paper, as a corporation you will exist forever.

    Welcome to your new, second class reality.

    The Middle Class, which made this country the greatest, wealthiest and most powerful nation in history is being forced into non-existence.

    End rant.
  • hawkeye7

    Posts: 565

    Sep 18, 2011 4:35 PM GMT
    yeah we still need them
    those protections you refer to would not exist without unions.
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    Sep 18, 2011 4:41 PM GMT


    The answer to this question changes from place to place.

    I am not a strong supporter of unions in my own country (Australia) as I feel that some of their actions and tactics have been very aggressive. However, having lived abroad, I see their importance.

    Here's a quick comparision of Quebec, where I live now and Australia.

    Feel free to correct me or add your own thoughts.


    QUEBEC


    Here in Quebec, probably the strong province in Canada in terms of unions, the minimum wage is $9.65 an hour and less if you work in the hospitallity sector.

    Vacation leave is around two weeks per year.

    A cost of a pint of beer , including tip, is $7.

    Rent is cheap but food is on par with Australian prices ex. - It costs anywhere from $30-$50 for two shopping bags of weekly food products.

    From my understanding many jobs pay hourly and workers do not acculumate sick days or vacation leave.

    AUSTRALIA

    Minimum wage is about $17 an hour. Australians do not tip. Penalty rates for Sundays and public holidays ( this may be the case in Canada too.)

    Rent is probably 1.4 times the price of rent in Montreal. A beer is $7 a pint.

    Permanent staff have 4 weeks paid vacations and sick day entitlements.

    Like Canada, we have 'Casual' positions with higher wages but without the other perks.


    I love living in Canada but feel that Canadians are overworked and underpaid. I can only imagine the stress and pressure some families must be under in provinces such as BC which are more expensive than here.

    While on holiday in America in 2009 I waited in the car for my friend ( Another non North American) to leave her motel room. She came down the stairs and said she had got caught up talking to the cleaner. After leaving a tip for the cleaner she asked how much she was making.

    $3 an hour as a base rate. The rest of her income was from tips.

    The place we were staying was at least half empty.

    You try and raise a family and pay bills on that.










  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 18, 2011 4:46 PM GMT
    Short Answer: Yes, they are still needed, but they are going to have to change their tactics. Some of them have become way too greedy, based on what I've heard about their demands. What is best for their workers isn't always about getting the most benefits. They have to stay competitive with other countries as our economy becomes more global.

    That's a simplistic answer for a complicated issue.
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    Sep 18, 2011 4:47 PM GMT
    No, they have out lived their usefulness. In the 21st century there is no need for them. Now all they do is protect the lazy and over pay them for doing bad work.
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    Sep 18, 2011 4:52 PM GMT
    Dallasfan824 saidNo, they have out lived their usefulness. In the 21st century there is no need for them. Now all they do is protect the lazy and over pay them for doing bad work.


    Honestly, that sounds exactly like corporate culture at the top.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 18, 2011 4:52 PM GMT
    Unions will always be needed because employers will always want to take advantage of their employees. Also employees know how to make the business better and they will always need a seat at the table when making decisions, the only way to do that is through collective bargaining.
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    Sep 18, 2011 4:55 PM GMT
    I'm in between creature and dallasfan..
    There is a need but shit has to change.. I have seen unions protect the poor worker but also defend the hard ones..
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    Sep 18, 2011 5:04 PM GMT
    coolarmydude said
    Dallasfan824 saidNo, they have out lived their usefulness. In the 21st century there is no need for them. Now all they do is protect the lazy and over pay them for doing bad work.


    Honestly, that sounds exactly like corporate culture at the top.


    I dont think lazy people need to be protected. But thats me. Unions are losing members and more and more influence. Hopefully in my lifetime they will be eradicated.

    Monday the grocery store union is going on strike. they dont want to pay $2-$8 a week for health care (individual).

    I hope they enjoy not getting a pay check. I look forward to crossing the picket lines. The added bonus is shorter lines inside the stores. icon_biggrin.gif
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    Sep 18, 2011 5:11 PM GMT
    Wow it saddens me that people really want to hurt other American workers. We really are seeing the decline of the middle class that the unions built. We seem to want all workers to make less and get less benefits.

    Finland has a workforce that is 76% in a union and have a 4% child poverty rate. We have now an 11% unionized workforce and a 23% child poverty rate.

    I just don't get why we want less and less for our workers, why we want to decline the middle class and just have rich and poor
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    Sep 18, 2011 5:12 PM GMT
    pecfan saidWow it saddens me that people really want to hurt other American workers. We really are seeing the decline of the middle class that the unions built. We seem to want all workers to make less and get less benefits.

    Finland has a workforce that is 76% in a union and have a 4% child poverty rate. We have now an 11% unionized workforce and a 23% child poverty rate.

    I just don't get why we want less and less for our workers, why we want to decline the middle class and just have rich and poor
    Greed.
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    Sep 18, 2011 5:13 PM GMT
    Don't get me wrong, there are unions that do bad for business and its members, but they are the exception and not the rule. Let's remember the "sweeping generalizations" once again.
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    Sep 18, 2011 5:16 PM GMT
    Not all unions are the same. The Teachers Union/Fire Fighters/Police Officer type unions are different than manufactuing unions/telecom etc. I've worked for 2 non-unioned companies for years. Never had any issues really with rights or being underpaid. When people we're underpaid, they quit and that attrition forced the company to make changes to adapt. When the company hit hard times, they reduced bonuses across the board, and there were layoffs in every group. Shared reward and shared failures.

    When I more recently worked for a telecom company that was heavily unionized, it felt like we were literally managing 2 different companies. We didn't have a unified goal and there were so many policies. And the union employees actually had more restrictions because of the contracts they negotiated. If you were a union employee, your benefits were covered, you were guarateed certain incentives. But it was so expensive to manage them that the company couldn't hire other employees. Which reduced growth opportunities for everyone. Then there was the issue with union dues, etc.

    I think there needs to be corporation and union reform as well as a flat tax.
  • coolarmydude

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    Sep 18, 2011 5:18 PM GMT
    Brownale saidNot all unions are the same. The Teachers Union/Fire Fighters/Police Officer type unions are different than manufactuing unions/telecom etc. I've worked for 2 non-unioned companies for years. Never had any issues really with rights or being underpaid. When people we're underpaid, they quit and that attrition forced the company to make changes to adapt. When the company hit hard times, they reduced bonuses across the board, and there were layoffs in every group. Shared reward and shared failures.



    Wait, wait, wait....corporations are socialist?!!!!!
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    Sep 18, 2011 5:21 PM GMT
    I've worked for two union companies and know first hand that they just can not compete with non-union companies.. The differences are not in the wages paid or benefits but in "work rules" that stifle a companies ability to grow, be flexible in an ever changing market and service their customers...Everyone wants American workers to be prosperous and well paid...Unions have become the "big corporations" that they rail about as mean and evil.. They are in existence now to perpetuate themselves with more union dues taken from their members..
  • Timbales

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    Sep 18, 2011 5:22 PM GMT
    In general, I don't think they are needed. For some jobs that have physical risk associated, I think they can be a good thing.
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    Sep 18, 2011 5:23 PM GMT
    Dallasfan824 saidNo, they have out lived their usefulness. In the 21st century there is no need for them. Now all they do is protect the lazy and over pay them for doing bad work.


    I can't justify the actions of every union in every situation. Like I said in my earlier post, some of them have acted quite aggressively.

    What I can say is that people who hold opinions like these need some perspective.

    Maybe you could swap with the hotel cleaner for a month, cope with the physical demands of the work as well as trying to provide for a family on $3 and hour plus tips if you're lucky and the place is busy.

    How will you provide your children with an education and adequate healthcare?

    Everyone should have the right to work in a safe environment for a wage that actually allows them to function in society and doesn't banish them and their children to a life of poverty.

    It's obvious that the cleaner and her fellow workers do not have a union or a body that's working for them to better their conditions.

    Something else that really gets me is this assumption that people who work low wage jobs are somehow lazy. A lot of these menial jobs in factories, kitchens, laundries and farms are exhausting.

    tumblr_lce7jc5UBi1qaouh8o1_400.jpg

    An amazing book based on a journalist's struggle to survive working for minimum wage in America.





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    Sep 18, 2011 5:29 PM GMT
    pecfan saidWow it saddens me that people really want to hurt other American workers. We really are seeing the decline of the middle class that the unions built. We seem to want all workers to make less and get less benefits.

    Finland has a workforce that is 76% in a union and have a 4% child poverty rate. We have now an 11% unionized workforce and a 23% child poverty rate.

    I just don't get why we want less and less for our workers, why we want to decline the middle class and just have rich and poor


    No one wants to hurt workers. People are just tire of carrying workers. We all want people to succeed. But that has to be based on merit and achievement by quantifiable results not strength in numbers. Many unions only exist to collect dues and use it for political muscle. Tens of thousands of people in the US are successful without being in a union.

    I have to work with unions for different things. An example is a convention I have to work. Each year it changes from SF to NYC. When its in NYC my budget increases 40% because of unions. Let me give you a great example. When I fed ex a box to be delivered to my booth it costs me $300 to get from the shipping dept to my booth. I am not allowed to carry it myself because it would "take a union job". When I send the same box to SF, I just carry it in.

    When I incur those costs, who pays for them? I pass them on.

    Let me clarify something. I have no issue with private unions. They live and die by their actions. GM is a great example of that. I would never by a GM product so what their union does is fine with me (except for the fact I had to bail them out) I have a much larger problem with public employee unions. With private unions I can choose to not support them. With public unions I cant and I have to fund them.

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    Sep 18, 2011 5:37 PM GMT
    There in lies the struggle. If it costs less to make a shirt in China than the US, do you move the factory and take the jobs? It is great for me as a consumer but bad for me as a worker.

    If I pay for 100% of my medical care, it will hurt me as a worker (in pay) but will be great for me as a consumer with lower prices. We need a discussion in America about jobs and pay and health care and not these 30 second sound bites blaming the other side.

    I just see us going lower and lower in salaries and it will not be good for the US in the long run.
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    Sep 18, 2011 5:37 PM GMT
    What about those 3$ an hour workers, Dallasfan? If you scroll back you'll see some examples.
    Yes, there are bad unions, and yes there are bad Corporations. Yes there is a need for good unions, which you won't see at good Corporations. There's no need.

    -Doug

    As for public unions, some of them are very weak and the gov'ts (often municipal ) very strong. Our BC government simply passed legislation to renege on contracts. They tore them up AFTER getting the unions votes by promising they wouldn't. Tah-dah.



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    Sep 18, 2011 5:46 PM GMT
    pecfan saidThere in lies the struggle. If it costs less to make a shirt in China than the US, do you move the factory and take the jobs? It is great for me as a consumer but bad for me as a worker.

    If I pay for 100% of my medical care, it will hurt me as a worker (in pay) but will be great for me as a consumer with lower prices. We need a discussion in America about jobs and pay and health care and not these 30 second sound bites blaming the other side.

    I just see us going lower and lower in salaries and it will not be good for the US in the long run.


    NAFTA was the largest exporter of US jobs. Ironically bill clinton did that.

    Here is your issue. Americans will not pay more money for goods. The US long ago shifted from a manufacturing economy to a consumer economy. People will always shop for the lowest price. Its why costco and walmart and target are so successful.


    I dont think lower wages are the core issue. Its a larger cultural issue based in education, government support, etc. There are a lot of issues, including the exploitation of illegals that contribute to the larger problem. We have cultures that do not embrace education and will always work in jobs that pay little. What use to be "trasitional" jobs that were taken by high school and college kids are now careers for uneducated and unskilled labor.

    Let me tell you another story. When I was living in NYC I got my cousin an internship at CBS over the summer. He had experience as a bus boy. He applied all over NYC for a simple bus boy job. He never found. The reason was illegals had most of them and were paid under the table. So I carried him for the summer. There are many contributing factors to why lower salaries might be in place for low skilled jobs.
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    Sep 18, 2011 5:47 PM GMT
    meninlove said What about those 3$ an hour workers, Dallasfan? If you scroll back you'll see some examples.
    Yes, there are bad unions, and yes there are bad Corporations. Yes there is a need for good unions, which you won't see at good Corporations. There's no need.

    -Doug

    As for public unions, some of them are very weak and the gov'ts (often municipal ) very strong. Our BC government simply passed legislation to renege on contracts. They tore them up AFTER getting the unions votes by promising they wouldn't. Tah-dah.


    In the US its the opposite. Calif. is run by public unions.
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    Sep 18, 2011 5:52 PM GMT
    Well Dallas my conclusion is more union workers and not less after looking at Finland. If Walmart and Target were unionized the workers would make more and yes we would pay more. But until then..................say bye bye to the American dream, you will either will be rich or poor in the US and the middle will be gone in the next 2 decades unless we get fair trade and end this free trade.

    Of course I always wonder why do we buy so much from Communist China and have an embargo with Communist Cuba? I thought Communism was bad period? Something to think about