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I think I'm starting to dislike unions...

mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
edited December 2009 in Debate and/or Discourse
Now, don't get me wrong. I've generally been a pro-union guy. I know what working conditions were like before unions, and we're better off in the long run having had them.

However, my wife recently became a member (or rather, was forced to become a member) of the UFCW and I'm starting to understand some of the hatred directed at unions.

We're big union supporters. She was actually a local union rep at her school for the teacher's union. We get unions. But the UFCW is taking the same amount from her per month now, as a minimum-wage part-time worker, that her educator's union took out of her full-time salary (which was more than double what she makes now). Oh, and did I mention the $100 "initiation" fee?

So you're going to take a minimum wage worker and take an entire week of their paycheck right off the bat, then take roughly 5% from every paycheck thereafter (the $35 fee is flat, and applies to any worker working more than 15 hours a week regardless of wage)? For a lot of workers, particularly those who are taking a minimum-wage part-time job (as either a second household job, or a second individual job) that's more than they'll be paying in taxes.

And it seems like the only benefit she gets from this union is "harder to be fired." Which is cool, I guess, though it seems a few of the workers there do take advantage of it in the stereotypical ways that I thought were just Republican talking points. She is hired at the absolute minimum the state allows a company to pay, she gets no benefits (at least not for the first year), so what exactly is her $35 a month (plus an extra C-note, just for fun) getting her? What good is this union, really?

The best part is when she calls to complain, or at least get some of her more obvious concerns addressed, that pretty much anybody above the lowest levels of union employees are off on paid vacation this week. Note that many of the employees whose pay they are taking up to 5% of to pay their own salary do not get paid vacation at all. Awesome, right?

So at what point do the unions become as bad as the bosses? What can we even do to restrain them? So far all I've got, at least in the obvious "how can you argue with this" category, is that they really ought to limit how much (as a percentage of gross pay) a union can take from a worker whose membership is a condition of employment. Or force it to be as a percentage of pay in the first place; my wife, who receives little to no benefit, should not pay the same rate monthly as somebody who is pulling several dollars above minimum, full-time, with benefits. We do all agree that a Flat Tax is retarded, no? How is this different?

mcdermott on
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Posts

  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Well, there's the fact that Unions have been relegated to providing purely antagonistic protections to workers, and generally don't attempt to effect any sort of actual change within working conditions.

    Hell, today's "unions" are a far cry from the general image conjured up of strikes and class warfare, etc.

    Unions have become establishment, and like all the rest of the establishment, they'll fight tooth and nail to remain establishment, even long after their usefulness (in current form) has washed away.

    3rddocbottom.jpg
  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Carpenter's Unions in California still seem pretty useful. My dad paid his dues and worked his ass off, but now has a nice retirement set up that he didn't have to figure out on his own, in addition to what he DID figure out on his own and save for, that basically means my sister and I will never have to worry about him. Also he can still working WHILE collecting retirement so long as he's not working as a carpenter - he could still work in the construction company's office.

    That said, he's not a big fan of the shoddy work the people at the local Electrician's Union does, and prefers the solo guys. It's really a case by case thing.

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  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I had to deal with a union from a management position for a few years and oh my god the lazy.

    Of course, the management layers above me were oh my god the unreal expectations.

    As a front-line manager I had to deal with both.

    Yes I had a few grievances filed on me.

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  • [Tycho?][Tycho?] Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I'd file this one under the "power corrupts" catagory. Unions are useful and probably required. But when you give people power with no checks and balances against that power, you get corruption, which is bad for everyone. Unions are just as susceptible to this as any other organization.

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  • Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    [Tycho?] wrote: »
    I'd file this one under the "power corrupts" catagory. Unions are useful and probably required. But when you give people power with no checks and balances against that power, you get corruption, which is bad for everyone. Unions are just as susceptible to this as any other organization.
    I'm trying to think of what purpose unions play these days in a modern, Western democracy. Workplace safety has been enshrined in State and Federal law, we have minimum wage laws etc.

    Unions are partly responsible for the dire straights of the industrial sector in the US, especially in heavily unionized Rustbelt states. They seem to exist to provide jobs for union officials while hurting economic development.

    Like a lot of our large institutions, they're a holdover from the era where people got out of high school and worked one job their entire life. Unions don't have much to offer to the average American worker, who changes jobs every couple of years.

    Aetian Jupiter - 41 Gunslinger - The Old Republic
    Rigorous Scholarship

  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Modern Man wrote: »
    [Tycho?] wrote: »
    I'd file this one under the "power corrupts" catagory. Unions are useful and probably required. But when you give people power with no checks and balances against that power, you get corruption, which is bad for everyone. Unions are just as susceptible to this as any other organization.

    I'm trying to think of what purpose unions play these days in a modern, Western democracy. Workplace safety has been enshrined in State and Federal law, we have minimum wage laws etc.

    Unions are partly responsible for the dire straights of the industrial sector in the US, especially in heavily unionized Rustbelt states. They seem to exist to provide jobs for union officials while hurting economic development.

    Like a lot of our large institutions, they're a holdover from the era where people got out of high school and worked one job their entire life. Unions don't have much to offer to the average American worker, who changes jobs every couple of years.

    Well, in fairness unions still work to influence those worker protections and to ensure that the minimum wage is kept at a meaningful level.

    But beyond that? Seems like they largely exist to tax their members and create cushy jobs for themselves.

  • mrdobalinamrdobalina Registered User
    edited December 2009
    mcdermott wrote: »
    Modern Man wrote: »
    [Tycho?] wrote: »
    I'd file this one under the "power corrupts" catagory. Unions are useful and probably required. But when you give people power with no checks and balances against that power, you get corruption, which is bad for everyone. Unions are just as susceptible to this as any other organization.

    I'm trying to think of what purpose unions play these days in a modern, Western democracy. Workplace safety has been enshrined in State and Federal law, we have minimum wage laws etc.

    Unions are partly responsible for the dire straights of the industrial sector in the US, especially in heavily unionized Rustbelt states. They seem to exist to provide jobs for union officials while hurting economic development.

    Like a lot of our large institutions, they're a holdover from the era where people got out of high school and worked one job their entire life. Unions don't have much to offer to the average American worker, who changes jobs every couple of years.

    Well, in fairness unions still work to influence those worker protections and to ensure that the minimum wage is kept at a meaningful level.

    But beyond that? Seems like they largely exist to tax their members and create cushy jobs for themselves.

    I had a professor of Labor Economics go off on a rant about how union support of minimum-wage has nothing to with caring about the unskilled, and more to do with making union-hires more desirable.

    His premise was that if a skilled union worker was worth 3 unskilled laborers, by increasing minimum wage to the point where (3*unskilled rate) > (1* union rate) an employer was more likely to hire at the skilled rate.

    Also, unions can suck it. Most unions in today's times are just political establishments that do little for their workers.

  • Knuckle DraggerKnuckle Dragger Explosive Ovine Disposal Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Back when I was a kid, my uncle was involved in a teamsters strike. When the employers offered a new contract that the workers were willing to accept, but the local leadership were not, the union did everything up to and including locking the doors of the union hall to prevent a vote on the contract before the offer expired. The inevitable lawsuit resulted in the union losing its own union hall to its former members.

    Though the best part didn't happen until a few years later. Shortly after the whole mess, there was a mass resignation from the local. Eventually, those people started getting phone calls from the union to find out why they had not been paying their dues for several years. It turns out that the officials at the local were afraid to admit to national that they had lost over half their membership in one day, so they just left those names on the rolls until someone finally figured it out.

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  • KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I support unions as I think that they provide an additional source of analysis, support and advocacy for labour rights generally, in pursuit of their more narrow responsibilities to their members, which I think is valuable as I would rather it not just be a simple three way arrangement of worker, employer and state. I want more balancing forces available.

    In certain areas I think trade unions or collective groups are still very useful, especially for marginal or vulnerable workers, like say young adults. I would have loved to have had a trade union when I was a teenager at McDonalds, or working retail while at college. Management got away with all sorts of stuff that I knew was illegal but I had little power or ability to do much about it - I guess I could have called the Department of Labour but that seemed to be a big step for a kid to take.

    But despite my like of unions I don't have any experience being in one, or working for one. I've acted against them and from what little I've seen they are like any other organisation, they have great people and complete jerks

    Freedom for the Northern Isles!
  • Kipling217Kipling217 Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    mcdermott wrote: »
    Modern Man wrote: »
    [Tycho?] wrote: »
    I'd file this one under the "power corrupts" catagory. Unions are useful and probably required. But when you give people power with no checks and balances against that power, you get corruption, which is bad for everyone. Unions are just as susceptible to this as any other organization.

    I'm trying to think of what purpose unions play these days in a modern, Western democracy. Workplace safety has been enshrined in State and Federal law, we have minimum wage laws etc.

    Unions are partly responsible for the dire straights of the industrial sector in the US, especially in heavily unionized Rustbelt states. They seem to exist to provide jobs for union officials while hurting economic development.

    Like a lot of our large institutions, they're a holdover from the era where people got out of high school and worked one job their entire life. Unions don't have much to offer to the average American worker, who changes jobs every couple of years.

    Well, in fairness unions still work to influence those worker protections and to ensure that the minimum wage is kept at a meaningful level.

    But beyond that? Seems like they largely exist to tax their members and create cushy jobs for themselves.

    Unions also have to fight to keep the Minimum wages and workeplace safety laws enforced. Just cause there are laws don't mean companies will enforce them and asking the goverment to do it alone is an excercise in fuitility. Its easier to buy off one goverment inspector then a 100 union members as several companies investing in Asia have found out.

    Communicating from the last of the Babylon Stations.
  • surrealitychecksurrealitycheck NONSTOP INFINITE CLIMAX POSTING you must go on i cant go on ill go onRegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Unions in the UK have been responsible for an unbelievable amount of crap. They can be done well, but they're not necessarily a good thing.

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  • saggiosaggio Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Modern Man wrote: »
    [Tycho?] wrote: »
    I'd file this one under the "power corrupts" catagory. Unions are useful and probably required. But when you give people power with no checks and balances against that power, you get corruption, which is bad for everyone. Unions are just as susceptible to this as any other organization.
    I'm trying to think of what purpose unions play these days in a modern, Western democracy. Workplace safety has been enshrined in State and Federal law, we have minimum wage laws etc.

    Unions are partly responsible for the dire straights of the industrial sector in the US, especially in heavily unionized Rustbelt states. They seem to exist to provide jobs for union officials while hurting economic development.

    Like a lot of our large institutions, they're a holdover from the era where people got out of high school and worked one job their entire life. Unions don't have much to offer to the average American worker, who changes jobs every couple of years.

    History doesn't have a monopoly on shitty working conditions. Your argument might hold water if all workers were unionized, and that all wages were living, and that there existed no workplace with terrible and unsafe conditions. All of these things are obviously not the case, and the nonexistence of any one of these is enough to justify not only the existence of unions but their expansion into areas and sectors without labour organization.

    I'd also challenge your contention that it's unions as opposed to bad products or poor management that has led to the economic malaise in the rustbelt (or anywhere else, really). The unions and the workers don't choose which cars get manufactured or what the specification for some product is going to be. They just make them - to blame the peons for the poor decisions of their employers is kind of unbelievable.

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  • DistramDistram __BANNED USERS
    edited December 2009
    So, uh, you anti-union people would be totally cool with ownership/management being the sole policy making body in every workplace? No conflict of interest there, none at all.

    Sure, unions are sometimes ineffective or counterproductive. Why does the answer have to be to get rid of them?

    Government is sometimes ineffective and counterproductive - should it go too?

  • SenjutsuSenjutsu fiddy too Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    90% of everything is crap. This applies to Unions, too.

    The shop I currently work for is unionized, which is extremely atypical in IT (here). It's a mixed bag. I get far more vacation here than I would in a non-unionized shop, and I can actually use it. On the other hand, I definitely work with some people who would have been shitcanned ages ago in a non-unionized shop. I have seen incompetent people get fired here, but it takes longer than "Let me get this straight, you shut down a production server because you didn't think anyone was using it? Pack your bags and get the fuck out, asshat"

    Sarksus wrote: »
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  • Kipling217Kipling217 Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    saggio wrote: »
    Modern Man wrote: »
    [Tycho?] wrote: »
    I'd file this one under the "power corrupts" catagory. Unions are useful and probably required. But when you give people power with no checks and balances against that power, you get corruption, which is bad for everyone. Unions are just as susceptible to this as any other organization.
    I'm trying to think of what purpose unions play these days in a modern, Western democracy. Workplace safety has been enshrined in State and Federal law, we have minimum wage laws etc.

    Unions are partly responsible for the dire straights of the industrial sector in the US, especially in heavily unionized Rustbelt states. They seem to exist to provide jobs for union officials while hurting economic development.

    Like a lot of our large institutions, they're a holdover from the era where people got out of high school and worked one job their entire life. Unions don't have much to offer to the average American worker, who changes jobs every couple of years.

    History doesn't have a monopoly on shitty working conditions. Your argument might hold water if all workers were unionized, and that all wages were living, and that there existed no workplace with terrible and unsafe conditions. All of these things are obviously not the case, and the nonexistence of any one of these is enough to justify not only the existence of unions but their expansion into areas and sectors without labour organization.

    I'd also challenge your contention that it's unions as opposed to bad products or poor management that has led to the economic malaise in the rustbelt (or anywhere else, really). The unions and the workers don't choose which cars get manufactured or what the specification for some product is going to be. They just make them - to blame the peons for the poor decisions of their employers is kind of unbelievable.

    Especially the fucking Car companies. Even blaming Unions for their benefits is wrong, its not like they are to blame for the fact that America has a for-profit employer based health care system. Using their leverage to get the best deal for their members is what unions do! Same as making a good quality car with good milage is what a car company is suposed to.

    Communicating from the last of the Babylon Stations.
  • Kipling217Kipling217 Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Distram wrote: »
    So, uh, you anti-union people would be totally cool with ownership/management being the sole policy making body in every workplace? No conflict of interest there, none at all.

    Sure, unions are sometimes ineffective or counterproductive. Why does the answer have to be to get rid of them?

    Government is sometimes ineffective and counterproductive - should it go too?

    Oh god, you have open the can of worms marked as Randian/Libertarian!

    Run, every man for himself.

    Communicating from the last of the Babylon Stations.
  • fjafjanfjafjan Registered User
    edited December 2009
    Potential solution: Have something like anti-trust regulation for Unions. Unions can enforce mandatory unionization ("We will strike if you hire non union folks") but they cannot force them into their union.

    Also, I was under the impression that Unions in America were more or less gutted by anti-union laws passed under Reagan (I could be wrong about the president).

    Yepp, THE Fjafjan (who's THE fjafjan?)
    - "Proving once again the deadliest animal of all ... is the Zoo Keeper" - Philip J Fry
  • saggiosaggio Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    fjafjan wrote: »
    Potential solution: Have something like anti-trust regulation for Unions. Unions can enforce mandatory unionization ("We will strike if you hire non union folks") but they cannot force them into their union.

    This exists, and it makes unions impotent. It's called 'right to work' and makes union membership strictly voluntary, which makes it impossible to unionize work places and then makes it impossible for pre-existing unionized workplaces to strike.

    3DS: 0232-9436-6893
  • SosSos Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    fjafjan wrote: »
    Potential solution: Have something like anti-trust regulation for Unions. Unions can enforce mandatory unionization ("We will strike if you hire non union folks") but they cannot force them into their union.

    Also, I was under the impression that Unions in America were more or less gutted by anti-union laws passed under Reagan (I could be wrong about the president).

    I think Right to Work laws do that.

  • LeitnerLeitner Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Unions in the UK have been responsible for an unbelievable amount of crap. They can be done well, but they're not necessarily a good thing.

    Didn't that one Union just get told "fuck you, who cares if you have unanimous support we’re going to declare your strike illegal on a technicality”. Like yeah train drivers etc get paid a bit much, but it’s hard to get that worked up about.

  • NuckerNucker Registered User
    edited December 2009
    mcdermott wrote: »
    What can we even do to restrain them? So far all I've got, at least in the obvious "how can you argue with this" category, is that they really ought to limit how much (as a percentage of gross pay) a union can take from a worker whose membership is a condition of employment.

    After reading this, the first thing that came into my mind was a Unionists Union. This was chuckle worthy, imo.

    To the point, though, it seems the purpose of unions is pendulum-like, in that when conditions in a given economy are controlled by owners or managers and do not favor the worker, unions are needed; when an economy is heavily unionized and is relatively supportive of the worker, unions can actually become a burden.

    Nixing unions altogether could lead to some very serious breaches in workers' rights--a better option would be to handle unions in the same way that US government positions (largely) handle them, that is, voluntary membership. That undercuts the general power of a union, yes, but if the situation is bad enough to cause the majority of workers to join, the negotiating power of the union should grow relatively.

  • SenjutsuSenjutsu fiddy too Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    saggio wrote: »
    fjafjan wrote: »
    Potential solution: Have something like anti-trust regulation for Unions. Unions can enforce mandatory unionization ("We will strike if you hire non union folks") but they cannot force them into their union.

    This exists, and it makes unions impotent. It's called 'right to work' and makes union membership strictly voluntary, which makes it impossible to unionize work places and then makes it impossible for pre-existing unionized workplaces to strike.

    I think you may be misunderstanding him?

    I think he's saying that unions could force a union-only workplace, but nothing is saying that they'd all have to join Bricklayers local 19 if some feel that Stonecutter International #256 makes a better offer.

    Sarksus wrote: »
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  • saggiosaggio Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Senjutsu wrote: »
    saggio wrote: »
    fjafjan wrote: »
    Potential solution: Have something like anti-trust regulation for Unions. Unions can enforce mandatory unionization ("We will strike if you hire non union folks") but they cannot force them into their union.

    This exists, and it makes unions impotent. It's called 'right to work' and makes union membership strictly voluntary, which makes it impossible to unionize work places and then makes it impossible for pre-existing unionized workplaces to strike.

    I think you may be misunderstanding him?

    I think he's saying that unions could force a union-only workplace, but nothing is saying that they'd all have to join Bricklayers local 19 if some feel that Stonecutter International #256 makes a better offer.

    I don't know how that works in the U.S., but in B.C. this is already possible. A local just needs to defederate and then affiliate with another national or regional union. But it's rather rare these days to find unions that will actually compete with one another. Say you work in a grocery store - that generally means you'll have to UFCWU as your union. Want to unionize with the Steelworkers instead? Sure, you can try - but there's no guarantee that they will accept your application, for fear of stepping on UFCWU's toes.

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  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    WRT to membership costs, I don't have much comment aside from to note that there's no inherent reason that a low-skill workers' union's expenses would be less than a teachers' union's, and they might be well higher.

    More broadly, I think unions fall into a bit of a trap in terms of continuing to justify themselves; the fact that workers have representation now that has demonstrated itself to be effective in the face of obviously nefarious practices means that those practices are a lot less likely to take place, but it doesn't mean the protection the union offers is somehow useless.

    Most people who generally "oppose" unions seem to brush this aside by saying there's no way the days of the 20s/30s (or earlier for that matter) are coming back, but that's a pretty hard argument to accept given the way major business generally act (especially in down economies.)

    gkcmatch_zps97480250.jpg
    remember pluto? Once a planet but now a pseudo
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  • Irond WillIrond Will WARNING: NO HURTFUL COMMENTS, PLEASE!!!!! Cambridge. MAModerator mod
    edited December 2009
    The problem with American labor being uncompetitive has little to do with unions and everything to do with globalization an increased standards of living for Americans. If we want a laboring class that is economically competitive with southeast Asia, we as a country have to be all right with our fellow citizens living like skilled laborers in southeast Asia live. We have to be all right with our fellow citizens having the kind of job safety and working conditions as laborers in Southeast Asia.

    We aren't really okay with that as a society, and our skilled labor really isn't going to be competitive.

    Unions forcing up the salaries of unskilled or skilled labor are really just dragging out a dying way of life. I'm not really sure what will become of American workers in the future.

    Wqdwp8l.png
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    saggio wrote: »
    Senjutsu wrote: »
    saggio wrote: »
    fjafjan wrote: »
    Potential solution: Have something like anti-trust regulation for Unions. Unions can enforce mandatory unionization ("We will strike if you hire non union folks") but they cannot force them into their union.

    This exists, and it makes unions impotent. It's called 'right to work' and makes union membership strictly voluntary, which makes it impossible to unionize work places and then makes it impossible for pre-existing unionized workplaces to strike.

    I think you may be misunderstanding him?

    I think he's saying that unions could force a union-only workplace, but nothing is saying that they'd all have to join Bricklayers local 19 if some feel that Stonecutter International #256 makes a better offer.

    I don't know how that works in the U.S., but in B.C. this is already possible. A local just needs to defederate and then affiliate with another national or regional union. But it's rather rare these days to find unions that will actually compete with one another. Say you work in a grocery store - that generally means you'll have to UFCWU as your union. Want to unionize with the Steelworkers instead? Sure, you can try - but there's no guarantee that they will accept your application, for fear of stepping on UFCWU's toes.

    Unions rely on solidarity to have any power in negotiations. If you let as many unions form as there are workers, you functionally have no union.

    gkcmatch_zps97480250.jpg
    remember pluto? Once a planet but now a pseudo
    funny how information changes the facts that you know
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Irond Will wrote: »
    The problem with American labor being uncompetitive has little to do with unions and everything to do with globalization an increased standards of living for Americans. If we want a laboring class that is economically competitive with southeast Asia, we as a country have to be all right with our fellow citizens living like skilled laborers in southeast Asia live. We have to be all right with our fellow citizens having the kind of job safety and working conditions as laborers in Southeast Asia.

    We aren't really okay with that as a society, and our skilled labor really isn't going to be competitive.

    Unions forcing up the salaries of unskilled or skilled labor are really just dragging out a dying way of life. I'm not really sure what will become of American workers in the future.

    Well, unskilled labor will always have a place. Ditches will always need digging. Skilled labor too, especially trades and crafts. Problem is, a lot of the unions people have an issue with don't actually provide training or tools to improve yourself.

    CNA (California Nurses Association) may as well be a mafia group. As most healthcare unions should be. On the other hand, there are cement worker and electrician unions that provide insurance, training and apprenticeship and job contracting to members, with buy-in type plans for retirement, etc.

    My union is a piece of shit. I would fire 90% of the people I work with. If my hospital were a restaurant it would have been bankrupt a week after it opened its doors.

  • Phil G.Phil G. __BANNED USERS
    edited December 2009
    A somewhat local CAW Union hall took out a full page ad on Remembrance Day, listing all the Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan. Sounds nice huh, very supportive? They also thought it would be a wonderful thing to state that they didn't support the war in Afghanistan, how it had no end in sight on what is supposed to be a solemn day of remembrance without politics. I called them and gave them a hearty fuck you.

    I don't mind unions when they're actually helping the worker, but more often than not, they're much more interested in keeping themselves alive/well payed/well bribed and promoting their own politics. My dad is an auto-worker, and a union member. He can tell me all about the corruption in unions for days.

    I kind of wish pi day would take off like 420 has. I could back a "eat pie at 3:14, erryday" movement.
  • cheezcheez Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    UFCW is a particularly shitty union. A couple years ago, I worked 15 hours a week at a Rite Aid. California doesn't have Right to Work, so since Rite Aid is a UFCW-unionized company, I was theoretically required to join. But union benefits only began at 20 hours, so they wanted me to pay dues for nothing.

    Happily, I managed to string them along for the entire year I worked there and never register. But they were getting pretty insistent toward the end.

  • saggiosaggio Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Phil G. wrote: »
    A somewhat local CAW Union hall took out a full page ad on Remembrance Day, listing all the Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan. Sounds nice huh, very supportive? They also thought it would be a wonderful thing to state that they didn't support the war in Afghanistan, how it had no end in sight on what is supposed to be a solemn day of remembrance without politics. I called them and gave them a hearty fuck you.

    I don't mind unions when they're actually helping the worker, but more often than not, they're much more interested in keeping themselves alive/well payed/well bribed and promoting their own politics. My dad is an auto-worker, and a union member. He can tell me all about the corruption in unions for days.

    Corruption is absolutely a problem. But it's not a union problem - corruption exists everywhere, in any organization regardless of size or purpose and should be treated as such. To say that "the institution of the union is corrupt" as opposed to "that particular union is corrupt" is an error in reasoning that we shouldn't really accept. It's the classic case of trying to universalize something incorrectly. Kermit is green, therefore everything is green - that union is corrupt, therefore all unions are corrupt.

    Unless you are actually going to argue that the whole notion of labour organizing is corrupt, or something along those lines. But that is a very different argument. Marx made such an argument, actually: trade unions are to be subverted by the Marxist, as (a) trade unions enable capitalism and rely upon the capitalists to provide work, and thus have a stake in the continued existence of capitalism, and, (b) generate false consciousness amongst workers through the lessening of their oppression by the capitalists. This lessening of oppression would reduce or eliminate the need for revolution, which would short-circuit any reasonable attempts to establish a workers' state.
    A somewhat local CAW Union hall took out a full page ad on Remembrance Day, listing all the Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan. Sounds nice huh, very supportive? They also thought it would be a wonderful thing to state that they didn't support the war in Afghanistan, how it had no end in sight on what is supposed to be a solemn day of remembrance without politics. I called them and gave them a hearty fuck you.

    I don't mind unions when they're actually helping the worker, but more often than not, they're much more interested in keeping themselves alive/well payed/well bribed and promoting their own politics. My dad is an auto-worker, and a union member. He can tell me all about the corruption in unions for days.

    The CAW is a member of the Canadian Labour Congress, and the Canadian Labour Congress merged with the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) to form the New Democratic Party. So, when you join an affiliated union, you become a member of the NDP (or at least are eligible for a membership in the NDP) and have special privileges with respect to membership and voting at convention and during policy formation, etc. This is obviously modelled after the British Labour Party, and has faced the same sort of challenges that the Labour Party has faced in Britain over the years, with the diverging interests of (a) the mass party, the (b) union members, and (c) the actual parliamentary wing of the party, or, in the case of some provinces, the government. I'm inclined to think that labour participation in the party is pretty great - theoretically. But my experience has been that the participation of labour in an official capacity causes the same amount of problems as the official participation of any other interest group in a political party does, and that there are inherent limitations to what a party can do when it is beholden to those interests.

    The main thing that arrests what the NDP can do, or, at least, what is could do historically, was the narrow focus of organized labour on economic or particular types of economic issues: just look at the divisions that exist within the NDP today between the CAW or other unions of its ilk and environmentalists. Ostensibly the NDP, as a democratic socialist/social democratic party is supposed to be concerned with both of the issues of these two groups, but their interests on climate change are, at the surface, completely contradictory.

    And of course you also have the problem of unions attempting to take political stances on issues that one could judge to be 'outside the purview' of their mandate. Sure, you join the factory you get the union - and they make political statements on taxes, benefits, wages, etc. But what happens when they start making pronouncements on foreign policy? This is the issue you identified right off the bat, and it definitely poses some problems for unions. At what point do we draw the line between what is a legitimate issue to take a political interest or stand on and what is not? How does a person assess relevance? What happens if your union, say, takes a stance on Israel's occupation of Palestine, and you happen to be an Orthodox Jew? Or your union declares its solidarity with the Tamil Tigers and you are a Sri Lankan (not a Tamil)? Or your union supports The Provisional IRA and you are a unionist? This is sort stuff gets really sticky very fast.

    3DS: 0232-9436-6893
  • SosSos Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    UFCW in my neighborhood was pretty good. Membership for 6 months netted some damn good health insurance for cheap. Dues were $40 a month.

  • Phil G.Phil G. __BANNED USERS
    edited December 2009
    Saggio you deserve better than whatever sleep deprived ramblings I give you right now, so I'll respond better tomorrow. But I will respond.

    I kind of wish pi day would take off like 420 has. I could back a "eat pie at 3:14, erryday" movement.
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Dyscord wrote: »
    WRT to membership costs, I don't have much comment aside from to note that there's no inherent reason that a low-skill workers' union's expenses would be less than a teachers' union's, and they might be well higher.

    Well, one would hope that a union that gave a fuck about its members would ensure that the dues assessed were reasonable given the level of pay. Again, taking more out of somebody's pay than they pay in taxes is a little excessive. And the fact that their dues don't scale with pay (so, again, an employee grossing $1700 a month with full benefits pays the same as an employee grossing $700 a month with no benefits) is absurd. It's regressive as all fuck.

  • nescientistnescientist Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    There is a fundamental similarity between unions and trusts; so much so that American antitrust law specifically exempts unions. Yet we have long found the union to be palatable, and the trust unpalatable. This makes perfect sense in the context of the robber-barons whose shenanigans brought the Sherman act about in the first place. In those days, ye olde blackwater just fucking shot everyone if they tried to organize, and that was that. It's not like the employees were about to hire a rival security firm, either, because the balance of power (read: money) was so drastically in favor of the employers.

    This balance of power hasn't actually changed very much today; any individual employee remains almost entirely beholden to their employer, as a recent thread about a computer manufacturer named after a fruit shows explicitly. Meanwhile the unions who theoretically wield influence over even the largest companies have blossomed into entrenched hierarchical power-structures in their own right, occasionally better than the corporations they stand against and occasionally worse.

    I'm not really sure of any practical remedy to this, so fuck practicality. My radical pie-in-the sky idea focuses on the "capital" in capitalism, the least worst system known to man. Simply put, require that each employee accrue voting stock as a portion of pay. In this way, corporations (which, free-marketeers are so fond of pointing out, are composed of people) are truly beholden to the people they are composed of. I'd like to think that eventually someone will figure out a way to do this so well that it becomes the normal method of conducting business naturally, but given the long history of this not happening I suppose some intervention may be necessary.

    In the long run, I would hope that something like this could not only mitigate the abuses of both unions and companies, but also begin to address the absurdly skewed distribution of capital that makes a mockery of our notion of an equal society.

    Carl Sagan wrote:
    The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.
  • saggiosaggio Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Phil G. wrote: »
    Saggio you deserve better than whatever sleep deprived ramblings I give you right now, so I'll respond better tomorrow. But I will respond.

    :^:

    3DS: 0232-9436-6893
  • JebusUDJebusUD Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Irond Will wrote: »
    The problem with American labor being uncompetitive has little to do with unions and everything to do with globalization an increased standards of living for Americans. If we want a laboring class that is economically competitive with southeast Asia, we as a country have to be all right with our fellow citizens living like skilled laborers in southeast Asia live. We have to be all right with our fellow citizens having the kind of job safety and working conditions as laborers in Southeast Asia.

    We aren't really okay with that as a society, and our skilled labor really isn't going to be competitive.

    Unions forcing up the salaries of unskilled or skilled labor are really just dragging out a dying way of life. I'm not really sure what will become of American workers in the future.

    Couldn't the converse work just as well? Bring up the standard of living of those outside America, thereby making hiring them equally attractive.

    You haven't given me a reason to steer clear of you!
  • nescientistnescientist Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    JebusUD wrote: »
    Irond Will wrote: »
    The problem with American labor being uncompetitive has little to do with unions and everything to do with globalization an increased standards of living for Americans. If we want a laboring class that is economically competitive with southeast Asia, we as a country have to be all right with our fellow citizens living like skilled laborers in southeast Asia live. We have to be all right with our fellow citizens having the kind of job safety and working conditions as laborers in Southeast Asia.

    We aren't really okay with that as a society, and our skilled labor really isn't going to be competitive.

    Unions forcing up the salaries of unskilled or skilled labor are really just dragging out a dying way of life. I'm not really sure what will become of American workers in the future.

    Couldn't the converse work just as well? Bring up the standard of living of those outside America, thereby making hiring them equally attractive.

    That would be wonderful, but it's unfortunately not really within the power of the United States to accomplish. Perhaps if our military spending went into the IMF or something as some kind of grand strategy of economic, rather than military, hegemony, but that's even more of a pipe dream than what I just outlined above.

    Carl Sagan wrote:
    The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I'm not really sure of any practical remedy to this, so fuck practicality. My radical pie-in-the sky idea focuses on the "capital" in capitalism, the least worst system known to man. Simply put, require that each employee accrue voting stock as a portion of pay. In this way, corporations (which, free-marketeers are so fond of pointing out, are composed of people) are truly beholden to the people they are composed of. I'd like to think that eventually someone will figure out a way to do this so well that it becomes the normal method of conducting business naturally, but given the long history of this not happening I suppose some intervention may be necessary.

    let's raise our fists and take back the means of production, why don't we

    The fundamental issue is that in the strife of interests that is the modern workplace, workers have to band together to match (or even come close to matching) the power of their employers. Creating an organization also creates the potential for corruption, but fortunately said workers have the power to elect new leadership if they want to.

    gkcmatch_zps97480250.jpg
    remember pluto? Once a planet but now a pseudo
    funny how information changes the facts that you know
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    JebusUD wrote: »
    Irond Will wrote: »
    The problem with American labor being uncompetitive has little to do with unions and everything to do with globalization an increased standards of living for Americans. If we want a laboring class that is economically competitive with southeast Asia, we as a country have to be all right with our fellow citizens living like skilled laborers in southeast Asia live. We have to be all right with our fellow citizens having the kind of job safety and working conditions as laborers in Southeast Asia.

    We aren't really okay with that as a society, and our skilled labor really isn't going to be competitive.

    Unions forcing up the salaries of unskilled or skilled labor are really just dragging out a dying way of life. I'm not really sure what will become of American workers in the future.

    Couldn't the converse work just as well? Bring up the standard of living of those outside America, thereby making hiring them equally attractive.

    That would be wonderful, but it's unfortunately not really within the power of the United States to accomplish. Perhaps if our military spending went into the IMF or something as some kind of grand strategy of economic, rather than military, hegemony, but that's even more of a pipe dream than what I just outlined above.

    well, that, and to the extent that it is within our power, the hypothetical hegemony doesn't really have the interests of the workers at heart

    gkcmatch_zps97480250.jpg
    remember pluto? Once a planet but now a pseudo
    funny how information changes the facts that you know
  • nescientistnescientist Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Dyscord wrote: »
    JebusUD wrote: »
    Irond Will wrote: »
    The problem with American labor being uncompetitive has little to do with unions and everything to do with globalization an increased standards of living for Americans. If we want a laboring class that is economically competitive with southeast Asia, we as a country have to be all right with our fellow citizens living like skilled laborers in southeast Asia live. We have to be all right with our fellow citizens having the kind of job safety and working conditions as laborers in Southeast Asia.

    We aren't really okay with that as a society, and our skilled labor really isn't going to be competitive.

    Unions forcing up the salaries of unskilled or skilled labor are really just dragging out a dying way of life. I'm not really sure what will become of American workers in the future.

    Couldn't the converse work just as well? Bring up the standard of living of those outside America, thereby making hiring them equally attractive.

    That would be wonderful, but it's unfortunately not really within the power of the United States to accomplish. Perhaps if our military spending went into the IMF or something as some kind of grand strategy of economic, rather than military, hegemony, but that's even more of a pipe dream than what I just outlined above.

    well, that, and to the extent that it is within our power, the hypothetical hegemony doesn't really have the interests of the workers at heart

    Well, my hypothetical scenario did, but only because it's a pipe dream :P

    Carl Sagan wrote:
    The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.
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