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 Are Unions still needed? 
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Post Are Unions still needed?
Being from Michigan, it seems like Unions always play a strong role in elections. While I'm not one to say unions are horrible, I do have an opinion that they are bad. Could someone help me understand why we need unions for such fields as Teaching, Nursing, Police Enforcement and even Auto work? I know it's a tired point to say that unions have run their course, but I'm hoping to get a fresh perspective as to why it's important for unions to still exist.

The ones that really upset me are Police, teachers and health care professionals. To think any one of these group could hold service for any type of contract dispute doesn't seem right to me.

I'm also under the belief, perhaps wrongly, that Auto Unions are the major cause the the auto crash(es) over the past several years. To think that you have to pay over $20,000 for a basic model domestic car seems too much and the only thing I can point to is paying an unskilled worker $65K+ plus benefits to work on the assembly line. (ps. my numbers might be off here but my point remains)

I'm open to opinions here, please help me understand the opposing stance.


November 6th, 2012, 11:16 pm
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Post Re: Are Unions still needed?
I think it's a people issue. As long as you have companies that are working their people to the bone and paying less than industry standard,there will be a call for unions.

In my case (right to work state) I've been promoted 7 times in 5 years. I still make less money than I did at the job I left to take the position with this company. My company brings in enough revenue that the only time they aren't profitable is during one month for taxes. They spend more on the owners vehicles and hobbies than they do on the employees that make the money.

I've done every job my company has. I've done them well. I can't get the industry standard for my field and experience level. Hell I'm training a guy who makes more than I do and he has been there less than a third of my time.

So yes. I think in places unions are a useful thing. However like anything when in abused anything is bad. Michigan has issues with the unions being to powerful. That is something that will need to be dealt with. Hopefully without swinging to far back the other way to where we are working for the company store like we were in the pre union days.

Just my opinion. I could be wrong.

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November 7th, 2012, 1:02 am
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Post Re: Are Unions still needed?
Personally, I don't like unions.

But, I don't think they should be outlawed or in any way legally restricted. It is simply a group of people acting freely in their own best interests. Anyone who believes in a free market should support the right of unions to exist and do as they please. Forcing workers to join a union and such, that is a different matter. But unions themselves are fine.

Did they cause the fall of the US auto industry? Partially. Autoworkers in Germany make more than the US, and their auto industry is fine, so it isn't just an issue of worker compensation. There are larger factors at work.

To go slightly off topic, I think the struggles of the US auto industry are mostly due to a terrible business culture -- the unions and their psychology being a part of that, but these companies have been terribly managed on a historical basis as well. GM with its legendary corporate fiefdoms, for example.

Ultimately, I will expect the US auto industry as in Chrysler/Ford/GM to be on the verge of bankruptcy again in 20 years time. New technologies like self-driving cars and highly efficient electric vehicles from Silicon Valley will greatly pressure them. If you look at the business culture at a say an Apple or a Google and compare it to the Big 3, its just completely different. In the long run, I don't think Detroit can compete.


November 7th, 2012, 1:08 am
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Post Re: Are Unions still needed?
"Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." -Ronald Reagan

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November 7th, 2012, 10:00 am
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Post Re: Are Unions still needed?
Reagan was awful; a corporate puppet just like HW Bush.

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November 7th, 2012, 11:07 am
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Post Re: Are Unions still needed?
Perhaps you could help me understand the substance behind that quote as opposed to spouting off random quotes. Why would freedom be lost? This doesn't help me understand why a union is needed, only that an old dead guy once was in favor of unions during an election year.


November 7th, 2012, 12:07 pm
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Post Re: Are Unions still needed?
aManNamedSuh wrote:
Perhaps you could help me understand the substance behind that quote as opposed to spouting off random quotes. Why would freedom be lost? This doesn't help me understand why a union is needed, only that an old dead guy once was in favor of unions during an election year.


I think BlueSkies summed it up best. To add my two cents--companies are stronger and richer than ever before, so if anything, I would say the need for workers to join together is stronger than ever before. There's also this:

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November 7th, 2012, 3:49 pm
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Post Re: Are Unions still needed?
thelomasbrowns wrote:
aManNamedSuh wrote:
Perhaps you could help me understand the substance behind that quote as opposed to spouting off random quotes. Why would freedom be lost? This doesn't help me understand why a union is needed, only that an old dead guy once was in favor of unions during an election year.


I think BlueSkies summed it up best. To add my two cents--companies are stronger and richer than ever before, so if anything, I would say the need for workers to join together is stronger than ever before. There's also this:

Image


Part of the problem with your graph is that the reasons behind the loss of income for the middle class is something that the Unions can't bargain for, and something that the Unions helped create. The one subject Unions can't bargain for is number of employees. Unions can implement back-door policies that make it difficult to fire people or close plants, but number of employees is outside the scope of any CBA, and with that U.S. corporations have caved time and time again on wage hikes and increased benefits, and every time they've sent more and more jobs over-seas, where they don't have to deal with that crap. Unions are directly to blame for the loss in union membership. They've fought a war of attrition without an ability to gain new membership. My cousin worked for the UAW, has a doctorate in some BS that deals with union crap, and I asked him in 2006 why unions were going down this road. He more or less conceded that he didn't know, but the answer was clear, greed. They failed to justify their existence and re-brand themselves as a mechanism for "fair" labor. After all, who wants to pay for fairness? People only pay for things that they're deriving a benefit from, and the concept of "fairness" is so commonplace in our society no one thinks that it should be paid for. If you could give the guy at the car dealership $50 to be treated fairly, no one would. We're too egotistical and we believe too strongly that WE'RE in charge of our destinies and WE provide our fairness, but that's not so. So, instead of re-branding us we kept DEMANDING higher wages and increased benefits as the American Auto industry was going down the tubes. Unions, union greed, and their need to justify their existence priced themselves out of the job market.

Now that we have priced ourselves out of the global job market, corporations now send even upper end jobs over to places like India. India isn't just a customer service help desk anymore. They're accountants, provide quasi-legal work, etc. They are literally our lawyers, accountants, etc., along with our lower end jobs.

You could point out that lawyers are non-union, but it wasn't legal work that sparked the relationship that proved to businesses that outsourcing was the way to go, it was manufacturing, and it started with union labor that was WAY over priced.

Unions shouldn't be banned, and they are necessary, but their goals, ambitions and place in society need to be re-branded.


November 7th, 2012, 3:57 pm
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Post Re: Are Unions still needed?
I suspect we might shift away from unions and back to something much older like a guild system. A union is kind of a mass of unskilled workers trying to get unfairly high wages. With third world workers and advanced robotics, there's really no place for that. Instead, we might get tighter nit groups of highly skilled workers, programmer guilds, nurse guilds and so on.


November 8th, 2012, 12:30 am
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Post Re: Are Unions still needed?
Unions themselves are fine. Their practices are what I have issues for. They myths that they're responsible for 5-day work weeks and 40-hour work weeks just add to my ire.

1 - All of the protections that Unions are there for are already federal law. The initial reason unions formed are already taken care of.
2 - If they add an option for the employee to opt his dues out of political purposes, you'd find a happier union. Most of the dues money collected go to political donation and not to making the union better for employees.
3 - Make the unions collect their own dues. Currently the employee or state in public unions is required to take the money out of paychecks and give to the unions increasing costs by large margins. Make the unions do it themselves and you'd find deficits decrease.

As to Nurosa... industry standard for jobs is often out of whack due to the unions. The fact that your state has right to work and your state wages are lower due to cost of living isn't a bad thing. I'm sure if you search your states average wage in that field, you'd find it close to what you make. If suddenly all states were expected to match wages from California or New York, you'd find that states would then have to raise tax levels to those same rates and the costs of living would balloon. You can't look at the wage as the end-all-be-all. Costs of goods end up raising everything else. It's why raising the minimum wage is not something that helps, but hurts the poor.


November 8th, 2012, 11:28 am
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Post Re: Are Unions still needed?
Blueskies wrote:
I suspect we might shift away from unions and back to something much older like a guild system. A union is kind of a mass of unskilled workers trying to get unfairly high wages. With third world workers and advanced robotics, there's really no place for that. Instead, we might get tighter nit groups of highly skilled workers, programmer guilds, nurse guilds and so on.



Interesting thought Blue. It seems to me that skilled workers have their own inherent worth and rarely need outside support. When you need a deep sea underwater welder, and your multi-million dollar boat is sinking or disabled, you rarely haggle over price.

That said, I do think that unions are needed to protect things like racism in the workplace, sexual harrassment, safety standards, etc., but their desire to get "more" and their greed are literally killing the American economy.


November 8th, 2012, 5:00 pm
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Post Re: Are Unions still needed?
And in far, far, far too many cases, the unskilled and uneducated make way more than they should. It's unfortunate that unions have merged so far from fitting for far rights to what they do more of now...protecting the beat offs that shouldn't be employed by that company. Unions nowadays don't fight for fairness, they fight over a manager making 25 copies for a meeting who is stealing a clerks work, so she'll get an extra hour of pay for a 3 minute job. Ask me how I know, I see it every single day, very closely.

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November 8th, 2012, 6:07 pm
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Post Re: Are Unions still needed?
conversion02 wrote:
And in far, far, far too many cases, the unskilled and uneducated make way more than they should. It's unfortunate that unions have merged so far from fitting for far rights to what they do more of now...protecting the beat offs that shouldn't be employed by that company. Unions nowadays don't fight for fairness, they fight over a manager making 25 copies for a meeting who is stealing a clerks work, so she'll get an extra hour of pay for a 3 minute job. Ask me how I know, I see it every single day, very closely.


exactly, i have done a lot of volunteer work in detroit. on some projects particularly at big events like at cobo hall, hart plaza, etc half of the work that we ve done has been undone by teams of union workers riding around in golf carts upset that we are doing there work and thus stealing from them (even though we are not getting any benefit). at other times, they ve threatened violence. if a union can motivate its members to provide better service or production in exchange for benefits, pay, safety, rights, etc than i think they have a chance to succeed but when they are primarily negotiating for higher expenditures by the employer its hard to believe that they will continue to survive unless in a field where they represent highly skilled workers.


November 8th, 2012, 7:29 pm
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