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Author Topic: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)  (Read 3094 times)

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Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« on: March 05, 2011, 08:44:13 PM »
Here is my personal experience with a non-union/union shop environment.

I was hired on to work Aircraft Maintenance here in Jax. The Jax shop had voted to remain non-union while their sister shop in Texas went union. (The perks of having like 19 retired Navy Chiefs who are making mad retirement AND a salary  who don't want it..they didn't want it and they persuaded enough of the rest before I was hired)

The two work centers came under control of a new staff, when the contract was turned over to them.

The Jax work center got hammered on the change over. I got let go as result of a miscommunication, I consider it my fault but my coworkers said a union rep could have cleared things up and I'd have kept my job. The shop leads were all told TWO days before change over that they were to simply be workers and that they would be training their replacements. From what I heard from the Texas workcenter, that didn't happen there.

They, the new management, increased the deployment cycle by a factor of two while eliminating ALL the travel perks. Something they said they wouldn't do during the turnover phase. That is a loss of something 2 1/2 to 4 grand per worker. Incentive pays of all sorts were being axed and supposedly they were trying to roll back pay rates to everyone in the Jax work space. (an 'accounting accident' that didn't happen in Texas.)

Offline Lyell

Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2011, 09:51:12 PM »
So rather than contact a lawyer they accepted what happened. Were the agreements in writing and notarized? A union isn't required for those things, by the way.

"The final election, conducted last week, delivered the most stunning verdict. Delta workers at airports and reservation centers rejected the IAM, 70-30 percent. In November, flight attendants voted against unionization, 52-48 percent. Ramp (or “under the wing”) employees voted not to join the IAM, 53-47 percent. And maintenance workers turned down the IAM more decisively, 72-28 percent.

Sensing defeat, labor unions had earlier decided not to attempt to unionize four other groups of employees: mechanics, technical writers, meteorologists, and “simulated technicians.” It was a clean sweep for Delta and shocking to labor organizers. As a result, 17,000 former Northwest employees who had been union members will become nonunion once the election results have been certified.

That may take a while because the unions have filed formal complaints that Delta interfered with the election. They are seeking a new election. Unions do this routinely when they lose an election. They are poor losers. How did Delta thwart the unions? The company pointed out its pay and benefits are 10 percent to 15 percent above those of unionized employees who had worked for Northwest and have been for years. Higher pay, better benefits, no union dues—that was the argument." -The Washington Postal

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2011, 09:56:26 PM »
You know what a lawyer would tell me?

"You're shit out of luck. It's a miscommunication but your name is here on the bottom line. So you're out of a job. You can't reapply till the 10 year contract is over and there is nothing you can do about it. We, as individuals AND as a group, brought up the issues we had to the transition coordinator and he LIED to us. REPEATEDLY. Till the day he turned over to the transition team, got his his lexus and drove away.

We had NO choice. It was 'like or lump it'. And they knew it. 

Or in my case, get canned with no avenue of appeal. The transition coordinator could have reissued the papers but he wanted to be a dick. So I got shit out of a job that I had literally driven nearly the damn length of the eastern seaboard to get to and have no options except living off my GI bill and hoping to hell something payable comes up soon.

Offline Lyell

Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2011, 10:05:27 PM »
We, as individuals AND as a group, brought up the issues we had to the transition coordinator and he LIED to us. REPEATEDLY. Till the day he turned over to the transition team, got his his lexus and drove away.

This is where I intended the in writhing and notarized. Never believe anyone in corporate america unless it's in writing. A union rep would have asked for the same thing.

Offline Rhys

Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2011, 10:23:12 PM »
Quote
So rather than contact a lawyer they accepted what happened. Were the agreements in writing and notarized? A union isn't required for those things, by the way.

You need to understand that your average American worker doesn't have the time, means, etc. to hire a lawyer capable of standing up to their employers, if they can afford to hire them at all. Especially if they've just been laid off unjustly, had their hours docked unfairly, etc. They're also not an expert on contracts so watching for loopholes and the like that allow for abuses isn't exactly their strong suit.

Meanwhile, if a Union is present, these kind of issues rarely happen in the first place. They're a protective measure that is there, generally on site, protecting the workers and making sure things around the business they work within are done properly. They make sure these contracts don't allow abuses and all in all just improve the work environment by a significant margin. Yes, seniority issues can occur. But generally speaking that's a problem with management choosing to keep crap employees around forever when in reality, the process of firing a unionized employee when they deserve it, is not all that difficult.

Now, with things like OSHA and the like you're waiting for a lengthy investigation to conclude; one where many safety issues can easily be swept under the rug only to appear again later. Ones where bosses can find a 'genuine' reason to fire the complaining employee leaving them jobless and without the time, means, etc. to fight them on it. Same goes for wrongful termination suits. Kind of difficult to do a lawsuit when a lawyer costs an arm and a leg and your time is invested in finding a new job. Never mind the issues similar to those listed by Callie Del Noire.

Unions have been shown to regularly improve the work environment. They're a protective measure I've personally seen work in both the public and private sector. Abuses by employers are rarer by a significant margin in jobs with unions and when they happen they are resolved without a significant and often unreasonable burden being placed on the employees. 

Lastly, I just gotta say that pointing out one example of one problem in one union doesn't strengthen your argument. There are bad unions just like there are bad OSHA reps or bad anything else. In the face of all the cases daily of unions insuring that management in a variety of fields isn't abusing its power/its workers, these few and far between instances of corruption and other problems the Republicans like to focus on are fairly meaningless. Its like when they try to cut Social Security because of 'all the people trying to get on it to scam the government' when, in the real world, that's less that 1% of the people applying. It doesn't make sense and has no real relevance within the argument at hand. One case of a potentially bad union (though I'd venture a guess that we're only seeing one side of the story in your quote) doesn't mean the rest of them are less effective. If a majority of unions were a problem that would be one thing. But given how strongly unionized employees tend to fight for them, its fairly obvious that isn't the case.


Offline Lyell

Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2011, 10:38:15 PM »
Replace every word in this section accordingly,

Union = Corporation
Republican = Democrat
OSHA = Union

Lastly, I just gotta say that pointing out one example of one problem in one union doesn't strengthen your argument. There are bad unions just like there are bad OSHA reps or bad anything else. In the face of all the cases daily of unions insuring that management in a variety of fields isn't abusing its power/its workers, these few and far between instances of corruption and other problems the Republicans like to focus on are fairly meaningless.

And you have what I've been trying to get across for the past few days.

Offline Will

Re: Scott Walker, Union Buster
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2011, 10:57:32 PM »
Most non-union employees and the federal union employees outlined previously aren't paid based on what someone else negotiates for them. They're paid according to individual merit, how much of an asset they are to the company,their job security is also based on the same principal.

Could you possibly provide evidence to support the bolded part?  Something to show that these non-union people are paid according to merit, and not just paid the least the company can get away with?

I also fail to see how legislation alone could do anything to assure that.  I'm curious to know what you would suggest.

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2011, 12:32:09 AM »
I agree with Will. I worked food service before joining the Navy. I worked hard, trained a TON of folks and did all sorts of things to help improve the company bottom line. More often than not individual merit didn't get me a raise. It took finally transferring to a store where the manager was married and not screwing my workers to get me better raises.

I was the first worker in, did more hours than any 2 other workers in the store, was faster, and more skilled at running the store. I got BONED on salary.  If it wasn't for the fact that I was pulling down so much in tips that I made more money in pizza delivery than I did as a TEN YEAR 2nd class Petty Officer in the Navy. And worked about the same number of hours.

And Rys is right. My brother is a lawyer back in NC, a very successful one. You know what he told me when I asked him about my job issue?

It would take YEARS to resolve and lots of money. Because the company had the cash to keep it going till I went broke.

Offline Lyell

Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2011, 02:41:47 AM »
Really, you couldn't have gone higher up the chain of command to someone else? Typically, corporations and franchises have some sort of internal means of resolving this kind of thing. The first question out of my mouth during an interview is "how are internal issues handled?" I've come to expect a prepared answer and avoid employers that don't have one.

Will, I don't know what to tell you. Typically detailed information of that nature is considered proprietary. Giving out personal accounts would also infringe on non-disclosure agreements. I could possibly get away with vague descriptions but even that is risky. 

Offline Will

Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2011, 02:47:35 AM »
Really, you couldn't have gone higher up the chain of command to someone else? Typically, corporations and franchises have some sort of internal means of resolving this kind of thing. The first question out of my mouth during an interview is "how are internal issues handled?" I've come to expect a prepared answer and avoid employers that don't have one.

This really isn't the sort of job market where you can filter out possible employers based on things like that.  Lots of people have to take what they can get.

Quote
Will, I don't know what to tell you. Typically detailed information of that nature is considered proprietary. Giving out personal accounts would also infringe on non-disclosure agreements. I could possibly get away with vague descriptions but even that is risky. 

Then I would avoid making such statements.

Offline Lyell

Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2011, 03:15:58 AM »
This really isn't the sort of job market where you can filter out possible employers based on things like that.  Lots of people have to take what they can get.

Then I would avoid making such statements.

I was hurting for a job in October. Wasn't going to be able to make my rent if something didn't come soon. Still held out though. Finally getting back on my feet. Feels good. Not to mention, having a job makes getting another one easier.

How about you? Do you have some magical access to the pay rates of union members and the metrics they use to determine those rates? It seems a pretty standard tactic to ask the impossible of people and then dismiss the validity of points they may have, no matter how truthful. I'll see what I can do about getting some of my former employers to respond to some letter asking about general detail, but I'm not expecting anything specific.

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Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2011, 03:19:24 AM »
How about you? Do you have some magical access to the pay rates of union members and the metrics they use to determine those rates? It seems a pretty standard tactic to ask the impossible of people and then dismiss the validity of points they may have, no matter how truthful. I'll see what I can do about getting some of my former employers to respond to some letter asking about general detail, but I'm not expecting anything specific.

Does this help?

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/union2.t02.htm

Offline Lyell

Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2011, 03:30:27 AM »
Not really. This doesn't include things like relevant training, performance metrics, attendance records, accident reports, improvements inspired, synergy with co-workers, etc.

Offline Will

Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2011, 03:51:07 AM »
There are too many factors that go into an employee's "merit" to have any chance of proving whether or not an employee gets paid as they should or not.  You can always look at experience, education, and seniority and attach a suitable monetary amount to that, but that doesn't include for intangibles.  How hard a person works and so forth.  So was I asking you the impossible?  Yes, I was.  That's the point.  I don't think that's any more disagreeable than making an unprovable statement like "they get paid based on merit" and expecting everyone to just nod along.

Offline Lyell

Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2011, 04:11:15 AM »
Yet you've pretty much admitted these are used in one form or another by non union workplaces. Atleast, the ones with ethical standards.

Offline Jude

Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #15 on: March 06, 2011, 06:21:16 AM »
Only the most ethical, considerate employers actually pay their workers based on what they're worth to them.  And, because of the stock market, very few incorporated entities that are managed efficiently do that.  The point of investing in the stock market is to see a return on your investment.  Returns only occur if the company rises in value by increasing profit.  To do that you must either decrease cost or increase profit.  The former merely requires stringent financial controls and cost-cutting measures which work almost 100% of the time.  Therefore unless growth is occurring naturally because the economy is booming (thus giving Corporations room to breathe and be inefficient), any corporation is looking to manage cost as stringently as possible.  Wages paid to employees are cost.

Corporations pay you as little as they possibly can while retaining your services, NOT what they can afford to pay you based on the value of what you produce for them.  This is where unions come in; industries where where the labor force is pouring out gold for the company and getting paid in bronze are basically asking for unionization to occur.  And it isn't just the industries which unionize that benefit from unions either.  The entire workforce does because the threat of unions becomes a factor of consideration that corporations must take into account when they choose to abuse their employees.

When government assists business in union-busting, it can have a short-term positive effect on the economy (because business is placated into capital investments and hiring cheap labor), but if you want to see what it does to the country longterm, check out what happened to the growth of wages for the average American after Reagan went around destroying unions (cliffnotes:  it stagnated).  Unions are an important part of the economic ecosystem, but that isn't to say that they never do bad things.  They demand far too much in many instances, are inflexible with their pensions, and pretty much killed the American auto-industry.  That's why we need to find a moderate position between Union hatred and unquestioning support.

Offline Lyell

Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #16 on: March 06, 2011, 06:53:54 AM »
I'm sorry but any corporate head or anyone who has taken a business class will laugh at you for calling their workforce a cost. They're a resource. Admittedly a resource that requires constant reinvestment, but in the same sense that maintaining equipment requires constant reinvestment. A company that wants to last keeps its employees and its machines happy, even in a downturn. Non union establishments can make leaps and bounds of advancement and provide -get this- job security in the event of a downturn.

Question. Did union busting stagnate the  wages or was it the already in a downturn headed for deep recession economy?

Online itsbeenfun2000

Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #17 on: March 06, 2011, 09:57:57 AM »
Oh the economy stagnated the wage. But has it hurt the corporations? Oil corporations are still recording record profits.

May I point out that in the case of a teacher's contract it would be impractical for management to negotiate individual contracts. It is not the "union thugs" that negotiate local contracts it is 5 or 6 Representatives elected by the teachers of that district. People they trust and work in the classroom. One of the more democratic processes in the work place.


Offline Lyell

Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #18 on: March 06, 2011, 10:18:44 AM »
Just like it would be impractical for a CEO of a multi-million corporation to go around the world negotiating individual contracts. Fortunately they typically have the insight to delegate those responsibilities to people they trust.

Offline Rhys

Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #19 on: March 06, 2011, 11:18:46 AM »
Alright, seriously, the question is still on the table: What practical purpose does the removal of unions serve? Everyone but you Lyell has given specific examples of the good they do (or the bad that occurs when they're not around) while you've made general assumptions about them being obsolete and talked about how people can resolve disputes without unions without really acknowledging the facts that the unions provide useful checks and balances and prevent numerous disputes with their mere presence, increasing worker morale and making for a better work environment. We've already seen that the fiscal changes aren't needed given the amount of budget cuts and the like that can easily be made elsewhere. Now we're going to talk about contracts and how we don't need the unions because people can pre-establish their rights? Yes, because corporations never commit breach of contract knowing full well that most Americans don't have the time, money, means, etc. to fight them on it especially if said breach has left them out of a job.

Yes, ethical workplaces sometimes allow you to resolve disputes  in a practical manner... though generally speaking its far less practical than simple prevention caused by the presence of a union. Ethical people generally don't commit murder. That doesn't mean we should stop having groups that investigate homicide. They still provide a necessary service despite the fact that a majority of people in the world never kill anyone. Its an extreme example yes, and a bit of hyperbole. But it was the one that came to mind.

We can't base employee protections off what happens in a properly/morally run company. We're not that naive. We realize that violations are going to happen and that checks and balances need to be in place so they can be stopped. On some level, we need to assume the worst and be prepared for it. The unions allow for a system in which workers can rely on capable people they trust to stop these violations and disputes without the burden being placed consistently on them. Honestly, I see no bad in that. Yes, there are other, less efficient, means of solving disputes. But having the checks and balances provided by a good union certainly doesn't hurt anyone.




Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #20 on: March 06, 2011, 11:42:30 AM »
I have to agree with Rhys here Lyell. You've give a lot of general assumptions and seem to think we should just 'trust management' to do the right thing? No offense but I think the last few years have proven that the men who make the decisions have only one 'best interests' in mind. Their bonus checks and jobs.

They worked things to deregulate industry till they could pretty much do anything to get rich quick. No matter the long term consequences to anyone else. Big business isn't about playing 'ethical' or 'nice'. They USED to take the long view on profitability and growth, now it's how you can maximize THIS years profits and maybe consider next year in the doing.

That more than anything else is why is why business in this country is looking to get everything they can in their favor.

Offline Apple of Eris

Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2011, 08:40:06 PM »
I'm sorry but any corporate head or anyone who has taken a business class will laugh at you for calling their workforce a cost.

Uhm... this is just wrong. Labor at least in the foodservice and hospitality industries, which I am most familiar with (being my legal specialization), consider Labor a cost. In fact all your compensation would be found in the category, Labor Cost. Combine that with Food and you have Prime Costs.

You can call it whatever you want, but companies that are non-union will do all they can to maximize profits, that's what profit companies do. They're not altruistic organiztion out to make their employees the happiest people ever, they're in it for a buck. Here are some examples of things some food service companies and hospitality companies in the area have done:

Frozen all wages.
Eliminated all overtime, instead hiring temp labor to fill extra time needs (as it's cheaper).
Reduced the workforce hours to 37 hours a week while expecting the output.
Eliminated all bonus and reward programs (this company had a program where if employees met certain goals they'd earn rewards like movie passes and so forth)
Scaled back insurance and retirement plans.

I mean the list goes on and on. Yet some of those companies also run unionized locations, those locations didn't feel the chop like the non-union ones. And some of these companies that I've worked with have revenues in the billions and profits in the hundreds of millions, so they weren't exactly hurting...

Oh and worst of all? At least the worst to me personally, since I repped the company at the unemployment hearings was when one company laid off 75% of it's staff, replaced them with cheap labor or illegal immigrants (and yes, one of the guys told me he came into the US illegally. The conversation was kind of an amusing muddle of bad english and broken spanish) and then fought to deny their former employees unemployment. Happily, we did not win every case we contested.

Many of those abuses just do not happen as frequently in a union shop. Now, do teachers need unions? I don't know. I am not in the education field so I honestly can't say, but are unions in general unnecessary? I'd say heck no.

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2011, 10:27:02 PM »
Here is another job example to fill in your bin Apple.

I was recently offered a job in Boston doing wire bundle assembly and installation. Downtown Boston. 30 to 35 hours a week was what was quoted to me at 15.00/hour.  The reason I got called was quite plainly put to me. I'm a disabled vet (80%) which means I qualify for Tricare and they can short me medical coverage. (in addition to keeping me short of overtime)

Needless to say I didn't take the job offer (since I'd be shorted another 3% of my pay to repay the relocation 'loan')

Offline Lyell

Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #23 on: March 07, 2011, 07:56:39 AM »
Unions function as labor cartels. A labor cartel restricts the number of workers in a company or industry to drive up the remaining workers' wages, just as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) attempts to cut the supply of oil to raise its price. Companies pass on those higher wages to consumers through higher prices, and often they also earn lower profits. Economic research finds that unions benefit their members but hurt consumers generally, and especially workers who are denied job opportunities.

 The average union member earns more than the average non-union worker. However, that does not mean that expanding union membership will raise wages: Few workers who join a union today get a pay raise. What explains these apparently contradictory findings? The economy has become more competitive over the past generation. Companies have less power to pass price increases on to consumers without going out of business. Consequently, unions do not negotiate higher wages for many newly organized workers. These days, unions win higher wages for employees only at companies with competitive advantages that allow them to pay higher wages, such as successful research and development (R&D) projects or capital investments.

 Unions effectively tax these investments by negotiating higher wages for their members, thus lowering profits. Unionized companies respond to this union tax by reducing investment. Less investment makes unionized companies less competitive.

 This, along with the fact that unions function as labor cartels that seek to reduce job opportunities, causes unionized companies to lose jobs. Economists consistently find that unions decrease the number of jobs available in the economy. The vast majority of manufacturing jobs lost over the past three decades have been among union members--non-union manufacturing employment has risen. Research also shows that widespread unionization delays recovery from economic downturns.

 Some unions win higher wages for their members, though many do not. But with these higher wages, unions bring less investment, fewer jobs, higher prices, and smaller 401(k) plans for everyone else. On balance, labor cartels harm the economy, and enacting policies designed to force workers into unions will only prolong the recession.

Unions argue that they can raise their members' wages, but few Americans understand the economic theory explaining how they do this. Unions are labor cartels. Cartels work by restricting the supply of what they produce so that consumers will have to pay higher prices for it. OPEC, the best-known cartel, attempts to raise the price of oil by cutting oil production. As labor cartels, unions attempt to monopolize the labor supplied to a company or an industry in order to force employers to pay higher wages. In this respect, they function like any other cartel and have the same effects on the economy.

 Cartels benefit their members in the short run and harm the overall economy. Imagine that General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler jointly agreed to raise the price of the cars they sold by $2,000: Their profits would rise as every American who bought a car paid more. Some Americans would no longer be able to afford a car at the higher price, so the automakers would manufacture and sell fewer vehicles. Then they would need--and hire--fewer workers. The Detroit automakers' stock prices would rise, but the overall economy would suffer. That is why federal anti-trust laws prohibit cartels and the automakers cannot collude to raise prices.

 Now consider how the United Auto Workers (UAW)--the union representing the autoworkers in Detroit--functions. Before the current downturn, the UAW routinely went on strike unless the Detroit automakers paid what they demanded--until recently, $70 an hour in wages and benefits. Gold-plated UAW health benefits for retirees and active workers added $1,200 to the cost of each vehicle that GM produced in 2007. Other benefits, such as full retirement after 30 years of employment and the recently eliminated JOBS bank (which paid workers for not working), added more.

 Some of these costs come out of profits, and some get passed to consumers through higher prices. UAW members earn higher wages, but every American who buys a car pays more, stock owners' wealth falls, and some Americans can no longer afford to buy a new car. The automakers also hire fewer workers because they now make and sell fewer cars.

 Unions raise the wages of their members both by forcing consumers to pay more for what they buy or do without and by costing some workers their jobs. They have the same harmful effect on the economy as other cartels, despite benefiting some workers instead of stock owners. That is why the federal anti-trust laws exempt labor unions; otherwise, anti-monopoly statutes would also prohibit union activity.

 Unions' role as monopoly cartels explains their opposition to trade and competition. A cartel can charge higher prices only as long as it remains a monopoly. If consumers can buy elsewhere, a company must cut its prices or go out of business.

 This has happened to the UAW. Non-union workers at Honda and Toyota plants now produce high-quality cars at lower prices than are possible in Detroit. As consumers have voted with their feet, the Detroit automakers have been brought to the brink of bankruptcy. The UAW has now agreed to significant concessions that will eliminate a sizeable portion of the gap between UAW and non-union wages. With competition, the union cartel breaks down, and unions cannot force consumers to pay higher prices or capture higher wages for their members.

 Unionized employers must pay thousands of dollars in attorney's fees and spend months negotiating before making any changes in the workplace. Unionized companies often avoid making changes because the benefits are not worth the time and cost of negotiations. Both of these effects make unionized businesses less flexible and less competitive.

Final union contracts typically give workers group identities instead of treating them as individuals. Unions do not have the resources to monitor each worker's performance and tailor the contract accordingly. Even if they could, they would not want to do so. Unions want employees to view the union--not their individual achievements--as the source of their economic gains. As a result, union contracts typically base pay and promotions on seniority or detailed union job classifications. Unions rarely allow employers to base pay on individual performance or promote workers on the basis of individual ability.

 Consequently, union contracts compress wages: They suppress the wages of more productive workers and raise the wages of the less competent. Unions redistribute wealth between workers. Everyone gets the same seniority-based raise regardless of how much or little he contributes, and this reduces wage inequality in unionized companies. But this increased equality comes at a cost to employers. Often, the best workers will not work under union contracts that put a cap on their wages, so union firms have difficulty attracting and retaining top employees.

Numerous economic studies compare the average earnings of union and non-union workers, holding other measurable factors--age, gender, education, and industry--constant. These studies typically find that the average union member earns roughly 15 percent more than comparable non-union workers. More recent research shows that errors in the data used to estimate wages caused these estimates to understate the true difference. Estimates that correct these errors show that the average union member earns between 20 percent and 25 percent more than similar non-union workers. 86 --Barry T. Hirsch, "Reconsidering Union Wage Effects: Surveying New Evidence on an Old Topic," Journal of Labor Research, Vol. 25, No. 2 (April 2004), pp. 233-266.

 Union wage gains do not materialize out of thin air. They come out of business earnings. Other union policies, such as union work rules designed to increase the number of workers needed to do a job and stringent job classifications, also raise costs. Often, unionized companies must raise prices to cover these costs, losing customers in the process. Fewer customers and higher costs would be expected to cut businesses' earnings, and economists find that unions have exactly this effect. Unionized companies earn lower profits than are earned by non-union businesses.

 In essence, unions "tax" investments that corporations make, redistributing part of the return from these investments to their members. This makes undertaking a new investment less worthwhile. Companies respond to the union tax in the same way they respond to government taxes on investment--by investing less. By cutting profits, unions also reduce the money that firms have available for new investments, so they also indirectly reduce investment.

 Lower investment obviously hinders the competitiveness of unionized firms. The Detroit automakers have done so poorly in the recent economic downturn in part because they invested far less than their non-union competitors in researching and developing fuel-efficient vehicles. When the price of gas jumped to $4 a gallon, consumers shifted away from SUVs to hybrids, leaving the Detroit carmakers unable to compete and costing many UAW members their jobs.

 Counterintuitively, research shows that unions do not make companies more likely to go bankrupt. Unionized firms do not go out of business at higher rates than non-union firms. Unionized firms do, however, shed jobs more frequently and expand less frequently than non-union firms. Most studies show that jobs contract or grow more slowly, by between 3 and 4 percentage points a year, in unionized businesses than they do in non-unionized businesses.

 Consider General Motors. GM shed tens of thousands of jobs over the past decade, but the UAW steadfastly refused to any concessions that would have improved GM's competitive standing. Only in 2007--with the company on the brink of bankruptcy--did the UAW agree to lower wages, and then only for new hires. The UAW accepted steep job losses as the price of keeping wages high for senior members.

 The balance of economic research shows that unions do not just happen to organize firms with more layoffs and less job growth: They cause job losses. Most studies find that jobs drop at newly organized companies, with employment falling between 5 percent and 10 percent. -- Freeman and Kleiner, "The Impact of New Unionization on Wages and Working Conditions"; Lalonde, Marschke, and Troske, "Using Longitudinal Data on Establishments to Analyze the Effects of Union Organizing Campaigns in the United States."

 Labor cartels attempt to reduce the number of jobs in an industry in order to raise the wages of their members. Unions cut into corporate profitability, also reducing business investment and employment over the long term.

 These effects do not help the job market during normal economic circumstances, and they cause particular harm during recessions. Economists have found that unions delay economic recoveries. States with more union members took considerably longer than those with fewer union members to recover from the 1982 and 1991 recessions. -- Robert Krol and Shirley Svorny, "Unions and Employment Growth: Evidence from State Economic Recoveries," Journal of Labor Research, Vol. 28, No. 3 (Summer 2007), pp. 525-535.

Unions simply do not provide the economic benefits that their supporters claim they provide. They are labor cartels, intentionally reducing the number of jobs to drive up wages for their members.

 In competitive markets, unions cannot cartelize labor and raise wages. Companies with higher labor costs go out of business. Consequently, unions do not raise wages in many newly organized companies. Unions can raise wages only at companies that have competitive advantages that permit them to pay higher wages, such as successful R&D projects or long-lasting capital investments.

 On balance, unionizing raises wages between 0 percent and 10 percent, but these wage increases come at a steep economic cost. They cut into profits and reduce the returns on investments. Businesses respond predictably by investing significantly less in capital and R&D projects. Unions have the same effect on business investment as does a 33 percentage point corporate income tax increase.

 Less investment makes unionized companies less competitive, and they gradually shrink. Combined with the intentional efforts of a labor cartel to restrict labor, unions cut jobs. Unionized firms are no more likely than non-union firms to go out of business--unions make concessions to avoid bankruptcy--but jobs grow at a 4 percent slower rate at unionized businesses than at other companies. Over time, unions destroy jobs in the companies they organize. In manufacturing, three-quarters of all union jobs have disappeared over the past three decades, while the number of non-union jobs has increased.

No economic theory posits that cartels improve economic efficiency. Nor has reality ever shown them to do so. Union cartels retard economic growth and delay recovery from recession.

Offline Zeitgeist

Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #24 on: March 07, 2011, 08:47:35 AM »
I've never worked for a union so I cannot in truth speak on its merits or shortfalls. All of my work experience has been for private companies, with the exception of a 4 year tour in the Navy.

One experience that stands out it a couple years ago, for the same company I've been working for for 12 years now. I noticed the trend of my raises each year falling. I contacted the accounting department and they sent me a spreadsheet of my raises since I had started. When you graphed the trend it was clearly down, less and less each year. This despite my contributions over all each year. So I went into my review with this information and pointed it out to my supervisor. I also included my contributions over the year, the projects I worked on and the volume of work I did. I also included 'references' from internal customers I do work for. I treated the review like a job interview.

I got a raise that year, in the neighborhood of 10-12%

I'm sure there are corrupt and miserly corporations out there. I can only say I've yet to encounter one.