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Author Topic: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)  (Read 3550 times)

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Offline Lyell

Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #50 on: March 09, 2011, 12:03:21 AM »
Also, OSHA and the like came out of the unions of the early 1900's.  Before that, we had incidents like the Triangle Shirt Waist Fire, and the Monongah Coal Mine explosion (referred to as 'the worst industrial accident in US history').

Let me reiterate it since I seem to have to every post.

I have never argued that no good has ever come out of unions.

Why would we trust the cooporations to do whats right when they skipped all kinds of saftey checks in the gulf? It is not like the big oil/coal/industry is willing not to take risks with the lives of their labor force anymore. With unions at least they have laws they have to answer to.

This also touches back on my question as to why the legislation isn't in place. BP has 760 OSHA citations and fines. The second closest one only has 8. Why then are they still being allowed to operate in the U.S.? Because they have many subsidiari­es that have government contracts. If OSHA had the proper authority given to them, I doubt the gulf incident would have happened.

Hang on, do you seriously believe that union negotiated pay rises are why corporations cut jobs and export them overseas?

Perhaps a better question would have been if I'd believed that were the only reason. Relevant to this subject, it's certainly a contributing factor. As are I'm guessing related tax incentives, better tax rates like Ireland or the Netherlands, lower corporate taxes like in China (25%) or Korea (13%) as opposed to the U.S. (35%) and the states additional taxes (up to another 12% more), the RoI from making products cheap and selling them back to American pockets and the capability to store funds in offshore bank accounts to avoid taxes, like General Electric. All of which our legislation has been tooled to allow and needs to be addressed.

So.. let me see if I got your issues on Unions donating/collecting money down right.

It's BAD when a union supports politicians who support a generally pro-labor outlook. (Better work conditions, job security, wages and such)

but it's GOOD when folks like the Koch Brothers spend MILLIONS to eliminate known Carcinogens from the lists put out by the American Cancer society, pay even more MILLIONS to lobbyists, special interests and all the rest?

This is Union General, not me defending what Scott Walker and those who support him are doing.

Offline Jude

Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #51 on: March 09, 2011, 02:24:41 AM »
You mean like how OSHA sets standards for minimum safety and health requirements, as does the federal established minimum wage? Free market theory suggests that corporations who desire employees of stronger skill set and reliability will pay more to hire and retain them. My current employer goes so far as to outline which training and habits will merit advancement and raises.
I don't understand how this part of your post relates to anything.  I was setting up a hypothetical example with what I said there.  If you don't think that hypothetical example would fit the reality of what you're supporting, I'd like to know why.
How would pooling money to lobby for Democratic candidates and lobbyists be any different than paying dues to an organization that does it for you? Well for one, I'd like to think the money would go to candidates who are interested in protecting EVERY worker instead of just those who are members of unions.
Union dues right now do not go solely to lobby efforts.  That's part of it, but much of it goes to assist workers with filing for compensation if they're injured, resolving disputes with management, and contract negotiations.  If you get rid of unions, who's going to be paying the dues for that?  The answer is simple:  the American People.  Axing unions and putting that workload on the government is essentially requiring every person in the United States to support these efforts which used to be paid for exclusively by union members.  This is a stone's throw away from mandating every single person in the United States to join a government sponsored union; though it'll be governmental officials instead of "union fatcats."
How much less private would it be than being forced to identify with a union who possibly doesn't represent your views? "Most countries that rely on private donations to fund campaigns require extensive disclosure of donations, frequently including information such as the name, employer and address of donors. This is intended to allow for policing of undue donor influence by other campaigns or by good government groups, while preserving most benefits of private financing." All it would do is level the field for individuals who are already forced to disclose their personal information. Isn't an equal chance for everyone something a democrat would drive for?
You raise legitimate concerns here, but there are ways to solve these issues without dissolving unions entirely.  Just pass Right To Work legislation and require unions to disclose more information.  I'm all for reform, not annihilation.
Typically it comes down to the pay. Union negotiated pay increases hurt many businesses by forcing them to cut jobs and services, export jobs overseas (where it's cheaper), and raise the prices of goods to compensate for the decrease in profit. I don't know why profit is such a bad word on this board. It's a difference between money generated by normal business activities and cost, as Apple has established, workers fall under. Looking at the technical terms a little more closely, I understand what he meant.
Profit isn't a bad word.  It's why businesses exist.  It's why people work.  We demonize corporations for their greed while forgetting that every single employee shares their goal at least in part.  Working is about making money every bit as much as running a business is about being profitable.

You claim that unions caused businesses to move overseas, but the facts simply don't agree with you there.  We started to bleed manufacturing jobs after Reagan's crackdown on the unions, not before.  I'm not implying a causal link the other way however, we lost manufacturing jobs for another reason entirely.  Even without wages that have been exaggerated by union influence to the tune of 20 or 30 percent in certain industries (I don't actually have the numbers, I am pulling them out of my ass, but even if the numbers are higher my point stands), we can't compete with laborers that have an incredibly low standard of living in the third world because they work for what is a fraction of our federally mandated minimum wage here.

The only way America can be competitive and continue to charge what we do for our labor is if we can offer something that other countries do not, because we're always going to lose the cost-cutting war.  We simply live better than they do, so we'll never be able to work for less.

We do still have to worry about competing with Europe and other industrialized nations when it comes to careers that require a lot of specialized training and education, but those areas aren't unionized.  We also don't have to worry about competing globally in any industry that can't be imported, such as (most) services, like education.  Thus teacher's unions really only represent a problem of governmental insolvency if they're asking for unreasonable compensation.  I can't say whether they are or not because I haven't seen good statistics on matter -- every comparison I've seen is the average worker versus the Wisconsin teachers, they're not comparing average bachelor degree holders, so it's an invalid comparison.  Even then, don't you want the people who are spending almost more time with your children than you are to be well compensated?
Most profit is reinvested into the business to make sure it can sustain itself as business climate and technology evolve. Unions infringe upon that capacity, usually passing the cost on to the consumer. Considering how low the profit margin is on the food industry already, I can see why McDonald's and other restaurants avoid them like the plague.
Unions are most definitely bad for a corporation's profitability.  And this can also be bad for its long term growth.  If the company is just barely scraping by because it's losing too much of its profit margin to union demands then it doesn't have the funds to invest in capital for growth; you're absolutely right.  Of course, there are also a lot of industries out there that make record profits while giving their CEOs gigantic bonuses and basically leaving the lower 3/4s of their staff with meager salary increases and poor benefits.  I'm not denying that unions hurt some industries, but you seem to be denying that unionization could help exploited workers in others.

You complain about tax rates while wanting to add another governmental responsibility on top of the pile.  You advocate what amounts to a large degree of socialism (heavy-handed governmental intrusion into the labor markets) while arguing that it would be good for capitalism.  I am seeing so many fundamental contradictions in what you're saying because I don't think you're being very straightforward in what you really think needs to happen.  You want unions to go by the wayside so that corporations can pay their employees less and become more profitable, all because you're possessed by this misguided notion that corporate wealth means a wealthy America.

Well, I think you've missed a memo.  Corporations in the current era have discovered that they can increase their profitability by tossing away allegiance to any nation.  Businesses are mercenaries now; they're loyal to whoever offers them the best conditions to be profitable.  Everything is global.  If we get rid of unions and remove impediments on their ability to be profitable, there's nothing stopping other nations from doing the same.  It'll be a race to the bottom:  one we're going to lose because we have a lot longer of a way to go than people in China who are already circling the drain.  And that doesn't even begin to consider the residents of that largely untapped swath of poverty-stricken land known as Africa -- they're basically in the pipes, or the sewage runoff.

The manufacturing jobs are gone and they are not coming back no matter how any times we cut our corporate tax rates; that's basically just slitting our wrists in protest at this point.  Corporations that stay in America will do so for one of two reasons:

1)  Because they have to.
You can't serve someone fast food in New York from India.

2)  Because they can't find the labor that they need in other countries cheaper.
Because the workers that they want simply don't exist there.  We need an educated, skilled, and flexible workforce.

If we don't let the bottom of the workforce unionize then they're simply going to be exploited by the rest of us.  Some of that cost needs to be passed on to the consumer because we have a responsibility to take care of the least of us.  I'd rather that be happening by the natural forces of corporate and labor relations than having government mandated increases to the minimum wage which are ultimately engines of inflation and an assault on middle income earners (that isn't to say I'm against the minimum wage entirely, I just think it needs to be raised sparingly).

Now, you might think that from my post I've had good experiences with unions in my life or that I am in a union myself.  Neither of those is true.  I've watched my father get treated like crap every time that a union contract is close to expiring because of the flighty pre-Madonna way in which they go about negotiating.  I've seen so many bad teachers in the public education system, such as an English teacher who for some reason instructs high school students on math that ruined many of my friend's ability/interest in the subject.  Because education is so important, I abhor terrible teachers, and I do think that the union protects them in many cases.

We need reform.  I don't think anyone here disagrees with that, but telling people that they can't organize into unions and use their collective influence to bargain with their employer?  That seems like a ridiculous prohibition that denies people freedom in the name of corporate profitability.  I just can't support that.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2011, 02:29:40 AM by Jude »

Offline itsbeenfun2000

Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #52 on: March 09, 2011, 05:44:12 AM »
Something that kicked into my mined as I was reading Jude's comments. The NEA has a PAC dollar that each member of its union may contribute, it is not mandatory, that amounts to $10 per member if they contribute. That is solely for lobbying. The state/national/local dues for my association, yes I am a teacher, is $660.

Jude is right, most of that money goes to negotiations, and legal fees for the association. Each local association is assigned a regional rep that gets paid a salary. He or she usually has a negotiation background or legal background. Of course they have support staff that work with them. So a good amount of our dues go to paying people.

A large amount of our dues go to training local members for leadership positions. Each year the state and national associations have conventions. The people doing the training are of course paid. Before I get the cynical "they are training you to do work stoppages or slowdowns" I teach in Illinois. There has not been a major strike in Illinois for quite awhile. We try to avoid them it is not good for the public relations of the school district or the teachers. A lot of that training money goes into what is called win-win, or mutual interest bargaining where both sides of the table are trained to negotiate mutual interests for the district. The negotiations is not confrontational this way. Until salary it is a problem solving dialogue that takes quite awhile but is worth it because both sides come up with solutions to problems that they can live with. This by the way is what Walker wants to get rid of.

I will also point out that most of the districts have allready taken pay cuts, freezes, or lower raises since the recession.

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Re: General Union Stuffs (was: Scott Walker, Union Buster)
« Reply #53 on: March 09, 2011, 07:50:20 AM »
Perhaps a better question would have been if I'd believed that were the only reason. Relevant to this subject, it's certainly a contributing factor. As are I'm guessing related tax incentives, better tax rates like Ireland or the Netherlands, lower corporate taxes like in China (25%) or Korea (13%) as opposed to the U.S. (35%) and the states additional taxes (up to another 12% more), the RoI from making products cheap and selling them back to American pockets and the capability to store funds in offshore bank accounts to avoid taxes, like General Electric. All of which our legislation has been tooled to allow and needs to be addressed.

All of which would seem to be done to minimise production and other costs, and maximise profits.