Are You For Union Busting?

@anniepa (27238)
United States
December 23, 2008 11:25pm CST
Here is an "action alert" memo sent by a Republican lobbyist right before the failed vote on the big 3 bailout: "This is the Democrats’ first opportunity to pay off organized labor after the election ... a precursor to card check and other items. Republicans should stand firm and take their first shot against organized labor, instead of taking their first blow from it." The message is clear - "Don't blame us, blame the UAW". http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20081213/pl_politico/16545 No matter where you stand on all the government bailouts, loans or whatever name they come up with for handing out our tax dollars to those who didn't know how to manage their money or their businesses one thing is clear: to some of those in power there's a definite double standard, one for the banking industry with their corporate jets and seven and eight figure BONUSES and another for blue collar unionized employees who are being vilified for being overpaid and greedy. In every conversation or discussion about the automakers' woes it always comes back to the UAW and how they should make more concessions, it's their fault the auto companies are in trouble, ya-da-ya-da. Never mind management's corporate jets, management's huge salaries and bonuses even while thousands of WORKERS are being laid off and managements MISMANAGEMENT - it's the unionized workers' faults! There were no conditions placed on TARP, at least none that could be enforced, and there hasn't even been any accountability of where the money is going but the automakers get a tiny fraction of what Wall Street got only with very heavy strings attached. To be honest I'm fed up with all of these bailouts or loans already. I don't think anyone should be handed billions of our money without being held accountable for what's done with it and without having some hope of getting something back from it. I also don't deny for one minute that some unions, the UAW chief among them, have been known to demand too much. While they have made concessions I don't doubt they could and should make some more especially given the condition our economy is in right now. However, what I'm detecting lately is another push to bust the unions like I remember from when Reagan fired the Air Traffic Controllers in the eighties. Unions aren't perfect and some are better and some are worse than others and some companies are great places to work without union protection. I'm afraid those companies are the exception rather than the rule in these days of corporate greed. In other words, I'm afraid some people would be horribly abused and misused by management without union protection. This is only my opinion and I'd love to read yours. Would you like to see unions and the right to organize vanish completely? I have a feeling that anyone who has ever had a really bad experience with a rotten boss will answer "NO" to this. Annie
3 people like this
8 responses
@Arkie69 (2156)
• United States
24 Dec 08
The big 3 auto makers are in trouble for one simple reason. They have increased the prices of their cars so much and the economy has tightened up so much the average person can no longer a afford to buy a new car. Way too many gadgets on cars that boosts the cost to build them. They need to build a simple car that gets good gas mileage and lower the price where people can afford them. Also people tend to forget that all the multi million dollar 30 second adds on TV must be paid by the consumer. The big private jets, the high union wages are all tabs you pick up when you buy a new car. They have simply priced themselves out of the market. There is only one cure for that and that's to lower their prices. A bail out is not going to correct this problem no matter how much money you give them. If India can do this so can the big 3 in the US. India sells a new car that seats 4 and gets 60 MPG and the sticker price on it is $2,500. I know it's small but it is perfect for city driving getting to work and back. Look it up on the internet. They call it the TATA.
• United States
24 Dec 08
Arkie, I would have to disagree with you on this one. This isn't a big three problem, it is an industry problem. Toyota (not a memeber of the big 3 last time I checked) announced their first ever loss, and has received billions from the government of Japan. This has to do with the credit crisis, more than Detroit. If you listen to the dealers talk, they can sell the cars, they just can't get them financed. If the banks would do their job and lend the hundreds of billions of dollars that they have received from the American people (who now won't tell us where that money went, or what they plan to do with it), these companies wouldn't need this money. The big three is competeing with companies that have been subsidised by their government in their home country, and by southern states that gave them hundreds of millions in tax breaks to bring them jobs (funny how it is now these same southern states now have huge budget deficits, I wonder how this happened?). The big three have provided millions of good paying jobs to Americans, and has personally subsidised their medical insurance. Republicans should thank the Big Three for paying for the health care that they WON'T. These car companies have to pay for thing things that their competitors don't. We should thank them for taking care of so many Americans, instead of attacking them. If it wasn't for the big three, we would all be speaking German right now!!!!!
1 person likes this
@Arkie69 (2156)
• United States
24 Dec 08
I agree with most you say but this thing goes a lot deeper than the car makers. It is effecting the sale of all consumer goods. Our biggest problem is the fact we were all spending way too much on junk items we really didn't need. Our economy was surviving off the sales of these items. The economy made a natural correction and people no longer have the money to buy all the junk. This is causing our economy to crash. The one thing I have against the Unions is the fact they have a big hand in creating inflation with the forced wage increases. They are not the only ones but they have a big part in it. If we will let our economy alone it will handle inflation but we don't. They are always trying to prop the economy up to stop a small recession. These little recessions is simply our economy putting everything back in balance. The cost of living increases faster than wages, we are forced to cut back on our spending and down goes the economy. That is exactly what is happening right now. The longer we go between recessions the more effect it has on the people. They have tampered with the economy so much in the past few tears now it is going to hurt us bad. It isn't any one or two things to blame. It is many thing that are all the product of greed.
1 person likes this
@Arkie69 (2156)
• United States
26 Dec 08
I agree with you about Bush but anything that increases the price of anything be it bubble gum or wages which increase operating costs is causing inflation. The consumer is always the one that picks up the tab on any increase price no matter what it is and no matter the reason for it. As the price on consumer good increase they do so faster then the wages. When this happens people must cut back on what they buy. This is what brings our economy down. He have heard a lot about the price of gasoline but why have we not heard anything about the price of diesel fuel? I'll tell you why. The price of diesel fuel increasing in the past several months is exactly what has cause the price on all consumer goods to go up. At some point everything we buy has been on a truck. The trucking companies being hit with this huge price increase for their fuel is exactly what has increased the price of the consumer goods. Diesel fuel is staying a good bit higher than gasoline. The people that produce the diesel fuel are taking advantage of the fact we must have the fuel to survive. You let the trucks stop and see how long it takes the super market shelves to empty. We need laws on the books and people to enforce them that will protect the people from this kind of thing. Instead of working for the people on this our government had rather line their own pockets with it. It all boils down to you and I, the consumer. We are too willing to sit on our hands and depend on someone else for what we need. In case you haven't noticed our paid employees in Washington, the state capitals and city government are not doing the job we are paying them to do. It's time we stepped up and demanded they either do the job we are paying them to do or get out of office. Before we start trying to blame someone else for our problems we first need to take a long look in the mirror. That's the one that is to blame for doing nothing to stop all this crap.
1 person likes this
@ZephyrSun (7385)
• United States
24 Dec 08
I have mixed feelings about the unions but, these loans to the automakers are not the fault of the UAW. Should we blame the UAW because Toyato had a bad year in 2008? lol I personaly do not like to work places that have a union but I do not believe that the union can cause such problems if that were true than the financial systems would not be in trouble right? lol
1 person likes this
@anniepa (27238)
• United States
26 Dec 08
It seems everyone's ignoring the blatantly political motives of McConnell, Shelby and Corker. They want the union shops to fail because it will benefit their states and their personal campaign funds yet they go on TV and put on the act that they're concerned for the taxpayers. What frauds! Anne
@bobmnu (8160)
• United States
24 Dec 08
Back in my young and foolish days I was a Union member and even had a chance to see the inner working of the Teachers Union. One of the things that was negotiated was that they Union would type up the final contract and the school district would approve. We were told to make it longer and to include appropriate state laws in the contract for the benefit of both sides. Of course the law was cited but was written in plane English. In one district, as an administrator, I was asked to review the contracts over the last 10 years. One thing I notices was that commas were omitted and words were changed each year in sections that were not changed in negotiations. Such thing as "must" became "may", a duty free lunch became a duty free lunch period (state law required a duty free lunch of 30 minutes while the lunch period was 45 minutes). We were told to demand vision insurance even though the cost was more than the benefit. When faced with layoff and the teacher wanted to take less of a raise and keep staff we were told we could not or we would lose all or protection from the Union. My wide has to belong to the Union and her dues are more than her yearly raises. My daughter, also a teaching Union member went to the union to help with a problem with another teacher. She was asked to sign a statement that the problem was caused by the administration. When she said it had nothing to do with the administration she was warned that the Union would not back her in any action against the teacher. In answer to your question I would say that Unions do more harm than good. Unions don't want to solve problems they want to cause friction between workers and management.
1 person likes this
@anniepa (27238)
• United States
24 Dec 08
The teacher's union is one where I've heard of many problems such as the kind you described and we have several local districts right now on strike or who have been on strike as long as state law allows and all they've accomplished is hurting the kids. Their demands for salary increases and health benefits with NO premiums or copays at all are unreasonable, at least for in our area when you consider the media income of the people whose taxes are paying their salaries. That having been said I still have to disagree very strongly with your last two sentences. You wrote, " Unions don't want to solve problems they want to cause friction between workers and management." In my experience management does enough on their own to cause friction between themselves and the workers and if there wasn't someone to rein them in the workers wouldn't have a prayer. Annie
• United States
24 Dec 08
Bob, I personally think that Unions have helped the country in more ways than you will ever know. I know up north you didn't have problems with companies forcing workers to work 10 to even 20 hours a day, but down here it has happened in our past. Unions help the average working man to defend his job, and helped build the American industrial industry. There are people down here (we call them republicans) who feel that we should build up communist countries by sending our industrial technology to these countries, and we should destroy blue collar working class Americans. This last election was about this, and the American people told Republicans where they can go. You have a strong labor class up there in Canada, and your country has fought communist companies like Wal-Mart. Maybe you should spend some more time talking to your fellow Canuck.
1 person likes this
@irisheyes (4373)
• United States
26 Dec 08
The problem with unions making concessions is that once they do a give back, they can just forget about ever getting that benefit back. When good times roll around again, management always gets its bonuses and perks back but the union never seem to get what they worked years for restored. In the case of all these bailouts, it's pretty darn obvious that the big guys are giving up nothing to begin with. They are travelling to beggars meetings in private jets, booking expensive spa weekends and getting hugh bonuses. So why should the unions be asked to give back anything? It IS a serious attempt at union busting and I really hope the unions stand firm. They've been really smeared. That bit about the $70 per hour wage made it look like they were getting it in cash. If you total benefits into a minimum wage job (If there are minimum wage jobs with health care and retirement), you'd come up with a huge hourly rate. About a year ago there was the first serious attempt to come up with a workable health care system. It was the first time business and unions worked together within the same organization toward a common goal and it was headed by a labor leader. I really hope that this whole blame game doesn't foster such bad feelings that that things like that can't go forward.
1 person likes this
@anniepa (27238)
• United States
26 Dec 08
You're so right about how once something is given up by union members it's given up forever! I could write a whole page full of examples of that from my 18 years as a letter carrier. Temporary employees can be hired for six-month terms, otherwise they have to be put into the union and given better wages and benefits; oops, let's allow them six months, "lay them off" for a week, then bring them back for another six months, that way management can continue using them. Let's limit how many temporary employees there can be - but now we need more, just for awhile... That $70+/hour wage everyone keeps talking about regarding the UAW is arrived at by taking all that's paid out in wages and benefits to current workers plus what is paid out in pensions and health benefits for every retiree or family member who's still living then dividing it by the hours worked by those who are still working. Of course, by using this method for the foreign auto companies you'll come up with a much lower rate because they haven't even been in existence in the U.S. for that long so there are very few retirees in comparison to the Big 3. Today's favorite punching bag is the UAW so people will accept whatever they're told without question. Annie
@suspenseful (40316)
• Canada
26 Dec 08
I am more for the company offering the employees shares in the company. If there are rules set down such as hours worked, overtime, etc. holiday pay, and the demands are not that great, unions are all right. WE are not back in the thirties when the bosses made exuberant wages and the workers worked for slave wages. The trouble with unions is when they demand that their members all vote for one party, in the States, it is the Democrats, in Canada, it is the NDP. and they do not give anyone else the chance to opt out. For instance, some feel uncomfortable giving the Unions the respect usually given to God, and some want their union dues not to support certain things that should be voluntarily. So if the employees get shares in the company or partly own the company, then everyone works together, they know if they demand too much the company fails, and the company knows if they do not give the workers a decent wage, the employees are discontent.
@anniepa (27238)
• United States
26 Dec 08
I'm afraid you have it backwards - today the executives make many, many more times more than what the actual workers make as compared to years ago. The gap has been getting bigger and bigger in recent years. Unions can't possibly force anyone to vote for a particular party, we have a secret ballot, and union dues do not go to political campaigns, there's a separate fund for that which is completely voluntary. As a union member for many years I know these things for a fact. It's bosses who think they're God and who take pleasure in destroying people's lives which I say makes them more like the devil. Annie
@iriscot (1290)
• United States
25 Dec 08
My feeling is mixed about the unions in some cases I think the unions are necessary and they do give the worker some protection that is needed. Then I remember the bad experiences that I had with the union workers and their reps. As a former businessman who owned a retail sales and service company there were two things that really bothered me. Our building burned because of poor wiring in the next door building. I was warned that I should hire a union contractor to rebuild my building or the union would strike my business. I hired a union contractor and after my business was up and running again, not one of the local workers who worked on my building bought a product from me, they bought from the most anti-union businessman in town. (That hurt) I lost two good customers who were not union contractors as customers. Another thing was that the union tried to force me to hire union truck drivers to drive my servicemen to and from jobs. (that was rediculous). I have two sons who work in union shops, one is a machinist and the other an auto body repairman. They both tell stories pro and con about their union reps and things that are being done. My mother worked in a shoe factory that wasn't union and it was a "sweat shop" with poor wages and long working hours and conditions. It should have been a union shop, but it was an old company. The factory shut down several years ago. I agree they've been too easy on the CEOs and giving all of that money without guidlines and restrictions was true to the pattern of the wealthy taking care of the wealthy and not caring about the working class. It seems they were holding the workers hostage until concessions were made. There are a few things that the unions should take a look at and probably pare down to help the cause. It seems typical of what the republican leadership does when it comes to helping the working class and filling the coffers of the wealthy. I think the CEOs should have to refund most of the money they skimmed off of the top even if they have to sell off property to do it. It seems they are "thieves in the night" so to speak.
1 person likes this
@Bd200789 (2994)
• United States
24 Dec 08
I agree with you. I don't think the unions caused this.
1 person likes this
@anniepa (27238)
• United States
26 Dec 08
They're certainly not the whole problem. I think the banking industry caused their own problems and they've also been responsible for some of the problems of the automakers. For the vast majority of us if we can't get financing we can't buy a new vehicle, simple as that. Annie
• United States
24 Dec 08
Working people need protection, and unions seem to be all there is. Florida is a right-to-work state, so union membership can not be mandatory. This seems to be the ideal. Employers would like to be rid of unions so they can be the only ones making decisions. However, without the protection of union membership, most of us would be back in the nineteenth century, working insane hours and always on the brink of losing a job that pays as little as possible. Our unions fight for benefits and working conditions. In these hard times, with so many people out of work and more fearing unemployment, employers are getting away with minor or major infractions violating contracts, but I think they're relying on fear of job-loss to try to get away with it. At my job last week, we received a memo that said the system overrules the union, so if we don't do certain things becasuse our union contract says we're not to do so, we will be charged with insubordination, which is one of the very few things a teacher's job can be terminated for. The union's only response so far is that they're angry -- so what? We teachers are still doing things we know are wrong in our classrooms because we're under threat!
1 person likes this
@anniepa (27238)
• United States
26 Dec 08
It looks like your union is a lot like the NALC (letter carriers union) - far from perfect but still better than nothing. Annie