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Old 06-02-2009, 08:13 AM
 
Location: NYC
471 posts, read 856,387 times
Reputation: 294

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Hey everyone.
I wonder what's your opinion about labor unions? I used to think they did a good thing for employees in helping them get better benefits. However, now that I'm dealing with them in two ways: my mother is in a union, which is actually very fair and good and I do consultant work for a government agency so I also see the unions at work for some of the government employees around me.
Here is my take: Unions are a double-edge sword. For instance, with my mom, the union gives her health benefits that she would otherwise not be able to obtain, she also gets vacation, and a better salary. They promote training initiatives, keep her informed of local and federal laws that affect her and her job.

On the other hand, the labor unions I see at that represent the government employees I work with is horrible! They do all the good things my mom's Union does for her but with added side effects. They promote laziness. Yes, their laws are so restrictive that our boss is afraid of telling any of the union members to do their job. The union would protest if he makes comments against their work ethic. If they take "civil service exams" they are pretty much can't get fired. This causes laziness that affects the rest of us of us who aren't union workers because we end up doing all the work.

For example, one of the union employees is also a good friend of mine but he's late to work every single day! He's never been told anything about it. Why? Because the union states that he was supposed to get a review every 6 months, since he hasn't had a review every six months our boss violated that union law, as a result he gets to come into work late and our boss can't say a thing! He's actually pretty good, he does his job, but is constantly 30-45 minutes late. Compared to how the rest of the employees behave he's much better. Some of the others come late and leave early, or even worse, stay the entire time and do the bare minimum.
Another thing, since half the staff is private contractors (consultants) and the other half is union employees, the union has started campaigns all over the city trying to get us fired. Because, we are "less qualified and more expensive". Totally incorrect since most consultants have Bachelor's and Masters degrees with specialties. The unions have caused such a divide that there are some employees won't even talk to us because we are consultants.

This brings me to this forum, what are your experiences with Labor Unions? What do you think about them?
Like I said originally, I think they do great things, but sometimes abuse their power as well.

Last edited by gf1025; 06-02-2009 at 09:08 AM..
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Old 06-02-2009, 08:57 AM
 
Location: I think my user name clarifies that.
8,293 posts, read 22,486,190 times
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I think that labor unions have their place. There are many good things that have come about as a result of these unions being organized and operating. Work place safety, job security and benefits bartering are just some of the pros.

But I also think that there is an extremely serious and destructive downside to unions.

First of all, too many unions convince their members that "forward" is the only direction they can move. While it is the nature of business - and companies - to have good years and bad years, unions expect every year to be a good year. They expect employees to be making more money this year than last, and having better benefits this year than last, despite the fact that the company may be losing money.

In addition, union members too often demand to "move forward" at a pace that is far and above the rate of inflation and/or cost of living increase. This is one of the reasons that General Motors was paying almost double the amount of money, per hour, to build their cars than are the Japanese auto makers.

Second, unions often demand to suck blood out of turnips. They don't seem to care two whits if a company is going broke. Doesn't matter. The union will still demand more money. I can only imagine how many businesses have been driven into bankruptcy by unrelenting unions.

Third, unions can lead to extreme laziness. So not only do union members tend to get paid a lot more, they know they can't be fire, so they turn lazy. Obviously this doesn't always happen, but often it does.

Fourth, unions are known for being extremely corrupt. They often operate "just above" the Mafia - if not actually operating as part of the Mafia.


That's a start...
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Old 06-02-2009, 10:19 AM
 
44,670 posts, read 43,186,116 times
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This is my position. I know why labor unions were formed. Labor unions were formed because the workers wanted better treatment, better pay, better things for themselves. I believe if you put in a honest day's work, you should be paid decently for it and not be cheated. Sadly, many who have owned companies have tried to cheat the worker.
All of that mentioned, I do understand that there are many unions with their own set of crooks who try to do dirty things. There are many crooks in the unions who are greedy and lazy. As much as this is true, the corporations aren't free of guilt either. There are crooks all over corporate USA.
I am not against the idea of unions or unions themselves. I say get rid of some of the workers who are crooks(not the unions) and keep the workers who are honest and work hard. I know what they were formed for and fee like they can be a good thing. If you want to vilify me for being a "socialist" then go ahead. That's where I stand.
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Old 06-02-2009, 10:32 AM
 
Location: I think my user name clarifies that.
8,293 posts, read 22,486,190 times
Reputation: 3869
Quote:
Originally Posted by pirate_lafitte View Post
This is my position. I know why labor unions were formed. Labor unions were formed because the workers wanted better treatment, better pay, better things for themselves. I believe if you put in a honest day's work, you should be paid decently for it and not be cheated. Sadly, many who have owned companies have tried to cheat the worker.
All of that mentioned, I do understand that there are many unions with their own set of crooks who try to do dirty things. There are many crooks in the unions who are greedy and lazy. As much as this is true, the corporations aren't free of guilt either. There are crooks all over corporate USA.
I am not against the idea of unions or unions themselves. I say get rid of some of the workers who are crooks(not the unions) and keep the workers who are honest and work hard. I know what they were formed for and fee like they can be a good thing. If you want to vilify me for being a "socialist" then go ahead. That's where I stand.

There needs to be a balance of power in every organization/organism.

If a company or corporation has too much power - that is without accountability - the employees will be abused. In addition, said corporation will probably care very little for anything other than the the dividends paid to their shareholders.

On the other hand, a labor union that has too much power will simply destroy a company and will, in a weird kind of way, give even more power and control to a competing company that wasn't destroyed by a run-away union.
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Old 06-02-2009, 10:40 AM
 
44,670 posts, read 43,186,116 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omaha Rocks View Post
There needs to be a balance of power in every organization/organism.

If a company or corporation has too much power - that is without accountability - the employees will be abused. In addition, said corporation will probably care very little for anything other than the the dividends paid to their shareholders.

On the other hand, a labor union that has too much power will simply destroy a company and will, in a weird kind of way, give even more power and control to a competing company that wasn't destroyed by a run-away union.
I do agree that there needs to be a balance. Unions should serve to protect the worker and at the same time, do not get greedy. Corporations should practice clean business dealing.
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Old 06-02-2009, 10:54 AM
 
Location: NYC
471 posts, read 856,387 times
Reputation: 294
Quote:
Originally Posted by pirate_lafitte View Post
This is my position. I know why labor unions were formed. Labor unions were formed because the workers wanted better treatment, better pay, better things for themselves. I believe if you put in a honest day's work, you should be paid decently for it and not be cheated. Sadly, many who have owned companies have tried to cheat the worker.
All of that mentioned, I do understand that there are many unions with their own set of crooks who try to do dirty things. There are many crooks in the unions who are greedy and lazy. As much as this is true, the corporations aren't free of guilt either. There are crooks all over corporate USA.
I am not against the idea of unions or unions themselves. I say get rid of some of the workers who are crooks(not the unions) and keep the workers who are honest and work hard. I know what they were formed for and fee like they can be a good thing. If you want to vilify me for being a "socialist" then go ahead. That's where I stand.
Many would call me a socialist too, because of my beliefs in social equality, healthcare, etc. But who makes sure Unions don't abuse their power? Who balances the ones who are supposed to be balancing corporations? They have also become villains in more than one way. I'm actually FOR the employee, I think greed is the worst enemy of mankind but when it gets to the point where people sit at a job for 25 years expecting to receive a paycheck just because they are part of a union, do no work and expect others to do it for them we have a serious problem in our hands. How do we deal with that? How do we deal with inefficiency?
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Old 06-02-2009, 11:01 AM
 
44,670 posts, read 43,186,116 times
Reputation: 14418
Quote:
Originally Posted by gf1025 View Post
Many would call me a socialist too, because of my beliefs in social equality, healthcare, etc. But who makes sure Unions don't abuse their power? Who balances the ones who are supposed to be balancing corporations? They have also become villains in more than one way. I'm actually FOR the employee, I think greed is the worst enemy of mankind but when it gets to the point where people sit at a job for 25 years expecting to receive a paycheck just because they are part of a union, do no work and expect others to do it for them we have a serious problem in our hands. How do we deal with that? How do we deal with inefficiency?
Making sure greed and laziness are kept at a minimum is a hard task. I don't want to see the unions disappear. I also don't want the laziness there either.
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Old 06-02-2009, 11:06 AM
 
48,519 posts, read 81,130,238 times
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If unions want part of the power than they need to take the risk of getting zero like stock holders if the company fails;no pension.If they strike then they should suffer the same as a manager who doesn't show up for work-be fired. They also should have a contract that means they can be fired at anytime to be relalced for non-performamce.
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Old 06-02-2009, 11:45 AM
 
3,706 posts, read 3,034,186 times
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Unions are the natural response to the lack of balance in the workplace, most people know the history of Unions, but don't see the relevance of their existence in the modern society.

We could go on all day as to the innate greed that seems to be more of a human trait than anything attributable to Unions or Corporations. There is no Union "law", there is a contract, signed by both Union and company, yes, company management must adhere to the agreement as well as the worker. That said, people are fired in many large companies for refusing to adhere to the agreement.

I worked at Boeing, many of my friend's were under the impression that no one did anything but goof off, when asked about the fact that we had produced 620 planes in a year, (a record) they just couldn't understand how that fit with all the negative stuff they had heard about the nature of Unionized workforces being lazy, incompetent, etc.

Attendance is one area that Boeing insisted on as a no support violation, if you had too many attendance infractions you were going to be fired. The union would try to represent the worker in all termination cases but there was little they could do when the management, per the contractual agreement, documented those infractions.

I worked for twenty six years without a union, then worked for nineteen in the Union, yes there is a vast difference, when you work for a small company you are subject to the boss' arbitrary decisions, vacation, sick leave, retirement, medical insurance, safety, termination, all being the realm of the owner and how he/she felt about the feasibility to pay for these things. I worked for years trying to get enough to buy a house while the Boss was moving up to lake front homes, boats, grand vacations and plenty of money for his retirement, I had nothing in comparison, and he thought that was the way it was supposed to be.

In the non union jobs, I saw plenty of sandbagging that the boss put up with for one reason or another. To say that the union worker is lazy is to paint the scene with an unusally large brush, smearing those who do produce and give that company an edge in the market. Most of the advances in American society are the work of progressive thinkers, Unions were a part of that group. Through the years they have changed course many times, trying to keep up with the relentless pursuit of more and more profit from outsourcing or offshoring the work.

The other side of Unions is that they are not the sole domain of workers as most people would expect, most business' big and small belong to their own unions of trade associations and other organized constructs that are set up to lobby for their explicit interests, often pleading for labor law exemptions, and money from their respective states governments for help in business development causes.

Abuse of power is often associated with power in general. Historically, those in power have always been those with the money, (see golden rule: he with the gold, makes the rules) Unions for workers are relatively new in the work paradigm, for centuries the worker had nothing to show for his labor, and thus, human social development was set back, with the advent of national law and a bent toward fairness, the US, to our collective credit, was able to protect the worker, the benefit of those protections allowed the greatest surge in human well being to take place.
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Old 06-02-2009, 11:45 AM
 
Location: I think my user name clarifies that.
8,293 posts, read 22,486,190 times
Reputation: 3869
Quote:
Originally Posted by texdav View Post
If unions want part of the power than they need to take the risk of getting zero like stock holders if the company fails;no pension.If they strike then they should suffer the same as a manager who doesn't show up for work-be fired. They also should have a contract that means they can be fired at anytime to be relalced for non-performamce.
This MIGHT be the one constructive thing that is going on with GM right now.

The Union has been (basically) forced to make all kinds of concessions, and in return have stock ownership. If the union workers have a stake in the profit or loss of the company, they'll probably work harder and smarter. And that will benefit everybody.
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