Friday, November 20, 2009

Not Your Father's Union

Unions have changed a lot since my father and grandfather entered the work force. We now see unions actually attacking the traditional values they once were instituted to secure.

Big Labor and Big Government Are Officially the Same Thing

Who do the words “union members” bring to mind? United Auto Workers building cars in Detroit? Teamsters truckers hauling freight? Steel workers in Pennsylvania?
Not any more. Newly released numbers show that the actual face of today’s union movement is the teller at your local Department of Motorized Vehicles.
Preliminary estimates of union membership this year show that most union members now work for the government. The overall unionization rate between January and September 2009 stood at 12.4%, unchanged from last year. However, this difference masks a large difference between unions in the private and public sectors.
Union membership has fallen to 7.3% of private sector workers – the lowest rate since Roosevelt signed the National Labor Relations Act into law. But it is a completely different story in the public sector: 37.6% of government employees belong to unions, up almost a percentage point since last year. Those 7.9 million unionized government employees are 51% of all union members nationwide. Most union members today now work for Uncle Sam.
So when unions start lobbying, taxpayers should hold onto their wallet. Government employees don’t strike to get higher wages from a private business – they strike to get higher wages from you. Their pay is funded through your tax dollars. For government employee union members to get more your taxes need to go up. So that is what unions now lobby for. Just take a look at what the labor movement is doing to taxpayers on the Pacific Coast:
In Oregon the labor movement is donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund two ballot initiative campaigns to raise personal income and business taxes. The unions want tax hikes instead of cuts in the gold-plated medical benefits for state workers.
In California the Service Employees International Union spent $1 million on a television ad campaign pressing for higher oil, gas, and liquor taxes instead of spending reductions.
Washington State Democrats, however, have so far resisted the labor movement’s call for higher taxes. In response labor unions are threatening to fund primary campaigns against the Democrats who oppose the tax hikes.
This is not your father’s labor movement. Unions today want higher taxes and bigger government because they are the government.

What once saved middle America now wishes to rob her.

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Anonymous LJinLACA said...

Funny thing about blogging...

Anyone can speak as if an expert on anything. Toss a couple of lightly researched numbers, then begin further deceiving the American Public unlucky enough to read and believe this opinion.

It's true today's Unions are not your fathers. The 50's era American worker worked mostly in manufacturing jobs that presented hardships the workforce were willing to take a stand, join together, and use the federally protected right to organize and bargain for better working conditions.

Sure, there have been examples of Union leaders that lost their way and fell victim to the pitfalls associated with power, however the biggest problems leading to Union membership decline is the unpatriotic shipment of manufacturing and service jobs overseas often at a tax incentive to businesses, as well as people in general not being as in tune with the needs of their fellow workers in the workplace and an overall drop in the ability of Local Union members to effectively represent their memberships or to acquire new one.

American workers desperately need jobs in America, products made in America, and the federally protected right to form Unions and to bargain effectively for better wages and working conditions.

Remember, it isn't Union workers raking in millions of dollars where the value of the work done to earn the money is questionable.

It is the CEO's, Wall Street insiders, and unpaid political wars that are causing the problems.

Live Better, Work Union.. It's not just water...


11:10 PM, December 11, 2009  
Blogger ablur said...


People seem to understand the value of rare items such as gold and diamonds. They understand that being rare and unique things have enhanced value. Each diamond needs to be measured and judged for its unique value.
We don't seem to be able to do the same with people and there unique talents and abilities. We want to lump them all together and act as if they should all be paid and treated the same. This is the common falsehood of unions.
To make matters worse unions no longer seek the interests of its members but often seek pursuits that are outside the needs of the members.
The article points out this very well. Unions seek to tax the very workers who pay their dues. These self destructive practices seem to become more common.

We can also see the way unions work to reduce competition and stifle innovation. America has always been successful because people strive to rise above the norm. Unions hold back those who could make the next big difference.

If all unions did was promote safety and common welfare of its members, they would be a good thing.

4:18 PM, December 12, 2009  
Anonymous LJinLACA said...

Again, the false premise of a talking point misleads the public at large.

1. Union contracts in general are a collectively bargained set of minimums. Union contracts do not limit the company from paying people above scale. Most contracts as boilerplate language state this fact. Again, if the collective elects a negotiating committee, gives a laundry list of requests, and the committee presents these issues to the company, the Union has done its job.

2. Unions pursue actions that are in the best interests of its members. Perhaps you think progressive agendas are not in the members interests - I think it goes without saying most Unions are majority progressive. In my Union, even the conservatives of the bunch realize the need to pursue the progressive goals even if they continue to struggle with the idea of seeming to oppose conservatism. The fact is conservatives in modern times have driven the national deficit down far more than the progressive administrations - from 1 to 4 trillion under Reagan, Clinton kept it below 5 and if his policies would have been maintained or improved, would have ended the deficit by 2002 at a 500 billion surplus per year, and then W plowed it down to over 10 trillion. Now Obama in an effort to pull us back up has to dig a little deeper to point the economy back up. Unions supporting things that will ultimately help EVERY American is absolutely in not only the member's interests, but Americans in general.

Even nature knows there is security in numbers, and power as well. Fish school. Predators hunt in groups. Social pacts exist to survive.

Back to the main point, Unions do provide the safety, job security, and fairness their employees need. The brightest will move on in pursuit of their goals. This almost always requires them to leave the Union job in pursuit of their goals, again because their contracts set the minimums. No employer is going to put wages in a contract that they feel are not fair to obligate. There is a clause in every contract called Management's Rights. The right to pay people more is a right the company preserves, and often times, the company does.

One fact that is undeniable: Live Better, Work Union is a statement that speaks for itself. More Americans would be better off if they formed collectives and bargained for improvements in their situations, supported progressive measures aimed at making their situations better, and reversed things that corporations have lobbied for and gotten that are now the root problem of job loss.

The problem isn't Unions folks. It is talk like this that convinces people to oppose something that is federally protected and is the only organization that can represent workers. There are rules, and there are consequences for breaking the rules. Just ask yourself how in the world did corporations succeed in turning public opinion against a public right to Unionize? Look at the results, and ask yourself the big question, the elephant in the room...


The answer is clear. When your fathers and grandfathers worked in a 33% Unionized workforce, they could raise families on one salary, own homes, send kids to college, and go on vacations.

Now, as the Union density has sank to historic lows, jobs no longer pay enough to raise families, own homes, and real unemployment is 1 in 5 people.

There is no justification to the argument the country is better off without Unions. The country would be far better off if we moved to 40% Unionization. In reality, we just hope more people would see the benefit of what Unions do with a miniscule 1 to 2% contribution from the members. Additional voluntary contributions drive the Union's external agendas, not the Union dues.

That is the reality folks. Don't continue to believe in fighting against the working man's best interests.

9:36 AM, December 13, 2009  
Blogger ablur said...

The world does not function in a vacumm and unions have not been the only change that has effected the well being of the family.

Let's look at your points:
1. The union minimum benefits under achievers and punishes over achievers. The employer has no interest in suggesting higher wages for any because expectations lead to giving it to all. The employer feels modestly balanced by the lesser employee wages because the greater employee fills in the gap.
This laundry list has been used as a hammer rather then a negotiation tool. Simply put companies can not exist without labor and labor can not exist without companies. Both refuse to accept this in balance.

2. The president has no control of finances. The purse strings are in the hands of the legislative branch. Clinton had the benefit of having a republican led congress through most of his administration. They did rather poor actually spending far more then the people wanted but far less then their democratic counter parts during other administrations.

Yes, there is security in numbers but there is also control and domination. Any good military strategist will point this out.

Your history lesson is mostly based on false assumptions at this point.

The reason it takes two wages to survive today has little to do with lost unionization and more to do with government taxation and regulation. Are you aware of the concept of tax free day. Every year it has been pushed back farther and farther. We are now in the beginning of June. Perhaps you should look back at the history of this.

Why have we lost jobs and lost industry in America? Let me answer this for you. America averages 42% tax on business as one of the highest in the world. We have both federal and state business taxes and in some cases we even have county and city. These taxes can be compared against Ireland at 11% tax. Perhaps looking these numbers up for yourself will help.

With your flawed understanding of history, taxes and who controls the purse stings in our government, how can anyone take your view of unions without questioning? Do we want to continue paying more for less? Do we want to remove the incentive from the worker to excel and innovate? Do we want to further increase the tax burden and further stifle our industries and nation?

As someone who has worked in a union shop and a non union shop I can testify to the gross waste and loss of efficiency that comes with the union rolls.

11:56 AM, December 13, 2009  
Anonymous LJinLACA said...

If you can provide data showing that an ATT,ExxonMobil, Walmart, etc. is paying an effective tax rate of 42%, you would convince the world.

Unfortunately, you won't be able to do so, because they don't pay it.

Anyone can look at the payroll tax rates, the corporate tax rates, the state and local taxes if any, add them up, and come up with an astounding number of 42%.

However, you conveiently leave out the tax deductions, credits, loopholes, et al that eliminate chunks of tax liability.

On a percentage, Joe Middle Class who doesn't have the write offs to reduce chunks of his tax liability ends up on a relative basis paying far more in taxes. He doesn't get foreign investment credits that companies have used in the past to move jobs that used to be done by Americans to tax havens around the world.

Since it seems no one else cares to offer an opinion, I'll let it go at this point - the bottom line is your blog raised the difference in your father's or grandfather's Union to the current situation.

You strayed from the point that less Unionization has not created a better job market.

You have no valid argument over why workers benefit from negotiating better terms and conditions of employment other than to suggest being a Union member means you are stereotyped as a unproductive worker.

To have someone work non-union under a individual contract is ok. Most management employees have individual contracts. They get what they get, sometimes including millions of dollars for holding an office for a few weeks at best. This is ok to anti-union forces. This is considered employing top notch people. This is corporate theft, and is what kills companies. You obviously know I am referring to one of the recent bailout banks and the controversy over employee compensation.

Thanks to Unions, we have 40 hour weeks that recognize one third of your week is enough time to labor.

Thanks to Unions, we recognize weekends and holidays as being special time. We recognize overnight shifts as being premium time, and have night differential pay for giving up your natural sleep hours.

The list goes on and on.

Workers, stop being abused, and listening to nonsense that tells you that you are better off being individually picked off like guppies, and fed crumbs while the folks on top feed at the trough buffet style.

Want a history lesson? Consider the definition of a wise investment in a company stock pre-dow 1500. Then consider today's corporate flakes.

What a difference a couple of decades make.

5:03 PM, December 13, 2009  
Blogger ablur said...

Here is the link for the tax rate info by country.

Here is an effective tax rate graph for you.

Perhaps this state by state and country by country cross reference chart would be handy for you.

Unions have done a lot to change the working environment and improve conditions. There existence has greatly improved overall work environments. They seem to have lost there way over the past couple of decades. I don't believe the world would be as well off if unions didn't exist but I also believe that too much of a good thing has stagnated our markets and removed us from a once viable nation.

Let me point out that you have come into my house and constantly challenged by knowledge while providing no bonifides of your own. You have brought no references and continue to talk down at me.
It is very nice that you are able to use all the standard talking points in each of your writings.

I enjoy cross examination for it only serves to strengthen my position because I am willing to bring the facts to the conversation.

6:03 PM, December 13, 2009  
Anonymous LJinLACA said...


I wasn't going to post anymore, but your last post compelled me to respond.

First, I do apologize for dropping into your world and responding to your post. I didn't go looking for the post, it showed up in an e-mail headlines review that I receive.

Second, though I don't agree that you have improved any arguments you have made, I do give you credit for recognizing the impact that Unions have had on workplaces. Many folks cannot concede the simple point that you made.

Having just concluded a 18 month negotiations that improved an already good contract during a very tough economic situation, trust me that I know intimately the balance between the Union mission of pulling wages out of corporate profit, and reaching a tentative deal beneficial to both parties.

Whether or not you agree with the process, this counterbalance to the corporate machine is not only necessary, it keeps companies from destroying themselves. I see more waste committed under the execution of managements rights than I do in utilizing Union workers.

Any negotiations that result in one side or the other taking the process out of balance ultimately changes the company for the worse.

Back to the main point - Unions need to operate more like their fathers and grandfathers did, and companies need to also behave like their forefathers did - build plans to grow, change, and adapt to the future. be a good corporate citizen - build good American products and jobs. Unfortunately, today the corporate mantra is to make a quick killing, take in as much investor money as you can, and then skim huge amounts off the top until it is no longer sustainable. Since the losses have been socialized to the multitude of investors, it is no skin off the kingpin's nose. This is what is killing American business. Companies that expand rapidly that have ZERO intention of repaying the investors. I applaud any company that actually builds for the future.

Unfair "Free" trade is killing the country's job market, and when people lose their incomes, they don't just dissapear from the earth. Society ultimately winds up taking care of these people through social programs, incarceration, emergency room medical care, and other drags on the situation. Lower tax rolls mean less money to provide more services. We are both intelligent enough to know that this becomes a circular problem that is better dealt with when the circle is reduced fiscally.

I think we can also agree that simply reducing taxes proportionaley contributes to less money to maintain the circle. There are balances to everything - which is why job hiring tax credits could make sense, if it spurs job growth to help increase the tax rolls and ultimately helps shrink the circle.

Good luck with your blogging. Just consider the 300 million beside us that make up this complex mess that ultimately I hope that majority of us wants to see working for as many as possible.

9:07 PM, December 14, 2009  
Blogger ablur said...


Perhaps we have more to agree upon then one would think?

Getting off the key talking points and talking about the real goals and ideals brings the two of us into close harmony.

"Unions need to operate more like their fathers and grandfathers did, and companies need to also behave like their forefathers did - build plans to grow, change, and adapt to the future. be a good corporate citizen - build good American products and jobs."

"Unfair "Free" trade is killing the country's job market, and when people lose their incomes, they don't just dissapear from the earth. Society ultimately winds up taking care of these people through social programs, incarceration, emergency room medical care, and other drags on the situation. Lower tax rolls mean less money to provide more services. We are both intelligent enough to know that this becomes a circular problem that is better dealt with when the circle is reduced fiscally."

"I think we can also agree that simply reducing taxes proportionaley contributes to less money to maintain the circle. There are balances to everything - which is why job hiring tax credits could make sense, if it spurs job growth to help increase the tax rolls and ultimately helps shrink the circle."

These are key points we are in agreement. I have even advocated for a job hire tax credit or a tax incentive to put more people to work here on this blog.

The government needs money to operate but it has been so busy taking it has created the very hardship it keeps making programs to resolve. We are currently at almost a 30% tax rate in America. We would flourish if the tax rate fell below 20%. This is the line where I believe single earning families can exist and reduce the employment burden as well.

Instead we see a constant move toward higher taxes and more programs that wouldn't be needed if the taxes weren't so high.

I keep working to make business effective and efficient, while looking to build a better future. You keep working on balancing labor and industry and I think we can meet happily in the middle.

4:47 AM, December 15, 2009  

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