34
   

Why the anti-union animosity?

 
 
edgarblythe
 
  3  
Reply Tue 22 Feb, 2011 07:50 pm
@joefromchicago,
I have been a union member, in the past. I can say the one I belonged to protected us and also kept me from getting unjustly fired, in one incident.
Ionus
 
  2  
Reply Tue 22 Feb, 2011 10:29 pm
@djjd62,
Quote:
even a few folks i know who are members of the union say some of the demands and the perks are ridiculous
Like business men who have their own personal trainer and magnificent "business" lunches, all at the tax payers expense whilst taking home many millions. They also have a lot of perks provided by the company free so they dont have to pay tax on them. Then they rob their company blind and narrowly avoid gaol whilst killing the company. They set quite an example for their workers.

Didnt the highest paid CEO take home 5 billion dollars in one year ?
hingehead
 
  5  
Reply Tue 22 Feb, 2011 10:55 pm
My experience is like Rocky's - I worked in a factory with union representation and I remember watching our delegate drill a hole 4 times so he'd get overtime. That said I also saw members vote against going for a wage rise in difficult economic times. So that membership good, leadership not so good thing held true. I'm now white collar and unionless. Part of our 'good times' free of union strife is because the government acknowledges that wages keep pace with inflation and has a series of mechanisms maintain that balance, so wages aren't the constant bug bear they once were except in certain states in certain sectors (female dominated nursing and teaching spring immediately to mind, fighting historical inequities).

I think unions performed a civilising function post industrial revolution - the statistics on historical workplace deaths are sobering. But wealth of the average westerner increased dramatically post WWII, so often what unions could deliver wasn't as crucial to worker wellbeing as it once was. That said I'd hate to see the union movement fold. So many of our institutions rely on the checks and balances of yin yang relationships and capital v labour is one that needs constant checks and balances.

I did think that Jon Stewart's comparison of Wisconsin unions and Tea Party activism, and the resulting reactions of sections of the media informative and funny:
http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-february-21-2011/crisis-in-dairyland---revenge-of-the-curds
0 Replies
 
hingehead
 
  6  
Reply Tue 22 Feb, 2011 10:57 pm
I should mention that workers in america should be supporting unionism in the countries that stole their jobs - as the developing world's workers conditions improve the comparative advantage of their labour drops. Maybe one day we'll all meet in the middle.
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Feb, 2011 11:01 pm
THere are a lot of rational explanations for the hostility to unions, but there is something deeper as well. I think it has to do with the union culture being communal, and outsiders looking in think that checking your individuality at the door and become a cog in the machine is a requirement. You see the same hostility towards the military for the same reason. People who have been raised to worship individuality see unionism as a threat to who they are and what they believe. I worked in union shops for about 6 years and I often felt this resistance to union fellowship even on the shop floor, sometimes openly expressed. I watch Norma Rae and Matewan and I wish I had seen a lot more of that spirit of fellowship and working together towards a worthy goal on the job. Working to **** the company or keep an incompetent employed never did it for me.
hingehead
 
  2  
Reply Wed 23 Feb, 2011 12:38 am
@hawkeye10,
Quote:
union culture being communal, and outsiders looking in think that checking your individuality at the door and become a cog in the machine is a requirement. You see the same hostility towards the military for the same reason


But not church?
hawkeye10
 
  0  
Reply Wed 23 Feb, 2011 01:03 am
@hingehead,
Quote:
But not church?
I am not sure...I am Zen and the only churches I hang out at are Catholic services on the bases that we have been stationed at, but I have certainly noticed that it is getting more difficult to get people together for activities. And when we do people dont stay as long. It also feels like check the block obligation and not something that people really want to do or enjoy. People still come for mass, but not only do they rarely stay after to socialize but some now skip out the back as soon as they get the communion wafer, dont even wait for the closing.

I feel much less spirit of fellowship than I used to.
0 Replies
 
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Feb, 2011 06:33 am
@Ionus,
i don't agree with that either, i think there should be maximum wages as well as minimum wages
Setanta
 
  4  
Reply Wed 23 Feb, 2011 06:57 am
@edgarblythe,
edgarblythe wrote:
I have been a union member, in the past. I can say the one I belonged to protected us and also kept me from getting unjustly fired, in one incident.


I had exactly the same experience. I agree to an extent with Joe's thesis about resenting the advantages that someone of a similar economic class enjoys, but if we're talking about higher wages, then they aren't the same economic class, so one does need to wonder where the dividing line lies. I mentioned Reagan because when i was a boy, and a young man, unions were not held in the contempt they seem to have attracted since Reagan made union-busting fashionable.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Feb, 2011 07:01 am
By the way, in Toronto, there is a movement to declare the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) and essential service (that would require action by the Provincial Parliament) so that the members of the union would not be able to strike.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  5  
Reply Wed 23 Feb, 2011 09:09 am
@wayne,
wayne wrote:
I remember my father ( a small business man) watching union strikers on the tv in the 70's, guys standing in front of a house in the suburbs with 2 new cars in the drive complaining about their share, his opinion of that wasn't too high.

And what was his reaction when he saw the owners on tv, standing in front of their suburban manses with three new cars in the drive complaining about how the workers were making too much? Oh wait, your father was management, not labor. I can imagine how he reacted.

wayne wrote:
The bottom line is that unions ( not all, but many) did it to themselves. They got just as greedy as the employers they struggled against.

And that's bad because ...?

The capitalist system assumes that everyone is greedy. That's how the system works (remember the "invisible hand" and all that?). Why should the owners be the only ones who are looking for a bigger slice of the pie?
wayne
 
  2  
Reply Wed 23 Feb, 2011 10:38 am
@joefromchicago,
There is a huge difference between management at the level of small business and management in big business. My dad was an exceptional man who never got greedy, rare it seems. I realize the view in Chicago is much different than it is in Kansas. I grew up around small businessmen who employed 5 or 6 guys and worked thier asses off. None of them got rich, and they deserved every penny they earned.

Quote:
And that's bad because ...?


Surely you can see the answer to that question without my help.
Unions are there to provide the workers with good working conditions and a respectable living wage, not as a check on employers' greed.
That is an adulteration of the principle. That's why people don't like unions.
InfraBlue
 
  2  
Reply Wed 23 Feb, 2011 11:51 am
@wayne,
You need to qualify "respectable living wage."
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  5  
Reply Wed 23 Feb, 2011 11:53 am
@wayne,
Quote:

Unions are there to provide the workers with good working conditions and a respectable living wage, not as a check on employers' greed.


It's the same thing. Bad working conditions and poor wages are a top way that employers have traditionally attempted to make money.

Cycloptichorn
joefromchicago
 
  10  
Reply Wed 23 Feb, 2011 12:43 pm
@wayne,
If laborers are making $10 an hour, why shouldn't they want $11? The employers certainly wouldn't mind getting $11 worth of labor for a $10 wage. I don't understand why management can be as greedy as it wants, but labor has to confine itself to a "respectable living wage."
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Feb, 2011 01:02 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
I don't understand why management can be as greedy as it wants, but labor has to confine itself to a "respectable living wage."
That should be a clue to you that the objection to unions is not the reason given. It is something deeper, not fully known in the conscious, is psychological.
Setanta
 
  8  
Reply Wed 23 Feb, 2011 01:03 pm
@wayne,
No, people don't like unions pretty much for the reason Joe gave--resentment. I'd add that conservative Republicans, lead by Reagan, have successfully tarred unions with the greed brush, which is pretty damend ironic considering Wall Street in the 1980s. In fact, your "respectable living wage" is redolent of the concept of "the deserving poor" in the 19th century. And it smacks of a class system in which the greed of capitalists is praised, and the demands of labor are treated as larcenous.
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Feb, 2011 01:30 pm
@hawkeye10,
I know I'm repeating a comment made earlier, but I still think that there is a perception that unions have gone from insisting on appropriate wages and benefits to protecting workers who clearly should be fired and imposing ridiculous work rules. I've seen examples here where workers intentionally damaged ware so that they wouldn't have to work as hard, but they were only given time off. Accident investigations are called "witch hunts" where management is out to get the workers. Engineers face grievances if they use tools on production equipment. All that said, my particular facility has a very cordial relationship with the union and in many cases there are reasonable procedures that work for everyone. (For example, engineers can do what they want on development equipment.) My company has never faced a strike is well over a century of operation but I've heard of other businesses where the relationship is much worse. The car industry is legend for being unable to get rid of poor performing workers. Of course, those businesses agreed to those restrictions, but to the average joe, it looks like the union is protecting those who don't deserve protection. I don't know anyone, union or otherwise that complains about union salaries. In some industries, you make more in non-union plants because management values flexible work rules and wants to discourage union drives.
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Feb, 2011 01:51 pm
@engineer,
Quote:
I know I'm repeating a comment made earlier, but I still think that there is a perception that unions have gone from insisting on appropriate wages and benefits to protecting workers who clearly should be fired and imposing ridiculous work rules
and you are correct. Even more important is the perception that union leadership is more interested in playing politics on the national stage then they are in doing their day jobs, and that they fund this sideline with union dues. You see this in the way they run our pension programs too, where they use the money to fund projects based upon a whole lot of other factors that come before return on investment or the likelihood that money lent by the pension will ever be seen again. The union bosses by and large don't care about what they claim to care about, and they live very well of of our union dues while returning very little of value to the rank and file. Picking fights with management and working to keep every no good bum on the payroll is intended to make it seem like they are doing something for us, but all of the non idiots see through this pretty quickly, as union efforts are not in either the workers or the companies best interest.

But all this does not explain why a third of the population would rather end unions then try to fix them. All this does not explain why new unions did not start up to take over from the old corrupt ones, new unions that could have very easily chosen to do the work that unions were designed to do, that the workers presumably would want them to do.

Something else is going on here.....
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Feb, 2011 02:01 pm
@Setanta,
Quote:
No, people don't like unions pretty much for the reason Joe gave--resentment.
No, but we are in the main practical individual based people, so layers upon layers of regulation on the job plus pay scales that dont give a whit about about who the worker is and how good of a job he/she does rub people the wrong way. We are the USA not the Soviet Union.

We know that it is not resentment because almost no one who is not currently a union member wants to be. You are kinda of the right track but you are still completely wrong.
 

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