The Union thread

To Gary, with love.

Unions are cool and Rollory is a poopyhead.

Unions are a cool idea however they way that they are often implemented in America as a corrupt playground for the incompetent and criminal is very sad.

How is that any different from the government in America?

Very little, except not being government, union corruption is enthusiastically publicized during conservative governments.

Unions, being so weak in America in recent years, really aren’t all that corrupt, a few notorious exceptions aside. For that matter, the federal government isn’t for the most part corrupt, either – it’s not as if the bureacracy suddenly turns evil just because the cabinet does.

I just wish the union members would stop slashing my neighbor’s car tires, vandalizing his house, and making death threats to him and his family because he went back to work. It’s getting tiresome to help him clean the spray paint off his house, and he just seems like a simple, decent guy who wanted to go back to work. I don’t care if they hate him for what he did; the middle of the night telephone calls wherein his daughter learns that someone should blow daddy’s head off seem a bit over the top.

There are good unions and bad unions. The idea of unions/collective bargaining in general seems perfectly reasonable to me, but like pretty much anything where money is involved, corruption is possible and there needs to be oversight.

Probably thanks to unions, Chrysler killed the Dodge Magnum and the Chrysler Crossfire, Pacifica and PT Cruiser convertible.

Unions: please take out the standard PT Cruiser, next.

Unions are a cure worse than the disease.

Here’s what I don’t get:

You have a union so that nobody gets screwed too badly. Likewise, it ensures that nobody gets too far ahead, either. Since the business has to raise all boats at once, it tries to raise them as little as possible. Eventually it’s far enough out of sync that there’s a strike, the union refuses to work.

So far I get it, but the bad part is that the union then actively, sometimes violently, forces people to not compete with their members. I’ve never quite wrapped my head around how that’s different than the mafia.


Around here that’s when the police crack some heads with their batons.

Of course things can vary a bit… on my white collar place I can ignore strikes and get whined at, if they notice at all… But miners, metalworkers and such bring homemade rocket launchers when they picket…

I don’t understand why an organization (a corporation) can represent the interests of a group of people (stockholders) and use their collective might (capital) to influence the market place but somehow it’s bad for workers to do the same.

I understand that there are negative consequences to unions, but the sames true for corporations. Why should one group of people be allowed to organize but not another?

You must have missed the part where I referred to corporations like you describe as a disease.

But how are unions worse? That’s my question.

Edit: Or more accurately, so worse we shouldn’t allow unions to organize?

I thought abusive management was the disease, and corporations were the host. Or maybe society is the host, and then the free market economy is the rainforest, and overregulation is a horde of diseased monkeys. No, wait. Overregulation is deforestation, the Chinese are the Ebola monkeys, and unions are the large mammals dying off as the white-collar caveman learns to make spearheads out of paperclips. America is Africa, naturally.

Either way, the cure is a syringe full of Ayn Rand and a diet of gumption and bootstraps.

I work in a non-unionized IT position for one of Canada’s “big three” telecom companies. My equivalents in the Eastern division of the company are unionized, and recently they started a push to organize in the West. Amongst my immediate coworkers, any attempt at unionization would be soundly rejected, but if the union can secure 51% support from the larger business unit, we’ll be forced to join the union whether we like it or not.

Frankly, I have no need whatsoever of union protection. I’m not a coal miner working in dangerous conditions; I work a white collar job where I earn a competitive salary, and though I rarely have to work overtime or carry a pager, when I do, I am fairly compensated for it. If I was unhappy with my workplace, I’d look for a new job.

Prior to working here, my last IT position was also non-unionized. When my coworkers and I discovered that our immediate competitors in Calgary were paying 15-20% more to their staff who performed the same job function as us, instead of attempting to organize or strike or whatever, many of us simply looked for new employers (as I did).

So why should I be forced to sign over a portion of my salary to a union whose protection I do not need, and when – not if – they vote to strike and I choose to cross their picket lines, why should I (and my family) be met with intimidation, potentially have my property vandalized, and have my workplace environment and relationships with my striking coworkers poisoned after the labour dispute has been resolved?

Finally, why should I be forced to accept the union mantra of seniority trumping competence? Fuck that, and fuck unions.

Unions bring employees up to the same level. Put another way, they bring employees down to the same level.

Personally, I’ve run into problems with union bullying, combined with an unfair fee structure (services not commensurate with dues, which are a percentage of pay) and required “non-member” dues because Washington isn’t a right-to-work state. I’m all for collective bargaining, but not for nasty-grams and continual harassment by union reps.

  • Alan

My Dad had to have police protection during strikes at the newspaper where he was an ad exec due to threats against the staff there. (He wasn’t a union member, and it wasn’t his employees striking. Didn’t bother the @$$wipes who threatened the newspaper execs.)

My wife is currently in a hospital position where her yearly raises are determined by union agreements, rather than merit. So whether she works her ass off (as she does) or does the bare minimum, her reward is the same.

I think there was a time when unions were very important and beneficial for labor.

But that was about 80 years ago.

This is probably the wrong board to champion unions in. Most posters here are middle class, educated and mobile- all the things you need to be before you can claim that unions are a blight on society.
I suffer from that small ‘l’ liberal guilt where I often think ‘but for the grace of God, there go I’ and I think that less intelligent, less ambitious, less assertive, less socially adept or connected people shouldn’t be taken advantage of. Also that ‘do unto others’ thing that a certain prominent Christian said also tends to make me think that we shouldn’t be siding with the people that exploit human traits for profit*. And I’m the left-leaning atheist here too. Funny world, isn’t it?
So yeah, unions are terrible because some of them have thugs in them. Unlike those corporations under which everyone gets rich! And if you don’t like your job, get another one! etc.

*Of course, I’m a hypocrite and would fire a few of my non-working coworkers immediately were I given the power, but I’ve also seen what nepotism is, and any gaps created would be filled by cronies. It’s not like any system is perfect.

I haven’t felt the need for a union myself, as I feel like I hold enough bargaining power on my own, so I don’t really feel qualified to discuss them.

Instead, the one level on which I connect with unions is an admittedly emotional one. I think of my aging mother and wonder just how badly off she’d be if she didn’t have the security of the union behind her. She does her job competently enough, but I still wonder if that would still be sufficient to protect her from a management wanting to cut costs by hiring cheap, young workers.