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Union Busting


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There's a big difference between governmental workers and people who actually manufacture items for a living. The people who work for the local and state government actually produce nothing, except for what seems, an endless amount of bureaucracy. Someone sitting behind a desk in Lansing or Washington DC, rubber-stamping paper-work, doesn't need a union.

But someone near-slaving on an assembly line, does.

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Why is, say, a school teacher less essential than, say, someone who makes disposable packaging for mobile phones that will be obsolete in a few years?

And just who are these mythical public servants who do nothing? Other than perhaps a few politicians and senior managers, that is?

Just because you work in an office doesn't mean you don't need a union. From health grounds, there's growing evidence of the various mental health problems resulting from office work, not to mention musculoskeletal disorders. And because of this persistent image of office workers who doing nothing (probably because office work is actually quite varied in product and difficult to describe), everyone's looking for ways to make you into an 'efficiency saving'. And many of the basic issues - pay, hours, holidays, sick leave, respect, etc. - are all the same.

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Hey nemafakei, I agree with you. Why is it every time there is a budget problem, the first reaction is to cut gov't workers? If raising taxes on income just 1% will save the jobs of thousands of gov't workers, why don't we try that first? I'm not sure what Gov. Walker in Wisconsin is trying to accomplish with union busting, but it can't be that good at all? Then everyone is complaining that teachers are getting paid well, or that they can't be fired at will because they have tenure. In Michigan, the gov't is trying to change that by taking away that right. But if workers aren't given the rights of seniority, then it will go back to the way it was a 150 years ago, where jobs went to the highest bidder.

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There's a big difference between governmental workers and people who actually manufacture items for a living. The people who work for the local and state government actually produce nothing, except for what seems, an endless amount of bureaucracy. Someone sitting behind a desk in Lansing or Washington DC, rubber-stamping paper-work, doesn't need a union.

But someone near-slaving on an assembly line, does.

Work is work. It does not matter if they produce goods or services. Any workers can be overworked, or underpaid, or fired without proper cause, or otherwise abused if they don't have a union to represent them. So they all need unions.

Sure, some workers may have higher wages or better conditions than others at the moment, but there is absolutely no guarantee that it will stay that way. Just because someone may happen to have an easier time right now, that doesn't mean they won't desperately need a union later.

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Work is work, it is true. But I don't think comparing someone whose has a very physical job on an assembly line, compares to an office job. For example, putting screws into a bolt, then having a robotic arm screw it into a car chassis; is far harder that someone sitting behind a desk in Capital City, making sure a stack of papers has the right seal or something trivial like that on it. The worker in the manufacturing plant is developing true carpal tunnel syndromes, true muscle fatigue, boredom issues, and repetition issues, whereas the government worker is not, although they may be bored from time to time.

When the manufacturing plant worker is done, for example, on an automobile; that person is one of many craftsmen who takes plastic, metals, glass, and other items; and turns it into a motor car machine. The governmental worker is not producing a tangible good. Sadly, the manufacturing plant worker is flotsam in the marketplace, where price mechanisms are in place, constantly a threat to his wage and livelihood. The government worker has no competition, and his or her only fear is the loss of tax revenue, and therefore tries to ensure through voting patterns, the continuation of that tax revenue.

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When you say that the gov't worker is not producing a tangible product, then what about a gov't tech who is monitoring your drinking water? Aren't they producing clean water for you & your kids? Or someone who is monitoring your air? Do you think they will work for "the cheap" when they had to go to college to get their degree to understand clean air, and how it functions?

How about the teacher that teaches your kid? Do you really want some dummy in there who is a mindless baby sitter basically mindlessly droning on to your children? And if you lecture at a community college campus, which you do, you will be offered a union card on your 90th day, which came and went. Did you refuse your union card? Do not say, "I was not allowed to refuse". You accepted it, with the pay and the benefits that came with it. For someone who nows works for a county gov't, do not put down gov't unions. They serve a function, and they are necessary. These are just 2 examples that I can think of. There are more and more, too numerous for me to think of.

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Police, fire department, road repair, public transport... Correct me if I'm wrong, postal service? I don't know much of this stuff is privatised in your country. Over here the government pays doctors' wages, and I'd be interested to see if anyone claims that they work without providing "tangible benefit."

Just because someone works in an office does not mean that their job is not necessary, and just because someone works for the government does not mean that their employer will not abuse them. Further, work which is physically harder is not necessarily more deserving of a union. Unions are there to protect workers from exploitation, which isn't limited to manufacturing.

But hey, if eras wants to get rid of all the "rubber stamping" government office workers, perhaps he'd like to start with the tax office. Then when the office loses track of everything and accidentally quadruples the tax rate, he might learn to love the quiet little desk jockey who kept the paperwork in order.

Edit: Oh yes, I quite forgot. I actually started a topic on this earlier: http://forum.dune2k.com/index.php?/topic/21770-something-rotten-in-the-state-of-wisconsin/

It was sadly abandoned early, probably because everyone saw eras had replied and headed elsewhere. Or at least, that's what I did.

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In Canada the current Union going on strike problems are with Canada Post (mail service/delivery) and Air Canada.

Funny to see government sending out their cheques (pension/disability/welfare etc) to people in advance in case of strike. I went to bank on a Friday when people had received them and it might have been the longest lineup I've been in.

Toronto, Montreal next postal strike targets

What I don't understand about unions can be examined with current Canada Post strike. So workers want more of xyz and can't come to agreement with employer. But there are private mail service companies (Purolator, FedEx etc), whom are now getting more business because of this. When these type of strikes happen over long periods of time and disrupt normal workflow in which other companies pick up the slack, when the strike finally over, the Employer of Union members will be worse off and thus have to make layoffs. So while the union is fighting for xyz (in the case of a government funded company in which there are private companies that can pick up slack), if it lasts too long the Union is worse off in the long run because of layoffs. This is extremely more detrimental when a privately owned/run company has unionized employees that go on strike and there is competition to fill in the void.

I remember a big strike that lasted months with a large private telecom (ISP/phone etc) maybe 6 years ago. Eventually got resolved but I think the company did a combination of outsourcing call center, and giving work/jobs to private companies (that are not unionized) to do the jobs of unionized employees. So the Union played hardball when it came to getting a better contract, and in the end screwed themselves because someone else can do it cheaper.

Now with in USA with governments trying to cripple public sector union employees, that is different. Especially when big corporations are behind it because they want the jobs privatized so they can make more $ and power. I'm not exactly sure how this is possible to happen in USA. I'm surprised not mass riots. If federal /provincial government in Canada did what some state governments are doing government officials would be out of a job. It has happened in Canada lots. Best example is when on PEI provincial government facing budget crisis cut back public sector wages by 7.5%. Party was voted out and other party had power for 10 years. Constant reminders by public sector employees about the 7.5% cut. Summary: Don't mess with teachers/nurses in Canada as their unions are massive. Ontario teachers union is one of largest investment groups in Canada.

Now if government facing budget problems then sure maybe make cutbacks where needed. But from what I've read, state governments are wanting to eliminate unions and/or take away bargaining rights. Which is not a good thing.

Now an interesting public sector union strike is with Teachers and more important Nurses. I don't know of any non unionized teachers/nurses in my province and I doubt there are many in Canada.

So with these huge unions they can try to play hardball since the government will not and can not get non unionized people to work. But they can't play hardball for long as public support will decline (since they take care of children and sick people).

I think unions are good (especially historically), but when they get a bit cocky and put themselves out of business, I don't feel bad (auto workers were bad for that before recession). I also don't like the mentality of do as little as possible. See some garbage on the floor? If it is not your job to pick it up then you can't pick it up otherwise the janitor will file a complaint (for doing his job).

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No one is saying that unions are bad, because they are necessary. But it is precisely the economy of the marketplace that can curb the excesses of private worker unions, such as the auto industry. I don't think anyone will defend the old system that existed at the Big 3 American automakers in the past. Hourly workers getting a set salary wage, even if no cars were being made or sold; was clearly an excess; and other examples.

But it's different with the government, even teachers. In our state, there are non-union business-owned "charter schools", which receive public money to instruct children. The teachers that work there make 10-15% less that their union-ed counterparts. But they are happy, since there is no built-in animosity between 'management' and 'teachers', or for that matter, between 'tax-paying parent' and 'teacher'. And since there are no union dues for the charter school teachers to pay (which amount to approx 2% of union school teacher's pay), the gap is fairly narrow in pay. With the recent budget cuts that occurred, these charter schools did not complain nearly as bitterly about the cuts, nor were their teachers encouraged to drive to the capital city and spend a day or week protesting.

Curt, as far myself goes, I see myself as an alternative to the major universities. The community colleges will be educating the next generation of Americans, because of tution costs and administration costs are too high at America's colleges. I lecture for a pttance of what a tenured professor does, even though I am covering the same material. Your can see in paragraph 4 how little we part-timers make.

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Andrew - most unions nowadays organise across employers in the same sector. The aim is in the medium term to improve terms across the industry. Obviously, unions are going to fight to defend terms and conditions if they're threatened, even if they're above the industry average, and naturally, in workplaces where there is a strong union there will be better terms which will be better defended so there will always be some disparity - but that is often just a matter of less well organised workplaces - like Eras', from the sounds of it - needing to catch up.

Another important reason why public sector workers are especially important is they're usually the ones who are looking out for public services. Service user groups, where they exist, are often small and have few resources, and importantly, very little actual power. Politicians are up for a quick photo op when a service opens, but cutting budgets, even if it's a really bad idea, is always going to reap political rewards. Between elections, unions are pretty much the only opposition a majority government has to worry about.

"I also don't like the mentality of do as little as possible. See some garbage on the floor? If it is not your job to pick it up then you can't pick it up otherwise the janitor will file a complaint (for doing his job)."

"Work to rule" encompasses several things, and this is sort of one of them. Where you have good industrial relations, and sufficient staffing to manage the workload, then you don't tend to see this. The solution is normally not to get angry at the person who's sticking to their job description, but for the person who has decided that employing enough janitors is a luxury.

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Canada Post locks out workers

Canada Post says that the rotating strikes had caused losses approaching $100 million as of Tuesday's strike in Toronto and Montreal and that the figure was climbing daily.

So if the rotating strike so far cost $100 million. Then I'd expect the lockout for a week or so make the costs go up to $1 billion? (unless a lockout means not paying workers and thus saving money, but at same time not getting any revenue)

So the Union must be wanting over $100 million in increases otherwise Canada post would have given in at the start.

One problem people have is that starting wage is $23. I think that is ridiculous. (I should get a job there!)

Minimum wage in Canada is around $10. So get twice minimum wage to start with.

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Someone in my immediate family (a teacher) almost got fired a couple of years ago because of an escalated personal conflict with a manager, for wich the latter was mostly to blame. The union was outraged after my relative explained the issue to them, and the school's management backed down after an angry phone call from the union.

I generally have right-wing economic views when compared to some of the other posters here, but I don't see how anyone in their right mind can question the existence of labor unions as such.

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I think in America there is a gung-ho, take-the-sky attitude that is unique to the USA. Americans think they have the next best capitalist idea, when actually they are just regurgitating something that someone else has done. Instead of being happy with the "way things are", Americans have a tendency to want to conquer the next frontier. But actually Americans are just using up natural resources to do so. There are a lot of companies like this and a lot of small businesses like this. So this "conquer" attitude is hostile to unions, in my opinion.

But it's rare to find any of them here in the midwest that are anti-auto union. They'll be anti any union, except the auto union, cause the union produces such a large middle class in these parts. But is't that what unions are all about, producing a large "middle class"?

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"So the Union must be wanting over $100 million in increases otherwise Canada post would have given in at the start."

From the article, it's that Canada Post wants to cut that wage you quoted by 20%. This is a defensive strike that CP is prepared to pay - lots - to win, it looks like a deliberate attempt to break the CUPW.

British Airways tried to do the a similar thing recently, and they had a pot of money to absorb losses that was bigger than the terms they were fighting over. In the end, they lost the money, terms stayed more or less the same and the CEO left.

Something you've also got to bear in mind with manual industries like the post is that the top salaries for experienced postal workers aren't that much different from the starting salary. At the end of the day, you've got to make ends meet, pay for food, home, shelter, family, all on that wage. That $23 seems to be about the median wage for Canada, and remember that postal work is not only physically demanding, but you're also paying a premium for unsociable hours and for trustworthiness (I should point out here I'm arguing purely from market economics).

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EO, I think that it's important that you understand that public sector perform a valuable function to state and local employees that are just starting out. They typically start at a wage that is on the lower end of the scale, and it takes years for them to work up to a living and sustainable wage. What I do not like about the current debate about public sector jobs is that there is no fine tuning of the cuts that are being made. To me, the great complaint seems to be against retirees' benefits. Those benefits, like any other type of income, should be taxed to support the infrastructure of the government. I'll grant you, that many public sector employees retire with a windfall in the midwest, with free medical and dental for the rest of their lives. Granted, if they are retiring in their fifties, that is a long time of unsustainable benefits. Probably over thirty years.

What I don't like is the hatchet job that current state administrations are taking to the public sector. Chop here, chop there, without getting into the details. So we have a poor slob who began his public sector job, taking a 10% pay cut, but we have some retiree living high on the hog, not being taxed a dime of earnings, just because seniors have a higher voting record in America. True if a senior retiree is just making it life, give it to them, give it to them. But if they have excess, that excess should be taxed. Our politicians don't have the guts to do this, but they should. But your blanket statements like "rubber-stamping" public sector workers is inaccurate, and volatile. The fact that you have a union card in your pocket right now, are you going to turn it in?

Denis, the whole "enterpreneur" mentality of America is what gave us Henry Ford and the Chrysler brothers, who were geniuses. But on the flip side, the same enterpreneur mentalism gave us the mortgage meltdown, bad housing loans, and Enron. So I suppose you got to take the good with the bad. All in all, many of these start up companies need to be watched, as they remind me of Amway.

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The Curt One, I never asked to join a union. I was given no choice if I wanted to take the job, Now, I'm not making the leap to say that there should be 'right-to-work' states, that is jobs that are separate from union representation. But, by the same token, there is no 'marketplace' to drive down the wages of government employees, they have no competetion like a private sector job has. Ford workers have Chrysler, Toyota, Kia, Fiat, Mercedes, Land Rover, ad infinitum to ensure that they make the best product at the lowest possible price.

What competition does someone have who works for Washington, DC? None. None at all. Allegedly the bean-counters in Congress and of the Presdient are watching over things. But they really are not, because they can simply print more money. There really is no incentive to down-size the size of the government. None at all. The President likes it, because they all vote for his Party.

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You actually believe that? God, and I thought I couldn't be surprised at the depths of your stupidity anymore.

1. Printing money like there's no tomorrow leads to hyperinflation, which is generally what we call a "bad thing."

2. Downsizing government means that more tax revenue can be spent on things like bridges, road upkeep, public charities, hospital equipment, the military, cat food for the parlimentary mouser...

3. Every government employee votes for the government? What planet are you on?

4. And since when was competition such a great thing anyway? It has its place, sure, but there are also places that are better off without it.

Dead puppy count: 7.

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1. Bad thing, that hyper-inflation is.

2. You're right down-size it!

3. I said the overwhelming number of government employess vote Democrat or Leftist. In Canada, it wold be Liberal or New Dem. In the UK, 'twould be Labour or LibDem

4. Competition is a good thing. It sparks creativity, and the advancement of making life easier and simpler for the masses.

God Bless the growing canines.

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Point 1:

So you concede that no government would do it unless in dire straits, and that therefore your original point was invalid?

Point 2:

No, you said:

There really is no incentive to down-size the size of the government. None at all.

And my reply was: Downsizing government means that more tax revenue can be spent on things like bridges, road upkeep, public charities, hospital equipment, the military, cat food for the parlimentary mouser...

You don't get to pretend you were agreeing with me when it turns out I'm right, and you don't get to make assumptions about my point of view on the matter. I was stating the potential benefits of downsizing, not recommending that it occur. As it happens, I believe in expanding public services.

Point 3:

Correction, you said:

The President likes it, because they all vote for his Party.

You didn't say overwhelming, you said all, and you didn't say democrat, you said "the president" without specifying which one. That means you were refering to the office of president rather than the current incumbent and thus stating that all public workers, from teachers to soldiers, all vote for the party of whoever is in office at the time.

That's ridiculous, and your (incorrect) correction only adds to the problem by making an unsubstantiated claim about the voting habits of a vast number of government employees. But you're going to back that up with a study, right? A statistical analysis? Even a newspaper poll. Lets see some evidence of this, because assumptions that huge surely don't just come from nowhere?

Point 4:

You're going to have to do a lot better than capitalist sound bites, especially if they come without demonstration.

Dead puppy count: 11.

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1. I have always felt that the President, who is Obama, would rather have the beginnings of hyper-inflation through expanding the federal deficit, than trim the size of the governmental workforce. He did it in 2010, when he didn't want to lay off any teachers nation-wide, with his stupid one-time handout to the states to resist laying some of them off (see paragraph 4).

2. I have always agreed with you on Point 2. My question is: Do you agree with the overall premise of cutting? Or are you just agreeing that trimming budgets and deficits produces good things for nation states?

3. I am looking at a article for one of the largest givers of any single organization to the Democratic Party. AFSCME - The Government's Employee Union. What a shock? (sarcasm) Do you think that it is different in the United Kingdom, or are you playing 'The Game'? You know The Game. The One where I have to basically present a research paper every time I post, or you get to say 'my point' is lacking, or some other lame excuse. So ultra-tired of The Game.

4. This article says that 2 UK Labour Unions were some of the main leaders against any type of small cut in public spending. Didn't see anyone from the Chamber of Commerce, or the Conservative Party out there with a sign. You're going to have to do better than 'clips from the Left'. Wait, The Left agrees that they love to give money to Labour/LibDem/Democrats. It's only you that won't admit it.

Do I hear the sound of young canines resurrecting? Yes I do. God loves puppies, He just told me so, since I talk and pray to Him all of the time.

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As hard as it is to believe, this is actually a step in the right direction. I mean you're still wrong, but you appear to be at least trying to debate properly. That's more than we've ever seen before.

1. Expanding the deficit is not the same as printing money. Your point is invalid.

2. I actually answered this question in my previous post. Pay attention, numbskull.

To repeat myself: I was stating the potential benefits of downsizing, not recommending that it occur. As it happens, I believe in expanding public services.

In other words, I would rather raise taxes (on corporate and above average earning) than cut services. Savvy?

3. "The game" is actually something quite different, and by mentioning it I'm afraid you lost it.

Also, requiring people to present evidence for their assumptions opinions isn't unreasonable, you know.

Also, as Dragoon said in a rather good rant a few months ago, stop making up words.

Moving on, this is actually something of a red letter day. It's the first time you've ever provided something akin to evidence that was even slightly related to the topic at hand! I mean, it's kind of pathetic and doesn't actually validate your original point, but it is at least possible to infer a connection, which is more than ever before!

Someone inform the press.

Seriously though, if your original contention had been that government employees tend to vote democrat then this might serve to help you (and it's not an unreasonable assumption, though an assumption it is, since job protection is pretty high on a voter's priority list and democrats are generally less inclined to cut government spending). As it is, what you said was that the president (I'll be charitable and pretend that you were actually talking about Obama rather than presidents in general) likes an expanded government for reasons of voter numbers rather than public services. While there is an inferred connection, and that has saved the life of a charming three week old daschund, the article doesn't mention presidential opinion, just union funding.

4. Besides the fact that you're taking one half of a sentence and pretending it's the whole article, does that have anything to do with competition? Does the article mention the broader applications or dangers of competition? It does not. Irrelevent.

Also, that bit at the end? I'm afraid that was two puppies' worth of stupidity.

Dead puppy count: 17.

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God loves puppies, He just told me so, since I talk and pray to Him all of the time.

Is this a joke? Honestly, it's comments like these that make me wonder. Is he some super-dedicated meta-troll? Is he some deranged hipster from Brooklyn who's Colbert-ing the hell out of every idea he loathes? I suppose we'll never know! Dante's puppy-count is a tongue-in-cheek means of capturing your issue-dropping (for him). Don't play into it, seriously, just focus on arguing.

As for meaningful dialogue... I just want to echo Anathema's point from a page or so ago. I'm also something of a fiscal conservative, but even then, I think regulation is necessary for healthy economic growth. I think organized labor has a strong role to play in the wider issue of regulation. That being said: I think many unions have themselves become strange mirror-images of the bloated, corrupt business interests they are ostensibly in opposition with. I think that's a problem, naturally, attacking the concepts of unions themselves is simply ignorance.

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There's a lot of BS going around here. I think I know that some people around here think I am a figment of ErasO's imagination, but I do in fact, exist. In my life I have usually been content to just shut up and sit around eating potato chips and the dip. But honestly, Mr Wolf, do you have to make mountains out of molehills? Give the guy a break. I know, I know, Denis, go and hit on some girl in the corner, your degree is not worth a $hit. Is that your next comment to me?

From what I have read, there is a lot of tag-teaming going on. No, ErasO is not calling me up to tell me what to write. I know how to read. I may not know quite yet how to express myself here, but I'm pretty able to catch on. What's this reversal from Dante about public spending? Is he for it or against it? Seems like yesterday and the day before he was against it, trying to trap the guy. Then what was Dante trying to say, that governmental employees don't vote Democratic? They sure in the #ell should., and everyone knows they do. I'm glad that ErasO offered proof, although anyone and everyone knows they vote overwhelming Dem in the States, and Lib or NewDem in Canada.

Look, ErasO's view are retro in this area. He said that all governmental workers do is "rubber stamp" papers all day? That in and of itself is inflammatory, and wrong. Who is the #ell says stuff like that, only him. But argue the points gentlemen, cause let me tell you, he wrong about this and a whole lotta other stuff. But keep away from all of that other yadda-yadda stuff, it is drying the topic up. It's not good for marketing.

But hey ErasO, give up your union card, give up your membership. You are a governmental employee putting down your union. That is really galling, and wrong.

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