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Labor Pains

While everyone else is falling over themselves heaping praises on unions on this Labor Day, I find myself asking "what the hell is the big deal?" As I work a Tuesday through Saturday schedule, this means that the holiday is actually annoying me, as I can't do the normal stuff I do on my day off.

In that suitably cranky spirit, I want to bring up the big cause that the unions rallied behind recently -- the Orwellian-named "Employee Free Choice Act."

In case you missed it before, this wet sloppy kiss to the unions was intended to make their job of recruiting new members a whole lot easier across the board. One of the measures was the elimination of one of the most pesky obstacles -- the secret ballot.

Under current rules, the employees at a work place get to say -- in a government-overseen election -- whether they wish to join the union or not by secret ballot, largely immunized from intimidation from either side. But if the unions have their way and this bill passes, all they will need is a majority of signed union cards, and they're in like Flynn.

I'd be more concerned if unions had a history of violence and intimidation, but fortunately we've been spared that. Their leaders have been honest, forthright, decent people.

So, folks, enjoy your holiday. Just remember that today's union leaders have far more in common with the oppressive exploiters who inspired the first unions than the brave men and women who rebelled against them -- and whose legacy they claim to have inherited.

(Prior discussion here)


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Comments (32)

It's all a corporatist plot... (Below threshold)

It's all a corporatist plot.

Why were the unions first s... (Below threshold)

Why were the unions first started? Was it because the men and women working decided they just wanted more money, or was it because they wanted safer working conditions, less hours of work per day, etc?

Or was it because there were few labor laws at the time that protected the American workers? Or that company owners were taking advantage of the workers?

Just wondering is all.

Dare I say, Labor Day is pa... (Below threshold)
La Mano:

Dare I say, Labor Day is passe.

Posted by La Mano | Septemb... (Below threshold)

Posted by La Mano | September 3, 2007 11:58 AM

Da, comrade.

I get the distinct pleasure... (Below threshold)

I get the distinct pleasure of WORKING today. Not that I'm complaining, as someone has to keep the lights on.

Thanks, ExSubNuke! We appr... (Below threshold)

Thanks, ExSubNuke! We appreciate it!

As the NRO editorial I linked over at Politics notes, only 15% of dues collected by unions now goes to collective bargaining and other workplace issues; the rest is spent on political advocacy, nearly always for socialist programs and Democratic candidates.

The late George Meany wouldn't be a happy camper.

The <a href="http://www.opi... (Below threshold)

The original union leaders weren't that nice a bunch, either. Not saying the owners were much better, but I prefer to have one boss to two.

Labor unions are the world'... (Below threshold)

Labor unions are the world's best bargain for working people. For small monthly union dues, usually about $20-30 a month, unionized workers generally earn far higher wages, earn retirement pension checks in the range of $1,700 a month or more, receive paid health care for all family members, have better job security and have greatly increased workplace safety protections against injury or death.

The recent nonunion mine accidents in Utah and last year at the Sago Mine are good examples of the pathetic state of some nonunion workplaces. My own best friend, a Christian minister, was cut in half in a nonunion machine shop accident producing aircraft parts for Boeing in an accident that would have been highly unlikely in a unionized workplace. Boeing contracted with this nonunion shop to save money. But it took the life of my best friend in a ghastly manner. It left a wife without a husband, and a church without an associate pastor.

Maryland, a unionized state has a median income of $65,144 compared to the living wage hell of many right to work states like Mississippi where the median income is just $33,659 by comparison. Half price wages for just as much work is only a bargain for the employer.

Many nonunion workers work just as hard as unionized workers, but bring far less money home to their family and often have to depend on state welfare services such as public health care programs or food stamps to survive. In addition, a far higher percentage of nonunion members are merely renters compared to most union members who own their home or homes. While many nonunion members stay home and watch TV on days off, many union members can afford great vacations flying to Hawaii, Paris or London or other great vacation spots.

For the tiny $20-30 a month in union dues, no greater bargain exists for working people than belonging to a labor union. Period.

Many in the religious community have always expressed strong support for workers and for fair wages and safe working conditions for them. Wage justice is an important moral issue for America to consider on this Labor Day. Labor unions are an important link to the American dream for many working people. A make or break issue for most working people in fact.

Most unions are not interes... (Below threshold)

Most unions are not interested in helping their workers. They've become shill organizations for Democrats. So beyond keeping the headcount high so they can claim more importance within the party, they have little interest.

Case in point, the United Auto Workers. The Democrats are passing absurd fuel economy standards which will be difficult for automakers to meet and also taxing the price of gas as the same time. Basically auto companies will have to sell more cars. Since the US only has a level playing field in Trucks and SUVs, its the only market the US automakers can make a profit in. So basically this legislation will translate to lost jobs.

Yet the UAW will unfailingly support the Democrats. And the sheep will go along.

Unions have become politically centric and no longer are looking out for their workers.

A suggestion for Jay -- tak... (Below threshold)
Richard Romano:

A suggestion for Jay -- take tomorrow off ;)

Ah, Paul, when you sing the... (Below threshold)

Ah, Paul, when you sing the praises of unionization, don't forget to mention that they managed to price themselves out of tens or hundreds of thousands of jobs and now the big three U.S. automakers are looking up the ass of Toyota and Honda. Don't forget the Steelworkers either. Now foreign steel is such a better bargain thanks to them. For all those union benefits, the U.S. companies couldn't update facilities or compete in the world market. Been to Gary, Indiana lately?

"Been to Gary, Indiana late... (Below threshold)

"Been to Gary, Indiana lately?"

. . . and lived to tell about it?

If unions are 'so great', h... (Below threshold)

If unions are 'so great', how come they are so afraid of sealed bid contracts?

I see Hooson is again repea... (Below threshold)

I see Hooson is again repeating his baseless assertion that the Utah mine accident occurred because it was non-union.

Notice that he does not address the question of why unions would want to destroy the principle of secret balloting.

I have yet to have a positi... (Below threshold)
Etain P:

I have yet to have a positive experience with unions. Unions are supposed to protect me from the evil corporations, who protects me from the union?

paul, most unions are a cro... (Below threshold)

paul, most unions are a crock. i lost 2 jobs becuase of unions. the first is because the union wanted me to pay full time dues for a part time summer job. it would have ended up being about 1/3rd of my take home pay. not really in my interest, eh? and not something i could afford.

the second job, i lost becuase the company i worked for couldn't compete with the union shops. not because of our work. in fact our work was better than their's. not because of our prices. we came in competitively, usuially having the best bid for the subcontract work. no....we couldn't compete because our installers did NOT want to be unionized. they got better pay and benefits than the union shop, and they didn't have to pay dues. hell, at one point our owners were talking to them about unionizing just so that we could bid on the union jobs.

so don't feed me that bullshit about unions being a good bargain.

Which is more valuable to w... (Below threshold)

Which is more valuable to workers in their interaction and bargaining with management: a union, or the threat of a union?


Unions reward mediocrity by... (Below threshold)

Unions reward mediocrity by ensuring that everyone gets the same pay, regardless of how good - or bad - they are at their job. That has the same effect as communism - it kills incentive. You're not going to work your way up to better pay so why bother working hard?

Rather than an anti-union r... (Below threshold)

Rather than an anti-union rag on Labor Day, why not discuss the Patriot Corporations Act, a bill to save the exportation of American jobs w/ tax incentives which you Republicans love?

That would be a far more suitable discussion for Labor Day. This post is like discussing lives wasted in vain on Memorial Day.

Rather than an ant... (Below threshold)
Rather than an anti-union rag on Labor Day, why not discuss the Patriot Corporations Act, a bill to save the exportation of American jobs w/ tax incentives which you Republicans love?

AverageFried, then why didn't you put up a link for it and give us a blurb that piqued our interest in reading it.

Or, are you waiting for someone to do it for you, since you've done your part, which is apparently pissing and moaning 'cuz you don't like what the blog contributors are presenting for comment.

But then, from AverageFried, I would expect no different.

The unions 'were' the best ... (Below threshold)

The unions 'were' the best thing to come along for the American worker. Now the leadership has been replaced by the mob, the mafia and every other criminal interprise in the country. All they do is rip off the American worker and then dump their retirement on the taxpayers, while the 'so called' leader retire with their stolen millions.I watched the unions grow and watched them turn into total criminal organizations. Time to watch them die.

Comparing the labor situati... (Below threshold)

Comparing the labor situation in Maryland to that in Missippi is really quite stupid, Paul. You don't really think they're comparable, do you?

This is why the <a href="ht... (Below threshold)

This is why the 'Patriot Corporations for America Act' likely won't get touted much in these parts - it's more socialist big government tripe and liberal feel goodism.

• Produce at least 90% of their goods and services in the United States;
• Limit top management compensation to no greater than 100 times that of their lowest-compensated full-time workers;
• Spend at least 50% of their research and development budgets in the United States;
• Operate a profit-sharing plan for all employees;
• Contribute at least 5% of payroll to a portable pension fund;
• Pay at least 70% of the cost of health insurance plans;
• Maintain neutrality in employee organizing drives; and
• Comply with federal regulations regarding the environment, workplace safety, consumer protections and labor relations.

Let's simplify the whole thing. Cut the corporate tax rate to no more than 15%, preferably lower.

Contribute at leas... (Below threshold)
Contribute at least 5% of payroll to a portable pension fund;

Should have asked in my original comment. Do they mean like Social Security? Or like the personal retirement accounts that President Bush was touting as part of Social Security reform that the demagoguing democratics wouldn't even consider as part of the the reform?

'Patriot Corporations for A... (Below threshold)

'Patriot Corporations for America Act' ...sounds like a repeal of NAFTA:
FrenchFry, call Bill Clinton.

John, I agree, that portable pension looks nice. Maybe the Libs built a Trojan Horse and didn't know they were pushing it through the gates of Social Security.

"Patriot corporations" ? So... (Below threshold)

"Patriot corporations" ? Sounds like more of the Democrats ill-disguised protectionist xenophobia tarted up.

Hugh, I've often wondered w... (Below threshold)

Hugh, I've often wondered why unions didn't offer to members some of the services they demand employers provide. Why don't unions offer pension and investment plans for members. Why don't unions offer health care plans that they demand corporations provide for union workers.

Of course, if I were a union member, I'd be very reluctant to give any more money to the union than I absolutely had to. Judging by the cases of embezzlement and fraud by union leaders, appears your money certainly isn't safe with them.

But, if unions want to become relevant again, they need to change their service and mode of operation instead of just blaming corporate America and demanding Congress enact laws that tilt the field in their favor.

Here is my favorite Labor D... (Below threshold)

Here is my favorite Labor Day question:

Why does organized Labor object to the secret ballot?

JohnGood point on be... (Below threshold)

Good point on benefits: the Unions, with some foresight, could have changed the landscape of US healthcare with their buying power.

Unfortunately, the savings plan was corrupted and became a massive slush fund for influence buying...hey, that's what the unions say about corporate! How about SarBox for unions???

More than anything else, be... (Below threshold)
Farmer Joe:

More than anything else, being a union officer turned me away from leftism. The idiocy I saw being done in the name of "collective power" was just mind boggling.

Hugh, Even though I have li... (Below threshold)

Hugh, Even though I have little experience with unions (none personal) it seems apparent they are going to have to change something if they want to be relevant. It seems that what they most want is to be legislated into relevance. If it weren't for government employee unions and teacher unions, I doubt they'd even have the clout they have now.

That Patriot Corporations Act wouldn't even be a necessary ploy if corporations didn't have so much incentive for moving off shore. One of the incentives is to stay away from unionization and the effects of unions.

Couple of years ago here in CA, there was a ballot measure to increase tenure from two years to five years for new teachers. The teacher's union spent tens of millions of dollars to defeat that proposition. There was a report that the Ca Teachers union had even mortgaged their headquarters building to help finance the campaign to defeat the tenure measure. As I heard the reporting of the proposition battle, all I kept thinking was how pissed I'da been had my money been being used to do that.

Why were the unions first s... (Below threshold)
Just John:

Why were the unions first started? Was it because the men and women working decided they just wanted more money, or was it because they wanted safer working conditions, less hours of work per day, etc?

Or was it because there were few labor laws at the time that protected the American workers? Or that company owners were taking advantage of the workers?

Just wondering is all.

2. Posted by Allen

A: Unions were first started as a reponse to wage cuts.






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