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What"s This Problem The Right WingWith Unions?

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Bob K
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0 posted 02-18-2011 07:29 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K


     What is wrong with being pro-union?

     Labor is a commodity like copper or coal.  

     If a company is smart enough to to organize the distribution of copper or coal or oil, the right wing defends it.  If two copper or coal or oil companies get into a fuss, the Right wing tries to stay out of it, or supports both, or goes with whomever pays the best lobbyists in their support.

     There are plenty of corrupt companies and industries that The Right supports.  Oil, Chemicals, Mining, and some elements of the financial sector, to name a few.  

     Why does the Right have such anger about Unions, whose purpose is to put labor on something approaching equal footing with the power of Business and Government?

      What's the big deal?
Denise
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1 posted 02-18-2011 08:20 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

Their thuggish tactics and anti-democratic strategy in forcing people to join the union whether they want to or not, or if they do allow you not to join, they force you to pay a 'fair-share' fee for the privilege.
Uncas
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2 posted 02-18-2011 08:26 PM       View Profile for Uncas   Email Uncas   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Uncas

My main beef is that they have a tendency to reach a critical mass - once they get too powerful, it seems to go to their heads. For instance, I like the idea of collective bargaining when it consists of reasonable stuff like a fair wage and better or safe working conditions but, on occasion, the Unions seem to go beyond the boundaries of reasonable demands, wielding the threat of withdrawal of labour far too readily.

The history of Unions in the UK is strewn with examples of the excessive Union abuse of the power they can wield. Saying that, it's also strewn with examples of oppressive and unscrupulous employers exploiting the working class.

I think a balance between the two is probably the ideal, but it's a precarious balance to attempt to maintain.

.
Bob K
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3 posted 02-19-2011 01:29 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



    
Dear Denise,

          Thuggish tactics are what everybody complains about.  The Unions complain about them from the businesses and the government.  The government and businesses complain about them from the unions.  Everybody strives to get legal backing for their position.  Who gets legal backing seems to change from generation to generation.

     Without some sort of bargaining power, however, labor is in a difficult position, not only in terms of pay and benefits, but in terms of working conditions and safety.  In terms of benefits and wages, however, why would labor ever get more than a rock bottom wage unless there were unions to push for them?  With some exceptions, businesses consistantly try to cut costs, among which is the cost of labor, so they can maximize profit, even when it may be in their own long term interests to do otherwise.    

     When Detroit exports factories and turns labor over to non-unionized foreign labor, it does cut costs here at home.  It does increase some profits.  It also cuts the market for its products here, it undermines customer loyalty here, and it makes competing foreign goods, like toyota or Nisan, more attractive.  Result?  GM runs into problems, Chrystler runs into problems, all of which they try to blame on labor.  But all that previously displaced labor can't afford to buy American, and doesn't trust the quality any more, either.

     Henry Ford knew enough at least to pay his workers enough to buy his cars, at least in the beginning.  He did seem unwilling to let them earn more than that unless he was forced to.  With fellow businessmen, the competition would have been rough but economic.  With strikers, he hired Pinkertons with weapons.

     If there were thuggish activities, I'd have to say they were hardly one sided.
Bob K
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4 posted 02-19-2011 01:54 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



Dear Uncas,

          Yes, certainly, it is a difficult balance.

     Yes, it is difficult when strikes can bring a country to a halt.  I would argue that every time a country's Unions do that, they dip into their capital, and there's a limited amount of capital there.  I was in Canada during a couple of Postal Strikes in the 1960s, and the Postal workers lost enormous support each time.  That's always been the limiting factor on strikes.

     I was in a health workers union that went out on strike and I refused to go.  I thought that I had an obligation to the patients.  That's another limiting factor; you really need to feel  that you're doing the right thing.

     I could tell stories the other way as well, and more uncomfortable ones.

     The point is that a strike won't work unless it's representative of the feeling of the members, who will probably loose a significant amount of money for standing behind their opinions.  If these are working folk, they will frequently not have a pot of money saved, either, so the decision to strike is generally not one undertaken lightly, and there is generally a large amount of frustration felt with the company as well.

     The relationship between management and labor in these cases is frequently not amicable.  Is some of this the fault of labor?  

     How could it not be?  There are at least two sides to these things.

     Is some of this the fault of management?  The same statements apply.  Also, frequently, because labor doesn't have a look at many of the decisions that management makes, it may not understand them and their necessity.  Sometimes, of course, labor is excluded from these decisions because these decisions are not in the interests of labor.  I would argue that such decisions are a mistake, and are indicative of an authoritarian managerial style, which can be effective, by the way, if the goals are very precisely laid out and there is strict accountability.

     Frequently, however, executives with this managerial style enforce accountability on subordinates, and shift goals with remarkable alacrity when defined goals don't work out as planned.  Can you say "Donald Rumsfeld"?
Denise
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5 posted 02-19-2011 12:26 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

Interesting:
http://rebelpundit.com/2011/02/18/disgusting-barak-obamas-ofaseiu-calls-to-bloody-the-tea-party-in-madison/
Bob K
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6 posted 02-19-2011 02:50 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     Not very interesting at all, considering the other ads that get placed there.  An actual newspaper would report who placed the ad — Left Wing or Right Wing — and what the purpose of the ad was — to cause partisan rancor, to call all those billions of union members who turn to Craig's List to get their marching order the latest coded instructions, or as an attempt to create paranoia on the Right.  It could even have been placed there by folks reporting it; the language seems closer to theirs than it does to that of the unions, which would not be so quick to paint themselves as anybody's lap dogs.

     The alliance between the democratic party and the unions is one where the unions like to feel independant, and they often feel as though they are pressing the party for concessions.  Seeing them as "Obama's unions" is a distinctively Right Wing perception; that's not how they see themselves at all.  FYI.

    
Denise
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7 posted 02-19-2011 04:34 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

LOL When you are in bed with someone you are no longer independent, no matter what you feel!

I'm sure the billions of union members have nothing to do with stunts like this. I am a member of AFSCME/AFL-CIO, and Richard Trumpka doesn't speak for me or any of my co-workers, and we know it. He speaks for himself and the politicians that he has bought and paid for. The problem is with the leadership of the unions and their political supporters.
Denise
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8 posted 02-19-2011 05:00 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

Come and get your Fake Sick Notes!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjFbMDp5Pg8&feature=player_embedded

They should ALL be fired.
Uncas
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9 posted 02-19-2011 05:53 PM       View Profile for Uncas   Email Uncas   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Uncas

The chances are fairly good that they will be fired Denise. Wisconsin can't afford to pay them, or anyone else for that matter. It won't help the deficit mind you, the state will have to support them and the extra costs and the loss of tax revenue will actually make the deficit worse. Then there's the impact on the pension and health schemes - less people paying in means increased premiums - which brings us back nicely to the current predicament.

Eventually some bright spark is going to cotton on to the fact that there's a vicious circle at work here and that spending cuts alone ain't going to break the cycle.

The unions didn't cause the deficit they're simply the sad schmucks that have been targeted to pay for it.

It won't work but when did that ever matter.

.
Denise
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10 posted 02-19-2011 06:57 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

If they are fired they won't be eligible for unemployment compensation, having been terminated for willful misconduct, so the state won't be on the hook for that.

The loss in tax revenue can be minimized over time as the positions are refilled, perhaps at first with substitute teachers until they can fill the positions permanently. Until then they may have to double-up and triple-up the classrooms. When I was in elementary school the typical class size was 60+. I think the typical class size today is 20. They'll survive.
Bob K
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11 posted 02-19-2011 08:32 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     So Denise, if we're to take you at your word, you're in bed with the democrats, no matter what you feel.  I mean, you say you're independent from the union and its point of view, but you warn me not to believe jive like that, and I must take you at your word.

     I never would have imagined you as a secret agent of the communist conspiracy, but what did I know?  I guess I need to work on my capacity for surprise.

     Hah!  You in The President's pocket!  Who'd have thought!
Denise
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12 posted 02-20-2011 10:08 AM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

The leadership of the unions are in bed with the politicians, Bob, not necessarily the rank and file union members. I thought I made that point clear.

I am in the union by force, not by choice (so much for democracy). If I want my municipal servces job, which I do, I must be in the union, I must pay union dues (which are just about the same amount as my pension contribution), for which I get what?  We haven't had a contract since 2007, wages have been frozen at 2007 levels, the city has stopped all pay step increases (most positions have 4 to 5 pay levels), as well as their contribution of their portion to the pension fund for its employees (to be made up at a later date...hahahahaha), which as of last year was only 65% funded to meet current needs. I may never get a pension because an independent study estimated that it will become bankrupt by 2014. But the union still takes its money every pay, and the city pension fund takes its money every pay. And what do we hear from the union? *Crickets chirping*.

Collecting union dues is just a big scam to get their slush fund for political activism, in my opinion. They certainly aren't doing anything for the rank and file workers. I'd be all for being given the option of not having to belong to the union and also for having the opportunity to vote on union membership once a year. Maybe then they would actually work for the workers.
Bob K
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13 posted 02-20-2011 11:48 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



"'m sure the billions of union members have nothing to do with stunts like this. I am a member of AFSCME/AFL-CIO, and Richard Trumpka doesn't speak for me or any of my co-workers, and we know it. He speaks for himself and the politicians that he has bought and paid for. The problem is with the leadership of the unions and their political supporters."


     Why you old fellow traveller, you!  And who elects the union leaders?  

     How much of a wage cut are you willing to vote for yourself, and what benefits do you think you should give back?  The government says it's broke, perhaps you could give back half?  What do you think?

     Or perhaps you believe you deserve a decent wage that's in line with the amount of work you actually do, and that offers the respect that a dignified job should supply?  I'd be on that side, myself.  State jobs can be as difficult as any other, and in may cases, more difficult.

     In the private sector, for example, you don't get yahoos walking up to you and telling you that you are their servent, and that you have been doing a terrible job at meeting whatever whim they have at the moment, whether  it's actually part of your job or not.
Denise
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14 posted 02-21-2011 08:21 AM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

It doesn't really matter to me who elects the union leader of the moment when we don't even have the right to vote for or against union membership in the first place. The union shouldn't force us to pay THEM in order to work.

I have essentially been given a pay cut and benefits cut, wages having been frozen at 2007 levels and our portion of healthcare premiums, deductables and co-payments increasing, and that's with having a union.

I can see the validity of freezing pay and increasing our portion of healthcare costs since the economy in on the brink. I can also see the validity of union representation to guard against the occasional crackpot supervisor who is out to get a good worker just because he/she doesn't personally like that worker.

But as Uncas said there needs to be a balance. That balance tends so easily to get out of whack when money and politics are involved.


oceanvu2
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15 posted 02-21-2011 01:43 PM       View Profile for oceanvu2   Email oceanvu2   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for oceanvu2

Hi Denise and Bob.  I've been reading your discussion and can't decide whether it reminds me more of Abbott and Costello or Vladimir and Estragon.

Had a nasty thought:  Capitalism is an economic system.  Democracy is a political system.  Capitalism cannot exist without the exploitation of labor.  Democracy can.

Oh, and before anyone decides to get all Ben and Jerry, remember, Ben and Jerry sold out.

Best, Jimbeaux
Bob K
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16 posted 02-21-2011 05:11 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     Not sure I follow, Jim.  I know the distinction between political and economic systems, though I'm not necessarily convinced it's as hard wired as it is often portrayed, General Systems Theory being what it is.  Economically, I think that Unions make sense because they establish labor as a force that can affect the movement of Capital and in many ways is as important force in the marketplace.  Without them, Capital is without an important feedback system.  Given the nature of our society, we have a weakness for seeing Capital as the hero of the drama being played out, while in truth one can write the script from the labor's perspective just as convincingly.

     My own point of view is that labor and capitol are co-actors in the economic discussion, and that we are not yet cleare about whether or not they are all the actors involved in the discussion.  Environment, for example, can be looked at from either the point of view of labor and the things that labor needs to do to the environment in order to produce a living; or from the position of capital, which might be concernedf with the ownership of resources.  Environment may well be something worth thinking of as an entirely different actor entirely.

     And that's merely one possible way of considering things.  Economics is difficult because it doesn't really provide a very good view of what the predictive factors are in making the system work.  I think we are at a fairly basic level in understanding those factors, and folks are in a tearing hurry to speak as though they understood what the actual play was about.

     This, of course, is only my particular foolishness, but I don't see that my foolishness is all that far off base.  I'd be interested in knowing how and where you find it that way, though, Jim; you've always proved interesting and even exciting in your thinking in the past, and I fail to see why you'd have become less interesting in the meantime.  I only lack the detail to understand your point of view more clearly.
Balladeer
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17 posted 02-21-2011 09:01 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

I consider unions as the ultimate confidence game and one would have a hard time convincing me that the union leaders are about the workers instead of the dues. They are also a reason why we have so many products imported.

Just my opinion....
Bob K
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18 posted 02-22-2011 01:51 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     Why not consider yourself invited to expand on your opinion a bit?  We have a pretty good idea that we disagree already.

     I don't heard you jumping to defend all companies; I never have.  You certainly know better.  You won't hear me jumping to defend all unions.  I know better, too.

     Just as I think it's useful to have companies around, I think it's useful to have unions around.  I won't defend 100% of either.  But I think both are important and useful.  So what, in your reasoned opinion, is/are your issue or issues with unions?

     And let's try to have a comfortable decent conversation about the subject.  Not just the two of us, I hope, Mike; but anybody else who's willing to try a reasonable shot at the question.
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19 posted 02-22-2011 08:34 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

It's only my opinion, Bob, based on my dealings with unions in the past.

I ran the second largest resort hotel in the country in Osage Beach, Missouri. it was a non-union hotel. Each year the unions came to conduct a vote on employees joining the union. Each year it was defeated. They still came back each year with their pitch. I asked them once why they didn't applaud us? The salaries we paid were higher than what the union designated. Our benefits were much higher than union workers. Surely they would admire that. The fellow just gave me a "get real" look and walked away. Unions, from what I see, are in it only for the dues, which they use as political donations to get favors from politicians they back, along with the power. Their demands make our products unfavorable in price based on unrealistic demands, which they do to  exercise power. To me, they are an organized  confidence game, little more. I was also a part of the police union and I could tell some interesting stories there, but I won't.

Back in  the day of child labor and abominal working conditions, I can see where they served a purpose but it's the old addage of "power corrupts and absolute power...".

Call me simplistic. I think that, if you are working from someone you feel you need protection from, you're working for the wrong person and should find another job. I'm also simplistic enough to feel that, in a capitalistic world, output = profits. Employees = output. Happy employees = higher output. Companies who treat their employees badly are committing capitalistic suicide. If you had an employee, Bob, and his work depended on how much profit you would make, how would you treat that employee?

The interesting facet of the Wisconsin thing is Obama's and the DNC's involvement. I feel fairly certain that Obama has had more than one sleepless night over it. Almost 100% of the union political donations went to democrats and Obama. That makes it all pretty clear. After giving a speech of "hard choices and sacrifices", Obama blew up at Wisconsin's actions of doing just that. Why? Because it involved unions, pals and heavy donators for the democrats. Obama is supposed to take care of them. That's what they paid him for. If he can't save them in Wisconsin and possibly other states joining, they may be a little upset and think twice about where their donations will go in 2012. That's cause enough for those sleepless nights. That's why the phone banks, the tens of thousands of protesters and all of the other DNC actions have come into play. They are fighting for their political lives and could care less about what's good for the people, the state or the country. They only care about what's good for THEM.
Bob K
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20 posted 02-22-2011 09:07 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



    
Fair Enough, Mike.  As long as there are enlightened employers acting in an enlightened fashion for pretty much the same reason that folks ought to pay decent wages and offer decent benefits, I'd say you've got a solid point.  I've know businesses like that, and I like them.  Som,e of them even have profit sharing, which essentially makes the employees part owners for as long as they work for the company, at least; and I think that tends to work out very well, too.

     The useful role unions can play in those situations is to help mediate disputes between management and individual employees, and to make sure that things stay on pretty much fair footing because, face it, sometimes companbies that start out fair don't stay fair with their workers, and middle management doesn't always do things the way the upper management wants them done.

     There can also be situations where, gulp, individual companies are not that wonderful, and do not have their employees well being in mind.  

     You'd think that would be foolish, but some companies do not agree with you.  Mining companies have a record of this sort of thing, where multiple safety code violations are dealt with by paying fines rather than corrections in the unsafe working conditions leading to multiple deaths in mine disasters that might have been prevented.  Deaths due to black lung fall under this purview from time to time.

     These are frequently non-union shops, and shops that actively try to bust unions that try to organize them.

     Would you disagree with any of this?
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21 posted 02-22-2011 09:55 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

No, Bob, I don't disagree, especially with the mining companies. I don't know what percentage of them are non-union but they are certainly guilty of the things you mentioned.

One would need to look at percentages, I think. How many companies are there that need union support? How many companies are there that would treat their employees so badly that mediation would be needed? How many unions are unnecessary?

I'm all for mediation but how have unions grown into the octupii they are, with tentacles reaching deeply into Washington? Why is such a huge organization needed to simply look out for the needs of the workers? Why would they even get paid? I can envision a company of, say, 100 workers getting together to appoint one or two workers to mediate for them. Since the mediators were also employees of the company, it would also be to their advantage. Should action be necessary, then then employees could participate in the action. Where did this union dues, huge organization, multi-millionaire union leaders come from?

It was a decent idea, taken advantage of by thugs who saw a way to make millions from the workers...and they do. It's all money and power to them, not the welfare of the workers, imho.
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22 posted 02-23-2011 01:11 AM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

On another point, the Indiana democrats have also gone on the lam to Illinois to not vote of the Right to Work bill.

The Right to Work bill basically says that workers have the option of not paying unions dues. That is the point that has the unions outraged and protesting, along with their democratic cronies. So ask yourself why unions would feel that way if it were not solely for the dues. Is it so wrong to allow people the choice? Why is that so threatening for them?
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23 posted 02-23-2011 01:15 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     Well, I guess it depends on who you think needs and deserves support, Mike.  Again, according to Rachel Maddow research, the ten largest political contributers break down into seven that give to the Republicans and three that give to the Democrats.  The Seven are corporation or corporate organizations of some sort—I'd imagine the NAM.  The stuff is probably available of the Maddow blog for the 21st of February if the details are all that vital to either of us.  The other three are Unions.  The notion is that the Unions attempt to offer some sort of parity in lobbying power for labor.  

     I don't see that as crooked or underhanded, though there certainly have been some tough and certainly occasionally crooked unions around.  There have also been some fairly underhanded and dangerous companies around who've done their best to break unions and to punish people who've supported them over the years.  I grew up in Ohio, where the notion of strikes certainly raised the very real possibility of anti-union violence by some of the steel companies and some of the auto companies, for example.

     I personally was very badly treated on one occasion in Boston for refusing to cross a picket line.  I got treated badly on another occasion by another Union for refusing to go on strike, by the way.  I knew and felt an obligation to those patients, and didn't feel that I could abandon them.

     I believe that it is the right to collective bargaining and the right to unionize that distinguishes us from some of the countries where there are essentially slave labor conditions.  Some of the same companies that in this country with our laws are forced to treat labor with at least some respect, will and sometimes do transfer their plants where they can essentially run things for close to slave wages and under much more dangerous conditions.  Nike has been mentioned in this regard from time to time.  

     Again, There are some really great companies that don't do this sort of thing and wouldn't dream of it.  Then there are companies that do.

     There are also some unions that aren't particularly good, too.  Some, I'm told, are in the hands of criminals, and some exploit the membership.

     A large number, like most organizations, have creaky management who continue to do the same things in the same ways they've done them for years.  These are really stodgy unions, who've gotten sort of hidebound and silly, like some of the Lodges that they used to poke fun at in The Honeymooners.  Even those tried to perform a protective function, even if they didn't do it as well as I would have liked or you would have liked.

     Simply having a single shop union can work out, but it's generally better to have a larger one because there's more support in case there's a serious quarrel with the management.  And these do happen from time to time.

     This current quarrel in Wisconsin would be an example of that, in my opinion, because the issue seems to be the right to have collective bargaining at all.  The state unions appear to have said that they're willing to cave on the money issues, but that they're not willing to give up the right to collective bargaining.  If they give that up, they're sitting ducks, and that's pretty simply a poor idea.

     Trading back and forth what the working conditions and rewards are is one thing.  Giving up the right to have the discussion is something else entirely.  And for the only unions to be asked to give up that right to be the ones who didn't support the Republican Party in the last election is adding insult to injury.

     I don't see the Unions as being more corrupt than the companies, and if I understand your thoughts about government in general, neither of us see Unions as more corrupt than the current coalition.  Though perhaps I am not framing this clearly, and haven't seen this from your perspective.  

     And, once again, I invite anybody else who has thoughts on the matter to comment.  I've found this a civil discussion and I'm enjoying it so far, and I hope that we can continue it.

Bob K
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24 posted 02-23-2011 01:32 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     The Union provides services for everyone, including collective bargaining and legal services.  If you're a member, you benefit from these services.  If you don't like the current bylaws of the union, you can run for office and try to change the bylaws or youi can vote for somebody else who agrees with your stand and who will do these things for you, pretty much the same way as you'd do in any other democratic organization.  Right?

     You had a chance to vote against bringing the union in.  Many companies do vote against being organized, and get along quite well that way.  I don't see what's wrong with that.

     But once you have a union, the suggestion you make is simply a way of attacking the power of the union both in its collective bargaining function, and in its political lobbying function.  In both cases, the union seeks to match the power that is casually wielded by companies and individuals in forwarding their own selfish interests.  The selfish interests of unions are surely no less valid than those of individuals and corporations, I believe.

     Where would your disagreement with this lie?  

     Unions represent a community of interests just as corporations and other lobbying groups do, and it seems fitting that more than a single side of issues that affect large numbers of citizens be expressed on a scale that most individuals cannot afford.  The individuals who can, for the most part, and with occasional notable exceptions, are currently Republican, and they do not seem at all shy.  Nor should they be.  Why indeed, should unions?

     An attempt at a fair response, Mike, to what seemed like a fair enough question.

      

 
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