Summer of ’76, I’m seven years old and spending my days at Camp Pegnita. My Uncle Bill Macon is 17, and working his first political campaign. Nothing glamorous
Teamsters, Service Employees Quit AFL-CIO
The Teamsters, Service Employees, and other groups combining for more than one third its total membership are leaving the AFL-CIO.
Teamsters, SEIU Decide to Bolt AFL-CIO (AP)
Organized labor is at war with itself as the Teamsters and a major servi…
Largest Unions boycott AFL-CIO convention
Four of the largest members of the AFL-CIO will boycott its convention which begins Monday. This move comes in anticipation of the 4 disaffiliating themselves from the 50 year old organization.
I won’t say where, but I am a captain at a major national airline, and therefore a member of our union. There are valid reasons for an airline union, as the companies involved (and following shortly behind–the government) would, if they could get away with it, compromise the safety American passengers have come to assume.
With that said, I have seen too many instances of thuggish behavior (although not as physically threatening as you describe) to be a true-blue union man.
The Unionites were waging a pretty hot and heavy campaign to try to unionize the hub I worked at, a lot of macho physical threats. The locker room must have seemed like a great place for proselytizing to their witch’s brew of non-competition on merit. I took to wearing a series of tee-shirts that said, “Hoffa’s dead,” and was certain to carry a wicked looking cargo knife rather openly.
Unions had a purpose beyond being a full blown wing of the DNC and keeping the Union Boss’ liquor cabinet full once upon a time I am certain, but I have never seen it.
The only reason unions exist is bad management.
We had a good benefits package and the ability to retire at 20 years and get 50% of our check. The unionites were all borderline workers who wanted “security” so their asses could sham and still make the high wage. Greed and stupidity are not isolated to either the labor or manager sectors.
Jimmy Hoffa’s Spinning In His Grave
Wherever that might be. Like Martini Boy, I find it particularly delicious that the unions are turning on one another. And they deserve it. After years of horrific mismanagement, corruption and thuggish behavior, they’re trying to find a way to…
Sven, I see now, upon rereading, how you read Tomas’s comment. I took it differently.
The reason labor unions exist in the first place is because corporate greed in the last century-and-a-half made them a necessity.
They way of things, though, is that a pendulum always swings past its equilibrium point. The unions themselves got greedy when they realized how much power they possessed. They’ve become the evil they were created to check.
The pendulum is swinging the other way now, and unions are on their way out of power. 20, 30, 40 years from now, there may be some other entity which fills the benficial role unions once did, but in the short term the unions won’t be missed by most people.
Remember all the times last year when Bush campaign HQ’s around the country got shot up? I seem to recall that there was suspicion that union thugs were behind that.
Stephen’s story echoes my own. Dad had a run-in with the Teamsters. He had the crazy idea that as the owner of a small union-shop business he could (as a card-carrying union-but-not-Teamsters member) drive his own truck. Family story says it went from yelling to broken windows to personal death threats to a threat against me, age 4. At which point my Dad joined the Teamsters, paid his danegeld (oops, I mean dues), and they went away.
I was briefly (3 days) part of the teamsters, working a wharehouse job. There was mandatory overtime, but even working less than 40 hours for the week the overtime did get overtime pay. Plus.
I also had a state job, as a Revolutionary War Soldier (interpreter, it’s not like I’m 200+ years old). For that job I had to join AFSCME, it was a closed shop. The union got its cut, er, dues, but I got absolutely no benefits from that, no health insurance or anything. Minus.
Unions can be a good thing, balancing corporate power, but then they can be just as abusive themselves.
I take a position on unions sort of like Lincoln’s wing of the GOP took on slavery.
In my heart I know they are now, as constitured, an evil. This evil is very firmly entrenched and fighting it where the rot has already set in is very counterproductive. The biggest threat to the national economy as a whole on the issue is the further spread of this rot into new businesses that are currently open shops.
There was no union in our shop, and management treated us rather well, their margin of error was in the 2-3% range, meaning the built in overhead of the union thugs getting their way would have cut deeply into the slim margin that the logistics business allows. Management made a good faith effort and as the business did well so too did we do well in the form of quarterly bonuses and increased benefits. Every worker worth a damn in that shop understood that the union would kill the goose, and as such we voted overwhelmingly to reject it all 3 times they tried while I was there.
My grandfather and father WERE union guys back in the day in the logistics business; not paying for deadheads, no benefits, no renumeration if the rig breaks down and you are stuck, no per diem-so guys were sleeping in a seat with no sleepers, and other things. Yes all that sucked and for a period of about 20 years tops unions were a beneficial force for both the American worker AND business, as the expected profit margins by management were way too high and having such deep black ink harmed efficiency in the end harming the consumer and investor as well. Unfortunately in the wake of WW2′s leaving us with a VASTLY disproportionate percentage of the world’s remaining intact infrastructure, industry, and liquid wealth the unions got some insane ideas about what constituted a “fair percentage” of the pie.
Coupled with the US labor movement’s insane refusal to move past their 20s/30s mental paradigm and you have an institution that causes more harm than good in my opinion.
Speaking of union violence, here’s a link to some in Canada. Trucks being shot, rocks being thrown through windows of houses, windows shattered on family cars, etc.
I grew up in a union steel mill town and I’d get punched in the nose for saying what I’m about to by folks of my parent’s generation, but it’s true nonetheless.
The unions did good in their day, overtime, work comp, the 8-hour day were all union forced changes.
That being said,the unions as they are structured and operate today, are just another layer of corruption and oppression on working men and women.
They need to go. Their whole theory of existence works by limiting the workfoce (to union members only). They are corrupt to the core. On top of that, they are extremely leftist, though most of their membership is not and the members have no say on how their ‘donations’ are spent.
Long gone are the days of ‘bread and butter’ unionism as practiced by Gompers and even until George Meany(sp?) who, though unionists, were staunchly anti-socialist.
Today’s big labor leadership is solidly leftist and they’ve always been in the pocket of the democrats.
They are forced to resort to thuggish actions because the only way they can prevail is by fear and intimidation. Certainly not by ideals that they haven’t even remotely represented for decades.
Not only did they shoot at Republican HQ’s around the country, remeber the photos of the thug who tore a Bush placard out of the hands of a 5 year old girl at a Kerry rally in W. Va last fall? Threats and vandalism are par for the course. It’s what they know. It’s all they know. I could tell numerous stories about union goonism that I have seen myself or that friends of mine have witnessed over the years.
Today’s news about a possible breakup of the AFL-CIO is the beginning of the long needed crack up. This will have grave implications for the democrats too. I think we will see the same thing eventually happen to the democrats if they don’t wake up.
My Dad had a unionized job in the chemical industry in New Jersey until he was forced to take early retirement in 2003 —- which in retrospect probably wasn’t a bad thing considering that the company itself is folding as of the end of August. I frankly don’t know what being in a union accomplished for him.
On the collective bargaining side, this particular union never really got the workers anything that the company probably wasn’t going to give them anyway.
On the political side, every election my Dad (a diehard Republican since the Nixon-McGovern election if not sooner) was pressured (not lobbied, pressured) by shop stewards or other union officers over who he “should” and “should not” vote for. This pressure was especially heavy during the 2000 Presidential election. My Dad pretty much told those guys to go pound sand, but I have to wonder how much of the union vote that consistently goes Democratic is the result of this kind of iron-fisted “lobbying”.
My grandfather was the sec or treas of the local in the 40s(?). Saw the writing on the wall when the mob started coming in.
Started getting out. They came to the door 1 night asking for him, Gram said she hadn’t seen him. He was hiding under the bed.
They have done good things, but the world has changed and they haven’t.
I worked in a unionized paper mill for a couple of summers when I was a teenager. Union-related tidbits that have stuck in my mind:
1) The $10 or so that vanished from my paycheck every week, with no benefits in return. (Well, unless you count the mindbending $20/hour I got for /stacking logs/.) Part-timers, you know — not real union men.
2) The nightwatch over the drums, with two guys covering an 8-hour shift, with about five minutes of work for one man — each hour. Meanwhile, the machine’s operator waited in his booth until we were done. He pushed buttons, period.
3) The employees that took naps in plain view of managers and foremen, with no repercussions whatsoever.
4) The grief against my exec dad because he dared ask the nightman to unlock a door, rather than call in a union man ($30/hour, 4 hours minimum).
5) The crane repairs that took a week, since each part had to be removed by a suitable tradesman (i.e., starter disconnected by electrician, bolts by the mechanic, etc.).
6) The day I spent sitting on a bench, at full pay, because there wasn’t enough work for all, and the union didn’t let the management send us home.
Yeah, the mill went bankrupt a few years ago. Why do you ask?
Is the AFL-CIO about to crater?
I’m not sure what to make of all of this. Certainly the AFL-CIO’s prestige is going to take a huge hit, more than likely causing other unions to take a hard look at bailing out as well. But what about other effects? I don’t think it will change anyth…
Having come out of the retail book industry, we were targeted by the United Food and Commercial Workers several times. All of the major chains shared information on union activity since the one thing all of us agreed on was that none of us whated to have a union hit our stores. None of the stores in my company ever went union, but several of our competitor’s (cough:borders:cough) did. Essentially, out of the 12 stores that did, 7 de-unionized within the year. The reason: They actually got lower pay and fewer benefits under the union’s ‘expert’ negotiation. That, on top of the dues being taken out, not being able to discuss anything with the management team in the store and all of the other hassles made it a very bad deal for the workers.
They really stand up for the little guy, don’t they?
Good blog. The time for unions is over and out. In this day of individualism, people should be able to make their own decisions. So it is time to abolish many govt. agencies. Say bye to DEA, and other agencies. Say bye to child labor laws. I should be able to work at 12 if I want to. And would about ‘minimum wage’ laws. They are not needed. If I want to work for One Dollar an hour I should be able to do that.
I will agree with almost all the postings. I was a consultant programmer/analyst/slave who handled all the payroll/personnel/benefits processing for a major food company in Boston. The company was not unionized but they gave such good benefits that the people were really better off. The company bought a competitor out and I had to integrate this unionized shop with our non-unionized shop. Just seeing the differences in benefits, salaries, costs between the 2 showed me just how ridiculous the union was. They paid lower wages, fewer benefits, charged the member a lot of money (initiation fee, monthly dues, etc) and the company a huge amount of money per employee. It almost ran the two companies out of business trying to keep it all together.
Had another job here in NYC at a major hospital doing the same type of thing. The hospital had 22 unions + non-union wage employees + salaried employees + executive employees. The unions were definitely not there for the employees. Their contracts ran out at different times so the unions played games with the hospital to force the hospital to agree with the outrageous terms for the union but not the employees.
Between the 2 experiences I decided I would never ever ever join a union under any circumstances. I would turn down a job rather than join a union.
I think I am more or less repeating what some others have said here, but what the heck? One reading of Tomas’ comment is exemplified by Cosco. They take good care of their employees, and the employees aren’t interested in unionizing. I don’t hear anyone complaining about Cosco’s prices, although I confess I haven’t sought complaints out. And I also don’t hear folks complaining about Cosco’s customer service, which I suspect is at least somewhat a function of the (ahem) administrative flexibility afforded by not having a union around. Companies often make poor business decisions, and I suspect that one of the more common and costly ones is creating an employment environment that makes unionizing attractive. I hope it is clear from my comments that I see unions as generating expensive, inferior service, and I am not defending them.
All that said, it is an interesting contrast between Cosco and Walmart, whose aversion to unions is well documented. My wild, flailing guess at what differentiates them is that Cosco’s store model is only profitable in very high population density areas, while Walmart’s is adaptable to lower population densities.
I am a former employee of a union, and my parents were both postal workers with union protection. I heard the news of the split today and had many feelings about it.
You’re right in the sense that intimidation is no way to make a union more effective, nor is it a good management tool. Unfortunately, unions are run by people and people are indeed fallible. To be honest, I worked for AFGE in the national president’s office, and when the new president was elected, I was laid off when he decided to bring in his old secretary and they moved the previous secretary into my spot and I had nowhere to go. IN addition, I didn’t have union protection due to the nature of my position, so I got laid off from a union. Can you say IRONY?
My parents, as mentioned, were both USPS employees, and have heard more than one person say, “Well, they’re federal employees…what kind of protection do they need?” Well, crappy management is crappy management, any way you slice it. At various times in their careers, both my parents were threatened and intimidated by their supervisor, and my mother was suspended with pay for one week because the postmaster thought she was too slow. Ironically, she went into the hospital for back surgery the week she was supposed to go on leave, and the postmaster & janitor had to carry her route b/c the sub didn’t feel like carrying that day. She had to go to her union steward to have bad reports removed from her file that she didn’t deserve. The real kicker was when she was recovering from the aforementioned back surgery and my father (who had open ended leave) was written up for being AWOL. He had never been written up before in his life, and the union watched that postmaster very carefully from then on, and he finally retired under duress a few years ago.
The point I guess I’m making is that union protection is a good idea in theory, but the methodology needs to be updated for it to work in this day and age. I need to call my AFGE buddies to see what they think about all this.
Thanks for making me think, and please come visit me when you need some fluff!
Richie, may I recommend Basic Economics, A Citizens Guide to the Economy by Dr. Thomas Sowell?
BTW, the min wage should be abolished, that we can agree upon. Especially since most if not all states exceed it.
Socialism doesn’t work, Richie.
And kids do work at 12 and have to pay taxes.
One further thought in addition to what I posted earlier.
a) Much of the problems with unions stems from their own horrible and corrupt management.
b) The union model, as it exists today is geared towards a heavy industrial type of economy and a late 19th century level of mass education. Something that hasn’t existed in this country for many years now.
While I am no fan of today’s unions, I don’t have any love for the corporate management of many companies either. Many are no better or worse. Check out Microsoft and Cisco’s eager help of Chinese security forces to thwart a truely free internet there, to cite one example.
Workers, whether on the shop floor or in a cube farm will always need some form of grievance arbitration system and/or protection from predatory management. Something that can deal with workplace discrimination and harrassment. Some type of system that will be able to deal fairly with work comp claims, injury claims, disability claims. Something better than a bunch of predatory ambulance chasers looking to score or some legal aid agency compassion nazis looking to create some kind of ‘impact litigation’ to make a big name for themselves and preen their egos while actually helping no one.
I am under no illusion that many companies would shirk any type of social responsibility just as fast as possible if they could get away with it. Most company mangement regimes are not enlightened, even though it would ultimately be in their interests. I also subscribe to the notion that corporations, like individual citizens, owe the society they live in and from which they make a living some small obligation as part of the compact of a free and civil society.
As the unions become increasingly ineffective and marginalized, I just hope that some new form of representation for those without the funds to fight corporations by themselves evolves. Something that’s not corrupt or seeking to subvert and subjugate the labor market for its own gain. Something that keeps in mind what business and industry need to function best because they are the engine our economy relies on, as well as what’s needed to keep the society on an even keel. What we do know so far is that it isn’t unfettered capitalism or top down socialism.
As someone who prefers minimal government interference, I’ll float the theory that maybe effective and fairly enforced laws might be the answer. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but it cant be worse than the hodge podge of labor laws we presently have. Not to mention a corporate and governmental structure where those who grease the wheel best get what they want at everyone else’s expense and the rest get, as Huey Long once threatened, “good government.”
Sandy P at July 25, 2005 09:41 PM
Sorry, I prefer Hayek over Sowell. And I am NOT a socialist not did I mention it in my post. (YOu must think you are a mind reader).
As I said all gov’t rules about work and how to live should be abolished. Do you have a problem with that? Do you hate freedom?
Around the “Sphere” Today
It’s painfully obvious that she does not understand, as is the case with so many Democrats these days, that “our government” means “the people’s government” not the Governor’s.
Tim P wrote:“As the unions become increasingly ineffective and marginalized, I just hope that some new form of representation for those without the funds to fight corporations by themselves evolves.”
Hear, Hear, Tim.
Maybe this breakup of the AFL-CIO means that unions are looking at that new form of representation? There are a few of us out there who realize that our old way of doing things needs to change.
And for all of you out there with stories of union thuggery–keep in mind that companies aren’t entirely angelic. There are good and bad stories on either side.
I am willing to bet that to find a percentage of “eebil business” being willing to engage in kneecapping tactics like the unionites seem to favor one ould need to go back to the late 30s-early 40s. Companies do not “strike” and they do not engage in the darling behavior of strikers. This strikes me as an exercise on the level of Idiots(Amnesty)International trying to use rhetorical parlor tricks to equivocate Allied troop and AQ “freedom fighter” actions in Iraq.
How come he didn’t know it was a hot summer?
Sorry Sven, that you saw my comment as a rhetorical parlor trick, but I don’t particularly care for your comparison either.
Maybe I should have told a long story about my observations of a union workforce, but I doubt it would change your opinions of “eebil unions”.
Think I’ll go “fill the Union Boss’ liquor cabinet now”.
I agree that the pendulum swings.
I agree that union organizations can/do take advantage of their membership. (Given human nature regarding power.)
I also think that all of you that think unions are the be-all and end-all of evil have no experience or experiential historical memory of why unions came into existence.
I think you will (re)learn very swiftly why labor needed to organize to protect its rights. (Or maybe not, depending on the education you receive.)
It may very well be left up to your children’s generation to embrace the power of organized labor.
We are a very spoiled generation. I think that is about to change.
BLOG: Quick Links 7/27/05
*Gerry Daly has a must-read work of original research on John Roberts’ Supreme Court arguments and the Justices he was able to win over to his side in non-unanimous cases. *I do not find this reassuring. *More bad thoughts on…
I’d like to see an authentic example of “the Pinkerton goons some businesses used to keep their workers oppressed”.
Yes. I would.
Billy Beck, amen….
the Unionite religion requires absolute faith that no management team will ever factor labor happiness into their decision, and that the dues being yanked for minimal gain versus non-union labor somehow “really protects labor”.
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