Monday, February 28, 2011

Unions? Are they outdated?


Even though I have never been a union member, I would like to sincerely thank those union members of the past for making my time in the workforce a lot easier than it was way back when. They risked and sacrificed a lot to bring about the 40 hour work week, reasonable wages, work safety, etc. I don't know if I could have lasted in those old workplace environments of the pre-union days.
This process of collective labor representation had its roots in England way back in 1807. For over 200 years, brave men and women have defied the very people who held their means of making a living in their hands. The working conditions these unions fought for these last two centuries have resulted in solid labor laws which are now government regulated and strictly enforced.
So why still have unions?
Many critics will state that today's unions keep wages artificially high. These high wages, while highly desirable to their beneficiaries, tend to ultimately place the workers in a position of losing their jobs to outsourced labor in countries with cheaper standards of living. This short-lived union benefit has a foreseeable end game which is the 800 pound gorilla no one seems to want to address. In this modern world economy this trend has accelerated with each global free trade treaty that's signed.
While private unions still serve their constituents by keeping wages and benefits at a "competitive" level with the private sector, public unions are an altogether different story. They should be done away with as soon as possible. Even the greatly revered liberal Democratic president, FDR, stated that public unions should not be allowed to exist. Even back in the 1940's, he understood the conflict of interest public unions represent.
Collective bargaining between public unions and public officials is a system fraught with the temptation to undermine the political process. The injured party is the tax-payer. In typical negotiations, one side agrees to wage and benefit increases and the other side agrees to supply the financial backing for the other side's reelection. In effect, the negotiators occupy BOTH sides of the negotiating table with the taxpayer picking up the ever-increasing tab. I strongly suspect that this cycle of give and give instead of give and take, without thought of future sustainability, has placed the finances of city, state and country in dire jeopardy.
As recent events have shown, the public union membership up in Minnesota (and other places) need to realize that a large portion of private and non-public sector workers have suffered loss of jobs, pay freezes and the burden of paying a much larger shares for benefits these last three years. The ongoing public union protests are like a slap in the face of every non-public union and private sector employee since what is being protested is the duly elected people's representative's attempt to curtail the continuation of a cycle of raising taxes to satisfy the ever increasing "HIGHER STANDARD OF LIVING" that public sector union employees are enjoying and are fighting to keep. Most non-public and private sector workers had no choice but to adjust to the present economic slump but these protesters seem to be refusing to even budge in the face of obvious state and city financial budget collapse.
No matter how I try, I just cannot find any reason to sympathize with their protest movement. Whenever self-interest trumps the larger common good, it makes for bad feelings and a kind of "us/them" mindset of partisanship.
The good ride is over, it's time to face reality.

5 comments:

Renegade Eye said...

As a whole, public workers make less money than their equivalents in the private sector.

Marx invented a concept called simple and complex labor. Simple labor is unskilled, and complex is skilled. Marx believed because society as a whole invests more in the education of those who do complex work, they should be paid more. Public workers have higher amounts of education, than those in public doing the same job.

Governor Scott Walker has a history of union busting. He admitted to being a union buster during the prank call.

Capitalism thrived in the 1950-60s. The US wasn't touched by WWII. It had the European markets.

The fall of Stalinism and China turning capitalist, opened new markets.

There are no new markets, so profit is even squeezed from public workers.

Walker's vision is that only corporate profits matter. No social services, taxes or regulation to business. He'd turn the whole country into old Mississippi.

roman said...

Ren,

Public workers enjoy a much more lucrative PACKAGE when combining their benefits with their wages.
Also, I'm not sure I have seen any stats to support that public sector employees are higher educated. I think this might be a statistical oddity at best when taking into account the size of each population.
Even if this is the case, education does not guarantee quality of service, competency and productivity. All factors that public sector unions are seldom to pay any attention to. Check the stats on how many public union employees were fired for non-performance and compare that to the private sector.
Gov Walker represents his constituents, the people that elected him. If he busts the public sector unions, these same constituent voters can vote him out and restart the corrupt cycle of "quid pro quo" between unions and politicians all over again. Somehow, I believe that to be a very unlikely scenario.
Ren, the tide is turning away from the liberal tax and spend policies of the past. This country just cannot afford it any longer. The so-called good times are over and the general public is demanding more oversight as to how their tax dollars are being spent!

Renegade Eye said...

Walker never ran on a platform of destroying collective bargaining. His popularity is so low, that latest word is four Republicans are distancing themselves. He is down ten points with Republicans in Wisconsin.

Walker gave new life to the unions.

‎"A public union employee, a Tea Party activist, and a CEO are sitting at a table with a plate of a dozen cookies in the middle of it. The CEO takes 11 of the cookies, turns to the Tea Partier and says, 'Watch out for that union guy. He wants a piece of your cookie.''

Renegade Eye said...

Marx had a concept called complex labor. Unskilled labor is called simple, and skilled is called complex. He believed society has a bigger stake in complex labor, and should be paid more.

Public workers have higher education, than the population as a whole. They perform complex labor.

Overall pay is better in the private sector.

Renegade Eye said...

Nobody has less freedom of speech in America, than unionists.

Two people can be picketing a store, calling for a boycott for selling items made with sweat shop labor. One is a unionist, the other not. Legally the unionist can be arrested.