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Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:02 PM

why are you not in a labor union...?

In light of recent news on the decline of labor unions in the U.S., particularly private sector unions that currently organize less than 7% of the U.S. workforce, I'm wondering why the other 93% of the private work force has walked away from collective bargaining and union representation. The data on labor's contribution to middle class prosperity is unequivocal-- not only do union workers do better than their non-union counterparts by just about every measure of work related prosperity, but their communities benefit as well. The disparity between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of us is at historic levels of inequality at precisely the time that union membership is at historic lows.

Why aren't you a union member, and why aren't you trying to become one? This is a poll, obviously, but I'm really hoping for more detailed responses in replies. The poll selections are not necessarily exclusive, of course-- more than one might be true for you-- but if you'd indicate the most appropriate answer for your individual circumstances I'd greatly appreciate it. And do please elaborate further if you can.

I'm torn about whether to include "I want to join a union, but I live in a right-to-work state" because right-to-work laws don't necessarily preclude labor organizing, they just make it harder. What are your thoughts about this?

Edit: I changed "I like to vote" to "I'm retired or self employed and have no need for union representation."

61 votes, 1 pass | Time left: Unlimited
I don't want to join a labor union or bargain collectively regarding my terms and conditions of work.
3 (5%)
I don't want unions in my workplace/industry/etc.
6 (10%)
I don't want to pay union dues in exchange for representation in my workplace.
0 (0%)
There are no unions organizing my industry or profession (in which case, why aren't you helping to rectify that?).
17 (28%)
I want to join a labor union, but I'm afraid of retaliation from my employer.
0 (0%)
I want to organize my workplace, but I'm afraid of retaliation from my employer.
1 (2%)
I live in a right-to-work state and fear employer retaliation if I join a union.
9 (15%)
I belong to a private sector labor union. Solidarity!
8 (13%)
I belong to a public sector labor union. Solidarity!
6 (10%)
on edit: I'm retired or self employed and have no need for union representation.
11 (18%)
Show usernames
Disclaimer: This is an Internet poll

123 replies, 5526 views

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Reply why are you not in a labor union...? (Original post)
mike_c Jan 2013 OP
bigwillq Jan 2013 #1
CBGLuthier Jan 2013 #2
slackmaster Jan 2013 #3
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #6
slackmaster Jan 2013 #7
Left2Tackle Jan 2013 #99
bluestate10 Jan 2013 #57
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #76
bluestate10 Jan 2013 #91
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #95
Starry Messenger Jan 2013 #8
slackmaster Jan 2013 #11
Starry Messenger Jan 2013 #12
slackmaster Jan 2013 #16
Starry Messenger Jan 2013 #18
slackmaster Jan 2013 #27
Starry Messenger Jan 2013 #31
slackmaster Jan 2013 #33
Starry Messenger Jan 2013 #35
stevenleser Jan 2013 #19
slackmaster Jan 2013 #26
stevenleser Jan 2013 #29
slackmaster Jan 2013 #32
stevenleser Jan 2013 #36
slackmaster Jan 2013 #39
stevenleser Jan 2013 #43
slackmaster Jan 2013 #44
stevenleser Jan 2013 #47
slackmaster Jan 2013 #67
Left2Tackle Jan 2013 #104
slackmaster Jan 2013 #106
Left2Tackle Feb 2013 #123
stevenleser Jan 2013 #17
Starry Messenger Jan 2013 #23
bluestate10 Jan 2013 #61
Starry Messenger Jan 2013 #62
antigop Jan 2013 #70
WinniSkipper Jan 2013 #111
Starry Messenger Jan 2013 #118
WinniSkipper Jan 2013 #120
stevenleser Jan 2013 #14
slackmaster Jan 2013 #21
stevenleser Jan 2013 #24
slackmaster Jan 2013 #30
mike_c Jan 2013 #15
Egalitarian Thug Jan 2013 #34
stevenleser Jan 2013 #40
slackmaster Jan 2013 #41
Egalitarian Thug Jan 2013 #64
dipsydoodle Jan 2013 #4
KansDem Jan 2013 #105
dipsydoodle Jan 2013 #114
KansDem Jan 2013 #115
lpbk2713 Jan 2013 #5
mike_c Jan 2013 #9
reformist2 Jan 2013 #10
Recursion Jan 2013 #13
LongTomH Jan 2013 #20
mike_c Jan 2013 #25
11 Bravo Jan 2013 #22
Go Vols Jan 2013 #28
Blue_In_AK Jan 2013 #37
MissMarple Jan 2013 #38
GoCubsGo Jan 2013 #42
Zoeisright Jan 2013 #45
cbdo2007 Jan 2013 #46
Bennyboy Jan 2013 #48
99Forever Jan 2013 #49
2naSalit Jan 2013 #75
99Forever Jan 2013 #89
shanti Jan 2013 #50
Deep13 Jan 2013 #51
OneTenthofOnePercent Jan 2013 #52
yellerpup Jan 2013 #53
amerikat Jan 2013 #54
mshasta Jan 2013 #55
abelenkpe Jan 2013 #56
badtoworse Jan 2013 #58
Flashmann Jan 2013 #59
mokawanis Jan 2013 #60
kestrel91316 Jan 2013 #63
The Philosopher Jan 2013 #65
ismnotwasm Jan 2013 #66
Earth_First Jan 2013 #68
derby378 Jan 2013 #69
Heddi Jan 2013 #71
mike_c Jan 2013 #73
ismnotwasm Jan 2013 #79
Heddi Jan 2013 #90
WilmywoodNCparalegal Jan 2013 #72
shenmue Jan 2013 #74
hay rick Jan 2013 #77
mike_c Jan 2013 #83
appleannie1 Jan 2013 #78
LiberalEsto Jan 2013 #80
Lesmoderesstupides Jan 2013 #81
Coyote_Tan Jan 2013 #82
michreject Jan 2013 #84
DainBramaged Jan 2013 #85
mike_c Jan 2013 #86
whistler162 Jan 2013 #87
mike_c Jan 2013 #88
Fumesucker Jan 2013 #92
crazyjoe Jan 2013 #93
Throd Jan 2013 #94
rainbow4321 Jan 2013 #96
proud2BlibKansan Jan 2013 #97
Demo_Chris Jan 2013 #98
Puzzledtraveller Jan 2013 #100
HappyMe Jan 2013 #101
LibertyLover Jan 2013 #102
Not Me Jan 2013 #103
X_Digger Jan 2013 #107
tabbycat31 Jan 2013 #108
MAD Dave Jan 2013 #109
mike_c Jan 2013 #110
loose wheel Jan 2013 #112
blockhead Jan 2013 #113
ellisonz Jan 2013 #116
w8liftinglady Jan 2013 #117
mike_c Feb 2013 #121
rjj621 Jan 2013 #119
mike_c Feb 2013 #122

Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:05 PM

1. No unions in my field

They've tried in the past but couldn't get enough support, including one effort that I was involved in.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:07 PM

2. self-employed. Do not need a union to intervene with myself.

Otherwise I think they are a great idea.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:07 PM

3. I'm an experienced white-collar IT professional with a highly marketable skill set

 

No suitable union exists. The work is challenging and competitive, and I'm up to the challenge.

I haven't had any trouble finding suitable work in about 20 years.

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Response to slackmaster (Reply #3)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:10 PM

6. so unions are only for blue-collar non-pros w/o marketable 'skill sets' who aren't 'up to the c

 

challenge'?

that seems to be what you're saying.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #6)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:13 PM

7. Not really. I'm just tooting my own horn.

 

Labor unions are most appropriate for people who share a common skill set, particularly where large employers hire them by contract in large numbers.

There is relatively little competition among people who have proven experience in the set of things that I do.

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Response to slackmaster (Reply #7)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 09:21 AM

99. +1

Add to that a rapidly changing industry where one has to constantly develop or reinvent themselves to be relevant. Making it tough to represent a group.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #6)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 05:11 PM

57. The poster didn't write what you claimed.

I too am a high earning professional in a high demand profession. I have never been out of a job. Getting my degree was difficult, I was often studying and doing lab/computer program design assignments when college kids in my dorms and apartment complexes were out partying. My field does not have Unions, but I support Unions 100%.

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Response to bluestate10 (Reply #57)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 06:23 PM

76. no, but it's implied in what he did write. as it is in what *you* wrote.

 

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #76)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 10:05 PM

91. Decisions have consequences. I have chosen to fore-go choices early in my life, I am in

excellent fiscal condition today. I don't apologize that any one. But my own status has nothing to do with my support of Unions. Unions gave me the foothold that I used to get what I have, I support Unions 100%. I purchased Union made, USA made products for my body, car and home. If you or anyone else don't like what I stand for, too bad.

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Response to bluestate10 (Reply #91)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 11:55 PM

95. all of which is beside the point under discussion

 

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Response to slackmaster (Reply #3)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:13 PM

8. "Iím a Professional. What Can a Union Do for Me?"

http://dpeaflcio.org/professionals/what-can-a-union-do-for-me/

"
Wonít a union stifle individual achievement with things like raises and promotions determined solely by seniority?

Salaries and promotions are subjects for collective bargaining. Without a union, management is able to make such decisions unilaterally. Through collective bargaining, management and the union must agree on the mechanisms to be used and standards to be employed, an agreement that is included in a legally binding contract. There are no preconditions. Professionals, through their elected union representatives, may bargain for any viable system they believe best suits their profession and employment. For example, some union contracts provide not only for annual cost of living increases but a pool of dollars for merit increases. The combination assures both recognition of individual achievement and a minimum of equity. Seniority need not be the only criterion for promotion. A formal procedure could be devised which would include ratings by both supervisors and peers, credit for advanced education and training programs, and anything else that is deemed relevant by the professionals. A formal promotion and layoff procedure with rules known by all is preferable to no rules at all. Such a system can only be devised and implemented by a union and its members. "

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #8)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:16 PM

11. I am number 3 in seniority in a company that presently employs 12 people plus 1 contractor

 

I'm definitely not management, but I am the only person here who does what I do. That gives me a lot of leverage.

Salaries and promotions are subjects for collective bargaining. Without a union, management is able to make such decisions unilaterally.

If my employer doesn't treat me as I feel I should be treated, I'll just leave and go work somewhere else.

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Response to slackmaster (Reply #11)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:17 PM

12. Good, you've been lucky.

I'll leave the link for others though, so we aren't left with the impression that IT workers don't need a union.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #12)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:20 PM

16. I don't feel that luck has much to do with it. I got a good education and have worked hard...

 

...for more than 30 years to achieve my professional station.

I'll leave the link for others though, so we aren't left with the impression that IT workers don't need a union.

I think there is plenty of justification for unions in some IT functions. But not for mine.

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Response to slackmaster (Reply #16)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:21 PM

18. Many people get good educations and work hard.

I'm glad your plans worked out. Not everyone has that happen.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #18)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:28 PM

27. Plans?

 

My degree, from 1980, is in psychology. My plan at the time was to become a clinical psychologist. Now I'm a software and database developer.

My plans have always been flexible.

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Response to slackmaster (Reply #27)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:30 PM

31. And that worked out for you.

Not sure where we disagree?

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #31)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:31 PM

33. Must we disagree on something?

 

I don't believe that is necessary.

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Response to slackmaster (Reply #33)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:33 PM

35. No, lol.

I thought you were taking exception to something I said. Just trying to clarify, but if not, then good.

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Response to slackmaster (Reply #16)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:22 PM

19. Luck has a lot to do with it. Most branches of IT are prime layoff bait. The subset that clicked

for you isn't. That's called luck.

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Response to stevenleser (Reply #19)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:26 PM

26. I've gone from being a curriculum writer to a technical/business writer, phased into systems analyst

 

...worked my way into systems administration, then database administration. Now I am a systems developer focused on databases.

I've worked in educational technology, financial services, consulting, and now medical IT. Please don't assume that I work in one particular subset of anything.

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Response to slackmaster (Reply #26)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:29 PM

29. I've done most of those you listed myself. So why the contradictions in your posts?

On the one hand you present yourself as this ultra successful IT person without a worry in the world. As soon as I mention it, you go off talking about how many times you have been laid-off and that I shouldnt assume you havent struggled or had to shift career subfields.

What point are you arguing?

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Response to stevenleser (Reply #29)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:31 PM

32. Being laid off doesn't bother me. Sometimes it's even been a blessing.

 

Does that help?

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Response to slackmaster (Reply #32)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:36 PM

36. Only that we now know you have decided to accept the unacceptable as a good thing.

I've heard lots of odd "I dont need a union" arguments so I am not all that surprised really.

Employees are people and are not disposable, certainly not so that shareholders and board members can make a few more percentage points. If a company is failing, that's one thing, if they overhired, then the owners and shareholders should take it out of profit.

The idea that it is acceptable to lay people off to make a better profit is a new development in the last 40-50 years, and it just makes me shake my head to hear anyone justify it like you have.

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Response to stevenleser (Reply #36)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:38 PM

39. Getting laid off from a job you aren't happy with can put you in a good position.

 

You get unemployement benefits and some time off.

Employees are people and are not disposable...

Getting laid off isn't always the result of an employee being undervalued, Steven.

Sometimes entire companies fail, and everyone gets laid off.

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Response to slackmaster (Reply #39)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:44 PM

43. The company doesnt care if you are good at your job or not in many cases.

If you are in IT, you are overhead and they just axe a certain percentage and randomly choose them.

If I want to switch careers, I get myself training and I do it. And I have done that several times. It doesnt mean I want to be laid off and I certainly object to my being laid off along with several dozen or hundred other folks so that a few 1%'ers get a few extra hundred thousand dollars each year.

If you like being treated that way, that's your business. Most people dont appreciate it.

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Response to stevenleser (Reply #43)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:51 PM

44. Your subject line describes one hallmark of a shitty job

 

One not worth staying in, if you have a choice.

Besides being laid off four times in the last 32 years, I have resigned from two "permanent, full time" jobs.

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Response to slackmaster (Reply #44)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:56 PM

47. I'm speaking specifically of when it comes to layoff time.

Once a company decides that the shareholders or partners arent making enough money, often the next step is to let perfectly good folks go to increase profits.

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Response to stevenleser (Reply #47)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 05:48 PM

67. A company that lets perfectly good people go just to save money might just be stupid

 

The owners of the company that laid me off last February have more money than brains. I was already planning to quit when they let me go (to replace me with a much less experienced person who almost lost all their data recently.)

I had another job less than four weeks later - A much better one.

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Response to slackmaster (Reply #32)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 09:33 AM

104. I've seen this happen.

Being fired or laid off was a blessing for the person. They ended up getting a better job in a culture that was a good fit for them. Ended up being happier than they were before. Guess they just needed a kick in the pants.

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Response to Left2Tackle (Reply #104)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 10:06 AM

106. I can think of only one occasion where I truly ended up worse off after a layoff, or voluntarily...

 

...quitting my job to go to another. It was early in my career, in the deep recession of the early 1990s.

I wasn't happy in the last job I got laid off from a year ago, but the pay was so good that it was worth putting up with their crap for a few years.

Guess they just needed a kick in the pants.

I know I've needed one on occasion, but it was in 1996 that I discovered how much better things can get when you walk out under your own power and on your own terms.

Welcome to DU, Left2Tackle!

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Response to slackmaster (Reply #106)

Fri Feb 1, 2013, 11:17 AM

123. I've been fortunate not to have gone through any layoffs

I just get sick of a place, or things get boring and I need to move on. You're right, it's better on your own terms.

Thanks, I've been a lurker off and on for a while now. Decided it was time to jump in the fray.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #12)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:21 PM

17. See my #14, IT folks need Unions desperately. nt

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Response to stevenleser (Reply #17)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:25 PM

23. I agree, totally.

Many of my peers entered the tech job market at the beginning of the bubble when we all got out of college. I didn't go that route, but saw the horrible things many went through in Silicon Valley.

I think CWA organizes IT workers.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #12)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 05:14 PM

61. He has worked his ass off. Yes, he had some luck along the way, all of us do.

But staying with a problem until 3am in college or work and getting up at 6am to start over again isn't luck, it's damned hard, grueling work.

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Response to bluestate10 (Reply #61)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 05:21 PM

62. Everyone I've ever known here in Silicon Valley has worked their ass off.

That didn't stop mass layoffs and over-reliance on the remaining staff. Of course it is hard work, but not everyone is in the circumstances where being special protected their job.

I had tons of friends laugh in my face about unions, claiming that their skill-set was so rare, they'd never be in want of a job. Nowadays they're a lot more receptive to ideas about collective bargaining after seeing that they were easily replaced after all.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #62)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 05:56 PM

70. funny how that works, isn't it? nt

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #62)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 11:24 AM

111. Do you think in our business culture here

 

that tech companies could/would EVER have Unions? Remember - the Valley can be a pretty liberal place. Why don't you think Unions permeate the Valley?

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Response to WinniSkipper (Reply #111)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 06:24 PM

118. I think they could if employees wanted them.

The IT workers for IBM orgainized. The service people for SV have been unionizing (the non-tech people who work in the buildings).

Why aren't there more unions in IT companies? I think it's a combination of things--an early phase of internet work where it seemed like the gold rush, a frontier where everything was new and the system would be different.

Two, the transient nature of tech contracts and the IT start-ups themselves made the sustained social cohesion necessary for "union consciousness" difficult.

Three, many tech people seem to be kind of libertarian by nature (in my observation) and just don't like the idea of unions in general. There is a perception that you don't get rewarded for your unique contributions, it's less "professional", etc.

A good book on this is "Behind The Silicon Curtain". The author also blames unions for not aggressively going after tech companies, because they tended to be focused on "industrials" in that era of the '70s and '80s when tech work was getting more prevalent. There's some truth in that too. It probably didn't help that Reagan was pounding unions from on high at the time too though.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #118)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 06:46 PM

120. Thats pretty inline with my thinking

 

I don't think employers or employees want them, or that unions by nature fit into the rapidly changing environment. Or the work-to-death nature of the Valley.

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Response to slackmaster (Reply #3)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:18 PM

14. My other career is also IT, and I have reached out to the SEIU in the past suggesting they

aggressively go after the IT marketplace.

You may be in a subset of IT that provides better job security, but most folks I know who have been at it a while have been laid off at least twice, me included.

It's a field that is begging for Union help really. Its the first folks that management typically thinks of when its time to lay people off.

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Response to stevenleser (Reply #14)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:24 PM

21. Pardon me for laughing with you at the concept of "job security." I've been laid off four times.

 

Or is it five? It's hard to keep track after so many changes. I've had to adapt to new technologies and learn new skills all along the way. I'm about to turn 55 and there's no sign of that ever changing.

My stepfather retired from the Navy in 1956. He got a job as an electronic systems engineer at a major aerospace company immediately, and stayed at the same job until he retired in 1987. He was never a member of a union. Machinists, welders, draftsmen, and generally most production line people were, but not white collar engineers or managers.

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Response to slackmaster (Reply #21)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:26 PM

24. So which is it? You either are fine and have no worries, or you aren't. Which are you arguing? nt

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Response to stevenleser (Reply #24)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:30 PM

30. I've never felt that I have any real job security beyond a 6 - 12 month horizon, and that doesn't...

 

...bother me.

I'm not arguing anything. If you insist that I must have a point in the discussion, it's that being flexible and adaptable in one's career path is one way to get through life.

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Response to slackmaster (Reply #3)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:19 PM

15. arguably, I'm in a similar situation...

...i.e. white collar professional-- I'm a biologist and university prof-- but we too have several unions to choose from, including the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), Academic Professionals of California (APC), and my own union, the California Faculty Assn (CFA). Having been involved with professional work matters from a labor perspective for several years now, I can say without any doubt that my terms and conditions of work are FAR better than they would be if not for collective bargaining.

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Response to slackmaster (Reply #3)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:32 PM

34. This is exactly what most of the other people said when we were trying

 

to get you all to unionize in the mid-nineties said. You are foolish and/or selfish.

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Response to Egalitarian Thug (Reply #34)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:39 PM

40. Yep, I'm one of those and I learned that lesson the hard way and will never forget it.

I'm 100% pro-union.

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Response to Egalitarian Thug (Reply #34)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:39 PM

41. Nobody has ever approached me about unionization, and I've been working since 1981.

 

I don't see what constructive purpose is served by you insulting me.



So tell me, Egalitarian Thug, where were you? I might have listened if you had been in the right place at the right time with the right message.

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Response to slackmaster (Reply #41)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 05:45 PM

64. My apologies. You've certainly seen what happened to our profession. The Clintons wiped out

 

more than half of an entire generation of IT professionals in the 90s creating and appeasing the billionaires. And every one of those workers was providing for a family, paying a lot of tax dollars, churning the economy, and raising the standard of living across the board. Kids saw their parent's lives wiped out overnight, and now we are wondering why too few are interested in pursuing post-secondary education in technical fields? Why should they when the social contract has never existed in their experience?

They used the excuse of a temporary worker shortage and rising wages to open the floodgates of low-wage foreign workers and turned a blind eye to blatant criminality on the part of the industry. You might remember the lawsuits regarding M$, Oracle, and other's abuse of temporary workers that did the work for them, for over a decade in some cases, but were forever "temporary". Robert Reich's DOL simply refused to enforce existing (already inadequate) law until forced by the courts and even then the corporations were never forced to hire them, they simply made a work-around and continued on.

Anyway, there were a few of us (I was based in LA, but worked all over the country) that tried to bring our fellow IT pros over to the idea of organizing in order to prevent exactly what was starting and eventually happened. And almost without exception we were met with the arguments you wrote. I'm making a good salary, my company is taking good care of me, why should I pay to get what I've already got, I'm so good that that will never happen to me, etc. And most important of all, IMO, the very nature of the industry is that we are all always working ourselves out of a job. Once the system is developed most of the staff becomes redundant.

By 1999 there were 150,000+ H-1(b) workers coming in and demolishing wages in every area of the field. You know the names, Infosys, Wipro, Tata, etc. The positions I had then, today pay about a third of what I made and the skill level has fallen through the floor. "That's good enough" should be motto of American tech today.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:08 PM

4. Now retired - sort of anyway.

Effectively self employed as had been for past twenty odd years

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Response to dipsydoodle (Reply #4)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 09:44 AM

105. A little off topic, but I like your signature line.

I'm amused at how credit card statements for example have important terms and conditions printed on the back of the statement in an uncomfortably small font and in colors of light brown or light grey. I think, "Who can read this?"

It seems there should be some basic requirements that would enable an easier reading of such terms and conditions, but I suppose that would be putting the banks at a disadvantage.

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Response to KansDem (Reply #105)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 12:18 PM

114. Its Tom Waits you need to thank for that.

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Response to dipsydoodle (Reply #114)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 05:40 PM

115. Ah, yes! The Everyman's Poet and Philosopher

One of the best concerts I ever attended was in San Diego (at the Roxy Theater in Pacific Beach, a community in the SD area) in 1978:

First half: Leon Redbone
Second half: Tom Waits.

I bought Waits' Nighthawks at the Diner* about that time and liked every track. I found his "Putnam County" especially intriguing with its description of small-town rural life.



When I came to N.E. Kansas in 1979 to attend graduate school, I experienced "Putnam County" first-hand and it was then I realized the profundity of Waits' lyrics.

I still occasionally listen to that album when I'm alone and in a reflective mood.
________
*"Warm Beer Cold Women" became my personal anthem.



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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:09 PM

5. Who said I wasn't?








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Response to lpbk2713 (Reply #5)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:14 PM

9. that's one of the choices...

...but if the stats are right, something like 97% of private sector Americans are not organized. I'm an officer in my union and we're preparing for a recruitment drive, so I'm interested in hearing from those 97% that we're (we in the big labor sense) are seeking to bring back into the labor fold.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:15 PM

10. The existing unions (e.g., teachers, AFSCME, etc.) need to be helping everyone else unionize!


Show us how it's done!

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:18 PM

13. My job (sysadmin) is usually the only one of those in a given business

Staff positions like that are generally harder to unionize. We do have a guild, though.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:23 PM

20. Need to add 'Retired' as one of the choices!

I was in IT during my career. I think I would have welcomed a union if we had the choice; maybe they could have prevented our CEO from lowering salaries, freezing pensions and cancelling our retiree health benefits.

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Response to LongTomH (Reply #20)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:26 PM

25. unfortunately, I'm out of choices on this poll....

I edited the self-employed choice.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:25 PM

22. Proud member of the NEA, VEA, and FEA.

And once again I'll say, thank you GI Bill!

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:29 PM

28. Retired Union Ironworker

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:36 PM

37. I'm retired

but when I was working as a legal secretary/paralegal, I don't think there was a union that represented us. My husband is a retired marine engineer and gets a pension and supplemental medical insurance (now, since we're on Medicare) from the MEBA.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:37 PM

38. AFT in Kansas City in the 70's.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:43 PM

42. Other: I live in a right-to-work-for-less state, and former co-workers didn't value unions.

Had we been able to unionize, I might still be in my old job, rather than having my life and my career turn to utter shit. But, the people I used to work with don't give a shit about unions and workers' rights. Most of them are just fucking clueless. A lot of them were educated in the South, where unions have been demonized for decades. They wouldn't know Mother Jones if she came up and punched them in the face, let alone having ever heard of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire or the Haymarket riots.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:51 PM

45. Self-employed. I wish there was a union.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:53 PM

46. I don't really see a need for me to be in a union.

I like the flexibility of being able to take my career wherever I want it to go....not according to the set rules of a union. I've had 3 promotions in the past 18 months at my current company, which have included more than 3x more in raises than most people here have received. I've been promoted above people who have been here much longer than me and am currently trying to create a brand new position to get another promotion within the next 3 months. I have a feeling a union would have hindered some of that movement and compensation?

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:56 PM

48. JOINED, BLEW IT, GOT OUT

 

https://www.facebook.com/notes/ben-baity/unions-and-me/466618174123 Unions and me,,,

everyone I was in the union with is reteireing. Everyone without will never retire.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:59 PM

49. I wish I had a job to...

... join a union at.

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Response to 99Forever (Reply #49)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 06:19 PM

75. I'm in that category too

and there's not a category on the poll for that. And being over 50 is much if the reason for me. I have a long list of skills and education but that doesn't seem to be a good thing in the workforce these days.

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #75)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 08:30 PM

89. Yep...

.. if you are over 50 and looking for work, you might as well be invisible.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:59 PM

50. i'm now retired, but was in a labor union when i was working

solidarity!

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 05:02 PM

51. Full time student. nt

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 05:02 PM

52. Option missing: My workplace is unionized, but I work for the salary/management staff.

 

Not all jobs in even a unionized workplace are represented by unions.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 05:05 PM

53. I am not eligible for union membership

but I am a member of the Dramatists Guild which does have rules that protect playwrights.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 05:05 PM

54. I'll be joining IATSE this Monday.

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 05:07 PM

55. my marketing jobs....are not union

in the marketing field as a wine and spirits sales rep I am constantly struggling with contract only jobs.......I wish they will be union...however the pay is good but..no health care, no 401k, no social security-no sick days, no holidays, nobody gives a shit .

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 05:11 PM

56. They have been trying to organize my field for years

but my comrades are scared shitless even though the work we do makes billions. No worries though, soon it will all be outsourced forever and we'll all be living on the street.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 05:11 PM

58. I've done far better on my own.

Early in my career, I belonged to a union and felt it was holding me back. I got a different, non-union job and have never regretted the decision.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 05:13 PM

59. I'm retired after 32 years in the

International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades.....

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 05:14 PM

60. Union member for 32 years

Public employee union member for 32 years and still belong. Served as an officer several times and one term as president of my local. Still as committed today as ever, even though Governor Asshole Walker stripped away our collective bargaining rights.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 05:37 PM

63. I'm management (self-employed), plus a medical professional not subject to

supervision by higher ups (other than the authority of the veterinary board).

Even veterinarians who work for VCA, that evil cancerous corporation, aren't union. Nor are the veterinarians who work for the USDA. THOSE folks are management and supervise the packing plant inspectors, who are union.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 05:46 PM

65. There are two reason to join a union:


1) To protect yourself
2) To protect others

There's a reason why unions have been heavily associated with the Democratic party and that's because of #2. We're a party that fights on behalf of and protects those who have little power on their side of the fight: the poor, the different, the hated, the ones who lack connections, etc.

I'm a strong union supporter, even if I can never have access to one. My father was a union member and a strong one at that. He benefited from being a member. But even more so, because he believed so much in his union, others benefited from him being a member.


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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 05:46 PM

66. I am

Bu the reasons I hear about are the price of dues fees. To me, it's automatically withdrawn I never miss it and its well worth it. Occasionally I've run into people who miss the cut off for withdrawing and pay dues anyway. It's an open shop, but you have to notify in writing upon hire, and have one opportunity a year to withdraw. This has occasionally caused difficulties.

Mostly people are interested when we go into negotiations--- like this year--whether they are a member or not. I try to explain unions are the reason we GET to negotiate.

It's an uphill battle sometimes.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 05:54 PM

68. My industry is not organized; landscape construction

I am Pipefitters Local 13 social member...

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 05:55 PM

69. Texas had the first "closed shop" town in the entire country

Thurber in Erath County - a coal-mining powerhouse a century ago, now a ghost town that still boasts an impressive smokestack you can see from Interstate 20. A company town turned closed shop, and we beat the rest of the nation to it.

And now Texas is a right-to-work state. Dagnabbit.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)


Response to Heddi (Reply #71)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 06:05 PM

73. you've just described how I came to be an officer and activist in my union....

More-or-less. Although my situation is somewhat different because my union has always been pretty good for it's members (and my dues are LESS than $100/mo). But I found myself angry at the outcome of a membership vote that I felt didn't really represent the interests of colleagues in my department and college, and wrote a letter to the regional rep describing my disgust. Next thing I knew *I* was the department representative, and she had me attending executive board meetings regularly. Then I missed a meeting, and they made me an officer and elected me to the board, LOL.

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Response to Heddi (Reply #71)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 06:38 PM

79. Ok that's messed up

I'm with WSNA which is a strong nurses association. Nurses have very powerful voices, SEIU had no business inferring that, because they know this.

I'd file a grievance about the breaks. Someone did just that in my hospital and won. Read your contract and make sure protective language for filing is in there. I keep a copy our contract in my mail folder as well as 'unfair assignment' forms. They're there for anybody who wants them.

Sorry your experience has been so crappy!

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Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #79)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 09:41 PM

90. I deleted my previous post

because upon reflection, i don't trust my company to not find this and hold it against me. I'm pretty paranoid, even though my user name has no resemblance to my real name.

I will reiterate that I am unhappy with our union leadership in my company. I have been happy with other unions I have been a part of, and even happy with this union when I worked in a different department in the same company. The union itself seems to do a better job at other hospitals, and I am envious of the workers at those hospitals who get better employee safeguards than i do.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 06:00 PM

72. My employer has plenty of unions and unionized employees

I work in a salaried, corporate HR position, however. My position - I am the only one in my role in a company of over 70,000 people - is so narrow and so specific that there are very few like me around the U.S., thus affording me the ability to 'name my own price' so to speak. I worked very hard to be where I am today and my pay has gone up based on my performance and contributions, not my seniority.

This does not mean I'm not supportive of unions or the benefits they provide to workers who willingly choose to be represented.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 06:12 PM

74. I'm in Florida. Boo Rick Scott

Also, I'm not aware of an office temps union. I wish to heck there were one.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 06:32 PM

77. Retired NALC.

I was a union officer for most of my career.

The decline in union membership coincides with the decline of median incomes. Coincidence? I think not. We need a better alternative than the DLC/Third Way version of the Democratic Party.

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Response to hay rick (Reply #77)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 07:17 PM

83. that's why I'm so surprised that people are not beating down the doors...

...to get into unions and to organize workplaces that aren't currently union. Not only do most benefit directly, but their communities benefit, the floor is raised for their entire industry or profession, and the ripple effect creates a strong and vibrant middle class. Americans are willingly walking away from that. I don't get it.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 06:38 PM

78. My husband was a union steward before he retired.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 07:01 PM

80. Unemployed

and I used to belong to the Newspaper Guild. But newspapers are laying off people by the dozens, not hiring. Especially not people over 60.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 07:04 PM

81. There are no unions organizing my industry or profession but I support those that do!

 

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 07:10 PM

82. Military... So not a good idea

 

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 07:20 PM

84. Retired from GM/UAW local 160

GM Tech Center, Warren, MI.

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Response to michreject (Reply #84)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 07:26 PM

85. Nice

GREAT local.


Region 9 Local 153. Made blazers and S10's in Edison in the 80's. And I owned Blazers till they stopped making them in '04.


Three years till retirement.


The Union is a shell of it's former self. And it is sad.

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Response to DainBramaged (Reply #85)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 07:32 PM

86. good luck with your retirement, my friend....

I've got five or six more years. But with CALPERS behind my pension, I'm about as confident as any American not sitting in Congress can be that my pension will be there when I'm ready. Why don't more Americans DEMAND that?

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 07:33 PM

87. Because the aardvark's won't let me.....

they are all against me!

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 07:49 PM

88. kick for the evening crowd....

My union has significantly improved my work conditions, and maintained good salary and benefits against MASSIVE take-back attempts during the recent recession. I have a secure pension, with excellent benefits, including continuation of my health insurance and a fantastic early retirement program.

Why don't more Americans DEMAND similar work conditions?

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 10:17 PM

92. Retired last year, never been in a union

My perspective as someone who lives in a region where union membership is rare is that the only way to get in a union is to be related to someone already in the union.

I certainly support the idea of unions but frankly it seems to me to be another layer of politics, if you're good at retail politics you'll do well in the union and probably do pretty well without the union. If you're not good at office politics there really isn't much help for you anyway.

A family member of mine is in a theatrical union, loves the pay and benefits but hates the political jockeying for position to get the plum jobs and keep working consistently. Unfortunately that type of work is almost always done on a tight schedule and usually involves 12 or even more hours per day of fairly physical work, difficult for someone approaching sixty even if they are very good at their job.

These days he's mostly self employed, even though he makes only a fraction of the hourly union rate he works a lot more often, has a lot more control over his hours and feels much less stressed overall.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 11:07 PM

93. no union nesessay in my line of work.

 

I do sales for a large data storage company. been doing this for several years. Salary + healthy commish. But for many years i was in labor force, and we had a direct competitor that was a union shop. Over they years, we had a few guys leave us and go over to the other side, join the union. The biggest complaint was they were forced to pay union dues, plus had to contribute to an annuity they wanted nothing to do with, had no choice. You were not allowed to open your own 401k, you had to contribute to the retirement fund, which "no surprise" was under the union leaders control. Sorry, but F that.
they literally took home less than %50 of their pay.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 11:33 PM

94. I don't think it would enhance my situation.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 12:51 AM

96. I'm a contract worker in a federal healthcare facility in TX

So while I *could* join the union and pay the dues, etc...they still wouldn't be able to give me the full protection that they give the workers who work directly for the facility.
Plus...to be honest, I am not that impressed with their union. Staffing sucks, job descriptions are blurred, people waaaaayyyy overuse the growled response of "I'm goooiinnnggg toooo the UNION" when they are in danger of being outed for not doing their minimal requirements of their job description.

They are allowed to just NOT show up for work up to 2 hours after their start time and they get away with it. They can wait that full 2 hours to finally decide to call in SICK for their entire shift. They can show up at work, look at their assignment and walk right back out the door, no questions asked...and THAT does wonders for patient care, let me tell ya.

Biggest thing that gets me is the staffing issue. I hear over and over how unions help other states' health care facilities with poor staffing...yet the one at our place....nothing. At all.

The only time you see them intervene is when someone, like I said, is not performing at their job and the union is called in by them to help them keep their job...no matter how badly they are performing.


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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 01:03 AM

97. Proud thug with AFT

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 01:14 AM

98. Self employed now, but when I was not...

 

For a while I drove a big rig. The union guys made MEGA bucks compared to everyone else, and had the best jobs. Unfortunately, you don't just get to join the union. You have to know the right people, and I did not. It was basically like a special club for the cool kids. If you knew someone or were related you got in, if not no such luck.

It would be really cool to have a real union that allowed people to join and fought for everyone, but I think that's kinda a thing of the past now.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 09:25 AM

100. We have one, but it has no bargaining power

and we aren't required to join or pay dues and I'm public sector. So it is rendered impotent by all standards. I do not live in a right to work state.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 09:29 AM

101. Unemployed at the moment.

When I worked landscaping we were treated fairly and paid well - I don't know if there is a landscaping union.
I have worked in kitchens and retail also. There wasn't any union there either.

edit to add - I'm not anti-union, I just never thought about it.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 09:30 AM

102. I work for an international non-governmental organization -

there are no labor unions for that. We do however have a Staff Association that functions in some respects like a union and I am a dues paying member.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 09:31 AM

103. I manage a public library

and have union employees. We have very few issues.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 10:14 AM

107. I'm considered "management" (but not really)

Like a lot of IT folks in Telecom, I get stuck with the "management" label even though I manage no employees and am on the "tech" career track.

Wish I could join.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 10:29 AM

108. no unions in my field

Even though we strongly support them.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 10:59 AM

109. Currently unemployed

But waiting at patiently to hear about a great unionized public service job. I am excited about being active within the union.

Never had the privilege of working in a unionized environment and I look forward to it.

Solidarity!

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Response to MAD Dave (Reply #109)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 11:07 AM

110. good luck!

Hope you get the new job and it turns out well!

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 11:42 AM

112. My boss is a tough negotiator

 

I asked him for a raise about a month ago. He told me,"Get your ass back to work." That was the end of the conversation. I work in a field that works with some union shops, so I looked around to see if there was a Union that would represent me with my boss. Then I remembered who my boss was and decided not to do that.

I have worked in corporate America for going on twenty years, sometimes in union shops and sometimes not. Sometimes the non-union employers were better than the union employers. Still, things happen from time to time. I was laid off in 2009 shortly after President Obama was elected, the entire plant went out of business. I spent six months watching the intense economic destruction going on around me and decided to get some new training. My family was almost forced out of our house by the end of the year. Only the President's mortage plan let us keep it.

Then my current boss called me. It was a small shop, just me and my boss when we got started. Now we've got two teams and we're starting to look at a third. When I want to see my boss, I have to go find a mirror. It's a challenge every single day, but I'm happier doing what I'm doing now than I have been in years working for somebody else.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 11:59 AM

113. Proud 'thug' here......

?n=3092

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 05:42 PM

116. There is a labor union in my workplace - but they won't let my position qualify for membership.

Part-Time Local Gov Employee. You need full-time to be a union member receiving pension. All I have is this crappy 401k.

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Response to w8liftinglady (Reply #117)

Fri Feb 1, 2013, 02:09 AM

121. good luck to you!

It's hard for me to relate to labor conditions in states like Texas. Here in California, nurses unions have clout. At my workplace-- a Cal State University-- I sit at the table with vice presidents and other top administrators as a representative of my faculty union. The relationship isn't always 100% collegial, but mostly it is, and we have that place at the table when we need it. They don't always do what we ask, but they generally listen when we ask. That's the power of a strong contract and an organized work force.

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Response to mike_c (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 06:27 PM

119. No unions in my company for my role

and I would need to do some serious research into any union prior to supporting or joining. They aren't necessarily any better or less unethical than the company people work for.

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Response to rjj621 (Reply #119)

Fri Feb 1, 2013, 02:20 AM

122. I can tell you that my union membership experiences have been 100% positive....

First, as a telcom worker in the Communications Workers of America, and for most of my academic career as a member of the California Faculty Assn. My union held the line during the last several years of budget cuts in California-- we made a few structural concessions in our last contract negotiation, but utterly prevailed against the take-backs management tried to impose under the guise that "no crisis should go unexploited."

And then there's this: I'm retiring in five or six years at 63 or 64, with an excellent lifetime pension that my partner will get to keep for her lifetime as well, full health benefits, etc. One of the last great defined benefit pension plans in America that LOTS of retiring California public employees enjoy. I started this thread a bit naive I suspect, because I cannot for the life of me understand why ALL American workers do not demand the same deal I have. And I have these benefits because my union has my back, and makes the largest university in the WORLD bargain in good faith. That's the power of collective bargaining. I cannot imagine why anyone would turn their back on that.

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