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Tue Feb 19, 2013, 12:03 PM

What's So Great About Unions, Anyway?

A lot.

Union members keep our communities clean, teach our children, make sure we have power during and after storms, respond to emergencies, make sure we're comfortable and cared for in the hospital and so much more.

A new website, @Work, highlights all the innovative work unions do in our communities every day. It busts a lot of the myths and attacks that union members are "thugs," lazy, etc. It also provides human faces.

Learn more and please spread the word!

www.aflcio.org/atWork

54 replies, 3285 views

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Arrow 54 replies Author Time Post
Reply What's So Great About Unions, Anyway? (Original post)
jtown1123 Feb 2013 OP
riverbendviewgal Feb 2013 #1
badtoworse Feb 2013 #2
RedstDem Feb 2013 #3
badtoworse Feb 2013 #10
RedstDem Feb 2013 #13
badtoworse Feb 2013 #15
RedstDem Feb 2013 #16
riverbendviewgal Feb 2013 #4
RedstDem Feb 2013 #5
RedstDem Feb 2013 #9
coldbeer Feb 2013 #33
badtoworse Feb 2013 #14
RedstDem Feb 2013 #17
badtoworse Feb 2013 #20
RedstDem Feb 2013 #24
badtoworse Feb 2013 #32
RedstDem Feb 2013 #37
badtoworse Feb 2013 #38
leftyohiolib Feb 2013 #6
jtown1123 Feb 2013 #31
Bake Feb 2013 #7
JohnnyRingo Feb 2013 #47
badtoworse Feb 2013 #51
Union Scribe Feb 2013 #53
jtown1123 Feb 2013 #26
leftyohiolib Feb 2013 #8
riverbendviewgal Feb 2013 #11
JohnnyRingo Feb 2013 #12
jtown1123 Feb 2013 #27
Solly Mack Feb 2013 #18
99Forever Feb 2013 #19
Orrex Feb 2013 #21
jtown1123 Feb 2013 #35
Orrex Feb 2013 #42
kimmylavin Feb 2013 #22
jtown1123 Feb 2013 #28
randr Feb 2013 #23
jtown1123 Feb 2013 #30
Third Doctor Feb 2013 #25
jtown1123 Feb 2013 #29
Kezzy604 Feb 2013 #41
KG Feb 2013 #34
jtown1123 Feb 2013 #36
ErikJ Feb 2013 #39
jtown1123 Feb 2013 #40
Gorp Feb 2013 #43
jtown1123 Feb 2013 #45
discharge Feb 2013 #44
jtown1123 Feb 2013 #46
Union Scribe Feb 2013 #54
TBF Feb 2013 #48
maggiesfarmer Feb 2013 #49
Blue Owl Feb 2013 #50
Festivito Feb 2013 #52

Response to jtown1123 (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 12:16 PM

1. A union gets fair and good wages for its members

I know...
I worked in a union and not in a union

The union job was better..

My husband worked in a union.. He made good wages and they were good to him when he was dying.

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Response to riverbendviewgal (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 12:20 PM

2. My experience was different

Early in my career, I was in DC37 of the AFSCME and found that it held me back. I've had non-union jobs since then and have done far better on my own.

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Response to badtoworse (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 12:25 PM

3. Unions dont like slackers

they're probably better off without you....

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Response to RedstDem (Reply #3)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 12:49 PM

10. Actually, it was the opposite problem

I was fresh out of school doing piping design work on a major water supply project and was pretty enthusiastic. The union rep got on my case because I was turning out design drawings faster than he thought I should. He said I was making the older guys look bad.

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Response to badtoworse (Reply #10)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 01:00 PM

13. So you were a unionized mechanical engineer?

never met one in my 30 years as a steamfitter making coordinated piping drawings....

you're completely full of sh*t!!!

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Response to RedstDem (Reply #13)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 01:08 PM

15. Look up DC37, Local 375 Civil Service Technical Guild

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Response to badtoworse (Reply #15)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 01:15 PM

16. Since you're too productive to be in a union

you should continue down your non union path to world domination.
that's the best part of a union, if you don't want to be in one, don't be!



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Response to badtoworse (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 12:28 PM

4. I found that in a non union job

slackers who brown nosed got the good positions. it was the mentality of to get a good job it was "who you know" or "who you blow".

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Response to riverbendviewgal (Reply #4)


Response to riverbendviewgal (Reply #4)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 12:48 PM

9. you know I misread your post

I apologize..!!

sorry bout that, I read "union" instead of "non union"



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Response to RedstDem (Reply #9)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 02:34 PM

33. Thanks RedstDem

I did the same thing.

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Response to riverbendviewgal (Reply #4)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 01:06 PM

14. There is no substitute for knowing the right people

But there is also no substitute for developing a reputation for being competent and doing quality work. I've had 10 jobs over a 40 year career and in my last 4 jobs, the employer recruited me. One even paid me a bonus to sign. I've been hired three times, at three different firms by the same individual.

I do agree with you about the ass kissers, but only up to a certain point. Eventually, everyone, including senior management, recognizes an empty suit and they usually get the boot.

I'm not disparaging unions - they've done a lot of good, but they're not for everyone.

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Response to badtoworse (Reply #14)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 01:22 PM

17. sounds like a little cronyism going on within your 40 year career

another good thing about unions, is they stabilize a work force for the signatory contractors.
you sound like the type that jump from company to company. making that sort of thing necessary..lol

thanks!

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Response to RedstDem (Reply #17)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 01:35 PM

20. My job tenure was highly variable

I worked for one employer for 15+ years, another for 7 years and one for 5 years. The union job lasted 3 1/2 years. Several job changes were due to mergers or the company being sold. The shortest job was a little over a year - the company was acquired and the acquiring company had no head count for me.

I've worked the last 30 years in the electric power business. I wouldn't call it cronyism, I would say that everybody knows everbody - maybe two degrees of separation in the industry.

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Response to badtoworse (Reply #20)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 02:07 PM

24. so you turned out to be a rat electrician?

and you decided that was the best course, after being held back, by being TOO productive as a unionized "pipe designer", which of course you would have needed to have gone to at least four years of university, just to get your foot in the door at a mechanical design firm as an INTERN, much less a practicing, licensed, mechanical engineer.....

and you threw at all away, for the glamorous life of a project manger for a non union electrical contractor...of which they are a dime a dozen.

you are full of it...







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Response to RedstDem (Reply #24)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 02:28 PM

32. Most of my career in electric power has been developing projects, both domestic and international.

The highlight was being on the team that developed and built a 750 MW combined cycle facility in Colombia (2 years to develop and 2 1/2 more to build) in the mid 90's. I've also done projects in Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and Ireland. Domestically, I've done projects in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Texas and California. Most of the projects have been gas fired turbines, but I have had some experience with wind and solar.

I've managed power assets as well, For 6 years, I was an asset manager for 3 plants totaling 950 MW in PJM (mid-Atlantic region west to about Illinois). For the last two years, I've been advising financial services firms that want to invest in energy infrastructure.

It's been a damn interesting career. Why are you so anxious to put it down?

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Response to badtoworse (Reply #32)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 02:39 PM

37. i dont give a rats ass about your career

when you spout a bunch of bullshit about unions and being told your "working too hard" or fast and your union told you to slow down and they were "holding you back", I just want to point out what total bullshit that is....

I believe if you ever worked union, you were probably kicked out for slacking, and you make up a buncha bs to post online out of anger....

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Response to RedstDem (Reply #37)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 02:43 PM

38. It happened. I don't care whether you believe it or not.

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Response to badtoworse (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 12:39 PM

6. do you enjoy weekends off - vacations - paid sick time - unless you're in management you've

benefitted from unions. your salary is also a benefit from them. you want to know what conditions of employment would be like without unions? read a little history.

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #6)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 02:25 PM

31. and they're still incredibly important

Give employers an inch, they will take a mile.

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Response to badtoworse (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 12:40 PM

7. Good for you.

Not true for the rest of us. Go out on your own, scab. See who helps you now.

Bake

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Response to badtoworse (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 05:32 PM

47. I understand your point...

I worked 30 years for Packard Electric Systems/Delphi and retired 10 years ago at 49 years of age with a full pension. I was represented by the IUE the entire time.

I had many friends who worked in management as floor foreman, and while the IUE suffered a period when "concessions" were a popular bargaining chip, they would often move first on those salary workers, giving them the concessions without negotiation before demanding the union workers take the same. One of the things we gained in exchange for concessions was a guaranteed lifetime employment.

As my salaried friends took one hit after another through the '80s and '90s I'd often ask them why they didn't form their own union to stem the backward slide that was handed down to them. The answer was always the same: They'd thrust a thumb to the neighboring department and say "because I don't want to earn the same as that asshole", and "I want compensated on my own merits based on my performance evaluation".

When GM decided it wanted to spin off Packard Electric as it's own independent company (Delphi), the company sought cooperation from the union. The IUE asked GM for assurance that it's members would be insulated if the new company failed. GM agreed that if that should happen, General Motors would assume the retirement benefits of retirees, and put it in writing.

To the surprise of many, Delphi did indeed fail in the late '90s. In the bankruptcy hearings Judge Drain made the decision that the IUE deserved a seat at the table along with other defaulted creditors. The salary workers, having a handshake deal, had no such position of advantage but Delphi promised them they wouldn't turn their back on them.

When the Big Three faced bankruptcy a few years ago the government stepped in and loaned them the money to continue operations. Thanks to the Obama administration, my pension continued unabated, in large part because of that contract signed by GM years earlier, but the salary employees suffered terrible cuts of up to 75% to their retirement. They had no one to appeal to because of their "every man for himself" policy that served them so well up to that point. Aged and unemployable, they had no choice but to find a way to restore their benefits.

Recently, the salary workers banded together and formed a group that would pool their resources and fight for "parity" and "equal treatment" by the company. Lost on them was the irony that they were actually forming a union seeking a binding contract after the fact. Personally, I believe they deserve compensation as agreed upon, but without a signed legal agreement between them and GM they haven't made much headway.

I have another friend who used to see things your way. His late father owned a business and pounded into his head from youth the evils of organized labor. My friend got a job long ago at a non-union plant that made extrusions for construction. When the workers threatened to form a union, my friend accepted a salary position that would prevent him from joining the union (the union ultimately failed to form).

The company is known for ridding itself of high wage senior employees and bringing in fresh blood for lower cost at both the hourly and salary positions. Last year my friend, who had 26 years invested in the company was called up to medical for a random drug test. Unfortunately, he had taken a Vicodin a couple days previous and failed. He was told to clean out his locker immediately and was unceremoniously escorted off the property. There was no appeal process. He pleaded with management to restore his employment, even offering to surrender himself to rehab. He pointed out how he served the company so faithfully and fought against union organization.

One could say my friend knew the rules and set himself up for termination, and I agree. I was pretty tough on him for making it so easy for the company to reduce costs by sending him packing, but if he had a union behind him he'd at least have someone behind him. He wouldn't have been alone in that cold office, reduced to begging with tears in his eyes for a second chance. Had he had representation he likely would have seen rehabilitation and gone on to retirement in a few years, and the company would probably not be able to continue finding excuses for firing employees when they reached a certain wage scale.

My friend is still looking for another job at 58 years of age, and it appears bleak. He's burning through what's left of his 401k as one company after another expresses no interest in hiring someone so close to Social Security age. He has a chance at UPS if an opening comes up, but it's a longshot, mostly because of his age. It's a union job with good benefits, and for the first time in his life, he's hopeful to pay the dues and join the brotherhood.

I know what you probably think. You believe your loyal and productive employment record and your educational background would land you in another job in a week if worse comes to worst and you find yourself on he streets without a job. You just have to hope you aren't old when that happens because you'll find out how much that one on one negotiation is worth to a company that now sees you as "holding them back".

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Response to JohnnyRingo (Reply #47)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 08:31 PM

51. You make a lot of good points

There is no question that many non-unionized workers have been screwed by management. There is also no question that unions have accomplished a lot of good things for labor in terms of better salary and benefits. By the same token, however, unions aren't perfect and don't have clean hands either. Anyone that can't see that is either ignorant or is just not being honest.

I'll be the first to admit that I've been fortunate in many ways. I got involved in the independent power business in the early 80's when it was in its infancy and had a lot of experience by the 90's when it really took off. I was also fortunate to work for some very good companies that took care of their people and had a number of bosses that were extremely loyal to their staff ( there were one or two real scumbags too, but they were the exception). At the risk of boasting, I was good at what I did and always got excellent performance reviews. That, with the network of contacts I had developed, made it relatively easy for me to find work when I was out of a job which happened a number of times because of mergers and once because of a management change. I've had 10 jobs in my career and I'm on my 4th job since I turned 58 (I'm almost 63). If and when the current job tanks, I will probably retire.

All I've said in this thread is that unions aren't for everyone and that my experience with them has been negative. I'm sorry if that's perceived as union bashing.

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Response to badtoworse (Reply #2)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 03:53 AM

53. Thanks for coming out of DU hibernation to trash unions

lol

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Response to riverbendviewgal (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 02:19 PM

26. Absolutely

Unions enable you to get a voice on the job. No brainer.

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Response to jtown1123 (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 12:44 PM

8. non-union shops are usually lower-quality work & famous for short-cutting and not doing what was

agreed to upfront. and if they break something they dissapear on you, they change their name and they're off to screw the next victim.

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #8)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 12:54 PM

11. Unions actually help sometimes non union company employees

I worked a non union job after working a union job...


The non union company was a national across the country corporation.. When they heard the unions were trying to organize the workers, the company actually increased the wages, benefits and vacation time.

The company was a much better company than Walmart...and it is in Canada.

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Response to jtown1123 (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 12:59 PM

12. K&R

Thanx for posting.

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Response to JohnnyRingo (Reply #12)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 02:19 PM

27. You're very welcome n/t.

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Response to jtown1123 (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 01:24 PM

18. K&R

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Response to jtown1123 (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 01:25 PM

19. K&R

I detest rats and scabs, but that's just me.

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Response to jtown1123 (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 01:38 PM

21. Yeah, but they can't wire a Superbowl stadium's electrical system worth shit

Oh, wait. That was non-union labor.


Go figure.

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Response to Orrex (Reply #21)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 02:38 PM

35. You almost made me mad there

I see what you did

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Response to jtown1123 (Reply #35)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 03:12 PM

42. :evilgrin:

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Response to jtown1123 (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 01:45 PM

22. Union family here...

We also make your movies and tv shows.
Not nearly as important as the things you mentioned, of course, but Hollywood is a union town.

I work with a bunch of men and women who - even if they never graduated high school - can work with their own two hands and make a salary that can support a family, with savings left over.
Crazy idea - a one income family!

They work hard, are required to take safety classes, follow rules, and look out for each other.
It's not perfect, but it's pretty damn great.

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Response to kimmylavin (Reply #22)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 02:20 PM

28. I love the Hollywood connection

I always think about all the amazing union members who make movies happen...so awesome. Work connects us all.

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Response to jtown1123 (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 02:06 PM

23. Anyone who doesn't know and appreciate the value of our Unions

does not know squat about what it was like to work in America before Unions.

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Response to randr (Reply #23)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 02:22 PM

30. Sad thing is

with rising income inequality, employers are trying to take advantage of workers more than ever. It's important we get the truth out that workers with a voice on the job is good for the entire economy, and not just people in unions.

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Response to jtown1123 (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 02:12 PM

25. I have worked with Union

jobs and non union jobs and I have to say I had a better deal with the union jobs. The non union jobs offered lower pay and crappy or no benefits. Plus the better workers were passed over for promotions in favor for the ass kissers. Another problem that I saw is that there is no clear distinction between job titles. That shifts at management's whim. of course your pay did not reflect your extra duties.

For what I have seen recently a lot of people don't see that the rise of the Unions created the middle class in this country and their decline coincides with it's shrinkage. Unions are not perfect, corruption does exist but I have been in situations that I really wished that I had some type of representation. There is a difference in being Probusiness and Prolabor.

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Response to Third Doctor (Reply #25)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 02:20 PM

29. Unions and the rise of the middle class are directly linked

It's not wonder corporations and right-wingers demonize us....

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Response to Third Doctor (Reply #25)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 03:08 PM

41. I totally agree with you.

I don't always love my union, but I am much happier they are here supporting me than to try and get by without them. I work in a very antagonistic environment, with both the administration and the "Residents". Especially in Michigan with all the Pro-business people in charge right now we are fighting tooth and nail to keep what we have.

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Response to jtown1123 (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 02:36 PM

34. never worked Union

unfortunately.

but Unions were actually a tide that truly raised all working class boats.

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Response to KG (Reply #34)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 02:38 PM

36. You can organize!

Depends on industry, though.

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Response to jtown1123 (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 02:45 PM

39. Unions keep Fox News running

Everybody on Fox News is in the AFSCME union. Yet they continually bash unions. That seems hypocritical.

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Response to ErikJ (Reply #39)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 02:51 PM

40. Interesting

Never thought of that...wow, really hypocritical.

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Response to jtown1123 (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 03:30 PM

43. From the subject line I thought I was going to have to tear you a new orifice.

 

HOWEVER, from the body of the message I can see that it was a rhetorical question and you and I are on the same page. Unions rock. WalMart used to be all about "US MADE" and "UNION MADE" - now it's all "MADE IN CHINA". Union busting is evil and best and probably worse.

You can keep the orifices that you have. No need for a new one. We do however need more unions.

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Response to Gorp (Reply #43)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 04:09 PM

45. Ha, that was the whole point!

Need more progressives in general on board with union members and what it means to have a voice at work.

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Response to jtown1123 (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 03:50 PM

44. Visit ''Union Thugs''

 

On Facebook. Seriously, it's a great pro-Union site that produces a lot of great pro-Union memes.

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Response to discharge (Reply #44)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 04:13 PM

46. Love Hugs from Union 'Thugs'

Some awesome stuff there.

This one is good too:

http://www.unionhugs.com/

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Response to discharge (Reply #44)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 03:54 AM

54. +1 I love seeing them in my timeline! nt

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Response to jtown1123 (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 06:20 PM

48. Folks will find out when we don't have them anymore

and minimum wage is completely gone. Folks are too busy taking standardized tests to learn history. Minimum wage, child labor laws, 5 day work week - these all were hard-fought battles.

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Response to jtown1123 (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 07:20 PM

49. my thoughts on unions and a question

never been in a union, never had an immediate family member in a union. I'm neither pro nor anti-union from a philosophical point of view.

From a legal point of view, I believe unions are an expression of the freedom of assembly protected by the first amendment. The subject of 'right to work' is one that I haven't yet developed fully mature positions around. On one hand, if I'm looking for a job, I don't want union membership to be a gate to me getting the job. On the other hand, if employer A and union B negotiate a deal, one condition of which is that the union is sole supplier of the labor, I feel that is a right of both the employer and union to negotiate that point and the government should 'stay out'.

One negative perception about unions that I have is that unions tend to advocate for a pay structure where variation in pay between employees is relatively minor (compared to non-unionized work forces). My perception is also that unions tend to advocate for pay increases to be driven primarily be tenure, with job performance a secondary concern.

I'm a software engineer. Within my field, the variation between skill levels of experienced software engineers is enormous: an average software engineer is typically 2 - 3 times as productive as an under-performing engineer, an outstanding software engineer 2 - 3 times as productive as an average engineer. Perception is that if software engineers would unionize, then the pay scale would likely not account for this significant variation in skill levels. From my (admittedly limited) knowledge of the job market for software engineers, the current non-unionized model allows for variation in pay scales to reflect skills although top performing engineers typically have to change companies to get that bump. We don't typically see the exponential salary variation that would be commensurate with output, but software engineers with proven track records and solid recommendations can obtain salaries 150% of average engineers.

Do unions have a model that allows for similar compensation variation on scale with skill level variation?

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Response to jtown1123 (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 08:22 PM

50. Yeah, fairness and safety standards suck

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Response to jtown1123 (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 03:49 AM

52. 40 hours a week instead of 60 or more. Breaks, Saturdays, vacation days, sick days, ...

The list is long.

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