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Tech Firms Oppose Union Organizing

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the fears-of-a-40-hour-week dept.

Businesses 715

cedarhillbilly passes along a piece from on the chilly reception that tech firms and lobbying groups are giving to a bill promoting union formation, which has a chance of passing in a more strongly Democratic congress and with a Democratic president. "Up to now, large tech groups have been on the sidelines in what is likely to be one of the roughest fights in Congress next year. A few, however, are preparing to weigh in. That makes other tech lobbyists nervous that, by doing so, the industry could sacrifice relatively good relationships with Democrats and, therefore, jeopardize some of their other legislative priorities."

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heh (5, Interesting)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 5 years ago | (#26143975)

It's interesting that every single person in the article is against it except for a dnc congressman. The end of the article says he bemoans the lack of union growth. Why would he be concerned about union growth? Why would he be so concerned about union growth that he would try and take steps to lower the bar on organizing groups of people who probably don't even want it? Oh yeah - money. This is why I hate politics. This has nothing to do with serving people it is all about finding revenue streams to fund their next election. Maybe they can get the rest of the country to be like the state of Washington and force people into unions, fire the ones that wont join and rack up plenty of contributions that way.
I was a union member for a number of years. (UFCW) Fortunately it was in a right to work state and it was my choice. And fortunately it was possible to relatively private about joining or not joining. None of this harassment that can come in other environments. Unions are just like employers - they are good to keep in check against one another but I think it is a mistake to think they are purely for the employee. They quickly fall to Pournelle's Iron Law [] . This whole affair is a marked reminder of that fact.
I don't think the Republicans are any better for what it is worth - but I think at least the discussion on what this is all about out to be frank rather than draped in a bunch of spin. Being cautious about unions is not being anti employee.

Re:heh (5, Insightful)

canUbeleiveIT (787307) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144067)

I too was in the UFCW and came away from the experience with the opinion that bad employees need unions more than good employees. Good employees are so hard to come by at the wage level of UFCW members that employers are loathe to lose them for almost any reason.

Unions tend to put companies at a competitive disadvantage--auto industry, steel, etc. IMO, this isn't because they necessarily pay a higher wage, but also because it costs so much to have to keep a crappy employee. Higher admin costs, workplace morale, etc suffer. If you look into Trader Joe's, a non-union shop that pays the highest wages in the industry, you will see how well a company can do if they 1) pay a livable wage, 2) choose employees wisely, and 3) have a company culture that rewards effort and efficiency.

One of the most ridiculous things that I have ever seen was the UFCW paying people minimum wage to picket a non-union store that was paying a higher starting wage than the union store.

Re:heh (5, Interesting)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144107)

I had some run ins with store managers that had napoleon complexes and the union got my back. I could never have worked for the union though because they had to spend a lot of time trying to help people who deserved to get fired keep their jobs.
But it was a time and place when the employers really didn't care if they kept you or not and didn't want to give us decent insurance and the union helped that to happen - so I felt they provided more pros than cons. But it's easy for it to tip the other way.

Re:heh (2, Insightful)

canUbeleiveIT (787307) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144233)

But it was a time and place when the employers really didn't care if they kept you or not and didn't want to give us decent insurance and the union helped that to happen - so I felt they provided more pros than cons. But it's easy for it to tip the other way.

I understand that. I guess that I was less than clear. When I started in the late '70s, the grocery store business was a regional industry for the most part and the company I worked for paid one of the highest wages of any employer in the area. In fact, my wages were so much higher than that of any of my friends'--even the college grads. So, management's attitude was that workers were "a dime a dozen," which, quite frankly, was true since there were hundreds of people behind you waiting for a shot at your job.

However, those higher wages left the door open for competitors to undercut the company I worked for, which is what happened. By the time I left the UFCW, the starting wage at the UFCW company was significantly lower than the non-union places.

Re:heh (4, Insightful)

elevtro (1012599) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144075)

I couldn't agree more with what you've said. I was a member of the IBEW and while entry level wages were higher, top end wages were lower. Not to mention the dues and other contributions that were expected. Then the near pointless meetings. In every other labor job I held they were non-union and the starting wages were lower, but the overall environment was more friendly, and we got a lot more work done. In the end that lower starting wage when you compare the take home, was about the same. So basically in the union you made more to give it to the greedy people running the union. Now working as a sys admin, I would hate it I were somehow forced to be in a union. I might have to climb the management ladder just to stay out of one.

Re:heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26144123)

As a sysadmin I'm considering joining the union that would represent me as a way of:

* Keeping my pay at a decent level
* Protecting me from my employer

Anonymous for the latter reason...

For the record, this is in a British university with a deficit problem it's desparately trying to resolve at the same time it's inserting an extra layer of management.

Re:heh (4, Insightful)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144079)

And this is why I'm for a Constitutional Amendment adding "2 term" term limits for all electable positions. We all know the old saying about power corrupting. Let's not give ANY politician of ANY stripe the amount of time in office needed to consolidate his or her power into anything approaching "absolute". We all know what happens then.

Far too many of our politicians have been in office far too long. Political office was SUPPOSED to be a "volunteer" short-term position. Now our "Imperial" senators and house members have platinum-plated health care, platinum-plated private schooling for their kids, and SOLID PLATINUM retirement plans. It's GOT to stop. Our senators have already proven time and again that they don't feel beholden to us as they should. It's time to remove them all and START OVER. This time with term limits and minimal pay.

Return power to where it belongs: The states and the People.

Re:heh (4, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144133)

I tend to agree with you about term limits, if for no other reason the fact that politicians almost universally oppose them. How bad can they be if that is the case?

Re:heh (4, Interesting)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144139)

Term limits have their own set of problems. California did this back in the 1990s, and I was an enthusiastic supporter of the concept. The problem is that it tends to bring in ideologues who have to run on their professed beliefs rather than their track record. I would gladly scrap term limits to get back politicians that can actually compromise with each other instead of walk the party line.

Re:heh (3, Interesting)

josecanuc (91) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144239)

Just thinking here... What about the limit being only 2 consecutive terms, but either no upper limit on number of terms or a high limit like 6 or 8 terms?

That might allow a chance to see something different, but allow the opportunity to bring back a good person if change didn't work out.

Re:heh (3, Interesting)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144435)

I suspect that you'll end up with professional place-holders, or you'll end up with politicians working in circles in places like California where the legislative bodies use the same term lengths and election cycles. The Assembly becomes the Senate and vice versa every eight years. It adds complexity where it doesn't really need to be.

Term limits [was Re:heh] (1)

lwriemen (763666) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144211)

Sure, but let's make it universal to all jobs. If we can apply generalities to politicians, then we can surely apply them to all job positions: all managers are sycophantic ladder climbers, all software engineers are fungible, all union workers are lazy and incompetent, etc.

Re:heh (2, Interesting)

johnsonav (1098915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144355)

... and START OVER. This time with term limits and minimal pay.

I'm with you on the term limits. But as to decreasing their pay, there's no better way to assure that congress stays the realm of the already rich. Congressmen make $169,300 dollars per year. If you go much lower than that, many people who would make excellent representatives would not be able to afford it. The rich already have the advantage of spending their personal wealth on their campaigns. I don't see how giving them one more advantage over the rest of us is a good idea.

I think a good congressman is worth every penny of what he earns today. But term limits would help assure that they can't suckle from the government tit forever.

Re:heh (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144275)

It's interesting that every single person in the article is against it except for a dnc congressman.

What you need to ask at that point is "Is that the actual spread of opinion, or is it evidence that the article is so biased as to be laughable"? I'm not saying which way I think it is with the referenced article, just that you seem to have forgotten that the second possibility is even possible.

Re:heh (2, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144383)

many IT shops treat their It people badly. They get paid less than the building maintenance people and are expected to perform tasks that are an order of magnitude more complex.

These same shops charge Customers $90-$120.00 an hour for IT work, and then pay the IT guy $19.00 an hour POCKETING The huge profits. Unionizing would require the company to pay a decent wage, not allow them to work them 60-80 hours a week without overtime, etc....

If companies would treat the IT guys honestly, there would not be any whispers of unionizing.

Re:heh (2, Interesting)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144511)

I know people in IT all over the US, and I never hear whispers of unionizing. Most IT people seem to be against unionizing.

Where I work, I know what I make and I know the billing rate on the contract, and between my pay and the benefits that I get, about half of the billing rate is going to me. The client's management has some serious issues that need to get worked out, but a union isn't going to fix that.

UAW (2, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 5 years ago | (#26143981)

Unions worked so well for factories and the car industry, why not extend them to a completely different TYPE of work, 60 years later in a completely different economic landscape? DUH.

Unions = FAIL.

Re:UAW (5, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144037)

Funny how Unions are also the reason that we have safe working conditions and a reasonable minimum wage in the UK.

I'm not denying that unionisation can bring downsides - strikes, unreasonable pay demands, political grandstanding etc - but without it we wouldn't have a lot of the benefits of collective bargaining that we have now.

I also find it odd that so many americans find the very idea (of workers gathering together to form a stronger position for bargaining with employers) somehow offensive. It seems in the US that the party with more power (the employer) should be allowed to tread all over the weaker individuals in society (employees) because every last one of you is going to be that guy next.

You aren't. You're turkeys voting for christmas. Just to bring a seasonal theme in :)

Re:UAW (5, Insightful)

the_womble (580291) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144109)

I also find it odd that so many americans find the very idea (of workers gathering together to form a stronger position for bargaining with employers) somehow offensive.


Good for employees at a cost to employers ==
socialism == evil

Flawless reasoning!

Re:UAW (3, Insightful)

jabster (198058) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144285)

You know, if you guys are so sure that all employees really want unions, explain how eliminating the secret ballot is a good thing?

The big problem with that bill is that it essentially creates a union if 50%+1 people sign a "yes to the union" card. Currently, it just means that there then has to be a vote, again by secret ballot.

How many people are really going to NOT sign that card when Vinny, surrounded by his two goons, "asks" them to sign it. After all, that's a nice car you have there. It'd be a real shame if something happened to it. And what a beautiful wife and lovely kids.

This thread should not be about the validity or need for unions. It should be about how employees should have the right to -freely- choose if they want to unionize.

And that means a vote by secret ballot. Not this new proposed method.


Re:UAW (3, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144127)

That unions were the mechanism that helped bring about safe working conditions and better wages doesn't mean that they were the only possible mechanism, just that they were the mechanism that became part of history. They deserve credit for this, but it doesn't necessarily make them relevant going forward.

At this point (in the U.S., I don't know about the UK), many of the worker protections are codified as law, and there is much greater recognition from employers that employees are an expensive resource, and that safety is often cheaper than training someone new.

Wage rules are trickier (their are plenty of employers that are happy to pay reasonable wages, but there are also plenty of employers who will do everything possible to dick over their employees). The claim that there are jobs not being done because of minimum wages rules is often made, but who knows.

I don't find unions offensive, but I am arrogant enough to believe that tying myself to Jim-Bob is going to weaken my negotiating position, not strengthen it, so I don't like it when people start talking about unions as a panacea.

Re:UAW (5, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144217)

"I don't find unions offensive, but I am arrogant enough to believe that tying myself to Jim-Bob is going to weaken my negotiating position, not strengthen it, so I don't like it when people start talking about unions as a panacea."

Oh, absolutely agreed, I'm not a member of a union myself, don't see the advantage to me personally. I just don't like it when people start saying they're useless/abusive/evil, as they've done good in the past and continue to help people. Usually people in low paid and less skilled jobs, who need help more than me and my software engineer buddies.

Re:UAW (4, Insightful)

famebait (450028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144331)

That unions were the mechanism that helped bring about safe working conditions and better wages doesn't mean that they were the only possible mechanism, just that they were the mechanism that became part of history.

Yeah, well, if they're the only mechanism in recorded history to achieve that in any significant way, that might be a good reason to take some note. Wouldn't it at least be a good idea to work out in very clear terms what other mechanisms are to take over and how and why they are likely to work, before kicking out the only thing we know works?

Re:UAW (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144409)

As long as you respect the fact that I may not want to join, as far as I am concerned, you can have all the unions you want.

Re:UAW (4, Insightful)

famebait (450028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144407)

At this point (in the U.S., I don't know about the UK), many of the worker protections are codified as law,

How did that come to be? How long do you think those laws would last under conservative government if the unions were gone?

and there is much greater recognition from employers that employees are an expensive resource, and that safety is often cheaper than training someone new.

Are you joking? This is supposed to be the sole drive for safety? What if somehow that equation changes? What if you're in a line of business where it does not work that way?

I don't consider unions a panacea either, but I do think a lot more people would be better off as members than currently are.

There will always be people who, as you say, are better off on their own. But most of the people who think they are in that group only think so because they haven't chanced to find out yet.

Re:UAW (2, Insightful)

gmack (197796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144129)

The problem is that under the current rules unions now have the upper hand in bargaining and union management tends to have their own agenda that often doesn't take the financial health of the employer into account.

Facing a choice of either losing gobs of money now due to a strike or sacrificing long term profitability is not an enviable position to be in.

Re:UAW (2, Informative)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144143)

Oh yeah. Good minimum wage definitely protects the insiders, that is union workers. The rest of the people can go unemployed heh ? Screw them.

An employer can't even refuse to do business with them, it's illegal. Union are thug gangs.

Re:UAW (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144237)

Perhaps in the US the unions have gone too far, we don't have that legal requirement to "do business with them", nor does anyone have to join. In the UK you join if you want to, the only legal concession being that employers shouldn't discriminate against you if you are a member of a union.

I take it the situation went too far in the union's favour at saome point in the last 50/60 years?

Re:UAW (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144153)

That's one of the problems with unions, some of them don't know where to stop. Unions did a lot of good getting working conditions, etc. and then went on to make unrealistic demands that would leave employers uncompetitive and eventually bankrupt.

I don't think this is so much of a problem in high tech industries because the members understand the way things work. I belong to a staff association (high tech union) and I have seen it be useful to individuals with genuine grievances. They also negotiate a "base" pay increase, which is modified anyway depending on individual circumstances so I am not sure that they make any real difference there.

Re:UAW (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144181)

I also find it odd that so many americans find the very idea (of workers gathering together to form a stronger position for bargaining with employers) somehow offensive.

This is not what unions are about. Unions negociate political privileges that force (and I mean force, as in policeman with a gun) employers to use union labor, that prevent employer for legitimately firing an employee based on union membership, etc.

Unions are not natural labor cartel, they're politically protected, coercive labor cartels.

Re:UAW (1)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144197)

It's amazing to me that anytime you drive by a "UAW shop" auto plant at quitting time, you see the people leaving wearing UAW jackets & hats, but not the logo of the company they work for. Their loyalty is to the union, NOT the company that actually pays them. Unions are a dinosaur that is in need of a meteorite to get rid of them.

Re:UAW (1)

famebait (450028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144287)

Their loyalty is to the union, NOT the company that actually pays them.

Why might that be, do you think?

Re:UAW (4, Insightful)

apathy maybe (922212) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144323)

Oh, and the company that pays them wouldn't drop them like that if it suited the bottom line?

The days of respecting and being loyal to the company have long gone, because the company doesn't respect, and certainly isn't loyal to, you.

The union, on the other hand, will tend to be loyal to their members, will fight for their rights, and so on. (Unions aren't perfect, but under a capitalism system, they are often better than nothing.)


More generally, it amazes me that so many "free market" types hate unions. But they don't have any trouble with corporations and so on colluding to keep wages down.

That's the trouble with those who want a perfectly free capitalist market (a contradiction in terms). The want to give all the power to the bosses, and screw the workers, even when joining together in a union is good for the workers interests. They don't like unions because they don't really want a free market, they want a bosses market.

Fuck that.

Re:UAW (1)

kingnat (1303095) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144199)

Absolutely agree. The unions in the UK are a lifesaver. They're why we don't have the absolute nonsense of people working 80 hour weeks and still living below the poverty line whilst the managers of the two or three companies that they work for make obscene proffits. I can't decide if unions are a force for, or a symptom of social responsibility, but I'm a big supporter. Of course you have to find the right Union, as there's a couple that are completely useless - Unite I'm looking at you! It always amazes me that it's in the US, where there's (comparitively) little in the way of workers rights that there seems to be so much more opposition to unionisation from the very people who would benefit from their work, but that's an outside impression, not based on any personal actual experience.

Re:UAW (1)

NorbrookC (674063) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144225)

Exactly, and it's the same in the U.S. Most of the things employees take for granted - "it's my right" - are there because of unions. Wage and job protections. Workman's compensation. Health and safety regulations. Unions fought for all of those things. I've seem some stating that good employees don't need a union, it's amazing how often someone's perception of their capabilities doesn't always match their employer's perception.

That isn't to say that unions are perfect, either. Like any successful movement, they've gotten fat and happy, and at times, corrupt. That doesn't mean that unions are "evil" or that they still aren't necessary.

Re:UAW (1)

socrplayr813 (1372733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144243)

I don't know where you're getting the idea that Americans have something against unions. Unions were great, when they did what they were supposed to. There was a huge movement toward unionization back during the big industrial push in the US. It was great, THEN.

The problem these days that many (if not most) unions have gotten completely off track. It's often about money and influence now instead of improving working conditions. Even the ones that are still working for their members are generally out of touch with what the workers really want/need. They're more about getting as much as they can, rather than what's really needed.

It's not the idea of unions that's the problem, it's the unions themselves.

Re:UAW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26144249)

A lot of the benefits people have in the United States (minimum wages, vacation, what little healthcare we have, safe working conditions, overtime, and so on) are thanks to unions.

I'm glad that my husband is in a union. His job is dangerous. And I'm glad I'm in one -- if I complain about something dangerous to a patient, I have less of a chance of getting fired. In fact, that was a recent problem, where a nurse was getting harassed because a bed (electric) was SHOCKING PATIENTS AND WORKERS.

Don't you Americans WANT nurses who feel safe to blow the whistle when YOUR health and safety is compromised? OR construction workers who feel safe to blow the whistle when what they are building is dangerous, and could kill future tenants? Unions save LIVES these ways.

Re:UAW (1)

josecanuc (91) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144283)

I also find it odd that so many americans find the very idea (of workers gathering together to form a stronger position for bargaining with employers) somehow offensive.

I don't know about others, but what I dislike about unions in the general sense is the history of corruption and hard crime that went along with it in our past.

Who would want a group that bullies their members in order to present a "unified" position to the employer? Sometimes the bullying extended to criminal acts and even murder to protect the union bosses from being exposed.

Certainly unions have and continue to do good things for workers, but we've seen abuses, too.

Re:UAW (1)

knewter (62953) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144335)

I'm not against the concept of workers banding together for collective bargaining. First, an anecdote, then my point.

My dad is a robotics engineer. When I was 1 or 2 years old, he was doing a job for four or six months in Boston. He was away from his family for weeks at a time and he didn't like it. So he would work after hours to try and get home faster - he's a workaholic, so this is normal. One night, a gang of union guys came in and told him if he did one of their jobs again, tightened one more nut, they would end his life. So that puts a sour taste in my mouth.

But past the anecdote, to my true problem. Inevitably, unions either act like thugs like above, or they beat up a 'scab' that just wants to go to work, or they fight technological advances because their political block is less powerful if fewer workers are necessary. It seems impossible to get the justifiable outcome (workers bargaining together) without politics and human failing also getting involved and turning the whole damn thing into a group of thugs.

Full Disclaimer: I'm a business owner, I run a software company. I will never hire a unionized worker, because of horror stories I've heard from other business owners as well as because they threatened my father's life once. One of my best friends' dads is a union organizer, and he is entirely aware of my take on unions.

It's simple (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144369)

Many Americans find the concept of monopolies offensive. Unlike Europeans, we don't tend to view capital as uniquely exploitative. If anything, many of us realize that a lot of workers will exploit their employers to demand pay and benefits well beyond what their productivity is worth. That's a critical part of the reason why the Big 3 are failing now. Say whatever you will about their cars not selling, part of the reason is that because of the amount of money the Big 3 have to spend on benefits for retirees AND current workers, American cars cost, on average, at least $1,000 more [] than the average Japanese car (most of which are now made in America when sold in America!)

We also tend to find it offensive when we are forced to join organizations against our will or interests. Why should a worker have to join a union to work at a particular company? There is no morally acceptable reason why this is so.

Re:UAW (1)

ComputerSlicer23 (516509) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144377)

My take on Unions is that I want no part of one. I've known several folks who were a part of a Union. Everyone of them had roughly the following to say:

  • Unions were for working slow to keep up the number of required employees.
  • Unions were against automation, and technology upgrades for efficiency.
  • Unions treat everyone the same, and that your value is as a number, not an individual.
  • Unproductive people were enabled to keep their job.
  • In a Union, talent, effort, drive, desire all took a back seat to seniority in determining virtually anything (pay, stature, authority, responsibility).
  • People who weren't around for what Unions were actually needed, can't recognize a grievance. You're boss telling you to stop slacking, isn't a grievance. You being injured while fooling around near a machine, isn't a grievance.

Now most of those were straight factory worker Unions, not say a local plumbers union, which I'm guessing is a bit different.

My take on Unions is that they've become the monster they fought. They have become large bureaucratic institutions that are mostly consumed with money and power. Sorry, but showing up to work and working 8 hours a day, doesn't entitle you to an excessive hourly wage and lifetime benefits.

I understand and completely respect what unions have accomplished for standards of livings, worker safety, and the like.

I also understand that generationally, we've lost sight of the lessons that Unionization taught us. Just as I think we've lost sight of the lessons the Depression taught us. We've held on to certain principles, long after they made no sense. We over compensated in order to right the ship, and then let the pendulum swing too far past. It'll swing back around, hopefully to a point closer to equilibrium.

I'm sure the Kings and Queens of England accomplished a huge number of things we greatly appreciate, hell they colonized my country (US). I greatly appreciated it, but I'm not going to hope we switch back to a Monarchy form of Gov't, or that the US become a Colony of the UK again merely because it accomplished this great task.

A convincing argument about why Unions should exist today is about what good they have accomplished today. Not telling me that 50-100 years ago they accomplished all these wonderful things, and I should keep paying my dues. What does a Union accomplish for me today? Do we legitimately believe that if every Union disappeared off the face of the planet, we'd go back to 16 hours days 6 and a half days a week? I don't, but that's the sort of thing that would convince me a Union is a good idea.


Re:UAW (0, Troll)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144521)

I also find it odd that so many americans find the very idea (of workers gathering together to form a stronger position for bargaining with employers) somehow offensive.

It's because we've been brainwashed by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and whatsername, that blonde bimbo neocon troll. Here, the coropration rules. The corporation's money determines who gets elected.

The corporates spoon-feed us classist propaganda, such as "black people are poor because they're black" and we believe the tripe despite its obviously unreasonable illogic. We live in a society where a poor man can go to prison for stealing a candy bar, while a rich man can get away with murder.

Unlike you enlightened folks on the other side of the pond, we don't live in a democracy. We live in a plutocracy where money is the only grantor of freedom and money is the only thing of value.

Some of us envy you.

Re:UAW (4, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144531)

I also find it odd that so many americans find the very idea (of workers gathering together to form a stronger position for bargaining with employers) somehow offensive. It seems in the US that the party with more power (the employer) should be allowed to tread all over the weaker individuals in society (employees) because every last one of you is going to be that guy next.

I don't believe that's true. First, organized labor has far more power than employers (see below). Also, I think that America, by and large, dislikes the state of organized labor as a practical matter, not a theoretical one. There are a few good reasons why many Americans - myself included - dislike the unions that exist in this country. That doesn't mean we dislike the notion of unions. Those are two very distinct points that you lump together.

Here's why I dislike the major US unions I'm familiar with:

*Many unions were run by organized crime for decades. Some still seem to embrace that legacy.

*The balance of power is tipped very heavily toward organized labor and against employers due to the US's labor laws - companies are legally required to negotiate with striking unions, whereas union members can get jobs during a strike. That (and other) imbalances basically give unions a license to print money, bleeding companies dry until they go under or leave the US.

*American unions are the antithesis of a meritocracy - they make it absolutely impossible to fire incompetent employees, and negotiate for pay based on time served as opposed to skill. Both tend to rankle Americans (such as myself) who believe in working hard to make something of yourself.

*Lastly and probably most important, very often unions don't represent the wishes of their employees. Especially with big unions, they're very lucrative for the leadership which is very often out of touch with the rank and file. It's easy to rip off the workers (which is one reason the mob got involved with unions early on). Now, the unions are pushing for rules that eliminate secret ballots in union elections, the most fundamental tenet of any democratic process. There is no possible reason for that except to intimidate workers and prevent them from keeping the union accountable.

I'm not against unions in theory, I'm against the ones that exist in the US in practice.

Re:UAW (4, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144053)

They worked extremely well for the people who have been members for the last 40 years. And the government is either going to make their pensions whole or loan the auto companies the money to do it, so pretty much, they (the 40 year members) don't have any downside at all.

Re:UAW (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144183)

Unions worked pretty well for America's car corps. What worked badly was the owners, who fought government health insurance that their foreign competitors get until those costs broke their backs.

Who got government tax rebates for SUVs, and government funding for loans for those SUVs, and government deregulation to lend to subprime borrowers to buy SUVs, cannibalizing their future sales in favor of people who didn't pay back their loans, until high gas prices (and realization of climate change) killed the SUV market. Leaving the car corps with two whole industries, manufacturing and finance, with no customers.

Meanwhile, the unionized American workers are the most productive in the world. So when the Republican senators, who have no US carmaker factories in their states, but do have Japanese and German ones, killed the "Detroit Bridgeout" bill last week, they knew their foreign bribers could now hire productive US labor at rockbottom prices.

Through all that, the carmaker owners took home hundreds of times their workers' pay - dozens of $millions each year for the people at the top who ran the companies into the ground.

The owners didn't have a union, and they got paid large for a terrible job. All the unions did was set their workers up to work for less up front, and see their pensions disappear when bankruptcy breaks their contracts. So maybe you're right: unions are no good. Not compared to $billionaire car corp owners and the Republican government that loved them.

Re:UAW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26144365)

Meanwhile, the unionized American workers are the most productive in the world.

Then why have Japanese and Korean car makers (some using non-unionized American labor) been steadily taking share away from the Big 3?

That's the kind of flag-waving statement a politician can make w/o getting challenged, but in here it needs to be backed up.

Re:UAW (1)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144453)

Meanwhile, the unionized American workers are the most productive in the world.

Citation please! I live in a state with a BMW and Honda plant, both non-unionized. I routinely hear about how much they pay, how great the jobs are, and how well they perform. Why would an American worker who presumably had to compete for a job be less productive than one who for the most part can never be fired?

Through all that, the carmaker owners took home hundreds of times their workers' pay - dozens of $millions each year for the people at the top who ran the companies into the ground.

I agree with you, but lets not forget about the people at the top of the unions either. I'm sure they were just making minimum wage or anything.

The solution to the automaker problems is to let the companies go into bankruptcy. It will be rough in the short term, but the new companies that emerge will be better positioned for the future. And this whole issue that bankruptcy will cause people not to buy the car is a load of crap. Airlines are in a perpetual bankruptcy state and people still fly them.

Unions aren't the answer (5, Insightful)

WCMI92 (592436) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144017)

What we need instead is a professional guild association, much as the legal and medical professions have. Unions are more appropriate for low skilled industrial professions.

Re:Unions aren't the answer (-1, Troll)

devman (1163205) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144045)

Same thing, different name. No thanks.

Re:Unions aren't the answer (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26144073)

Except the unions will make it harder on the employees whereas the guild will allow us to charge exorbitant prices to everyone else!

Re:Unions aren't the answer (2, Insightful)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144081)

Skilled trades unions are similar to guilds and seem to work quite well. Membership is optional, you can still be a freelancer if you want, and there is enough competition that rates stay competitive and there is plenty of work for everybody.

What you don't want is a behemoth like the UAW or teamsters barging into your business and telling you how to run it.

I have some friends in IT that are unionized under the UAW and it's a joke. They get paid less than average, they don't have much more job security than anyone else, and the benefits the UAW campaigns for are worthless to most of them. A group of their co-workers had some legitimate concerns over a few work policies, and the union blew them off.

Re:Unions aren't the answer (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144101)

A wizard guild? Can I bring my robe and hat?

Re:Unions aren't the answer (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144163)

If you own a robe and hat, you aren't allowed to join.

Re:Unions aren't the answer (1)

tritonman (998572) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144191)

The last thing that I want is to be in a union with all of these stupid morons that I work with. They couldn't code themselves out of a wet paper bag. I end up doing all of their work for them, please don't make me unionize with them so that I will be paid the same as them. They don't deserve the wages they make already. Unions may fit in a job that monkeys can do, such as assembling cars, but it doesn't fit in a job where you are required to think and reason.

Re:Unions aren't the answer (1)

SirLanse (625210) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144261)

The Brick Layers and Carpenters have guilds, they have separate credentialing processes.
This is good. Knowing who you are hiring saves employers money.
I would pay to have a real card that verifies my skill set.

I won't pay for someone to negotiate a better wage for me.
They get some of my money, for getting me money?!?!?
The worst part is how the unions spend that money.
They are all about funding those who legislate for them.
Those legislators pass the laws the unions that fund them want.
And I can't buy a senate seat from IL gov?

The lawyers have sued firms into making work environments safe.
No union needed.

Re:Unions aren't the answer (1)

kingnat (1303095) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144297)

We have them in the UK. They're called unions here. The "Guild" bit is just part of the name of the Union.

Re:Unions aren't the answer (2, Interesting)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144307)

In fact, there are many things that a union-like/guild-like would bring to the profession. We need those, and we'll invent a name for what it is later (preferably a recursive acronym) :
- An ethical code of conduct (yes, it is a benefit to be able to refuse unethical orders)
- A lobbying power (because EFF could do with a little help, having professional explain why forbidding crypto or wireshark is a bad idea)
- A guaranteed standard in job contracts.
- A measurable political and economical weight.

To paraphrase a loved and hated movie.... (1)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144021)

It's another form of control.

Appropriate unions are not a bad idea (2, Insightful)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144035)

What are "professional bodies" if not unions? Do you really want a world in which anybody can call themselves a teacher,physician, an accountant, a lawyer, an airline pilot, or a civil or electrical engineer? What are these but unions? My wife, like most such people, cannot legally work in her profession without regular compliance assessment by her professional body. I can...but it has still been worth my while in terms of establishing credibility to add a few more postnominal letters after my Masters.

Manufacturer certification (MCSE cough cough) is not a substitute for an organisation that takes care over assessing credentials. Here in the UK we have the BCS and the IAP, and perhaps others. My own feeling is that the main opposition to proper regulation of the software and IT industry comes from (a) managers who are unqualified and would not be able to get certification, (b) managements who want to cut corners on the job and (c) contractors who hop from one job to another without ever picking up a serious core competence.

Re:Appropriate unions are not a bad idea (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144089)

The problem with unions is they lead to abuse. Sure, they offer some efficiency, particularly over large structures, but the more modern methods deal with that quite nicely. Unions always seem to increase the verbage as well, anonymous unions and members never having been as well adopted as they should have been.
They are really useful for avoiding casts; particularly when dealing with an anonymous pointer that may be one of some small set of types, you can construct a union of those pointers, then use the appropriate member when the desired type is realized.
Keeps the code clean and easy to read.

Regulated Certifications (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144257)

The AMA, bar associations and other "guilds" have their own serious problems. Mainly they restrict the supply of the professionals to the market, to keep prices propped up. Their certifications are designed to screen out numbers of people, and screen in the greediest. The process of getting certified is also marked by lots of hazing that breeds contempt for people outside, and callousness towards exploiting people inside, all for profit, and not for quality.

Besides, AMA doesn't certify "MD", bar associations don't certify lawyers, though they do act as gatekeepers on those certs by lobbying the orgs that do, and by running the orgs that train for the certs.

The certs must be issued by a government agency, as they are now for those truly professional certs. But the training for them must be open to anyone who wants to compete, so long as they meet educational standards, and produce a percentage (say 66% of each class) that gets certified.

There's a role for each of these orgs. Multiple kinds of orgs that compete to meet specs, but cooperate under an industrial policy to meet economic and workplace goals, are the way to produce the most productive and worthwhile workforce, especially a skilled one.

Management vs Labor (5, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144091)

Of course the owners of the corporations are against their labor organizing. The purpose of a union is to spend more of the corporation's profits on labor, leaving less for the owners.

What's interesting is how often the union's improved terms for labor increases labor's productivity. Which means a larger total profit, so even a smaller share of it to the owners can be a larger total amount than before the union, when worse working conditions produced less profit for everyone.

Which shows that sometimes, the owners are not maximizing profit, but just maximizing their power.

The UAW - a poster child! (2, Insightful)

Dobeln (853794) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144221)

I know - just look at the UAW! That's what the entire US economy needs right now.

Re:Management vs Labor (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144231)

I've seen it go both ways. I've seen unions keep out of control employers in check and I've seen unions become a parasite on the employee and employer even sometimes ultimately killing off the employer and then the jobs it was created to protect.
I think it gets especially nasty (in my US based work experience) when government gets involved and forces people to be in unions and gives the unions too much power. I think there is some truth to this being a part of the problem with American auto manufacturers and many of the problems in Michigan.

Re:Management vs Labor (1)

gmack (197796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144345)

It's interesting to me how often I've seen it work the other way. In many union work places I've been to there is an attitude of "I'm entitled to my wages so I can just do enough to keep my job" The other problem is that the union will add an extra layer of bureaucracy to the work so now I can't just go to my boss with an issue and have it fixed this week instead I'll have to go file papers with my union so they can talk to my boss about it.

I think the problem is that you can't force someone to not be an idiot. An employer who can't be bothered to care for the employees is still going to be a pain to deal with once the union is involved.

I think a better idea then unions would be to just allow better labor mobility. That way if the employer sucks the employees can quit and the employer's business suffers. I suspect that's the only way we will ever get rid of idiot employers.

Re:Management vs Labor (1, Flamebait)

knewter (62953) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144353)


I disagree almost completely. (2, Insightful)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144477)

What's interesting is how often the union's improved terms for labor increases labor's productivity. Which means a larger total profit, so even a smaller share of it to the owners can be a larger total amount than before the union, when worse working conditions produced less profit for everyone.

So, when a railroad union demands that a railroad hire firemen and brakemen that site around all day, they are increasing productivity?

Or when a union demands a camera operator for robotic cameras in a television studio, they are increasing productivity?

Or how about the fact that the Japanese automakers here in the States can change a production line to make small cars from SUVs in a matter of hours; whereas, Detroit takes months? Yeah, management has to take a hit on that one too, I agree, but much of that delay is union rules.

Don't get me started on the pilot's union. $250,000 for a 777 captain? Yeah, I realize the career path of a commercial pilot and how they live in poverty while working up to that for years, but so do artists - it's their choice. I'd do it for $50,000 and be ecstatic! But, if airlines could reorganize and pay less (getting rid of the pilot seniority for one), we wouldn't be giving them tax payer handouts every few years. (There's going to be another next year - I guarantee it.)

I agree that in the past, unions did a great job for the health, safety, pay, and over all living standards of workers. I've read the business history and I read what those 19th and early 20th century industrial bastards did. But that before the labor laws and OSHA.

I think unions need to be reformed dramatically.

Speaking of "initmidation" ... (3, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144097)

The article speaks about people possibly being intimidated into signing a petition to unionize.

Let's see how many people already feel intimidated to the point where they have to post as AC if they want to say anything good about this idea.

And for all those that blame GMs' problems on the unions, wake up - GM makes crap cars nobody wants - THAT is the problem with GM.

Have I ever been a member of a union? Yes - the Steelworkers (they don't just organize steel plants, you know :-)

Would I ever again join a union? Sure, depending on the circumstances.

Do I think unions are practical for IT? Yes. The image of the code-worker who is "too independent-thinking" to join a union is a self-defeating myth. Get over yourselves already. If nurses and bus drivers can have unions, why not IT workers?

Re:Speaking of "initmidation" ... (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144155)

As long as I have the right to NOT join a union I am fine with them. When it is mandatory that I must join a union to work someplace then you are taking away my rights.

Re:Speaking of "initmidation" ... (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144443)

If they're mandatory they've stopped being unions and started being some kind of mini state.

Speaking of Legitimacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26144301)

I picketed with the CWA at Ohio State when they went on strike. However, many unions do not have the legitimacy that CWA has because they're abusive, and the union leadership only takes care of the most senior members. The Atomic Workers Union in Piketon, OH, however, starved hundreds of people so that 5 (count them, 5) senior members could continue to switch jobs every single time they completed training for their new jobs, not working at all.

Card check is a very bad idea. Secret ballot is mandatory to ensure that unions have legitimacy. Otherwise, we get into problems like with the teamsters in Tennessee and the Coal Miners in W Va, which has destroyed the state.

Re:Speaking of "initmidation" ... (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144363)

"And for all those that blame GMs' problems on the unions, wake up - GM makes crap cars nobody wants - THAT is the problem with GM."

That's why Toyota and Honda are beating GM in domestic sales. Oh, wait a minute... They're not. Nobody sells as many cars in the US as GM and that's been the case for a very long time. It was only in the past year or so that GM lost it's world-wide #1 spot to Toyota. Gm is still #2 in that arena. I fail to see how any company selling that many vehicles "makes crap cars nobody wants." You obviously don't like them and neither do I but someone sure as hell does. Talk about self-defeating myths...

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26144113)

Connecting unions to workplace safety and general worker welfare in the present-day USA is a canard. Indeed the unions are the reason we have those things, but stringent laws were put in place between 1920 and 1980 that provide for safe workplaces and worker welfare that are now independent of union presence.

Do we owe unions thanks for that? Yes.
Do we owe them our money for that? No.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144417)

It isn't entirely clear that unions would make this better; but those "stringent laws" are largely a joke [] . Killing a worker by willfully violating OSHA standards is a misdemeanor. You will note here that killing a worker through willful violation of applicable laws is less serious than ordinary negligent homicide, go figure.(Interestingly, there are some cases where charges have been sought under negligent homicide statutes rather than OSHA regulations for exactly this reason) We've managed to adopt almost no new chemical classifications in that body's entire history, despite thousands of new chemicals being developed. It could be worse; but the state of occupational safety law is pathetic.

Where is your obama now?! (-1, Flamebait)

dumbarse (560535) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144125)

Didn't all you people vote for Obama? This discussion is pretty funny....

Re:Where is your obama now?! (1)

famebait (450028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144495)

What exactly are you trying so clumsily to express?

getting rid of the secret ballot (1)

ednopantz (467288) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144131)

You know, you don't have to be a rabid Republican to say "hey wait a second..." when something like card check comes up. Eliminate the secret ballot? Are you nuts?

Re:getting rid of the secret ballot (1)

Dobeln (853794) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144277)

No, they're Democrats.

Remove the card check and the bill is OK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26144161)

The core problem with the bill is the elimination of the secret vote. Experience has shown that secret votes are needed to avoid voter intimidation. Without them there is much more union corruption and abusive behavior. This is no minor matter. Intimidation and violence is well established in union history from both sides. A properly monitored secret vote is the only way to ensure that union decisions are safe from intimidation by both employers and unions.

Where is the text of the proposed law? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26144165)

In all the coverage of this issue, I have one question, "Where is the text of the law?" As independent, fairly bright people, show us the law ans we will make our own decisions.

"Second what is the purpose of Unions?" I am not being combative, I truly don't know. I thought they were to protect workers with a skill from control by an employer who has a monopoly on the machinery needed to use that skill (ex. no GM employee has the machinery to make a car in their basement.) If this is the primary reason for Unions, then the Tech industry does not need them because our skills are in our heads and are not dependent on machinery the employer owns, or a limited market the employer controls (ex. schools and schoolchildren.) Am I misunderstanding the Core purpose of Unions?

Is it 1988 again? (4, Insightful)

gelfling (6534) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144167)

Jeez I've been listening to this for 20 years. IT workers resist unionization. Why? I don't know but I suspect it has something to do with believing that each of you is more capable and special than anyone else. Even in companies like IBM who in the early 90's laid off a quarter million people, still, the remaining workers resist unionization.

Re:Is it 1988 again? (3, Insightful)

Technician (215283) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144391)

Even in companies like IBM who in the early 90's laid off a quarter million people, still, the remaining workers resist unionization.

Good call. Lay off a few workers when the clone makers got away with reverse engineering the BIOS. IBM is still in business and doing reasonably well. With a Union "protecting" the workers, IBM may have failed much like the auto industry without a bailout.

The auto industry has been under strain of a huge retired population and unable to shed the load as the demand for large high profit vehicles has dwindled. They are unable to compete in the Honda, Toyota, VW, etc market at the margins they need to carry the weight. They imploded under the need to downsize, but unable to shed obligations negotiated with the Unions. The golden goose is cooked unless bailed out.

Are you ready to be next? Is your company ready to learn from history, or are they condemmed to repeat it.

As a forced union member... (4, Informative)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144185)

I can tell you it's not but a racket. The only ones who benefit are the union hierarchy, not the members.

I've mentioned before I work for state government. In my state, PA, anyone who works for the state and is not classified as management level MUST pay union dues though they are euphemistically called "fair share fees" because they represent your fair share of all the privileges and benefits the union supposedly bargains for you. Here's how well that system works.

Years ago when I initially worked for the state, I was in the temporary clerical pool. My sole benefit was I got paid. No vacation, no health insurance, no nothing else BUT, I still got the privilege of paying the union for all those benefits I got for working at the state.

I eventually got a permanent job in the state, based on my skills and the people around me wanting to keep me, so then I got those other benefits. Then governor Tom Ridge, who you remember from such classic films as, "We need a color-coded threat level to paralyze the nation into fear!", decided to eliminate the one state agency which was recognized as a leader in efficiency and responsiveness. In fact, the place I worked for instructed agencies from other states on how to become better.

What did the union do? Shrugged their shoulders and said, "Oh well. We're not going to fight it."

I left for the private industry rather than being shoved out the door.

Now, back with the state after several years, it appears for the second time in six years the contract the union negotiated with the state as far as COLAs and raises are concerned is being thrown out the window. But, I still get to pay the union for all those benefits.

If the union wants to unilaterally renegotiate the terms of the contract for which I'm supposedly paying them, then I should do the same. Why should I have to pay the union for all these benefits if they're not going to honor the contract?

Unions are bad news. They cause more troubles than they solve and yes, I have and do work with people who should have been fired long ago for not doing their job but because of the hoops that one has to jump through to fire someone, it's easier to just keep them and let them retire.

Re:As a forced union member... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26144309)

Maybe a dumb question, but why do you keep going back and working for the state if you don't like the policies that have been put in place?

Re:As a forced union member... (1)

barzok (26681) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144403)

Maybe a dumb question, but why do you keep going back and working for the state if you don't like the policies that have been put in place?

Perhaps he dislikes being unable to pay his mortgage on time each month more?

Re:As a forced union member... (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144483)

I don't know about the US since I don't live there, but in Sweden the state unions are generally regarded as freakin useless. The problem appears to be that they're not allowed to go on strike since that would be damaging to the country so their bargaining position is pathetic.

The nurses are in a similar position.

Re:As a forced union member... (5, Funny)

famebait (450028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144525)

I know a badly run company. Companies are evil.

Only in America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26144213)

Only in America can Congress take away the secret ballot and call it "Employee Free Choice Act". Ever notice how often a law's name is exactly opposite of what the law actually says?

Tech is not a good fit for unions imo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26144219)

If you have spent any amount of time in the tech field you will find that 3/4th of the people in the field are substandard and the other 1/4th carry the weight.

There are so many mediocre, short-sighted developers and designers in the field that it is nauseating.

I personally am against unionization in the tech field, because it would make lives easier for the majority who don't deserve it, and make lives harder for the 1/4 that actually know what the hell they are doing.

Also, the pace that the tech field moves at is obscene compared to many other fields. I wonder what sort of hindrance that unions would put on that.

Unions - good and bad - shouldn't be law (0, Troll)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144223)

First off, I recognize that there are times that a union is necessary. Some employers are just dicks.

Having said that, I far prefer -not- being in a union. Most unions take money from the employees and give nothing back except false confidence. (Spare me the individual stories of how a union worked for you.)

As to the government giving special help to promote unions... Cripes. If the union is a good idea, it'll form. If it's not, it does -not- need help.

But I guess everything else has gotten a bailout, why not help unions, too?

Re:Unions - good and bad - shouldn't be law (1)

captbob2002 (411323) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144549)

Did not want to work where there was a union, didn't want to join a union.

I am now chief steward of the union where I work. If you are not happy about the way your union is being run (if you have one) then run for a leadership position - DO something rather that just bitch about it. The union leadership is elected by the employees from the pool of employees - not run from some outside group.

If a workplace is bad enough that a union forms, then that company deserves to have to deal with a union. If workers are well and fairly treated then a union will not form. I worked for a retail chain while in college *many* years ago. We received decent wages, annual performace reviews and salary adjustments, vacation pay, and sick pay that was paid out to us once a year if we didn't use it. Wal-mart it was NOT! No chance of a union going in there: we knew we had it pretty good,

Years later I'm working at a university where we were constantly screwed over, rarely reviewed, "merit increases" were for the pet employees and any performance bonuses were kept by managers. Not too difficult for the union to form there, and yes, it is a better place to work now. (and in the land of pre-existing health problems one cannot always just find a new job.)

The current union election system is broken - it offers employers too much opportunity to intimidate workers. If they put half the effort into addressing workplace issues as they do in fighting unions there wouldn't need to be any unions.

And no, a union does NOT have to mean automatic protection for poor workers. There are always procedures for am employer to get rid of unproductive workers - but they have to follow the procedure and document what they are doing - which means there has to be a valid reason to fire someone, not just because the employee is not sucking-up enough.

IEaggghhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26144229)

infactdead yet again.

Secret ballots are for wusses! (0, Troll)

Dobeln (853794) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144259)

I am really excited about Democrats abolishing the secret ballot for union organizing.

This way, more parts of the US economy can benefit from sound, productivity-enhancing organizations like the Teamsters and the UAW!

Hopefully, the president-elect can rapidly appoint a "card-check" Tsar to oversee the transfer of all US elections to a more community-oriented "card-check" model. "Secret ballots" after all, have turned out to frequently be an obstacle to Progress.

Re:Secret ballots are for wusses! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26144517)

No nickle for you Troll.

All firms are anti-union (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144313)

When your workers have good pay and benefits, that takes away from profits, and in a plutocracy such as ours the profits always outstrip any consideration for human beings and their needs.

If WalMart was unionized, you wouldn't have to pay those taxes that go to food stamps. The poor are REQUIRED to work in the US under TANF (which ended AFDC welfare in 1996), so those food stamps are another government giveaway to the rich, like that 700 billion that went to the banks who still aren't making loans.

Unions are good for everyone except the corporates.

The head of a major non-union airline in the early 80s (I think it was Eastern, whatever company it was has since become union) said wisely "any company that gets a union deserves one". Your workers create your profits and your wealth. Bargain unfairly and they will come to bargain collectively.

You owe your workers, the generators of your wealth, a living. If your business is sound you owe them a decent living.

Want crime rates down? Raise wages. You'll find that most poor people are far more generous and honest than most rich people (not to say that many rich aren't honest or that all poor folks are).

I've been re-reading Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol [] , the story of a Republican who wakes up and finds that he's turned into a Democrat overnight.

Humbug to you too, Mr. Bush.

Teaching Your Cheaper Replacement & Outsourcin (1)

ToAllPointsWest (801684) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144317)

As I contemplate the idea of IT Unions I recall all the complaints I've heard through the years about outsourcing. With employers demanding that current employees train their foreign cheaper replacements else be fired and lose any possible unemployment benefits. In America this is perfectly legal. Or other situations where the "IT person" has been forced to work extended hours without additional pay. Time has value, and without being adequately reimbursed for that time, an employer can operate under the misconception that they own all of your time, even though they only pay for 8 hours of it. There's many situations where managers will do whatever they can get away with, and without any form of opposition the worker will always get screwed. At least with a Union, the workforce can operate with some protection. I'm all for it.

Unions are bad (1)

little1973 (467075) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144397)

Period. They had a purpose in the era of "wild" capitalism, but those times are over. Also, in that times the workers didn't fight against their empolyer, but they fought against the government too (the government closed its eyes to the atrocities against workers). The "evil" capitalists used the help of the government to stump the workers' rights.

However, times changed and look who's striking? Mostly government employees. They basically blackmail the government to give them more money and benefits at the expense of all others.

Globilization (2, Insightful)

djdbass (1037730) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144399)

How can unions work in the era of the global market? Creating artificial scarcity of labor only results in pricing yourself out of the global market, right?

Rise in Offshoring (1)

RemoWilliams84 (1348761) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144431)

The only thing a union will do for workers is create less jobs. Unions are all about pumping money from the employers. I agree we should be paid fairly but unions are always extra greedy. Why do you think that most American car companies have started making cars over seas.

My mother worked in a sewing factory for a jeans company and was in a union. She was making $18 an hour (way too much for an easy skill to learn) in the early nineties to sew because the unions kept forcing the pay rate up. You know what happened? All of the textile factories in this area and most in the nation packed up and moved to Mexico.

Unions were great when dangerous jobs were causing people to get injured and killed. But now that this problem is taken care of, they no longer serve any other purpose than greed.

If you'd like to see more of our tech jobs going to India, then a union is a great idea.

Thanks, but no thanks (1)

D3 (31029) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144487)

I can do better for myself on my own, thank you. We already have too many people in IT who aren't skilled enough to be here. Thankfully the Dot-bombs of the early part of this century weeded out quite a few. When I start hearing stories about the woefully oppressed, underpaid, dis-enfranchised IT workers then I'll say we have a need. Considering most IT jobs are far easier than being a ditch-digger, we don't need a union bureaucracy to take care of us.
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