Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Unions Again

This post is basically a rehash of things I have said before, but I have been thinking some about this issue today and thought I would speak on the subject one more (but probably not the last) time.

I am not anti union. Just not. I do see the logic of being a member and the good that can, at times, come out of union activism. There is no doubt that some industries should be organized. Chemical (and other) trucking, some retail, some hospitality (hotels), private security, and others can certainly stand a dose of "labor trouble" to keep them honest. It is indisputable that many who work in the hospitality industry are not paid near what they are worth. Many of these folk are minorities and at the bottom end of the scale and truly need some representation. (Illegal immigrants also find their way into this industry and of course I believe they should "go home and get legal" before being employed, but that is a different issue entirely).  I have seen some abuses in major hotels (while working under contract as a barman) first hand. I also have experience in the chemical trucking industry. I can tell you that a company driver can make a decent living, but when all is said and done, given the hours worked, it pays about minimum wage. These are the people driving up and down the hi way with dangerous cargo. It seems that some respect (in the form of compensation) should be demanded. Nifty hats and cool jackets don't do the trick. Do teachers need a union? Unfortunately probably so. It is a shame that the NEA and their affiliates appear more interested in politics and shaping curriculum than working for those who employ them: teachers and other professional (and paraprofessional) workers.

Now the flip side of this record needs to be mentioned. All businesses need to make money and union people often seem to either ignore or are ignorant of that fact. Pretty stupid a great many of them. (The Wisconsin public sector workers fall into this category or at least a large number of them). Of course in some industries' management is at fault for caving to unrealistic demands. (The state of WI?) It seems to me that management, after bargaining in good faith, can as a last resort cut bait. The NFL comes to mind. It would damage the league if the owners just told the players to come to work or be fired but in reality it would take only three or four years for the league to come back to the standards of today. I wonder if that will ever happen. If they did "fire" the non returning players it would not be long before a good many came crawling back anyway. The same tactic could be used in any industry.

This is pretty simplistic but it must be noted that it is human nature to try for all you can get. Of course a union will try to go for the Full Monty. Why would they not? I have not at this time joined the organization that "reps" Texas educators but I may do so before long. I just don't see much benefit to it other than one has access to an attorney should it become necessary. In today's climate that might not be a bad benefit to have.  I would wager that is why many Texas educators pay their dues to the TSTA.

This was a bit of a rant I know, but it bees that way sometimes Papi.


Jayhawk said...

Well thought out and reasonable position on unions and, for the most part I agree with it. I could support all of it.

I for the most part strongly favor collective collective bargaining and take a very dim view of organized labor unions. Collective bargaining is helpful to the employees it represents and, by trading off higher productivity and safety rules, it can actually help the employer at the same time. Organized labor unions siphon off union dues to pay wages of union officers who do not really contribute to the collective bargaining process, and who tend to create the greed motive that comes into conflict with employers. They also step completely outside the realm of worker representation to engage in political activism, an area where they are about as helpful as the rats who carry bubonic plague.

Labor unions are particularly pernicious in the public sector, of course, because they are drawing salaries for non-productive functions out of taxpayer money, and they are wielding their influence on public rather than private policy in dealing with their employers. The relationship between union officials and elected officials spending taxpayer money is inherently corrupt.

Even collective bargaining in the public sector is against the public interest, because they are bargaining to increase the cost to the public in the form of increased taxes, which is a violation of the whole concept where those in “public service” are known as “public servants.” They often wind up demanding more compensation that the taxpayer can afford and the situation reverses to become one where the taxpayer becomes servant to the public worker.

Bartender Cabbie said...

I agree with you. I am not sure that I totally disagree with some sort of organization in the public sector but public employees must always be congnizant of the fact that their neighbors are paying their salary and benefits. When teachers, cops and firemen walk the job and demand unreasonable benefits it just hurts their credibility.
The private sector is a different ballgame. If management does not want to deal with a union it should not be too difficult to just go around them. Of course in some industries this may not work very well. It is pretty hard to replace an airline pilot in a couple of weeks.