Third Party & Independents Archives

The Tricky Business of Unionization

With the recent transit strike in New York City I have started to think more about the effects of unions on our lives as consumers.

Unionization is a tricky subject. On one hand you want the workers to be treated fairly and to have a centralized body to represent them. On the other hand you do not want a union to strip a business bare, because workers become too greedy. Last, you do not want the government to be involved more than they have to be. It is one of the unsolvable conundrums of life.

When I boil everything down I find that the root of the problem is society. Ideally, you just want the unions to maintain their original intention, rather than consuming the time and money of businesses to a point where the group really hurt is the consumers. Due to our slightly un-moral society and the greedy nature we have slowly evolved, when we find ourselves in a position of power we always want to use it to our advantage. In this case, the workers continually want more and more.

Unions fall perfectly into the rubber-band theory. It goes like this:

  1. Workers are treated unfairly by their employer and form a union to protect their rights.
  2. The union secures the workers' rights.
  3. The workers see the success of the union and want more and more, and realize that they can get it.
  4. The union eventually collapses. The business has learned its lesson and treats and pays their workers fairly.
  5. The business gets tired of spending so much on their employees and wants to cut production cost.
  6. The workers form another union.

This will just continually repeat itself over and over. Businesses need to learn that if they treated their workers fairly and paid them livable wages in the first place they would not have to deal with unions. Paying your workers a tad more in the long run is cheaper than having to deal with a union.

Wal-Mart is a company that takes the opposite approach. They do not treat their workers with the utmost care and pay them meager wages. Wal-Mart forbids unions of any form, and takes drastic measures to ensure that unions do not interfere with their "master plan". I have noticed that my local Wal-Mart is hurting for labor, and I have a feeling this is the main reason.

Will we ever find a time when we don't need unions? Probably not. There will always be a time when the profit motive goes just a tad too far. Sadly, That's part of life.

Posted by Ethan Poole at December 30, 2005 10:04 AM
Comments
Comment #109179

What the United States needs is a union (and business) movement more attuned with the behavior in Northern Europe.

In places like Germany and Scandinavia, unions know that part of their role is to work with management in a positive way to resolve workplace issues — not simply to focus on bread and butter matters. Similarly, businesses know they must work with the unions, and listen to them, in all aspects of the business.

The model, while not perfect, provides greater security to workers and results in a workforce which is better trained and better able to cope with change.

You’re right about the rubber band theory in this country. What I describe needs to replace what you describe in step 3. It doesn’t help that unions have to worry about problems like health insurance that their Northern European counterparts have the government take care of. That’s probably why step 3 — “want more” — continues to focus on wages and benefits rather than “how can we make this a better company?”

Posted by: Steve K at December 30, 2005 10:27 AM
Comment #109181

We don’t need Unions. Employers should have the right to declare null and void Retirement Contract and 201K’s when they feel like it. Business is all.

Posted by: Aldous at December 30, 2005 10:30 AM
Comment #109184

I’m not sure that employers should have the ability to take away promised money and retirement from workers. I don’t think that this is much of a union issue (or it shouldn’t me). If they sign a contract I don’t think that either part has the right to break it, and the union or the worker has every right to sue to get the worker’s money.

If a business forbids unions and doesn’t treat their workerks fairly eventually no one will work there. Then with no labor they are either forced to go out of business or treat their workers nicely. Either way you have to keep your workers working, otherwise you have nothing.

I think that either way the workers are going to be treated fairly in the long run, it is only a matter of which way is the best to get there.

Yes, this union issue really only applies to the US, as European unions actually work correctly. This is because they’ve been around longer and they’ve slowly weeded out that part of society. We’re still growing and learning in the US, so there is still time for us to change.

I do agree that unions in Europe just function better and benefit the worker without harming the consumer. And yes, step 3 is what really escalates everything for a long period of time, and step five is what starts it all over.

Really the ideal method would be to eliminate the need of workers to unionize at step 1.

Posted by: Ethan Poole at December 30, 2005 10:47 AM
Comment #109187

Ethan,

No, what happens is that the union gets so powerful that a guy who sweeps the floor makes almost as much as a college professor (and with bennies…more) and it costs the company so much money that the company has to fire 33,000 people (General Motors and the U.A.W. in Flint, Michigan) and then Michael Moore has to make a movie about how unfair the company is treating the workers (Roger And Me).

According to Gordon Gekko, “Greed is good”.

Whose? The union’s or the company’s?

Posted by: Jim T at December 30, 2005 11:14 AM
Comment #109189

Ethan:

Wonderful idea, I wonder why no one else ever thought that business should treat it’s workers fairly.

If a business forbids unions and doesn’t treat their workerks fairly eventually no one will work there.

In order to make a living, people have to work. If the above quote were true there wouldn’t be the problems of today.

I’m not sure that employers should have the ability to take away promised money and retirement from workers.

I’m wondering where you live. You don’t know that many, many companies have turned their failed retirement plans over to the government? There is even a special department that handles that, and it’s overwhelmed.

Your post is very idealistic, and not reflective of what’s going on today. Business is out for business, not very many are held in high esteem for their treatment or care of workers.

And the greed is not just from the workers and unions. Take a look at CEO salaries and benefits sometime, especially in companies that claim to have to lay of or fire workers.

Posted by: womanmarine at December 30, 2005 11:21 AM
Comment #109192

If I were starting a business today and it was my primary purpose to generate maximum profitI would have the lowest possible level of “Company Employees or Associates” on the payroll as possible. This group would be paid well and have a very competitive compensation package.

The balance of my work force would consist of “temporary” and/or “part time” associates. This group would be on the payroll of a service company in business to provide staff to industry.

Every worker would have to pass criminal background checks, drug screens and, be legally authorized to work in this country.

Goodbye fringe benefit package except as noted above, which in today’s world averages about 33%, take the union with you, so long overtime, etc.

Posted by: steve smith at December 30, 2005 11:31 AM
Comment #109200

Isn’t Wal-Mart like the number 1 company in the world?
Low costs, wide selection of goods and they are always hiring. Prices are low because they aren’t forced by a union to pay $20 an hour for an $8 an hour job.
No union involvement and it has become a major success.
GM, Ford and other huge union dominated companies are failing.
Cars are way overpriced and people cant easily afford many of them anymore.
You think 50 or 60 grand a year for a minimal job at the plant has anything to do with that?

Your right Ethan, its like a huge rubberband.
But private companies should be allowed to run as they wish to run.
If they fail because of bad relations, so be it. Another will come along and take its place.

Posted by: kctim at December 30, 2005 12:25 PM
Comment #109205

I’m hoping that labor unions can be established in China. That will bring Chinese wages more in line with the rest of the world, keep the playing field more even.

It will also help to reduce child labor and forced labor, which is no doubt a part of the reason why China manufactures things so cheaply.

Posted by: Mike K. at December 30, 2005 12:50 PM
Comment #109206

Mike K:

The better alternative is to bring Chinese wages here in the US. Only then would the US be competitive.

Posted by: Aldous at December 30, 2005 1:02 PM
Comment #109219

What womanmarine (well said!) and Mike K said.

Aldous:
“The better alternative is to bring Chinese wages here in the US. Only then would the US be competitive.”

Isn’t that what W’s whole “guest worker” program is all about?
:^/

Ethan:
“3. The workers see the success of the union and want more and more, and realize that they can get it.”

This really happens very seldom these days. The era where unions had that kind of power is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Indeed, the Right has for many years been waging a propaganda campaign on the working class to get them to reject unions. At this point, workers will often say they are against unions even when they have no idea why, and without realizing they’re completely undermining what is in their own best interests.

I guess you can tell that I am very much a Pro-Union person — and why shouldn’t I be? I helped bring a union to a company I worked for in the past (who desperately needed one due to a truly horrible track-record of unfair worker treatment), and my husband is an active member of a union now. Good wages, excellent healthcare plan, what is there to complain about?

Posted by: Adrienne at December 30, 2005 2:36 PM
Comment #109221
Paying your workers a tad more in the long run is cheaper than having to deal with a union.

100% agreed!


We don’t need Unions. Employers should have the right to declare null and void Retirement Contract and 201K’s when they feel like it.

Posted by: Aldous at December 30, 2005 10:30 AM

Your right for a change. The only thing that an employer owes his employees is a pay check.
However any employer that does cnacel employees benfits just for the sake of a bigger bottom line is asking for BIG problems.


If a business forbids unions and doesn’t treat their workerks fairly eventually no one will work there. Then with no labor they are either forced to go out of business or treat their workers nicely. Either way you have to keep your workers working, otherwise you have nothing.

Again I agree with you Ethan.
There was a company in the same industrial park I’m in that treated it’s employees like they were scum. The owner was only concerned with profit. He complained about having to pay the minimum wage. He didn’t have wouldn’t offer health insurance or any other benifits. He wouldn’t pay holidays. In fact the only holidays he gave his employees was Thanksgiving and Christmas, unpaid. He grudgingly gave one week vacation a year. And then made it almost impossible to get it. Set almost impossible qutoas. Gripped about breaks. Gripped about having to give 1/2 hour lunches (state law requires 30 minute lunches most places around here give 45 minutes to 1hour). He was fined at least twice for not paying overtime. He fired on guy because he went to take a whizz.
The result of treating his employees this way? Well, like I said at the start. There WAS a company. The employees didn’t put out a quality product. Customers were lost because of this. He couldn’t get or keep good employees. In fact he couldn’t even get the worst of employees. More customers were lost.
You got it. The company no longer exist.

Posted by: Ron Brown at December 30, 2005 2:42 PM
Comment #109222
In order to make a living, people have to work. If the above quote were true there wouldn’t be the problems of today.

Eventually (and maybe even now) companies will not only have to compete for consumers, but employees. If your working conditions suck and you get paid squat you might start to look for a new job. I think this is more evident in office jobs, where the company needs the expertise of its workers, which is why they work in nice buildings and have plenty of comfy benefits.

Your post is very idealistic, and not reflective of what’s going on today. Business is out for business, not very many are held in high esteem for their treatment or care of workers.

From a marketer’s perspective you have to make your workers want to work. Without productive workers you are wasting money. Doing business involves making your work force as productive as possible.

One of the odder examples of this is Google. Google feeds all of its workers every day, and has a entire cooking staff. What’s the reasoning behind this? If workers don’t have to worry about what they are going to eat they’ll have one less distraction every day. It obviously is working as they don’t have unions and are making billions.

In labor jobs there is less competition for work force, but eventually I think it will come to that point.

You want workers that can work. I understand the unions often spawn laziness, but that comes back to step 3 above, the one we want to eliminate. They see that they can get a lot by doing nothing. We don’t want that.

But private companies should be allowed to run as they wish to run.

Absolutely. I can see the union issue slowing being weeded out. Companies with unions (UPS) are slowly loosing business, while their competitors with no unions, but the workers treated fairly (FedEx) are striving. Of course in this case the UPS board owns a large chunk of FedEx, but that’s because they see it coming as well.

Yes, Wal-Mart is the top retailer. Even though, I can see the work force of all of my local Wal-Marts slowly lessining over the years. There is plenty of time for change there though.

As I pointed out, it boils down to step 3. That is where the union fails. The people get greedy and the entire concept just fails.

Posted by: Ethan Poole at December 30, 2005 2:43 PM
Comment #109225

In response to a few who posted while I was typing:

Workers and businesses are starting to come around and we may see a decline in union usage. I recall some company’s workers denying a union being formed under the Teamsters.

If my steps prove themselves it will just turn right back around though. It’s slowly coming to step 4, but how long will it really last? It isn’t like it hasn’t happened before in other countries, it will only be a matter of time (maybe two generations) before everything starts back up.

Adrienne, I in some ways a pro-union person, and in others not. I really have mixed feelings about the entire subject, and I wanted to post this to see other’s thoughts as well.

Unions also show the rubber-band-edness (lol) of the free market economy. Slowly it is all weeded out thanks for competition, and then it eventually will come back.

Posted by: Ethan Poole at December 30, 2005 2:49 PM
Comment #109227

kctim
Isn’t Wal-Mart like the number 1 company in the world?
Low costs, wide selection of goods and they are always hiring. Prices are low because they aren’t forced by a union to pay $20 an hour for an $8 an hour job.
No union involvement and it has become a major success.

They may be the biggest retailer in the world but they sure as hell don’t treat their employees that good.
No they’re not paying $20/hr for an $8/hr job. But they aint paying $8/hr for an $8/hr job either.
Ethan said that the Wal-Mart near him is hurting for labor. The one near me is also hurting for labor. And what they have isn’t exactly the most brilliant folks in town.

Posted by: Ron Brown at December 30, 2005 2:51 PM
Comment #109230

JimT:
“No, what happens is that the union gets so powerful that a guy who sweeps the floor makes almost as much as a college professor (and with bennies…more)”

That’s bunk. It truly is.
And I don’t like the tone of this statement at all. People who sweep and mop floors are in fact just as important in the scheme of life as those who become college professors.
Without a person to sweep and mop floors, everyone who walks inside a building would be falling down on dirt and grease, or made to wade through trash and germs everyday.
It’s both a heartless and an extremely unwise idea for a majority of people to think they’re either too damn good for such a job, or think that it’s okay to look down upon those who do make their living that way. In my opinion, dirty and unpleasant jobs should automatically receive good wages and decent benefits — because without those people doing their jobs, everybody would suffer.

Posted by: Adrienne at December 30, 2005 3:10 PM
Comment #109237

I think that Wal-Mart had a good idea, but they just cut things in so many areas that they have too many down sides. I haven’t shopped at one in a long, long time. That was when I sort of went commy for a bit, thanks for the book No Logo. I still don’t shop at Wal-Mart though. I think if they start a few reforms here and there they will really be a better business.

Adrienne, I do agree that a sweeper and professor are equal, but are their jobs deserving equal pay? A sweeper doesn’t require any knowledge, although it does involve time and effort (quite valuable). He definately deserves something.

A professor requires much more schooling and knowledge, which I think is worth more money.

I’ve never really seen a janitor that’s paid all that well though. Most (even with unions) don’t get too much. They probably deserve a bit more, as they do some dirty work (cleaning bathrooms, etc). Garbage men are a great example here. They well earn their money, because no one else wants to do it.

Posted by: Ethan Poole at December 30, 2005 4:19 PM
Comment #109239

It makes no difference what your job is or what its title is. It is important and, it is even more important to do it well.

I am for good management. This includes treating associates well and meeting their needs. (Give them acceptable working conditions, competitive wages, benefits, fair production quotas/expectations, holidays, vacations, etc.) In turn, they must treat you well and meet your
needs. (Show up on time, put in a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay and so on)

All of this can and should be done without the need of a third party (union) to speak for the worker. Depending upon how the contract is written unions can be far less effective in “right to work” states.

What puzzles me is when I see and hear ;
> People should have GOOD wages.
What constitutes good - what is the standard?

Posted by: steve smith at December 30, 2005 4:30 PM
Comment #109268

The best answer I ever saw to counter the excesses of union greed is profit sharing. When workers are motivated by both their worker interests and the profit motive of the company, they tend to be better union members willing to partner with CEO’s and boards of directors. That is, if CEO’s and BoD’s are also willing to work with the union workers.

But, this is moot! Unions are dead in America, and it was a death brought on as much by the profiteering and crooked union leadership as boards of directors and CEO’s. They had an opportunity to cleanse their top ranks and partner with business in the ‘70’s following the paradigm of the Japanese. But, the rank and file, refused to throw of their specilized blinders and educate themselves about their own unions and worldwide changes taking place in global workplaces.

Ignorance sows the seeds of its own demise, one way or another. Unions are unlikely to make a comeback in the foreseeable future. For that to happen they would need a sympathetic Supreme Court, and they are about to lose the last vestige of that with Alito’s confirmation.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 30, 2005 7:30 PM
Comment #109272

I wouldn’t say that unions are dead. They still have such a large influence on the working market, and it has become quite political. My uncle workers for the Teamsters (quite high up I believe) and his tires were slashed when we was elected as the local UPS office’s representative. This is obviously a sign of it just becoming dirty, which always signifies that it is going to collapse.

I don’t see how the Supreme Court will have much say in the re-rise of unions in the future. Unless they break laws that is.

Posted by: Ethan Poole at December 30, 2005 8:06 PM
Comment #109289

Ethan, look up the history and pre-history (Wagner Act) of the Taft-Hartley Act. There have been over 2000 court rulings since the act passed based on interpretations of the Act.

The courts have everything to do with the future of unions, as they have already a great part to play in the demise of unions over these last 14 years.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 30, 2005 10:06 PM
Comment #109290

Here is a great link for a summary of the history and pre-history.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 30, 2005 10:08 PM
Comment #109427

Still, I do not think it would be too difficult to attempt to dodge the Court by not doing anything that hasn’t already been declared constitutional.

Plus most cases will not go straights to the Court, so a lower court will most likely uses the previous ruiling (which was in their favor). It will not go back to the Court very easily.

Still, I’m not sure it’s the largest issue to worry about.

Posted by: Ethan Poole at December 31, 2005 7:43 AM
Comment #109461

What puzzles me is when I see and hear ;
> People should have GOOD wages.
What constitutes good - what is the standard?

Posted by: steve smith at December 30, 2005 04:30 PM

It depends on who’s saying it. If it’s the employees it’s most likey more than the job is worth. If it’s the employer it could be less than the job is worth. If it’s the unions it’s most definantly more than the employer can pay without going bankrupt.

Posted by: Ron Brown at December 31, 2005 12:59 PM
Comment #109466

David
From what I’ve noticed in my research on companies that have profit sharing, the employees have dumped the union (if they had one) soon after they got their first dividend checks.
As I stated the other day on the blue side of this blog, I’m looking into the possibility of an employee stock program. Or profit sharing.
With profit sharing the employees don’t have
anything invested in the company, but get a percentage of the profits.
With a stock program employees invest a set amount of money, usually determined by the employee, and recieve stock when they have enough invested to recieve shares. Either way the employees are recieving more than their paychecks, and take more intrest in the company.
I kindof like the stock program. The employees have some ownership in the company. And from what I’ve seen, they have more intrest in the company making a profit than with the profit sharing.
The dividends with both plans will varie depending on how much the company makes. But the dividends on the stocks are usually a higher percentage than profit sharing.
I hope to have one of the two up and running by spring.

Posted by: Ron Brown at December 31, 2005 1:22 PM
Comment #109527

Workers and unions are not stupid. There is no gain putting companies out of business. Wages are negotiated. If the company states it can not afford the demand thay have too, by law, present their books to prove it to comply in good faith barginnig. If it is true it is taken into consideration.
Often the real objection to unions is about power relationships. In a union shop there are protections against unfair firings. Many Owners and bosses hate having to deal decently with their workers.They would rather be lord and master.
Union membership is again rising and more non-union workers are expressing a desire to be in a union.

Posted by: Bill at December 31, 2005 7:16 PM
Comment #109583

Ron, that is great news and congratulations.

My only problem with stock options is if they are in place of profit sharing. If a company has both, I don’t see a problem.

But, if a company offers only stock options, a couple of factors come into play. First, the employees can be expected to invest in those options out of their paychecks. But, they have little say in how the company is run or the decisions of the board of directors. Hence, they could lose, big time, their investments regardless of their hard work and productivity. Second, stock options are not going to be much of an asset to employees in a company when their wages are insufficient to buy into the stock options or they are in an industry that is being progressively outsourced.

Profit sharing, on the other hand, is something the employees have a certain amount of direct control over in terms of customer service, productivity, and quality of production. Their is a much more direct incentive to employees with profit sharing.

Of course, the best option for employees is profit sharing and stock options. If employees have the the option to convert all or a portion of their profit sharing dividends into stock options while keeping some profit sharing dividends in liquid savings, they are better able to manage their personal budgetary needs and unexpected expenses with private savings that are less risky than stocks, while reaping some benefit from long term stock dividends if the company and its industry are on track for growth over the long haul.

Stock options without profit sharing is of primary benefit to the company, not the employee. Stock options with profit sharing is perceptually, anyway, a fairly equal benefit to both company and employees. As millions of workers in America have discovered in the last 5 years, stock options can wipe out an employee’s savings along with pension plans when a company or industry is going under, unless of course, the stock options are for the the the open markets stocks like in a 401K plan as opposed to stock options in only the company one works for. GM, United, Kodak, Enron, and a host of others are examples where employees have lost everything, their jobs, their pensions, and their investments in the corporation’s stocks.

Whereas profit sharing allows employees to manage the risk of their dividends by investing those funds according to their needs and risk tolearance, and over a wide array of companies and investment instruments.


Posted by: David R. Remer at January 1, 2006 3:57 AM
Comment #109585

Bill what is your source for that information about rising interest in unions? All the data I have seen points to the opposite.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 1, 2006 4:01 AM
Comment #109651

Production incentives IMO are far better alternatives than stock options and/or profit sharing, certainly for labor intense functions.

Production operation methods with appropriate quotas and compensation can be developed for each function. Variable job rates/grades of pay are used to reflect the differences (if any) in the skill required to do the job. The incentive factor however, remains the same. Intangibles are absorbed into the standards and/or shown in as a seperate budget item.

This allows far more predictibility for budgeting and sales purposes in terms of cost of goods processed, sold, establishing price points and, ulimately - profit.

Posted by: steve smith at January 1, 2006 11:40 AM
Comment #109659

David Remer
Check out AFL-CIO home page FAQs.
53% of non-union workers want a union.

Posted by: Bill at January 1, 2006 1:39 PM
Comment #109673

You have a point there David. I think I’ll concider it.
But I don’t think I’ll be able to do both at the same time. We’ll see.
Thanks.

Posted by: Ron Brown at January 1, 2006 4:45 PM
Comment #109674

David Remer
Check out AFL-CIO home page FAQs.
53% of non-union workers want a union.

Posted by: Bill at January 1, 2006 01:39 PM

Gee a union doing a poll and comming up with that.
Go figure.

Posted by: Ron Brown at January 1, 2006 4:48 PM
Comment #109707

Poll sited is from the Dept. of Labor.

Posted by: Bill at January 2, 2006 12:22 AM
Comment #109768

Ethan:
“Adrienne, I do agree that a sweeper and professor are equal, but are their jobs deserving equal pay?”

I wasn’t suggesting that they should receive equal pay. Nor do they currently, as the poster I was responding to was claiming.

“A sweeper doesn’t require any knowledge, although it does involve time and effort (quite valuable). He definately deserves something.”

Yes, such people do deserve decent wages and good healthcare because their bodies become worn-out as they get older from doing that kind of hard physical job everyday. I also think they deserve everyones respect and appreciation, despite the fact that it doesn’t take much brain power to do their jobs — because as I said before, their work is every bit as needed as every other person who comes to work inside those buildings.

“A professor requires much more schooling and knowledge, which I think is worth more money.”

They do make more. Professors also tend to have bright futures filled with intellectual satisfaction and achievement, unlike the janitor, and yet without him or her, all of these knowledgable, educated people would actually be forced to work in dirty, smelly, dangerous places.

“I’ve never really seen a janitor that’s paid all that well though. Most (even with unions) don’t get too much.”

I agree.

Ron:
“If it’s the unions it’s most definantly more than the employer can pay without going bankrupt.”

This is patently untrue for all the reasons Bill laid out in his post.

The department store company that my husband has worked for during the past eight years has been expanding exponentially and has been buying out many other dept. store companies all over the country. Meanwhile, they’ve been downsizing in every direction you could name to get more work out of fewer and fewer workers, and then they’ve turned around and tried to claim that they can’t afford the union healthcare plans or raises during contract negotiations for both the Teamsters and the Engineers Union that my husband belongs to as a member of the store maintenence team (though he’s is a journeyman carpenter and locksmith, not a regular building engineer).
They’re not fooling anyone - least of all Himself, who is on his union’s negotiation team for the stores located in our area.

Bill — great posts!
Solidarity Works! :^)

Posted by: Adrienne at January 2, 2006 1:56 PM
Comment #109847

Adrienne, solidarity does work in leveraging power. But, when the solidarity develops group greed, or group think to the exclusion of their employer’s needs to remain viable, solidarity fails, its own collective.

Ron, is on the right track, in considering how to unify the goals of employees and employer such that viability and success of a company benefits both company shareholders and employees relatively equally. Despite warring camps at each end, employers cannot do as well without a competent, enthusiastic, and motviated employee complement, and vice versa. They are so interdependent, that it is foolish in the long run for one side to exploit the other.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 2, 2006 8:21 PM
Comment #109867

David, sorry I couldn’t reply to your post earlier — my server has been offline for part of today due all the rain we’ve been getting here.
You wrote:
“Adrienne, solidarity does work in leveraging power. But, when the solidarity develops group greed, or group think to the exclusion of their employer’s needs to remain viable, solidarity fails, its own collective.

Ron, is on the right track, in considering how to unify the goals of employees and employer such that viability and success of a company benefits both company shareholders and employees relatively equally.”

David I agree that Ron seems to be on the right track — but only because his appears to be a smaller company. When workers like my husband have to try to protect their interests against a behemoth of a company, one where viability will never, ever be a factor, it would be extremely unwise for those workers not to want a union behind them.
The reason being is that in such large companies there is often a very high turnover rate in middle management, so relationships between them and workers below are bound to come and go rather than remain static for many years. Having union protection in that scenario ensures equitable treatment and protects against various kinds of unfair practices that can, and often do, take place in large corporate environments.

Posted by: Adrienne at January 2, 2006 11:30 PM
Comment #109902

Adrienne
My company is a small one. I currently employ 49 people. However, I’ve heard of big companies that use profit share and stock options with a lot of sucess. The problem is that the big companies also have stockholders that don’t work for them. These folks invest for only one reason. PROFIT! And the more the better. And sense they own the lions share of stock their intrest is put ahead of the employees. Even if the employees own stock.
I’m not so sure that if I worked for one of these big companies that I wouldn’t want a union.
I have a niece that works for an employee owned grocrey chain. The only stockholders are the employees. From what I’ve heard it’s a pretty decent place to work. But the wages aren’t the best in the world. However the dividend checks more than makeup for that.
Maybe all big companies should be employee owned.
I’ll bet the CEOs would be a hell of a lot more attentive to the employees concerns.

Posted by: Ron Brown at January 3, 2006 9:20 AM
Comment #109923

“No they’re not paying $20/hr for an $8/hr job. But they aint paying $8/hr for an $8/hr job either”

If its not 8 then its real close. I was offered $7.35 an hour to start.

“Ethan said that the Wal-Mart near him is hurting for labor. The one near me is also hurting for labor”

Glad to hear you guys have 0 unemployment rates in your areas also.

Posted by: kctim at January 3, 2006 1:17 PM
Comment #109965

kctim
I wasn’t saying that we have 0% unemployment. Infact we currently have a 4% unemployment rate
I was saying that the Wal-Mart near here was hurting for labor. They’re having a hard time getting people to work there.

Posted by: Ron Brown at January 3, 2006 5:20 PM
Comment #110054

Bill, thank you for the reference to the poll and source. That is a somewhat encouraging statistic, but, like religion, abortion, and the Iraq war, 53% pretty much says the country is split down the middle on the issue of unions. Let’s also not forget that the poll was of workers. Throw in the polling numbers of non-workers, entrepreneurs, and owners, and the poll result would likely be less than 50%.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 4, 2006 3:35 AM
Comment #111272

Unions exist because people joined together to better their working conditions. If we didn’t have government repression of unions in this country then at least 50 % of the workforce would be in Unions. I am a worker, and I am tired of people trying to represent working people as greedy or stupid. Most people I know can care about their work and what kind of product they produce. It’s all about the more profit. Here’s some numbers that I was able to find:
A union is a group of workers who form an organization to gain:
• Respect on the job,
• Better wages and benefits,
• More flexibility for work and family needs,
• A counterbalance to the unchecked power of employers, and
• A voice in improving the quality of their products and services.
• Union workers’ median weekly earnings are 28 percent higher than their nonunion counterparts.
• While only 16 percent of nonunion workers have guaranteed pensions, fully 70 percent of union workers do.
86 percent of union workers’ jobs provide health insurance benefits, compared with only 59.5 percent of nonunion workers’ jobs. Only 2.5 percent of union workers are uninsured, compared with 15 percent of nonunion workers.
• Median weekly wages for women union workers are 34 percent higher than nonunion women.
• Median weekly wages for African American workers in unions are 29 percent higher than for nonunion African Americans; for Latinos, the difference is 59 percent; and for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, it is 11 percent.

Posted by: Cody Bryan III at January 8, 2006 11:10 PM
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