Let's talk about unions...


4th Gear Poster
Sep 22, 2023
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95 T-bird with 5.0and m5r2 swap for lemons
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This came up in a different thread. By virtue of where I live and what I do, I don't interact as much with as diverse cross-section of humanity in my everyday life tthat birdcats offers so I'm curious as your viewpoints.

Here's mine:
1) Private unions. At first I was skeptical in the past after reading about how much basic hourly workers are abused by corporate bosses (or even managers for these corporations), I'm totally OK with them organizing to get themselves a better deal. At the end of the day, I think a lot of these lower pay jobs will be automated away (within my lifetime) so we might as well make these jobs as tolerable for as long as possible. I say this as a shareholder, yes, I may get less ROI for my equity but if civil unrest comes because people simply cannot live close enough to where they work to make their lives viable, its going to cost me anyway. I already see this in SF: why the hell would someone want to commute 1+ hours away to work retail in SF when they could just as easily work in the burbs?

2) Public unions, especially Police officer unions: fuck them. While in principle, I can understand why they too want to collectively bargain, they seem to always protect bad members at the expense of the public. I think police should carry personal liability insurance (much like doctors have malpractice insurance). The PD can cover a baseline rate. However, if an officer decides to shoot some dude and it wasn't a good shoot, well, his premiums should go up. The city he works for shouldn't bear the burden of his shitty actions and he shouldn't be able to just work in the next city/county over.
Unions are great in theory. If all the workers at a particular job agree not to work unless certain conditions are met, then that puts pressure on the employer to meet their demands, or replace their entire staff. The problem is in practice, as with any system of centralized authority, bad actors will find their way to the top, corruption will become commonplace, and the end result is they screw the workers they claim to protect, and take a fee out of their check for the privilege!
Serious question: how much do you unions typically take?
You mean dues?

Yes. Dues. This is an interesting topic. I work closely with Union Millwrights on a regular basis. I'll ask them how much their dues are and get back to you.

I'm with you gunn on both Private and Public unions.

Private unions, as they were originally created, served a very important purpose to help usher in workers rights and workplace safety. The history of unions is an ugly one as companies and even the government fought them and as Mikey pointed out, unions became corrupt. Having said that, I believe Unions do serve a very important purpose and collective bargaining is an important tool for the working class.

Public unions: Fuck the Police Unions! They absolutely should be held accountable. Union protection for bad officers and Qualified Immunity is one of the greatest injustices ever served on the American public.

The death of the US Middle class started with Regan firing the Air Traffic Controllers in 1981.

“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” - Warren Buffett

I could research and write for hours on the topic but I'll leave it at this for now.
I worked for a union some years ago. I'm glad I'm out, but in the same respect I'll never cross a picket line or buy product from a company working through a strike. Partly because working through a strike is management making the product which are fare removed from the process. In my experience dues were approximately an hours wage for the week. I worked with some really good guys, good both personally and good production wise. But the union protected the slacker. There were a number of times I worked behind someone having to fix all their errors over and over again and because I had less seniority when layoffs came I was always stressed about loosing my job while this slacker was safe as can be.
In one of the last union negotiations I went through health care costs was number one topic. Most people would forgo a raise in order to keep our health care cost the same, but because union dues were based on hourly wage there was no chance of that. No raise for the people equals no raise for the union. I also sat in a union meeting where one of the officers stated you should be glad you have a job. I stopped attending after that.
I'm not sure how to respond to this. There are so many different unions and reasons they exist.

What if .. a corporation had a monopoly, let's say 1400 forums for example. It was blatantly obvious that this corporation put profits above all else. They never addressed any of the community concerns or issues. Then they decided to punish anybody who spoke up and the only effort they ever put towards the membership was to restrict access even further. If not for the collective action of the community, the Birdcats forum would not exist. 🫢
I tend to agree with @gunn with a couple small exceptions. I've spent a lot of my career dealing with and fighting against the Teamsters' underhanded and dishonest practices. They are worse than police unions in my opinion.

One of the Teamsters' tactics in border states is to go to the Hispanic Drivers individually before a vote with a list of all that Driver's relatives who are in the country illegally. They will openly threaten that they will report the names and addresses of the Driver's relatives to INS for deportation if they don't win the vote.

The UAW also bothers me a lot because the Australian unions made the same demands of the automakers there in 2016. It resulted in just about all Australian production being sent overseas.
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Teamsters .. never dealt with them. We had a few shop truck drivers who were in the teamsters union.

UFCW - One of my good friends is still in this Union (works at Safeway, or as he calls it .. Slaveway 🤣) he has many complaints, but mostly about the unions inability to complete contract negotiations. There are times he tells me he's working without a contract, and the company owes him up to 6 months back pay on a raise that was promised. For some reason he ends up working with one day off every few weeks due to the mismanagement at corporate level. But the OT pay is good. 🙃

UAW .. I could go into lengthy discussions on this one. I was a UAW member up until 2009. Remember .. GM had the largest bankruptcy in history in 2008. They ended up shuttering brands such as Pontiac, Saab, Saturn and Hummer as part of a strategy to recover. I worked at NUMMI, a GM plant repurposed as a joint venture between Toyota and GM. The factory workforce of about 5000 UAW workers was supported by about 100,000 jobs in logistics, and remote component fabrication. Bottom line is it cost about $5000 to build any car/truck, any model .. and the higher end trims were most profitable for the company. Fact .. Toyota built the Corolla in 19 different countries at this time, our main competition from Canada although they did not work overtime so we beat them in production volume 😉 .. anyways, when GM pulled the plug on Pontiac, Toyota decided it was not cost effective to continue building the Corolla in the USA. Our Tacoma production had already started the transition for production to Baja California (AKA Mexico ) 🇲🇽 .. they were paying Mexicans $5.00 a day, and these trucks were hand pushed down the assembly line. Obviously, the cost in production is significantly decreased versus our $34 an hour plus benefits.

Now my question is .. did the cost of production affect the MSRP on the consumer end ? Not that I know of. This just means more profit for the parent company. Same thing with Australia, factors like decreasing market share, cost of production, etc .. drove the bottom line to end production in Thailand, Australia, New Zeland. Remember that big push to BUY AMERICAN ? Well, the Holden Commodore PPV aka the Chevy Caprice would have been an excellent replacement, some police forces did purchase them .. but the fact that they were not "American cars" resulted in no contracts to purchase fleets of PPVs by the US government agencies. Lots of contributing factors.

Oh yeah, the UAW ..
At the time I did work with the occasional "lazy worker with more seniority" .. aka the fat fuck we called SpongeBob ( because he literally had square pants ) would fall asleep on the assembly line. Health issues? Perhaps. Union protected him. It's the role of the union member to support your fellow members, the older members got the easier jobs, AFAIAC they earned it. I worked 50 hours a week, my feet hurt, I still have a repetitive stress injury in my arm from working the assembly line. That work takes a toll after years and years. I would expect anybody with seniority to take the easy job.

My complaint was with the temporary provision - some kind of deal worked between corporate and union which allowed the hiring of "temporary workers" .. aka workers without health care benefits. Maybe more of a weeding process to determine which workers were worth keeping without upsetting the union. It was just that these contracts were for One year and then the union was supposed to induct the temp workers into membership .. often times this took several years and these workers never received health care or any kind of retirement benefits.
Don't disagree with anything you said there. The temporary provisions is a thing trucking too with their non-Driver laborers and it frankly is a litmus test to see who can actually do the job before they get the union's backing. I would have concerns with that if it also wasn't a tactic used by non-union companies that hire temp agency workers on a 1099.

I don't have any personal experience with the UAW other than my in-laws who are GM retirees. They were at plants in Michigan and Spring Hill, though, and their opinions vary all across the spectrum.

And since you mentioned it, I also never understood the "pro-US" hatred for the Caprice PPV. Those same agencies that refused to buy the Caprice PPV because it wasn't "American" all had no problem buying Canadian-built Chargers or CVPIs. Knoxville PD and KCSO were two of them.
And since you mentioned it, I also never understood the "pro-US" hatred for the Caprice PPV. Those same agencies that refused to buy the Caprice PPV because it wasn't "American" all had no problem buying Canadian-built Chargers or CVPIs. Knoxville PD and KCSO were two of them.

Some agencies have more discretion or "allowances" to purchase specialty vehicles. My local PD has at least two Caprice PPVs in their fleet, the rest are mostly Ford Expeditions. That might be the trade-off (there is some wiggle in Buy American .. if its not available in time, if the cost is unreasonably high, if 80% is already American. As long as its not from North Korea or Russia). The federal government with all of its agencies has over 600k vehicles and the current requirement is that they need to be Union Made and at least 50% sourced from America. 🤔 Next they want to go all EV ( but that's another topic for another discussion )
Per what? Minute, hour, week, paycheck, etc.?

Depends. Some are based on hourly rates, others are due monthly. It could vary between $40 a month or something like $3 an hour. And that may not be the only "due" on top of regular dues. By the way, attached pics don't work in private conversation .. 🤔
Without unions, youd still be working seven days a week, with no overtime and you'd work till you died.

So anyone that says union are bad can go fuck them selves.

It is possible to simultaneously believe that 1.) The original function and purpose of labor unions were good *and* 2.) There are some modern-day unions that have gone incredibly corrupt and need to be dealt with.
If you make good money in TN, you either are a union member,A White-collar professional, or a rare profession that pays high wages (me). Or, far more likely, a drug dealer. :) The government labs in Oak Ridge are all Union, and they drag everyone's wages up. If anyone else wants a worker, they have to pony up. Same for Clerical work.In the 1930's, all the knitting mills, clothing factories, all that was in the south. When I did R&d years ago, we needed a bunch of workers with high manual dexterity, and I had read that a levi's plant was closing. I called the girl that hired me and said, you should go hire all the good ones, let us train them for a week, and see how it works. Their union sent us recommendations, and we ended up hiring 50 people. Not a one they recommended ever caused a problem. :) I remember this one older woman got hit pretty bad by a HV power supply, and just said dammit! and went on working. She later said it wasn't nearly as bad a sewing a buttonhole in a finger. :)
We originally hired them for a temporary job, and they were mostly all there 15 years later. More than a few retired or passed.
Some jobs ( government work for example) prefer Union labor .. or the local municipality may have a Project Labor Agreement that specifies wages based on a collective bargaining agreement / prevailing wage job. Meaning that they can hire non union labor but they have to pay the union rates.
Without unions, youd still be working seven days a week, with no overtime and you'd work till you died.

So anyone that says union are bad can go fuck them selves.
This is absolutely delusional and completely incorrect. First off, even before unions the standard was 6 days a week, 10 hours a day, not 7, and that was due to religious influences. The 5 day 40 hour work week was popularized by Henry Ford. Get this, he actually figured out that well rested employees who earned decent wages and had a good family life were more productive! By paying better and allowing workers 2 days off per week, everyone wanted that job, but with no union in the way, all the slackers got canned, and the end result was the more productive workers got a better wage, and the company made more cars and more money. Human beings act in their own self interest, always have and always will. A voluntary agreement between an employer and an employee will only come about if both people think it is in their own self interest. It is beyond my comprehension how people can believe that if it weren’t for some corrupt powerful organization, they would be forced to do all sorts of things against their will, but thankfully that corrupt powerful organization that can force people to do things against their will exists so that I don’t get forced to do things against my will! Like I said at the beginning, completely delusional!
Depends. Some are based on hourly rates, others are due monthly. It could vary between $40 a month or something like $3 an hour. And that may not be the only "due" on top of regular dues. By the way, attached pics don't work in private conversation .. 🤔
Thanks. I did get the pic you sent to my by PM. Thanks for sharing that.
Without unions, youd still be working seven days a week, with no overtime and you'd work till you died.

So anyone that says union are bad can go fuck them selves.
Tell us how you really feel!!!!
I've been reading everyone's responses, generally keeping my opinion to myself. Perhaps I can share a little without being too divisive? :)

First off, I am an outsider. I've never worked where unions had a presence; the closest I came to one was back in 2009 or 2010 when there was a pitch to unionize at Home Depot. We all voted on it and it didn't pass. To that point the only exposure I had was my (then GF) wife's childhood friend who was working at a regional grocery chain who was (involuntarily) a member of a union there. She hated being a part of it - I don't recall all of her gripes, but I seem to recall the dues were a large part of what she hated. I don't know how much she had to pay.

As to my thoughts, I first must say that I absolutely agree that the dawn of unions in the early part of the 20th century was necessary. We never read "The Jungle" but we had a unit on it and its causes/effects WBW I was in grade school, and it was clear that laborers were being taken advantage of and the government was blissfully ignorant (or looking the other way). Unionization brought quality of life way up for a lot of people - heck, it probably saved a lot of lives. It changed the culture surrounding labor - even where unions had no direct influence.

Now, fast forward to today... I don't think unions are quite as necessary now as they were back then. They were created to solve a problem, and it worked. But, to paraphrase a popular quote, they've existed long enough to see themselves become the problem.

Am I unilaterally against unions - all unions? Absolutely not! But are all unions good unions, that truly are out there to uphold WHY they were created in the first place? Absolutely not! Someone here said earlier that unions are run by people, and people are not infallible. Some folks are more altruistic than others, but when you come right down to it, the #1 person in everyone's book is themselves. This is the root cause of the problems that birthed the existence of unions in the first place, and is also the root cause of why some unions have outgrown their purpose and usefulness today.

The divided opinions on them shared here kind of goes to show that experiences with unions has varied wildly, and that - to me - just goes to reinforce the fact that there are some unions that do good, and some that do bad.
The coal and iron mines here were non-union, and there was an annual body count; sometimes in the hundreds. Unions were instrumental in reforming the industry practices, but only after some local wars.
Prison in that era was akin to nazi germany; those convicts were starved, and basically slaves.
The ocal unions at the govt plants here get a lot of flack, but those guys did some incredibly dangerous jobs, that is now killing them. My BIL was in the Oil Chemical, and Atomic workers' union, and died of parkinsons' due to exposure to TBP, a chemical used in uranium processing.
There seem to be a few inaccuracies or misconceptions in here. If you actually want to understand the history of organized labor; Wikipedia is your friend. As for the 8 hour work day "standard" .. that goes back to Ulysses S Grant in 1865 .. the 10 hour work day goes back to 1835. Organized labor ( aka Unions ) were not formally recognized / protected until the Wagner act of 1935. Henry Ford in 1914 doubled the daily pay to $5 and went from 9 hour work days to 8 hour work days ..

There are 24 hours in a day / 3 = 8 hour work shifts; keep the factory open 24 hours. They did it at NUMMI while I was with UAW we worked 10 hours a day, often times 6 days a week. When I finished off my 500+th car; I was literally handing my tool to the worker starting the next 10 hour shift. The assembly line rarely stopped and there were buffer zones in place to maintain a constant flow of vehicles to be manufactured.

History needs to be taken in context .. there's a lot of reasons why things happen when they do. Let's just be clear here .. right now, companies are making Record Profits, CEOs are earning multi million dollar bonuses, the disparity between the wealthy and poor is increasing, and the middle class is shrinking.

Here's a few more thoughts as to why unions may be necessary as a check / balance ..

Right to work States. Yeah I have a friend who can do YOUR job, for cheaper. Better yet .. let's just ship your job to another country. My ROI on stock holdings will make me more money.

At will employment - you can be fired for any reason at any time. Good luck.

Rising cost of living .. the job hasn't changed, so why should your compensation ?

If any of the three thoughts above (among many others) are reasons to be concerned, I ask .. who is best suited to secure your future interests ? The government ? Corporate business ? Or an organized labor representation ?
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So true. People just don't get it. Greedflation, shrinkflation and wage stagnation are driving those record corporate profits.
Tennessee is a right to work state. But most of the best paying jobs are union jobs. Otherwise, you have zero job security. I got fired for something that happened ten years before I worked there; I pissed off a corp vp. :) Totally random encounter. I still laugh about it. If I'd known who he was, I'd have stuffed him in his trunk, and driven into the lake,lol.

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