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THIS is why public employees should not be allowed to unionize

Discussion in 'The OT' started by Lord Vader, Dec 30, 2010.

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  1. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    It is the job that you're not getting paid to do that is the problem. Employers are taking advantage of the high unemployment and culling their staff, expecting one person to do the job of two, or three, or four.

    Perhaps the unions take it the other way in some cases ... keeping the mediocre alive with some specific members taking advantage by having jobs and not working ... but employers have taken advantage too. Paying management bonuses for cutting costs while those "costs" are providing working safe equipment and people.

    Where is the limit? When workers physically can't get the job done and die in work related accidents or from the stress? Perhaps employees have it too good ... but returning to the sweat shop mentality where the people seem owned by the company and can be discarded when they wear out (plenty of other people to be the next wave of victims) doesn't seem right.

    The one case I saw on TV was of a pregnant woman and her baby. The overwhelmed 911 operators (not part of the slow down) had too many calls to handle and did not classify the emergency correctly. By the time the complaint was seen as an emergency it was too late.

    I'd like to see a fair accounting of how much the "slow down" actually affected response. In years where the response was considered adequate was the staffing level higher? Were the number of deaths lower? Someone dying in a severe weather event shouldn't be a surprise.
     
  2. JM Anthony

    JM Anthony Child of the 60's DBSTalk Gold Club

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    I worked in the public sector for over 35 years and never saw much good coming out of unions. Most of the shop stewards and business reps were a pain in the butt to deal with. And if you happen to be working in a pro union environment, being a manager and trying to hold people accountable can be a real challenge.

    John
     
  3. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    I agree. And I belonged to a few unions and still have a gold card in one, even tho I was promoted to a management position. Having dealt with unions from that management position, I can truthfully say that I found the union officers, for the most part to be despicable.

    The teachers in my town (listed in Fortune magazine as one of the top 100 places to live in the country) have been working without a contract for a couple years. They still fulfill their duties. And they get paid a lot of money for the job they do. Read Carl Sagan's last book, particularly the part about high school teachers and you'll see what a recognized genius had to say about his high school experiences.

    What you have to remember about unions today is that they are run by a small number of their members, usually only the members who regularly attend union meetings. One of my best friends was the union president of our local union and implored me on several occasions to go to meetings and vote on important issues. He knew full well that I would vote his way and do it right out in the open. That's a sad commentary when you think about it.

    Rich
     
  4. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    Most states have "Closed Shop" laws that say that in order to work in a place you have to be a member. NJ allows for open shops, or did. Might have changed since I belonged. Closed shops allow for union officials to terminate a member's union membership, thereby terminating his employment. Not a good thing.

    Rich
     
  5. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    Again, in NJ you don't have to belong to the union and dues are not taken out if you are not a member. But those people are ostracized by the paying members and thought to be pariahs. And occasionally get the living daylights beaten out of them. Ever had a "blanket party" held for you? No witnesses there. I've seen a couple of them, never took part, seemed like an act of cowardice.

    Running for office and getting elected does little good. Remember, only a few members attend meetings and all an officer can do is try to sway the voting on issues.

    Rich
     
  6. Lord Vader

    Lord Vader Supreme Member DBSTalk Club

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    This past Sunday evening, our state teachers' union held a conference call at 7:15 p.m. CST. The call was conducted by our state IFT president and the newly-elected president of the Chicago Teacher's Union (CTU). This woman is a fire-breathing union stalwart to the end.

    The conference call was an "action alert" to discuss the Illinois General Assembly's final week of its 2010 session this week (before the new General Assembly is sworn in next week). Specifically, the IFT and CTU (which is part of the IFT) were urging us teachers to contact our state legislators this week and demand that they oppose a couple bills currently being considered--bills that would make teachers more accountable, bills that would try to reward those teachers whose performance is better (kind of a merit pay system), and bills that would reform our vastly underfunded pension system. When I tried to ask a question and make a comment, I was told by the moderator (who was in charge of deciding which call participants were allowed to speak) that "this conference call is for supporters only and not for those who favored anti-teacher legislation."


    Yeah, right.

    We were also told in Emails this week that we were to demand our legislators support an income tax increase of 67%, which looks likely to pass because the Democrats control everything in this state. I could honestly support an occasional tax incease if one is seriously needed; however, the reason why I anot support one in Illinois is because this doesn't solve the underlying problem! Instead of fixing the system that ends up necessitating such tax increases, the Dems and teachers' unions here simply jack up the taxes to continually fund what is nothing less than a sewer of corruption.

    If one has a leaky pipe, do you simply plug the leak or try to find the cause of it first, in order to prevent the leak from recurring again and again? This is what's happening in Illinois, and I'm sick of it.Doesn't matter. The unions demand us members goose-step to their demands.
     
  7. Stuart Sweet

    Stuart Sweet The Shadow Knows!

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    Look, I get where you're coming from. I just ask, let's tone down the rhetoric here. Taxes are not plumbing and it's not completely relevant to compare them. And, really, I don't think anyone's goose-stepping.

    Seems to me this thread has been surprisingly rational so far, and let's hope it stays that way.
     
  8. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

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    I would disagree with your conclusion only because there isn't much of a union system in place today.

    Your overall suggestion, however, has some merit, particularly with regard to the public sector. This is one of the few places where, for me, it's either/or. If, as a public employee, you want the benefits of organized labor, then the union and it's membership should be 100% responsible for health and welfare benefits like most trade unions. The employer would contribute $X/hour to the labor union's health and welfare funds. The open-ended pension contribution system that many public agencies are confronted with would end.

    The public agency and taxpayers would have to pay towards a pension something like $4/per hour contributions to the labor organization during the pay period when the work is done, as opposed to the "we'll pay for it sometime, in the future, if investments don't earn 40% a year" like we did here in California. In that system the responsibility for failed investments in the pension plan falls on the union and its members, not some future legislature or city council. (Keep in mind that the system failure in California is not the fault of the public employees but the politicians who wanted years where they would not have to contribute to the pension fund and who simultaneously catered to certain unions.)

    Which brings me to the whole concept of pensions. My father-in-law started working for a tire yarn company when he was young and retired with an adequate company "defined-benefit" pension (keep in mind I'm old, so this was a working life beginning in the 1930's and ending in the 1970's). Over the last few decades, the private sector has all but completely abandoned the defined benefit pension and apparently is in the process of persuading working voters that public agencies should do so.

    I'm trying to figure out why a worker thinks a defined benefit pension is such an evil idea that he/she would choose to support an attack other workers who still have access to such a pension plan, particularly in the context of this chart I included in a previous post (you can click on it for a larger version):

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    It almost sounds like he espouses the same thing contractors get in NJ. They get higher wages than a company workforce and have to pay their own health care, pension funds, etc. And get laid off constantly. I rarely used our union for anything that pertained to me except as a bargaining agent for our contracts. For that, they were very useful. And I get a nice pension and my wife will get a very nice pension when she retires.

    Rich
     
  10. Lord Vader

    Lord Vader Supreme Member DBSTalk Club

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    You miss my point. The plumbing analogy was valid, because I was simply stating the frustration of many union members like myself who are fed up with being told we have to support a tax increase when that increase won't do a darn thing to stop the leak in the first place. Instead, it's a temporary plug or cork that won't last long, because the underlying problem will only recur soon enough.
     
  11. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

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    Unfortunately, you are quite correct.

    Some folks at the Kellogg School of Management of Northwestern University, went to a great deal of work to produce a study which discovered that if policy changes aren't made, the pension funds of our many state governments will be bankrupt in the following years:
    • 2018: Illinois
    • 2019: Connecticut, Indiana, New Jersey
    • 2020: Hawaii, Louisiana, Oklahoma
    • 2022: Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky
    • 2023: Alabama, Michigan, Minnesota and Mississippi
    • 2024: Maryland, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and West Virginia
    • 2025: Missouri
    • 2026: Maine, Massachusetts and New Mexico
    • 2027: Montana and Rhode Island
    • 2028: Vermont
    • 2029: Arizona
    • 2030: Arkansas, California, Ohio, Wyoming
    • 2031: South Dakota
    • 2032: Nebraska
    • 2033: Virginia, Washington
    • 2035: Delaware, Iowa, Tennessee
    • 2036: Utah
    • 2037: Texas
    • 2038: Wisconsin
    • 2039: Oregon
    • 2041: North Dakota
    • 2043: Idaho
    • 2047: Georgia
    • Never: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina and New York
    The study is the only one that I've seen that IMHO uses reasonable actuarial assumptions and pretty logical assumptions about our economy and investment returns.

    California has until 2030 and has already made significant related policy changes, and presumably will make more.

    Illinois, it appears, has virtually little room to make calculated policy changes. They should have been made sooner, tax increase or not.
     
  12. RasputinAXP

    RasputinAXP Kwisatz Haderach of Cordcuttery

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  13. Stuart Sweet

    Stuart Sweet The Shadow Knows!

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    Phrelin, you're giving the state of California a lot of credit saying it will be 20 years before it's bankrupt. I bet it will be sooner than that.
     
  14. 4HiMarks

    4HiMarks Hall Of Fame

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    I've never been a member of a union, although I, too, grew up in a pro-union household.

    When I got my first "career" job, right out of grad school, it was a temporary sabbatical replacement position at a Univ. in PA. There was a faculty union. I wasn't required to belong, but I was required to pay a large percentage of the membership dues to cover my "share" of the CBA they negotiated, even though part of it specified that I could only stay in my position for 2 years. It was supposed to be a rein on the practice of filling vacancies with adjuncts, but the overall effect on me was to put me out of a job. I found another one at another school in the system, but I had to move clear across the state, for less money, and it was still temporary.

    That said, I still think unions are a good idea, in principle.
     
  15. SPACEMAKER

    SPACEMAKER Freethinker

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    Anyone who doesn't want to be in a union job is free to quit.
     
  16. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

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    I'm not saying the State won't be bankrupt. The California Public Employees Retirement System appears to have the resources to cover retirement obligations through 2030.

    The State's already bankrupt, but just cannot "file" under federal law. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders are ready to "sell off" to local government state "subsidiary businesses" like state funded mental health, social services, and medical service programs, plus the business of incarceration of lower risk prison inmates. Since many, if not all, counties have had to layoff employees including sheriff's deputies, this should be an interesting move.
     
  17. Shades228

    Shades228 DaBears

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    Yes but tax payers can't quit paying taxes which support the unions.
     
  18. SPACEMAKER

    SPACEMAKER Freethinker

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    But not everyone is unhappy with their union. My wife's teacher's union is great. They've never had a strike or any issues with getting what they need in order to best serve the students.
     
  19. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

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    The problem here is that "unions" aren't all bad, just like "corporations" aren't all evil nor "politicians" all crooked.

    This is about "people," [a few/many/most] of whom are [fill in the blank], a particular concern when they wield some power.;)
     
  20. TBoneit

    TBoneit Hall Of Fame

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    Having belonged to a union for 14 years that was corrupt....

    I call it corrupt when anyone dumb enough at a union meeting to get up and argue against what the union bosses wanted gets picked up by two men and marched out of the meeting. I call it corrupt when the union president retires and appoints his son to be the new president. I could go on but......
     
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