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Unions

japedol

Registered Member
I wanted to start a thread about unions. Not the legality of curbing public employee bargaining rights - since I have no place commenting on that - but just unions in general, in lieu of the uproar in America over Wisconsin. So, here we go:

I'm a highschool dropout, currently taking some online courses to get my diploma, before heading off to university next year. I'm lucky enough that my parents will let me live with them and I'm quite young, so my situation is hardly dire. I've been thirteen dollars an hour working in a factory for two years. Through my own stupidity I have no practical skills or value to offer to the company in which I work. I deserve to be paid LESS then thirteen dollars an hour. A monkey could do my job. That doesn't mean I'm immoral or bad person - I like to think I'm not - or that I live an unhappy life, for I am very happy.

Low end workers are typically paid more then they are worth through supply and demand. Even during recessions, when there should be a surge in the supply of labour, the price of labour typically does not decrease - rather, folks are laid off. This is probably because workers are paid efficiency wages, wages that keep us happy and productive.

Across the indebted and indulgent western world, lowering wages and making labour more flexible is one of the few ways to stimulate industrial growth without lowering taxes or raising spending and worsening the public finances. Wage reductions in Ireland and Spain - my American counterparts - is what belt tightening actually looks like. Sorry.

The public sector is yet more exorbitant. Public sector unions are an undeniably influential political force. California being the prime example, public sector employees have squeezed from the tax payer simply to much in the form of wages and future IOU's.

Not only that, but it is ridiculously hard, because of unions to rationalize the public sector. The public sector should be designed to echo as much as possible with its lack of a profit incentive, market signals. In the eighties Margaret Thatcher succeeded in closing or privatizing publicly owned coal-mines that were producing negative value - in other words, they were losing the government money. The coal miners were essentially just recieving loads of taxpayer money for contributing nothing to society - in fact, they were draining from it. So spoiled are we, that the coal miners thought they had a moral right to resist. In the United States today, politicians are faced with similar challenges - those of rationalizing the public sector. It is to difficult to promote good teachers or fire bad ones. In fact, it's been made difficult by unions just to gauge the effectiveness of teachers - just how spoiled are we? The Economist recently wrote an article about how public sector unions not only garner to much money from the tax payer in the form of wages, but have made the public sector woefully unproductive entitled "(Government)workers of the world unite!). I would suggest to anyone that they read it, along with the article "Improving Teachers".

I like to think I'm a liberal because modern leftism offers what I see as practical bonus's to society. Interventionism can be used to augment the market, to mitigate excesses, to protect the environment, to soothe financial storms and to clean up after them, to achieve a stable, orderly, productive society. Unfortunately, liberalism is also the claim-stake of those who believe the best measure of a society's worth is not innovation, financial stability and order, but how comfortably people like myself live - or rather, how the adults I work with who seem stuck on the lower rungs of society live. Many liberals ignore the social utility in low wages, low corporate taxes and low capital gains taxes or high market-based wages, they believe homelessness is proof of what seems to be an eternal spiral towards societal doom. They appeal to emotion and opine about the plight of the lower class. They would sacrifice the public finances, productivity, the economic strength of the west, economic stability and the free worlds economic future itself, all in the name of unions and the working class and other buzzwords. Despite what they may say, many liberals are completely unwilling to accept lower wages, welfare spending, higher middle class taxes or anything that might better society at the expense of individuals with which their sympathies understandably lie.

Teachers live very comfortably. More comfortably then I probably ever will - and I live like a king by historical standards, or compared to the truly disenfranchised people of the world. To anyone who does, please stop pretending they don't.
 
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Merc

Problematic Shitlord
V.I.P.
I've always seen it simply as such:

Unions in theory are there to protect the rights of workers. They have changed somewhat and instead just make sure that people get paid exorbitant amounts of money for mediocre work. On the other hand, they are necessary it seems as big companies are quite fond of keeping their bonuses and cutting corners as low as they can. So unions provide a little 'oomph' so to say for the little guy who commonly gets fucked over by the bigger guys.

I think unions need to be there since you can't and shouldn't have to monitor big companies (even though you'd like to think you could trust them to treat their employees properly) but in their current form they sometimes cause more harm than good.
 

japedol

Registered Member
I agree that unions should exist. I wouldn't feel comfortable telling a group of people that they're aren't allowed to do something like form an association and bargain in the market. But, unions have come a long way from campaigning against ten hour days and child labour.

I think it would be nice to ban union shops coercing people in to unions. And I don't know about the legality of public sector unions, but they seem unnecessary. And a tad vampiric.
 

Merc

Problematic Shitlord
V.I.P.
I think one of the big problems is a lot of Americans are very comfortable with the "well, it's their company, whatever they decide to do with it is up to them" which is just wrong. Sure it's their company, but as you mentioned, things like long work days and child labor are things that are not necessary and can bring more harm than good.
 

shelgarr

Registered Member
We have so many city, county, state, and federal laws governing how business treats their workers that we no longer have need for unions. At the time they originated workers were being abused. That just isn't allowed anymore. Now with sheer volume of those the belong to unions they have defaulted into having a lot of power. If you were to put me head to head with another person that has 32 years in the work force, and an associate degree I will ALWAYS maintain that I am a better and more productive worker. It is my work ethic and intelligence that earns me better pay. If that other person belonged to a union the union could coerce, conjole, and threaten business to treat THAT person as well as I even if THAT person putzed around and twiddles their thumbs. Unions don't expect nor hold their members to a high standard. As long as they pay fees, unions will represent them. I just don't see anything good about that.
 

Merc

Problematic Shitlord
V.I.P.
We have so many city, county, state, and federal laws governing how business treats their workers that we no longer have need for unions.
And you trust all business to follow these rules implicitly? We can't even get big corporations to follow environmental laws, let alone personnel laws.

If that other person belonged to a union the union could coerce, conjole, and threaten business to treat THAT person as well as I even if THAT person putzed around and twiddles their thumbs.
Link? It doesn't seem like a fair assumption of all unions.

Big business doesn't like unions because they give smaller people teeth.
 

fractal

Eye see what you did ther
Unions increase wages and unemployment simultaneously.

But there are other types of unions like cartels where the players in the market agree to operate in such a way that their revenue is increased at the cost to their customers. That's why anti-trust laws make cartels illegal.
 

viLky

ykLiv
I have always dreamt of being a Necromancer. However, until then, I'll just necro this thread.

I have agreements and disagreements with both sides. While I do agree that not everybody is Superman that can handle themselves, thus needing assistance by unions, I also disagree that we shouldn't have those same unions defend the lazy, "twiddles their thumbs" (as shelgarr would put it) types. With that being said, and with people disliking unions because of that reason (probably more, but let's just go with that for now) I always pictured it as allowing the use of alcohol. Sure, there will be some people who get so drunk they'll fall over and die, but for the most part people are good and don't abuse it. I believe it's the same with unions: you'll have your assholes who take advantage while the majority seem to be hard working folk.
 

SmilinSilhouette

Registered Member
Some of the problems with the reality of unions:

1. Their fundraising for and inappropriate influence with government and, specifically the democrat party.

2. Their ability to extract pay and benefits which exceed the ability of employers to actually pay them. (see GM, Chrysler, state of WI, etc.)

3. Their protection of the least common denominator of worker, to the detriment of the employer and good workers.

4. Their ability to force membership and payment of dues upon workers.
 

Sim

Registered Member
I have a mixed opinion on unions too. On one side, they are necessary to give employees some power to get through their interests against the organized, assymetric power of employers. The interests of employers must be heard too, and other groups, such as employers, have often ultimately more power due to their lobby work in the government. So far they are a good thing.

But as was said, sometimes they overdo it and place their interests against the interests of even less organized groups, such as unemployed. It's normal they do it, they are speakers for the interests of employees, after all. But that doesn't mean they should get their will all of the time. Sometimes, for example, lower wages are necessary to create new jobs. In that case, union interests stand against the interests of unemployed.
 
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