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Old 02-23-2011, 05:51 PM   #41
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I think the middle class is being hit with a lot of divide and conquer from powerful, moneyed corporate elite. It serves them well so we don't all turn on them.

I've long said that I'd rather see the private sector middle class dream restored than to see the public sector taken down. But for this to happen, the private sector needs help, especially if the Wisconsin unions (and other unions and govvies) want the support of the rest of the working class. Many of us are non-union and in right to work states. If we try to protest the wage cuts/freezes and benefit takeaways we've endured for a long time, we're fired (and I don't mean FIRE'd unless we're already financially secure).

I want to support "the deal" for public employees but we can't do it unless the rest of the middle class starts reversing their downward trend. And just as public unions want our support here, we need their support in advocating the halting of the erosion of the private sector employment deal.

I don't have a problem with union for private company, although I am no fan of them. I figure if management treats workers so badly they need union, than management deserves to have to put up with a union My problem is with public unions is the same that FDR worried about in this letter. FDR was worried about public employee strikes and he caution that negotiation between government official and unions are much different than in the private sector.

If am an owner of company (and as shareholders most everyone on the forum is) I am pretty confident that when management and union sit down to negotiate and contract, that management and my incentives are aligned. Give the employee sufficient wages and labor rules to maximize the long term profits of the company. Note that sufficient wages is much different than the lowest wage, workers who feel they are being cheated aren't good workers.

In contrast when mayor, city manager or governor sits across the table from a union, I have little confidence that our interests are aligned. First, the elected official doesn't benefit by saving a few million or a few billion from lower labor costs. In fact just the opposite might occur, a labor friendly official benefits by giving into union demands in the form of future campaign contributions, and enthusiastic labor volunteers in the next election. Even when the politician is Republican he doesn't gain much by being to tough in negotiations. The majority of Wisconsin public employee supported Walker's opponent in the last election, but the probably didn't hate the guy. I am sure this has changed and in the 2014 his opponent will receive tons of help. Even when the mayor negotiates in good faith, it is very tempting to agree to benefits who's true cost won't be realized for 10-30 years well after you are out of office. I think this is reason that Walker is smart to focus on benefits.

I think is naive to think that US workers can negotiate their way back to prosperity. We live in a global world and there is no way we can (or in my case want to) go back. If American workers try and prop up wages artificially via unions, companies will just hire Indians, Chinese, and soon Vietnamese, and hopefully in a few years Middle Eastern and African workers. The way for American workers to enjoy a high standard of living is by working harder, but primarily by working smarter.

AFAIK, DC and 25 states allow collective bargaining for public employee unions, 13 prohibit and the rest are a hybrid, say allowing it for Police and Firefighters. Looking at the states that prohibit bargaining vs that those that allow it, I am hard pressed to see how collective bargain makes better government. I don't think the collective bargaining has produce smarter kids, less crime, better roads, or nicer parks. In fact other than schools I'd
say that dozen southern and southwestern state without collective bargaining have a better and certainly less expensive government.
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Old 02-23-2011, 06:06 PM   #42
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If am an owner of company (and as shareholders most everyone on the forum is) I am pretty confident that when management and union sit down to negotiate and contract, that management and my incentives are aligned. . . .

In contrast when mayor, city manager or governor sits across the table from a union, I have little confidence that our interests are aligned.

Your analogy is that you are both the owner of the company and the owner of the state. However, could not one also say that your position as a resident of the state is the same as the buyer of the company's goods or services? You are a consumer of state services. Do we expect someone who buys from Walmart to say "you know, I want that bath towel cheaper, so I'll try to force the workers to take less pay"?

The mutual incentive for both management and labor is to keep the customers from going somewhere else, while making a profit and paying a decent wage.
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Old 02-23-2011, 07:13 PM   #43
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Your analogy is that you are both the owner of the company and the owner of the state. However, could not one also say that your position as a resident of the state is the same as the buyer of the company's goods or services? You are a consumer of state services. Do we expect someone who buys from Walmart to say "you know, I want that bath towel cheaper, so I'll try to force the workers to take less pay"?

The mutual incentive for both management and labor is to keep the customers from going somewhere else, while making a profit and paying a decent wage.

.

The market balances all of the competing forces, so I don't need to worry about why bath towels are cheaper at Walmart, if I don't like the price I can shop somewhere else. I can even elect to pay a higher price if I value the selection, customer services, or quality at place like Nordstrom's more than price.

I agree that as a resident I am consumer of states service. My objective is to get the best value. So for instance cops that are paid so little that they end up extracting bribes, maybe a cheaper but they are a horrible value

There generally aren't other organization for government services, unless I want to move. So the balancing process is very long and very crude, taxpayer revolt against higher taxes by throwing the politician out and electing a new bunch who promise to change things. I believe that many/most state employee actually try and do a good job. The problem is their union reps are almost entirely focused on increasing pay, and benefits, preserving jobs and not at all interested in providing better services to the public.
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Old 02-23-2011, 07:29 PM   #44
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The problem is their union reps are almost entirely focused on increasing pay, and benefits, preserving jobs and not at all interested in providing better services to the public.
That's a rather odd point of view. If I'm a worker and management shows an interest in increasing my productivity, I understand that. That's management's job. But if my union rep does that, he won't be union rep for very long. The union is supposed to represent my interests, not managements'. Hey, did you ever work on an assembly line?
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Old 02-23-2011, 08:29 PM   #45
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Old 02-23-2011, 10:24 PM   #46
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I have no opinion about whether teachers are under- or over-paid, but if they are paid too much, I just don't understand how anyone can think this is the fault of their union. The union bargains on their behalf, but it's the state/school authority that must sign a contract that grants them salary and benefits. Is it evil for teachers or their union to ask for raises? You all are talking as though the unions somehow reach directly into taxpayers' pockets.
IMO. The union demands help no one else but this special interest, the union members. There is no benefit to the taxpayer. It is the same ole special interest at the trough. You are right, there is bargaining, now the states latest offer is on the table. But the spineless democrats (pro union) part of the negotiations, will not show up at the table. Pass the law, if they don't like the terms, let them quit. Run an ad in the paper and there will be 6 over qualified people apply for every one that quits.

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You all are talking as though the unions somehow reach directly into taxpayers' pockets.

I would say 22K for insurance is exactly that, with both hands.
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Old 02-23-2011, 10:43 PM   #47
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The union bargains on their behalf, but it's the state/school authority that must sign a contract that grants them salary and benefits.
But the union makes donations directly to the folks who are supposed to be their "opponents" in this process (political leaders). These leaders depend on this tribute so they can be re-elected. The whole shakedown racket stinks.

I think, too, that there's a general misunderstanding about what "collective bargaining" is. Any group of workers can get together and elect representatives to present demands to management. That's not what official collective bargaining is. Collective bargaining is, in effect, a special concession made to labor unions that codifies a special deal for unions. It requires the unions, and the unions alone, will be the sole route for workers to negotiate with management. It's a codified monopoly for the existing unions. It actually impinges on a worker's right to freely associate for the purpose of negotiating with management. It's certainly not a "right," and eliminating it gives workers more freedom, not less.
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Old 02-23-2011, 10:47 PM   #48
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IMO. The union demands help no one else but this special interest, the union members. There is no benefit to the taxpayer.
Of course they help no one else, and of course there is no benefit to the taxpayers. Your complaint is with management, which is supposed to be representing the taxpayers. The union is just doing its job representing its members' interests, not yours.
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Old 02-23-2011, 10:51 PM   #49
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... eliminating it gives workers more freedom, not less.
Oh, yeah, right. Governor Walker is doing the teachers a tremendous favor by breaking their union. Someday, they will come to be properly appreciative, I suppose.
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Old 02-23-2011, 11:06 PM   #50
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Oh, yeah, right. Governor Walker is doing the teachers a tremendous favor by breaking their union. Someday, they will come to be properly appreciative, I suppose.
So, you see the union as a welcome participant in the process, an entity just doing what it supposed to do, but apparently don't think it's right when the other side of the table ("management") plays their role. Governor Walker and the Wisconsin legislature represent the "people" in this "people power" drama. The shoe is on the other foot--Pete Seeger and Joan Bayez should be out there singing songs calling out the corrupt big money interests (unions) who are opposing the people. I won't hold my breath.

Anyway, no one is breaking the union. Removal of collective bargaining just takes away an unfair monopoly that the government had granted the unions. Removal of collective bargaining would give workers more options, not fewer. Freedom is good! Peace, brother!
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Old 02-23-2011, 11:35 PM   #51
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That's a rather odd point of view. If I'm a worker and management shows an interest in increasing my productivity, I understand that. That's management's job. But if my union rep does that, he won't be union rep for very long. The union is supposed to represent my interests, not managements'. Hey, did you ever work on an assembly line?
That is certainly true in the US, I understand (I could easily be wrong on this) that in other countries the unions try and work more cooperatively with management, looking at ways for instance on how to increase productivity. Rumor has it that the UAW is actually working this with the Detroit 3 since they are starting to understand that the real enemy is not management but foreign car companies.

Still I think it is telling that a retired public employee would find it so alien that management and labor should or could work to together to produce
a better product. Which in the case of of public employee should be better service, e.g. smarter kids, shorter DMV lines, easier recycling etc.

So yes our complaint is with management... Which is why in most of the country we threw the bums out and since unions do nothing but drive up wages for employees and cost for taxpayers, it is perfectly logical to try and get rid of them.
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Old 02-24-2011, 12:11 AM   #52
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I have no opinion about whether teachers are under- or over-paid, but if they are paid too much, I just don't understand how anyone can think this is the fault of their union. The union bargains on their behalf, but it's the state/school authority that must sign a contract that grants them salary and benefits.
Yes, gov't erred in granting excessive raises in the past and MUST now compensate with large take-backs.
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Old 02-24-2011, 12:44 AM   #53
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That's a rather odd point of view. If I'm a worker and management shows an interest in increasing my productivity, I understand that. That's management's job. But if my union rep does that, he won't be union rep for very long. The union is supposed to represent my interests, not managements'. Hey, did you ever work on an assembly line?

And just how does this apply to public sector unionization?
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Old 02-24-2011, 07:08 AM   #54
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A few more tidbits. Depending on the union, public employees pay anywhere from $600 to $1000 a year for union dues. WEAC (teachers unions) has 98,000 members, and the average dues are $900 a year. Thats almost $90 MILLION a year in dues for the teacher's union in Wisconsin. What is it being used for? It costs $90 million a year to collectively bargain for stuff like health insurance that the member is mandated to buy from the union's own insurance trust? Taxpayers could save 20% if the members were allowed to buy from other insurers, with the SAME coverage.........
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Old 02-24-2011, 08:09 AM   #55
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A few more tidbits. Depending on the union, public employees pay anywhere from $600 to $1000 a year for union dues. WEAC (teachers unions) has 98,000 members, and the average dues are $900 a year. Thats almost $90 MILLION a year in dues for the teacher's union in Wisconsin. What is it being used for? It costs $90 million a year to collectively bargain for stuff like health insurance that the member is mandated to buy from the union's own insurance trust? Taxpayers could save 20% if the members were allowed to buy from other insurers, with the SAME coverage.........
I heard this is a big bone of contention. Is it true that the state is hindered because they are forced to buy health insurance through some union dictated insurance company? How did this come about?
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Old 02-24-2011, 08:25 AM   #56
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And just how does this apply to public sector unionization?
Some public workers do not have the right to strike, and shouldn't. I don't see what that has to do with what I said, however.
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Old 02-24-2011, 08:34 AM   #57
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Still I think it is telling that a retired public employee would find it so alien that management and labor should or could work to together to produce a better product.
It makes perfect sense for a union to work with management to improve product in, e.g., a situation where competition has put a company in danger of cutting jobs or going out of business. And that happens sometimes. But, as we know, most often, management and labor are natural adversaries.
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Old 02-24-2011, 08:39 AM   #58
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So, you see the union as a welcome participant in the process, an entity just doing what it supposed to do, but apparently don't think it's right when the other side of the table ("management") plays their role.
Management's proper role is negotiating the lowest wages and benefits it can, and that's fine. Union busting is not fine.
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Old 02-24-2011, 08:47 AM   #59
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What is it being used for?
Unions do other things for their members than try to get them better wages and benefits -- representing them in grievance procedures, e.g. I don't know whether the Wisconsin teachers are getting their money's worth for their dues, but that's up to them, isn't it? They're the ones paying the union dues.
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Old 02-24-2011, 08:54 AM   #60
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Union busting is not fine.
Nobody is "busting the union." Workers will be able to join the union if they choose, and the union (or any other group chosen by workers, or workers individually) can still bargain with the employer. What is being proposed is the elimination of mandatory union membership by employees (a monopoly granted to unions by the state) and the union's status as the sole entity allowed to negotiate with management on behalf of employees.
What is destroying unions is their own greed. The taxpayers in Wisconsin are apparently fed up, and that's saying a lot.
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