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Letters: Are unions truly serving needs?

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  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 1:24 a.m.

    Union membership peaked in 1970. Wages for working class men peaked in 1973 and have been declining ever since. Coincidence?

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 1:47 a.m.

    Are unions truly serving needs? Here's how you find out: make union membership (and dues-paying) entirely voluntary, everywhere. Then watch how many people sign up.

    The experiment is already underway. As more and more states pass right-to-work laws, union membership is declining.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 5:18 a.m.

    I'm sure getting information about unions from the "center on union facts" is reliable and of course unbiased.

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 6:01 a.m.

    Who is Richard Berman?

    Richard Berman is a Washington, D.C.-based hired gun who uses front groups to defend his corporate clients against the public interest. Using his lobbying and consulting firm, Berman and Company, as a revenue vehicle for his activities, Berman runs at least 23 industry-funded projects, such as the Center for Union Facts, and holds 24 "positions" within these various entities.

    He's a shill for corporations.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Jan. 29, 2013 7:37 a.m.

    The Democratic party benefits more from unions than any other organization. Union members are forced to pay union dues, union bosses donate money to the Democratic party and the Democratic party bails out union jobs. For example, nearly two thirds of the "stimulus package" went to public sector unions; school teachers, firefighters etc. Money laundering with taxpayer money!

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 8:01 a.m.

    What a strange pair of values. Liberals are all for illegal aliens coming to get the 'right to work' but are against citizens have the 'right to work' without paying the extortion to the union.

    No one should ever be forced to fund the democratic party just so they can have a job.

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 8:12 a.m.

    1970, the year truck drivers realized the union would shoot them for trying earn a living and feed their families.

    And blue calls Berman a 'hired gun'.

    Unions are the ones who are the syndicates with hired guns.

  • isrred South Jordan, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 8:26 a.m.

    "Union members are forced to pay union dues, union bosses donate money to the Democratic party"

    If you even cared about facts and reality you would know that the law prohibits spending of dues money on political contributions. But don't let that get in the way of your worldview.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Jan. 29, 2013 8:27 a.m.

    Are unions truly serving the needs of their members? Given lower membership and declining wages, likely not. But I am not sure the reason (or the answers) are what the letter writer imagines.

  • Copy Cat Murray, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 8:33 a.m.

    @ isrred

    "If you even cared about facts and reality you would know that the law prohibits spending of dues money on political contributions. "

    Yes but criminals don't obey the law, even if, and especially if, they are organized criminals.

    But don't let that get in the way of your worldview.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 8:37 a.m.

    I love it. "Center for Union Facts". You could substitute the words 'tobacco' or 'pharmaceutical industry' for 'union' and get the same level of truthiness; the same idea of what the purpose and motive of such an organisation is. Or you could just substitute 'NRA' for the entire phrase.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 8:43 a.m.

    Roland,
    I think you would find the decline in working class wages runs paralell to increased illegal immigration and amnesties granted by well-meaning but misguided politicians.

    Of course, more illegals voting and more poor voting means more dem votes, and that's what the dems really want, not quality of life for their constitutents.

    isrred,
    yes, we know the law forbids unions from donating dues to politicians, but that has not stopped them from doing it. And there are other ways they promote the dems - I remember being courted by a union and getting their newsletter. I had to check twice to make sure it was not published by the DNC. It was not, but it certainly could have been written by them.

  • the old switcharoo mesa, AZ
    Jan. 29, 2013 9:10 a.m.

    It's no secret that unions were infiltrated by those that wanted them destroyed. To that extent that they were poorly managed on purpose, no.

    But having suffered an injury at a large company because my manager just couldn't bring himself to slow down on short term goals so I could manage my safety I think the loss of unions and the threat of unionization is a real loss. I know if I had had representation it wouldn't have happened.

  • ECR Burke, VA
    Jan. 29, 2013 9:09 a.m.

    Most of us work today without the benefit of union membership because the wages, salaries and benefits we receive are acceptable because of past union activity.

    How many employers would pay the wages and salaries they pay and offer the benefits they offer if it had not been for strong unions in the past standing up for the common worker and fighting for those wages and benefits?

    Safety in the workplace is such an important aspect of worker satisfaction. Some jobs are inherently dangerous (such as construction) and so it is important for employers to adopt safe working conditions and practices. Once again, just like with wages and benefits, the private, non-union sector has had to catch up to the benefits enjoyed by union workers if they wanted to acquire and maintain a competent workforce.

    It's popular and easy to portray union leaders and thugs and criminals (and some of them have been) but most are just honest leaders who care about the welfare and fairness offered to those of us who go to work everyday. Let's all stop trying to find fault with unions and get over the paranoia that seems to surrounds them.

  • ugottabkidn Sandy, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 10:15 a.m.

    This is an offensive letter. Hostess was mismanaged. Businesses go under because of mismanagement and poor decisions. Period. Business that makes unions a partner are successful. Roland Keyser is spot on. Since 1979, the average middle class wage has gone from 27k to 31k while the 2% has seen wages more than double. You can't blame illegal immigration for that. Productivity has steadily climbed and Econ 101 would have you believe wages would climb proportionally but it hasn't. The minimum wage should be around $17/hr but it isn't. Over 50% of those receiving assistance have jobs. Is that something you can blame on unions? Contrary to the opinion of the popular right, taxes are the lowest in 5o years. Where is this extra cash going? Secret foreign bank accounts and the like I think but it isn't going to the American dream for the middle class.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 10:25 a.m.

    Here we go again with the Union bashers...

    Every car you drive, every plane you fly on, everyship you sail on --- thank a highly skilled Union work-force -- mainly in America, Germany, Japan and Korea.

    Every cheap plastic toy, every cheap quality tool, every disposable throw it away junk item...thank the Communists in China and exploited labor in Mexico, Bangladesh, and Malaysia and their fire prone fatories.

    Unions do nothing more that assure those who actually produce the product, get their fair share of it.

    FYI - Unions broke down the Iron curtain of Communism -- not all the bombs, guns, tanks, ships and planes could ever buy.
    Why do you think Unions are out-lawed in COMMUNIST China.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 10:42 a.m.

    Many people have no idea how unions work or operate. It is illegal for unions to use dues or working assessments for political activity. Yet many individuals have commented here, claims it happens all the time. Where is your proof?

    As far as pensions go it is federal law they have to be funded to a certain level. If the pension is underfunded the members either have to take a cut in pay and contribute that to the pension, ask the employer to contribute more money per hour(which will never happen) or reduce the monthly pension benefit.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 10:46 a.m.

    Hilarious! Utterly hilarious!

    Hilarious how this letter writer cleverly omitted the fact that Hostess went through 7 different CEOs in 10 years. Each CEO gave himself and his cronies bonuses while running their company further into the ground. Yes, workers took hits. Millions in pensions were lost prior to filing for bankruptcy.

    While workers saw losses in their salaries, pensions, health benefits, and jobs, the CEOs saw bonuses.

    And this letter writer has the gall to blame "the unions?"

    The problem with America isn't with unions or with "workers." The problem with America are the get rich fast schemes which attract our CEOs. CEOs who care more about making a quick and easy buck and less about actually building and growing a company.

    Unions aren't a threat.

    Greedy and incompetent CEOs are.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 10:50 a.m.

    I've never been a big fan of unions. But I do recognize their necessity. If businesses really want to make unions unnecessary, they could simply practice better management and insist on fair pay. Unions only exist because of abusive management practices. This isn't rocket science.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 10:51 a.m.

    Every trade, skill, profession, association, occupation, preference, race, religion, age and every other group of people can be classified as a union. People unite to increase their influence over their world. There’s strength in numbers.

    The reason workers unions are so demonized and hated is because they threaten and can effect the profits of the rich and powerful.

    Contrary to the propaganda of business, a union of scalawags who live off the labor of others, workers unions are no more dishonest, cruel or evil than the other groups of people on this world.

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 10:51 a.m.

    Study: Rich get a lot richer, outpace middle class - By Andrew Taylor - AP - 10/26/11

    For people in the middle of the economic scale, after-tax income grew by just 40 percent

    While in contrast...

    (the study) finds that after-tax income for the top 1 percent of U.S. households almost tripled, up 275 percent, from 1979 to 2007.

    That story was published by the Deseret news.

    It is now official, CEO"s make on average 400 times more than their workers, average making over $1 million dollars a year. Before, bonuses.

    Are unions serving a need?

    Short answer: Yes.

    Because a CEO will never have to be concerned about employee pay, benefits or working conditions...

    when they simply have to tell you you should be 'thankful' you have a job.

    And make you fight...for minimum wage.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 1:17 p.m.

    Corporations will not be happy until each and every employee is making minimum wage.
    As few employees as possilbe,
    and as low a pay employee as possible.
    Employees are a liability, not an asset.

    BTW - We should all stop and thank UNIONS that we even have minimum wage.

  • glendenbg Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 2:20 p.m.

    Frank Lloyd Wright once said "If capitalism is fair then unionism must be. If men and women have a right to capitalize their ideas and the resources of their country, then that implies the right of men and women to capitalize their labor."

    "Right to work" is a misnomer invented ages ago by people who dislike unions. The opposite of right to work is right to organize and protect yourself through unionization.

  • Lew Scannon Provo, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 3:07 p.m.

    ugottabkidn,

    You make some good points, but those Econ 101 teachers don't really understand productivity. Basically, if a business improves labor productivity, either through technological advances or through better work methods, the ultimate result is that the company can produce the same amount of product with fewer workers. This leads to either layoffs or lower wages. Where do the gains from lower labor costs go? To the workers? In your dreams. It goes to stockholders and executives and contributes to the increasing inequality we've seen for the past 30 years.

    Unions are notorious for slowing work down, but there is a reason for this. It is to combat the end result of productivity improvement: fewer jobs and lower wages. James Lincoln of Lincoln Electric fame understood this. He gave the workers the gains from their increased productivity. His workers were (and probably still are) very well paid, and unions couldn't get a toehold in his business. Their products were also very well made. The best strategy to defeat unions is enlightened management and good pay.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 4:05 p.m.

    Lew Scannon
    Provo, UT

    Agreed.

    I heard today that Ford had a banner year.

    They met and exceeded expectations.

    Management is passing some of those earnings along to those who made it possible -- the UNION employees are getting an $8,500 bonus.

    It's called "Positive Re-enforcement".
    Like offering an apple or sugar cube for good or desired behaviors.

    "Negative Re-enforcement" is using a buggy whip to get results.
    Pushed hard enough, long enough - a desparate horse will turn on you, throw you, and tropple you to death.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 4:11 p.m.

    LDS? lib
    Japanese unionized auto workers? Korean? I don't think so

    You know Boeing is located in closed-shop states, so of COURSE their planes are union made. but would you care to explain the recent problems then with the 787?

    Having lived in Seattle, I know of union employees who arrive late, walk slowly across the plant and don't reach their workstation till time for the union mandated break, then slowly walk to the break room. The same thing is repeated for lunch and afternoon break. So here is a 6-figure employee doing NO work, and taking employment from someone else and the union protects him.

    ECR,
    Just because unions once had a place, does not mean they have not outgrown their usefullness and not have not become corrupted by the absolute power they have, especially in closed shop states. Why do you think states are now changing to right-to-work states? What is it that is driving cities to bankruptcy? the need to nullify crushing union contracts.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 4:56 p.m.

    @lost in dc. States are passing right to work laws to pit non union vs union employees against each other so republicans can destroy unions.

    I also wonder why you think unions have have out grown their usefulness? Do you think if unions went away that companies would not endanger their employees lives to speed up production? Do you think companies would pay a living wage? I have to ask whether you think a Walmart worker contributes more to the economy through taxes and spending or someone who is part of an union?

  • Christian 24-7 Murray, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 8:42 p.m.

    Yet another thread where the pro-choice folks are not the liberals.

    Right to work does not prohibit anyone from joining a union, nor does it prohibit people from forming a union.

    It only prohibits the unions from forcing all employees to join the union, or in other words it denies unions the right to take people's choices away. It preserves individual's choice.

    Can any liberal tell me why the right to off your unborn is held sacred but the right to not join a union is not held sacred?

    I truly don't get it.

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 11:28 p.m.

    You enjoy your weekend?

    Thank a Union.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 11:31 p.m.

    @glendenbg "The opposite of right to work is right to organize and protect yourself through unionization."

    You have the right to organize. You just don't have the right to force others to do it.

    @LDS Liberal "Corporations will not be happy until every employee is making minimum wage," etc.

    Does this really reflect your experience? In my experience, corporations pay you what you're worth. You may need to make a better effort at work. Aerospace engineers who make only minimum wage are somewhat rare.

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 11:58 p.m.

    In my experience, corporations pay you what you're worth. - Nate

    Response:

    Study: Nearly half are overqualified for their jobs - by Katie Ardmore Deseret news

    1/28/13

  • RichardB Murray, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 12:44 a.m.

    Unions no longer support the American worker. The support open borders, and flooding a countries labor market. It's no wonder people are leaving them.

  • Jl Sandy, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 10:34 a.m.

    I think it's amusing that since only 7% of American workers are union participants that we have 93% that are experts

  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 10:34 a.m.

    The pendulum swings between employer dominance and union hegemony. There is a middle ground, but neither side recognizes that position. Abuses by both sides means that no one has the moral high ground.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 10:58 a.m.

    "In my experience, corporations pay you what you're worth"

    Try telling that to Africans in the south.
    Try telling that to the Chinese who worked on the railroads.
    Try telling that to the Irish, Germans, Slavs, and Russians who worked in the factories.
    Try telling that to the children without arms or legs.
    Try telling that to the miners with black lung.
    Try telling that to the women of today.
    Try telling that to the Chinese worker sweating his life away for pennies in order to make your $200 dollar shoe.
    Try telling that to the Hispanic who cleaned your dishes, made your hotel bed, or picked your food.
    Try telling that to the millions of Americans today who have seen their pensions, benefits, and salaries vanish while their CEO bosses have seen record salaries and bonuses.

    It's obvious that someone is cheating the game. And it isn't the unions fault.

  • LDS Aerospace Engineer Farmington, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 11:12 a.m.

    lost in DC
    West Jordan, UT
    LDS? lib
    "Japanese unionized auto workers? Korean? I don't think so"
    Rengo: Japanese Trade Union Confederation
    Zenroren: National Confederation of Trade Unions
    Zenrokyo: National Trade Union Council
    Korean Metal Workers Union (KMWU)
    ...but don't let facts get in your way.

    You know Boeing is located in closed-shop states, so of COURSE their planes are union made. but would you care to explain the recent problems then with the 787?

    Having lived in Seattle...
    [I lived AND worked at Boeing for 22 years in Seattle - I NEVER saw anything you just described. NEVER! So, I'm calling your bluff.

    As for the 787 -- That entire program was out-sourced to Non-Union plants, in Non-Union companies, as is assembled in Non-Union South Carolina.
    So from my personal experience -- it was a huge gamble that turned into a $25 Billion mistake by Boeing management, not the workers.]

    Nate
    Pleasant Grove, UT
    Aerospace engineers who make only minimum wage are somewhat rare.
    11:31 p.m. Jan. 29, 2013

    Whe I started working at Boeing as an aerospace engineer - minimum wage was $5.75 an hour, and starting wage was $9.25 per hour.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 12:27 p.m.

    LDS?lib
    since you never saw it, it never happened?

    OK Christ was never born,
    Joseph Smith was never martyred
    Washington never crossed the Delaware
    Columbus never sailed the ocean
    Napoleon never invaded Russia
    Alexander the Great never invaded Egypt
    Ceasar was not knifed in Forum
    Lincoln never debated Douglas
    etc ad infinitum - since YOU didn't see it.

    naming trade organizations does not specify auto unions. because there is an AFL-CIO, then the 14 year old sweepers at the local jr high MUST belong to unions?

    Boeing outsourced ALL the engineering as well? I doubt it.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 1:18 p.m.

    @The Real Maverick "Try telling that to..."

    In America today, corporations have to compete with each other for talent. If people aren't being paid what they're worth, they can go to work for someone else who values them properly. Free societies are awesome that way. The key is to develop a skill that not everyone has, and to do it well. There are no guarantees that hard work will lead you to the opportunity you want, but persistence usually leads to a better life.

    @LDS Aero Engineer "[S]tarting wage was $9.25 per hour."

    See what I mean? A trained beginner was making 60% higher than minimum wage. And I'm guessing there were wage increases for the people who proved themselves. Right?

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    Jan. 30, 2013 3:01 p.m.

    lost in DC
    West Jordan, UT

    Boeing outsourced ALL the engineering as well? I doubt it.

    12:27 p.m. Jan. 30, 2013

    =============

    Doubt all you want,
    but that's the facts -
    and yours was a comment made with ZERO research and ZERO fact finding...

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 3:29 p.m.

    Are unions serving needs? Whose needs? I suspect if you belong to a union then you like unions and if you don't you see unions as a HUGE drain on a states budget. I see the need for unions since more corporations tend to treat their employees pretty badly when it comes to laying off and other hard - ball business tactics but I also understand how the auto unions have caused car prices to rise due to the increased labor costs. The bottom line here is honesty. If both unions and corporations were both honest then budgets would be more balanced and life would be so much better.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 4:07 p.m.

    airnaught,
    I have good reason to doubt LDS?lib with his constant lies about bush circumventing congress. Why should I believe anything he says. but your by-line says you live in Everett, home to a large Boeing facility.

    your comment also provides NO research or evidence to back LDS?lib's claim. You could have easily provided evidence of all the outsourcing, but you, just as you accused me of doing, presented NOTHING to back it up.

    If you do and can, I will hereby apologize to not only you but to the LDS?lib. Will you do the same if your research shows there was ANY union involvement in the 787?

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    Jan. 30, 2013 4:08 p.m.

    RichardB
    Murray, UT
    Unions no longer support the American worker. The support open borders, and flooding a countries labor market. It's no wonder people are leaving them.

    12:44 a.m. Jan. 30, 2013

    =============

    Unions won't hire Non-Union Workers.
    Let alone Non-U.S. Citizens.

    Unions used to be the mechanizm and 1st line odf defense for skilled and legal workers.

    Btw- That's another reason why businesses don't like unions.
    It keeps them fro going out and hiring illegal workers, and paying them un-taxed cash under the table for less than minimum wage.

    Once again, we see that Unions made America strong.
    Greed and Business is the cancer the is corrupting it from the inside.

  • oldasdirt Grantsville, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 10:10 p.m.

    I admit I have never belong to a Union. But I have been in management and worked with Unions. The people in Unions are the same as non union, Union contracts can be a problem if they were negotiated poorly. Nobody holds a gun to the management to sign a Union contract, well maybe in Chicago, so it up the both sides to work out a reasonable set of terms. The problem with union contracts for public employees can be the poor skills, knowledge lack of accountability on the part of the elected officials. But even these will work out over time, but with much pain and suffering.

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    Jan. 31, 2013 11:31 a.m.

    lost in DC
    West Jordan, UT

    your comment also provides NO research or evidence to back LDS?lib's claim. You could have easily provided evidence of all the outsourcing, but you, just as you accused me of doing, presented NOTHING to back it up.

    If you do and can, I will hereby apologize to not only you but to the LDS?lib. Will you do the same if your research shows there was ANY union involvement in the 787?

    4:07 p.m. Jan. 30, 2013

    ===========

    Google search -
    Boeing Outsource 787

    579,000 returns

    DN will not allow hyperlinks - please do so yourself.

    FYI - Forbes magazine [hardly a left-wing anti-Capitalist magazine]
    wrote a skathing article just 5 days ago - titled:
    "What Went Wrong at Boeing"
    Management was to blame 100% for over outsourcing, not the unions.

    BTW -The Boeing 787 it will go down in the history books not so much as being such a great plane,
    BUT as an example taught in every college Economic and Business class as to what NOT to do for the next 100 years.

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    Feb. 1, 2013 3:06 p.m.

    Unions are fine. People have every right to band together and see what they can negotiate. (Historically, the answer was "not much," which is why unions invariably moved beyond persuasion into intimidation, dynamite, and beating the tar out of people who wouldn't go along with their would-be cartels.)

    Wagner Act unionism -- with rules designed for the steam-locomotive era and slanted overwhelmingly in union bosses' favor -- is a dead model. It invariably means stagnation for those companies that have the misfortune to be unionized by today's sclerotic union bosses, who have no real interest in the workers they supposedly represent. Those companies steadily become less competitive, and are replaced by companies without the union millstone.

    Myself, I've worked close-up with union bosses, and have yet to meet one that didn't have the face of a B-movie mobster.

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    Feb. 1, 2013 3:09 p.m.

    LDS [factually challenged] Liberal:

    "Every car you drive, every plane you fly on, every ship you sail on --- thank a highly skilled Union work-force -- mainly in America, Germany, Japan and Korea."

    My Toyota Camry runs great. Built in a non-union plant in Kentucky. You need to check your premises.

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    Feb. 1, 2013 3:12 p.m.

    In the rest of the economy, when a group of suppliers get together to try and jack up prices by restricting supply, it's called a cartel, or a combination in restraint of trade. And it's prosecuted under anti-trust laws.

    When a group of suppliers of labor get together to try and jack up prices by restricting supply, this is not a cartel because....

  • micki Sebastopol, CA
    Feb. 2, 2013 12:11 p.m.

    Because of the Labor Movement, the formation of Unions, life for workers in this country changed for the better: an 8 hour workday, higher wages, children who can go to school instead of working in sweatshops. Unions are needed now more than ever. Workers' rights have been eroding for decades in conjunction to unions having less influence and membership. Unions not only help members, they make it possible for all workers, unionized or not to receive better pay, more benefits. Collective bargaining is a right that all workers should have, and keeps corporate abuse at bay.